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Katherine H. Allen

Katherine H. Allen

staff writer

This week in 1957, the MIT Skydiving Club formed. Fifty men and two women attended a lecture by champion skydiver Captain Jacques Istel, hosted by the Textile Division of the Mechanical Engineering Department.

Captain Istel described the new sport of skydiving to his listeners, including the maneuvers required during free-fall, which he asserted was “like flying, (or) being immersed in very light water.” Prior to speaking at MIT, the captain spoke at Harvard, Yale, Bates, Princeton and Williams, inspiring skydiving clubs at each. The MIT crowd reacted similarly, and was excited about the easily available aircraft through the MIT flying club. Three Theta Xi brothers, Charles Negrin ’60, John Cadwaller ’60, and Ted Ansbacher ’60, founded the MIT Skydiving Club shortly after, and it grew from those three to a small group of about 12.

Today, the MIT Skydiving Club is affiliated with the Massachusetts Sport Parachute Club, based in Jumptown, Massachusetts, the birthplace of sport parachuting. They offer tandem as well as single jumps, with prices ranging from $300 for a free-fall first-jump, to $40 for a fourth jump in the static-line training program. More information is available on their website, <>.