The silence at grief-stricken Skydive was deafening

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Skydive New England was shuttered on Saturday in the wake of Thursday's fatal accident. (Courtesy photo)

Skydive New England, normally bubbling with frenzied excitement and adventure on any given weekend, was eerily silent on Saturday.

There was no laughter from people eating at the Ripcord Café. There wasn't the constant drone of jump planes getting ready to take off.

As I walked about I could almost hear and see what was missing: the squeals of delight of first-time skydivers as they coast gently to a stop in the grassy landing area just off the tarmac, the whoosh of longtime jump aficionados showing off their skills as they scream in "hot" but under total control to land, and the nervous, giggly anticipation of those waiting their turn to jump out of a perfectly good airplane.

A few residents of the campground inside the facility gathered at one campsite listening to music, but none wanted to talk about the tragedy that had cast a pall over the place.

To say the death of 41-year-old Brett Bickford, a longtime member of the Skydive New England family, was anything less than devastating to this close-knit fraternity, would be untrue.

"We're just trying to process this," said one camper who wanted to remain anonymous.

Everyone associated with Skydive New England wants to know how Bickford, a seasoned skydiving instructor, became detached from a tandem student and fell to his death on Thursday afternoon.

But, more importantly, they want to be left alone to mourn the death of a friend.

It is expected that more information may be released on Monday as the FAA heads up an investigation into what went wrong.

In the meantime, the folks who knew Brett Bickford best are asking for a little space and a little time.

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