SKYDIVERS OVER SIXTY (SOS) HISTORY

This history of SOS was initially prepared by Pat Moorehead in June of 2003 and has been since updated by Cheryl Whitford.

The SOS organization was formed by Pat Moorehead, a veteran skydiver with almost 5700 jumps. Pat began his skydiving career in 1969 at Lake Elsinore, California, at the age of 37. Pat was born in 1931 and still makes about 150 jumps per year.

Pat reached the age of 60 in November 1991. A few months later, in March of 1992, while attending the POPS Winter Meet at Umatilla, Florida, he decided to gather all of his friends there that were over 60 to make a jump. The result was a solid 10-way formation skydive which became the first SOS record. With the urging of his friends, he kept a list of those first 10 who were: Danny Hupert, Max Miensopust, Pat Moorehead, Tom Morrison, Walter Ross, Lew Sanborn, Bob Sinclair, GD Williams, Bill Wood, and Len Zak. He then invited other jumpers over sixty to join this new group. It was agreed that the purpose would be to recognize skydivers that remained in the sport, or joined the sport, as they advanced to their 'senior' years. Or, those who are returning after putting their jump career on hold while they raised their families and/or pursued their careers.

Contrary to the perception of many non-jumpers, modern skydivers include people from all walks of life and all ages. In fact the average age of the 30,000 members of the national skydiving organization, the United States Parachute Association, is near 40.

There has long been (since 1966) an informal membership organization of skydivers called "POPS" (Parachutists Over Phorty Society). There are now over 10,000 members in this rapidly growing group; and 23 chapters internationally. SOS is a special group within this worldwide POPS organization.

Since 1993 the SOS membership has grown to over 1800 and has enrolled members from 23 countries: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and United States. Many of the POPS and SOS members renew friendships when they travel to the many International POPS Meets and the bi-annual World POPS Meet -the next will be held in Argentina in 2014. Previous World meets have been in New Zealand, Spain, Jordan, Canada, Australia, Switzerland, Italy, Netherlands, and the USA.

Some SOS members have made only a few jumps but most have made thousands. The oldest members are in their 80's and several of them still jump. Because of the technical advances of modern parachuting equipment, especially the canopies (parachutes), the landing phase of the jump has become much more gentle. No more landing like a sack of potatoes! SOS and POPS members really enjoy the competition events. The favorite contest is named (appropriately?) "Hit'n'Rock". In this event, the competitor lands his parachute near the center of a large target, sheds all of his pack, runs to the very center of the target, touches a small 3" plastic disc, and then sprints to a rocking chair 40- feet away and sits down. This is a timed event and the typical SOS member completes the race in about 7-seconds. The POPS world record is less than 4-seconds! This is a true spectator event.

Life-time dues that are collected from each new SOS member and the proceeds from the sales of SOS T-shirts, patches, etc., are donated to the United States Parachute Team Trust Fund and to the Skydiving Museum & Hall of Fame. United States Parachute Team Trust Fund is used to support our USA national teams in international parachuting competitions. SOS has contributed over $10,600.00 to the team trust fund and over $1,000.00 to the Skydiving Museum & Hall of Fame.

As the list of active skydivers continues to grow, Pat expects that the SOS and JOS membership will also continue its rapid growth and SOS members will continue to inspire other seniors to remain active, healthy, and enthusiastic about finding suitable activities in which to participate.

Pat Moorehead - TOP SOS #1

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Last modified 17 May 2015

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