Greg’s featured past column: “Vulture’s Prey”

I was chatting with my acquaintance Bruce today about an airplane he’s considering buying in southern California, and somehow the conversation turned to his visit to the renowned skydiving center at Perris Valley, California.

“I landed there one time,” I said, describing the unusual indoor skydiving facility located on the field.

“Did you go there to skydive, Greg?” he asked.

“Oh no,” I said, “that’s a whole different story.” Here, for Bruce’s reading pleasure and yours, is “Vulture’s Prey,” first published in March, 2005.

Photo: Phil and Kelly prepare to leave Perris Valley Airport for the 450 mile drive to Flagstaff in the “new” Lobe band bus. See more photos here.

©2011 Gregory N. Brown

If you enjoyed this story, you’ll love Greg’s book, Flying Carpet: The Soul of an Airplane. Autographed copies available!

4 thoughts on “Greg’s featured past column: “Vulture’s Prey”

  1. Thanks for sharing the “Vulture” saga. I had two thoughts running through my head as I read it. The first was the various rolling wrecks I had the misfortune of owning during my starving musician days. I once bought a `64 VW Beetle that I paid the princely sum of $400 for. I remember seeing the seller laughing as we drove away. He had good cause to laugh.

    The other thought was how I regret not “jumping the jet” as they say–the DC-9 that Perris finally got FAA approved and jump-worthy. My skydiving “A” license is now gathering dust but I’m looking forward to getting my Private Pilot ticket. That one will most definitely NOT gather dust. And the family will get to enjoy THAT achievement, too.

    Thanks for all the great advice as I get closer to owning that elusive C-182.

    BLue Skies!

    1. That DC-9 was under conversion next to the runway when we landed there. When did they finally get it flying?

  2. Hey Greg,
    Best I can determine, they started doing jumps sometime in the spring of `07. I “retired” from jumping in late `04. 🙁

    Funny how times change. Back as a college sophomore at USC (`76), I did my first jump at Perris–basically a backwater dropzone at the time compared to the very popular Elsinore dropzone. Fast forward a couple decades and now Perris is like Skydive Arizona in Eloy, Arizona, a virtual Club Med of skydiving–attracting jumpers and teams from all over the world with state-of-the-sport aircraft like Otters, SkyVans, and King Airs.

    Ah, I miss the smell of Jet-A in the morning!!

    Now, as a pilot-in-training, I intend to stay well clear of dropzone airports as we had a few dunderheads fly right underneath us as we got ready to bail out at 13,500. Not a comforting feeling to imagine becoming a hood ornament for an errant Mooney!

  3. BTW, Greg, the DC9 was essentially in great shape when the Conasters took possession of the plane. It was the mountains of FAA paperwork that took so long.

    They even have to do goofy things like offer the jumpers a “snack” (essentially a breath mint) on the flight up to altitude to comply with some silly rule about using the plane to haul passengers or whatnot.

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