As we wrapped up our final ChutingStar Parachute Rigging School course for 2019, I ended up placing this group's canopy patch right above our first course patch from 2008. Detailed memories of that first course 11 years ago are starting to fade, but fresh in my mind are all of those riggers and riggers-to-be who birthed what the ChutingStar Rigging Family has become today.
With the help of the late great Hell Yeah Jack Hammer and ultra detail-oriented Ryan Vosser, we kicked off the first-ever ChutingStar Rigging School in 2008 by pouring all of our knowledge, tips and tricks into John Barnes, Warren Cleary and John Dean. Warren, who didn't technically sign-up for the course, was woken up from the bunkhouse that morning and was told he had to take the course. Ha! He would later work for ChutingStar, become the lead instructor for our rigging courses for several years and earn his Master Rigger certificate.
When our 2nd class finished in 2009 and put their patch up on the wall, John Barnes wanted to make sure the 1st class patch stood out more, so he framed the first year. The 2nd class threatened to then frame their patch and add a picture frame light. A little class rivalry for sure! The class patches made up at the end of each course are now all displayed up the stairs to ChutingStar Rigging Loft.
I've just finished testing the 134th student since becoming the Designated Parachute Rigger Examiner for the Atlanta FSDO in 2008. Most of those candidates went through our courses, many later went on to work and teach for ChutingStar and some, like Warren and Big Steve Haseman, earned both their Senior and Master certificates here.
We've had candidates from just about every state in the U.S. along with citizens of numerous other countries, including Colombia, Austria, Canada, Norway, Belarus, Ukraine, Belgium, France, Japan, Guatemala, Israel, Netherlands, Russia, Spain, Pakistan, South Africa and the United Kingdom. We had employees/skydivers from Performance Designs come take the course as one group in 2015. And then we regularly get drop zones sponsoring new riggers-to-be for the course to have them come back and take over the loft at their DZ.
Vitaly Greck, from Belarus, became a Senior Rigger at our course in 2011, and then flew back once a year to help instruct for the next few years. He also designs and supplies us with many of the ChutingStar Rigging Tools available on ChutingStar.com.
Steve Haseman took the lead instructor torch passed on from Warren and Vitaly several years ago to now exclusively lead all current ChutingStar Rigging School courses. We now limit each course to 4 candidates that get immersed into rigging with Big Steve. These riggers-to-be then become official FAA riggers once they pass the FAA Oral & Practical Testing I put them through at the end of the course.
Each new rigger immediately becomes a part of the ChutingStar Rigger Family...and have us to lean on when it's midnight on a Friday and a jumper is expecting their rig for the first load Saturday...but something out of the ordinary just came up during the inspection and repack. It has happened to all of us and we want to make sure they have someone to turn to on those lonely late nights when you just need one piece of info to help you finish the work.
Wanna join the family?
Learn more about how to become a parachute rigger at this link.
And/or sign up for the next ChutingStar Rigging School Course at this link!