Parachute pioneer lauded

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At 86, retired Air Force Brig. Gen. James “Jim” Hall may not be suiting up for another free-fall jump, but many of the technical improvements he engineered decades ago still are.

A master parachutist with more than 1,800 jumps, Hall became a legend in the field of parachuting, including helping launch the Air Force Academy’s premier parachute program.

Hall, accompanied by his family, was toasted at a March 24 reception at the Glenmoor Country Club in Cherry Hills Village.

Lauded by the likes of former Colorado Gov. Bill Owens, U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman and former U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez, more than 150 guests attended the Irish-themed event that also served as a benefit for his special-needs son, Eagle Hall, who hopes to continue to participate in the Special Olympics

James Hall, who is a graduate of the both the Army Parachute School and the U.S. Forest Service Smoke Jumper School, is credited with creating the “buddy system” for free fall and the “4-line cut” for parachuting emergencies.

In 1959, Hall and a partner founded the first professional parachuting firm ever.

“Almost every parachute development done for the U.S. Air Force Academy in the first 30 years came from Gen. Hall,” said retired Lt. Col. John Buckley, a former combat pilot. “Brig. Gen. Hall’s developments saved lives.”

Hall’s life accomplishments are the stuff from which legends are made.

From conversations with Fidel Castro and Che Guevera, to Hollywood stuntmen, Hall’s accomplishments are the stuff from which legends are born.

In 1965, Hall suited up to conduct the first zero-zeroejection seat test for the F-106.

The test was known as Project 90, and zero-zero refers to the fact Hall was propelled more than 400 feet in the air from an aircraft cockpit at zero feet in altitude and zero knots velocity.

Hall often jokes about the event, saying he has been “kicked in the a-- harder than that.”

Irish tenor Anthony Kearns performed a short repertoire of traditional Irish ditties, much to Hall’s delight.

“Wow, I didn’t know I had this many friends,” said a humbled Hall. “I just want to thank each of you for being here and each of you for being my friend.”

Hall retired in 1981 from the Colorado Air National Guard and was later inducted into the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame.