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The weekend of 3 - 5 December 2021 saw the Johannesburg Skydiving Club (JSC) host their Annual "Tonto Boogie". This event is hosted yearly by the JSC in memory of master sky diving instructor Eric "Tonto" Stephenson, licence D515. Eric sadly passed away during a "swooping" manoeuvre accident in 2007. Eric was a very experienced skydiver, with more than 10 years skydiving experience and 5314 jumps to his name. The first Tonto Boogie to celebrate his life and the legacy that he left for the Skydiving community was held in 2008. Since then, it has become an annual event on the JSC calendar, with this year being the 13th Tonto Boogie.
JSC) is one of the largest Skydiving Clubs in South Africa. Established in 1994, it has a current membership count of 86 members. Located at the Carletonville Aerodrome Airport (FACR), it is centrally located to the larger Gauteng area, yet outside the busy ORTIA immediate airspace, making it the ideal location for skydiving. The current chairman of the club is Eugene "Pottie" Potgieter, a resident of Carletonville and master skydiving instructor. Pottie has completely dedicated himself to the club and the sport.
The definition of a Skydiving Boogie is simple - It is a gathering of skydivers with the focus on having fun, rather than competition (www.Dropzone.com). It is also known as a Skydiving Festival, which is very fitting as the Tonto Boogie is indeed a festival to celebrate the life and the legacy of Eric "Tonto". The 2021 Tonto Boogie had around 40 skydivers from various DZ's (drop zones) across the country registered for participation. At early close of flight, due to bad weather on Saturday, 20 loads had already been flown with a total of around 160 jumps, with more than 200 jumps expected for the weekend event.
For this year's event, two planes flew the loads in rotation. One of the last remaining Atlas Angels (nicknamed Gabriel), flown by pilot Greg Clegg and a superb Cessna 402, flown by pilot Duvan Bernstein.
This particular Atlas Angel has a very interesting history indeed. It was delivered to the SAAF in 1975 with first SAAF acceptance flight on 21 August 1974. It was the first Atlas Kudu to fly for the SAAF and was designated to become a military developmental prototype for the Atlas Aircraft Corporation and for the SAAF Test Flight and Development Centre (registration ZS-IZF). Interestingly it was the last Kudu to be delivered to the SAAF (designated serial number 999).
When the Kudu's were ultimately withdrawn from the SAAF service in the early 1990's, it was returned to the civilian life and registered as ZS-WXF in 1991. Many years later it was included in the Angels Way Trust turboprop conversion to use the Walter 601D turboprop engine and flew again for the first time on 22 October 2009 as ZS-WXF Atlas Angel "Gabriel". It is still the original airframe which flew for the first time more than 40 years ago! This turboprop conversion of the Atlas Kudu's, make these Atlas Angel's some of the best performing skydiving planes around.
Skydiving is a sport with a very closely knit community. For many, this event is simply to reconnect with old friends, for others to challenge themselves to the next level doing large formation jumps and for some, it is their first introduction to the sport.
The entry into the world of skydiving starts with a tandem jump, facilitated by the most experienced and trusted skydivers in the industry. No comprehensive ground school is required for a tandem skydive. A Tandem Master will brief you on the do's and don't's prior to the jump. You will be told what to expect and how to get the most from your tandem experience. You will wear a strong passenger harness, with which you will be securely connected to the front of a highly qualified Tandem Master.
The two of you will exit the aircraft at 11000ft AGL and freefall at 200kph down to 5000ft AGL. During this freefall, no verbal communication is possible between passenger and Tandem Master due to wind noise. The freefall will feel like you are suspended on a thick cushion of air and it will almost feel as if you are freefalling by yourself as you will be weightless.
After 40 seconds of falling vertically at 200km/h, the Tandem Master will deploy the main parachute at an altitude of approximately 5000ft AGL. As the two of you drift gently down to earth, you will be able to talk to each other, enjoy the ride and the magnificent view. The canopy ride down to earth will last around 5-8 minutes, after which you will touch down gently in front of the club house. (www.jsc.com ).
In the spirit of the Tonto Boogie, the Johannesburg Skydiving Club has decided to present a special opportunity exclusively for Pilots Post
readers. This offer is valid until end Feb 2022. In order to make use of this exceptional offer, please download the voucher on this page and present it to the JSC when making the booking.
The 2021 Tonto Boogie was a superb event, in spite of the weather not being perfect. However, the passion and warm hearts of the South African skydiving community made Tonto's legacy last. Many thanks to Pottie and the organisers from the JSC for hosting Pilots Post
, we're' ooking forward to next year's event!
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