Wg. Cdr. John Callistus Kilkenny OBE. OC PTS 24.11.47 – 8.6.53. Photograph courtesy George Sizeland.
Sgt. Chuck Thompson
1st WPC 1951 Bled Yugoslavia
Competition poster
Commemorative medal
Press cutting

Sgt Chuck Thompson qualified as a Parachuting Instructor on the 2nd April 1947 at Upper Heyford No 1 Parachute Training School. He was granted his civilian parachuting licence on the 15th June 1948.

Over the ensuing years he participated in many displays and training sessions across the country with the PTS achieving over 130 descents, luckily the same number as take offs! 

In August 1951, he competed in the very 1st World Parachute Jumping championship held in what was then Yugoslavia (now Slovenia) at Lake Bled. Five countries competed at this time for Style and Accuracy – UK, France, Yugoslavia. 

The three-man team consisted of John Fricker, the team captain and Pilot, Major Terence Willans, and Chuck – the jumpers. This event is recognised as the start of the world competition and focused on Accuracy and precision of Jump. Chuck received two commemorative medals at this event.

His last jump recorded in his personal logbook was made at East Grinstead Fete on the 23rd of July 1952

A difficult jump – unseen DZ and W/v uncertain. Spent 10 mins getting a satisfactory run in to d/s then with the wind evened, had to alter it. Gave up attempt to get on to the lawn and ran in on playing field. Slipped in satisfactorily – gloves a must. Heavy side?

Chuck organised and participated in many displays, often donating proceeds to the RAF Benevolent Fund and the RAF Association Fund. While participating in the Battle of Britain Display at Castle Bromwich on Saturday, he suffered a serious accident.

Whilst being watched by over 110,000 people, he jumped from 3000 ft in a delayed action drop intending to free fall to 2000 ft, but he plummeted down to 1000 ft and then developed a body spin. He was clearly seen from the ground struggling to grasp the ripcord while his body spun faster and he managed to deploy the chute, The wind carried Chuck over the aerodrome boundary, and he landed t1/2 mile away in a garden. He was taken to Birmingham Accident Hospital with head injuries.

He also organised an “outstanding” Air Display at Elmdon Airport. At this display he performed another delayed action dop as well as acrobatics on a hanging ladder and on the wheel of the aircraft, despite high winds. October 25th, 1951.

Auster demo. All material courtesy Robert Powell
Rear row: Norman Hoffman second left, Ken Kidd third left