An experienced parachutist filmed his own two-mile death plunge after he fell from an airplane without realizing he had no parachute.
April 6, 1988: LOUISBURG, N.C. (AP) – A tired parachutist’s fatigue and his preoccupation with videotaping other jumpers could have led him to leap from a plane without a chute, plummeting 10,500 feet to his death, an acquaintance says.
The death of Ivan Lester McGuire was accidental, although ″a man who has jumped 800 times ought to remember his parachute,″ said Franklin County Sheriff’s Capt. Ralph Brown.
There are no indications of foul play or suicide, and blood tests indicating whether drugs or alcohol were present in his system should be available next week, Brown said.
McGuire, 35, was carrying a video camera mounted on his helmet and was filming an instructor and a student at Franklin County Sports Parachute Center. The videotape was mangled in the crash, but salvaged by investigators.
The videotape showed that McGuire jumped from the airplane and the jump was going smoothly until the parachutes worn by the instructor and the student deployed and McGuire hurtled below them.
″It kind of appears he reached for his parachute and didn’t have one,″ Brown said. ″You could only see the instructor and the student falling on the video. But the release for his parachute is on his right hip, and when that right hand goes down, the left hand comes forward and it comes into camera view.
″Then the pictures get to moving real fast because he’s approaching the ground at 150 mph. The only thing the camera shows is the ground coming.″
Ivan Lester McGuire was 35 years old and a veteran of over 800 skydiving jumps when he fell to his death in April 1988. He was hoping to launch a career as a skydiving photographer, and jumped hooked into a special camera to film another team of jumpers. His co-workers, like Ivan, did not notice he had not put on his parachute. ”We are all preoccupied with doing our own job,” said Paul Fayard, owner of the Franklin County Sport Parachute Center who flew the plane Ivan jumped from. It was likely the excitement of suiting up with the complicated photography gear that distracted Ivan. His last words were, “Oh my god, No!”
McGuire’s body, found in woods about 1 1/2 miles from the airfield.