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You are Here: Parachute History.com >> Humor >> Teddy Hamms

Teddy Hamms

Teddy Hamms Teddy Hamms was sitting on the shelf on a toy store back in 1970. Day after day people would pass him by. Teddys were old hat - stuffy type gifts. Then one day, Jan Prewitt passed by. She thought Teddy would be a wonderful Christmas gift for her niece.

Teddy arrived home with Jan that day. He sat around the living room, conversing with jumpers that visited Jan. Actually, he did not say much. Much was said about him - right in front of him - not behind his back.

Teddy at Line Stretch The jumpers thought Teddy should become a skydiver.

Teddy was a lightweight - being stuffed and all. His riggers, Jan Prewitt and John Randall, realized he needed some extra ballast. They reasoned that Teddy did not need a real reserve. They took a reserve container and loaded it up with 80 pounds of lead. The container flaps were sealed with butterfly snaps so it would not accidentally open in freefall. Eighty pounds of lead free falling down to Earth could pose some difficulties. A small amount of weight was added into his legs for proper balance on the air.

Teddy's main and only parachute was a 24-foot twill. Teddy's jumpmasters, Jan Prewitt or Jerry Myers pulled the ripcord for him. An extra safety measure was taken by installing a KAP-3 automatic opener. This was only a precaution in case Teddy 'got away' from his jumpmasters.

The spot for Teddy's jump was carefully chosen. He had to open over a large clear field. Teddy did not steer the canopy well - if at all. Teddy landed in a stand up position, then promptly fell flat on his face.

Teddy's accomplishments include:

  • More than 15 jumps over Yolo, Pope Valley, Antioch and Livermore, CA
  • 3-way star with Jan Prewitt and Pete Gruber
  • 3-way star with Jan Prewitt and Jerry Myers
  • 5-way star with Jerry Myers, Jan Prewitt, Kevin Donnelly and Bill Smith

These jumps took their toll on Teddy. He lost an eye and half of his arm stuffing on one jump. He was sewn up quickly and has fully recovered.

One of Teddy's 3-way stars
Teddy's 3-way star with Jan Prewitt and Jerry Myers over Yolo County Airport.
This photo by Ray Cottingham was the cover shot on SkyDiver Jan/Feb 1971.

Famous aerial photographers flocked to Northern California to film Teddy. Teddy has been in the viewfinder of John Randall, Jan Prewitt, Carl Boenish and Ray Cottingham. He even made it into the movie, "Masters of the Sky" by Carl Boenish.

Teddy soon retired from jumping, as Jan's niece wanted Teddy as a toy. He learned that Bob Sinclair had an epiphany when he saw the harness hold jumps that Teddy made. Sinclair practiced the technique with real jumpers, later students and made a famous harness hold jump with Johnny Carson.

Teddy's 5-way star
Teddy's 5-way star with Jerry Myers, Jan Prewitt, Kevin Donnelly and Bill Smith.
Photo by Ray Cottingham.

Teddy's pull
Jumpmaster Jan Prewitt pulls Teddy's ripcord while Jerry Myers assists in stability.

Years later, Ken Coleman said the Teddy harness hold jumps inspired the harness-hold program that eventually became known as Accelerated Freefall.

Teddy was an expert consultant for Toy Story and Toy Story 2.

Teddy was last known to be convalescing on the shelf of a Salvation Army store near Byron, CA.

Photos by Ray Cottingham.

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