ISSUE 10, July 2004
John Pine: A sociable craftsman
Jumping for Joy: Skydiving for charity
Quarterly Communication: Speeches of: the Grand Master, the Pro Grand Master and, Report of the Board of General Purposes
Supreme Grand Chapter: Address of the First Grand Principal and Report of the Committee of General Purposes
Royal Arch: Cheshire gives a lead
  Walking with the greats: Bath Masonic Hall
Motoring in style: Classic Vehicle Club
Masonic education: A daily advancement and Events for your diary
Travel: Portugal
Library & Museum of Freemasonry
International: A warm welcome in Malta
Masonic ritual: Spoilt for choice
Public relations: Sheffield; Dorset; Chelsea Flower Show; Freemasons' Hall
Letters, Book reviews, Gardening

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Skydiving can be an exhilarating experience, as Chris Thomas explains

Jumping for joy

Jumping out of an aeroplane with a parachute while high in the sky is not everybody’s idea of fun, but skydiving has become both a popular pastime and an international sport in recent years.
     Both the parachutes and the technique in jumping has taken on a completely different picture from those old wartime photos of ‘the paras’ jumping out over Arnhem back in 1944.
     For the past 25 years I have been skydiving, having made more than 7,500 jumps, and represented Great Britain in two world championships, coming fourth in one and fifth in the other.
     It is a matter of pride to have been a British team member for four years, and my competitive days has taken me all over the world, competing in Europe, the United States, Brazil, Russia, Hong Kong and many other countries.
     These worldwide displays can mean jumping into some unusual places, including the Leeds United soccer ground at Eland Road, the Hong Kong correctional services establishment in Stanley, the Biggin Hill Air Show and many more venues.
     But, like any sport, there is always a need to look to the future, so as an Accelerated Free- Fall (AFF) instructor, I also train students and coach up-and-coming teams who hope to become the British champions of the future.
     My father has been a Mason for many years, and he encouraged me to join the Craft, and I was initiated into his Lodge, St John of Bridlington No. 4434, Province of Yorkshire North & East Riding, about six years ago.
     For me, becoming a Mason has been as exhilarating an experience as parachuting and has greatly widened my horizons as an individual. You would think that after being involved in such a scary profession as skydiving, standing up in the Lodge and doing the 1st Degree working tools would be easy. Well, it was probably the scariest thing I have ever done, so next time you see a young Mason doing his first piece of ritual, remember how you once felt!
     I have even persuaded David Duffill, the Master of St John of Bridlington Lodge, to make a parachute jump, as a result of which he raised money for the Lodge charity fund. So if you are looking for a unique way of building up your charitable funds, here’s a novel way to go about it.
     Skydiving is also spectacular for the film and TV-makers, and my company manufacture parachute equipment which is exported all over the world. We recently manufactured the parachute equipment for the new Brigit Jones film which is currently on location.
     And, of course, the stars don’t actually jump themselves, so I have acted as a stunt double and supplied equipment for many famous actors, films, TV shows and advertisements such as Hanover Street, The Eagle Has Landed, Empire of the Sun, Coming out of the Ice and Plenty.
     We also made two special emergency parachutes for a high altitude bail-out from a balloon for Sir Richard Branson and Rory McCarthy.
     So, do you fancy jumping out of an aeroplane wearing a parachute? There are several methods of skydiving, see right column.
Jumping for charity
The Tandem and Static line parachuting can be performed for charity and is a good way of boosting a Lodge’s charitable funds. Should anyone like to have a go they can contact me directly at or contact the British Parachute Association on or call 0116 278 5271.

Tandem skydiving
This is the easiest and most hassle-free way to make your first jump, because with this style of jumping you experience the thrill of both a freefall and a ram-air canopy ride. A tandem skydive is carried out in a dual harness so that you are securely attached to the tandem instructor. The instructor takes charge of all the important things, such as opening the parachute, so you just relax and enjoy the experience. Most tandem skydives take place from 10,000 feet.

Accelerated Free-Fall (AFF)
By this method you will jump from an altitude of 12,000 feet and experience 40-45 seconds of freefall before opening your own ram-air parachute at 5,000 feet. Two qualified instructors with over a 1,000 jumps each will be on either side of you to help you all the way until after you have opened your parachute. This is an 8-10 jump course, and results in you becoming a fully qualified skydiver, the quickest and most motivating way to do it.

Static Line Ram-Air (RAPS)
Modern advances in parachute design make it possible to jump a ram-air parachute on your very first jump. This course involves approximately six hours training, and you leave the aircraft on your own, but still attached by a static line which then automatically opens the parachute for you. This is a slower method of advancing than AFF, but is usually cheaper.

Chris Thomas takes to the air
Chris Thomas (centre) with Sir Richard Branson (left) and Rory McCarthy