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tradition.

It’s become very clear this season that skydivers are a family. Our world and community is pretty small and it takes a special kind of person to enjoy jumping out of airplanes.

One of the traditions in skydiving I’ve learned about is the memorial ash dive. A jump when skydivers scatter the ashes of a lost jumper in the sky.

Last weekend, some of the jumpers at CSC did an ash dive for a guy named Paul who was a long time jumper at our dropzone. I wasn’t there to witness it, but I heard his family and friends who gathered were amazed by his “cloud” in the sky.

The group dove out and created a “missing man” formation - an uncompleted circle. The empty space is Paul’s slot!

So, I wanted to share this video of Paul’s ash dive. It’s pretty damn cool.

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it’s getting weird.

It’s getting cold in Chicago. It’s getting windier. With each passing day I become increasingly aware that summer (and almost fall) is definitely over. And with all that comes the reality that it’s almost the end of the skydiving season here. What a bummer.

I remember landing my level one at the end of April feeling like I had nothing but time ahead of me. Somehow the past 6 months of ditching the city on weekends and hanging out at the dz became so routine that I didn’t even notice it was different than the life I used to know.

Watching summer skydiving friends pack up and head to warm places for the winter sucks. Knowing they’re staring at gorgeous beaches in the Virgin Islands or landing tandems on the sand in New Zealand makes the coming winter even more annoying.

But really, it’s just weird that the people I’ve spent a significant amount of time with this summer will be too far away to hang out with for a while. Some are just acquaintances I’ve jumped with or chatted with around the bonfires. Some have become very close friends I’ll miss terribly. Some live in the city and will surely drink beers with me and talk about how much it sucks we can’t jump year-round here.

It’s just strange to feel like the world I dove into is taking a little break for a while. I’m sure every skydiver experiences this strangeness after their first season, but I’m not a fan of it. I’ve got this gorgeous new gear and only a handful of weekends to jump it.

Guess it’s time to wax up the snowboard to see if that can fill my void.

Hopefully I can get some jumping trips in this winter. Hopefully I can see skydiver friends and continue to make new ones.

Here’s to staying current.

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just for fun

Yeah, skydiving can be scary sometimes. Sure, when you’re training and getting coaching and working on formation RW people can get pretty serious about the competitive aspect. But, most of the time, we’re doing this because it’s just so damn fun.

Here’s a video of some of the guys I jump with doing a demo in kilts to a Scottish festival a few weeks ago.

And here’s a little promo we shot at CSC for a BBQ spot in Austin who delivers ribs anywhere.

Who says we can’t goof around in the sky now and then?

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the real definition of a leap of faith.

Skydivers just blow my mind. I think they’re the best kind of people.

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freefall university: class of 2011

Last weekend we had a little party at the dz to celebrate the awesome Freefall University Class of 2011. Lots of students this season, many great skydives, some awesome newly licensed jumpers and a lot to be proud of.

The video is pretty long, but it’s a nice look at what the students accomplished this year. I’m happy to have my levels 1, 5 and A-license graduation jump included. Hooray for learning to skydive. Rock on.

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the tunnel is calling.

A few short months ago (June) I was a level 3 AFF student with a spinning problem, on my way to Colorado for a family wedding and 15 minutes of tunnel time booked at SkyVenture Colorado to see if I could work out whatever was making me turn in freefall. My last two skydives had been scary. Really scary.

I was nervous as hell that I just had some kind of body position problem that couldn’t be fixed and I was destined to spin out of control forever. I told myself if I didn’t get it worked out in the tunnel, I was never going to skydive again, because I did not enjoy the feeling of imminent death when my instructors let go of me.

I got in the tunnel, my coach worked with me on better body position and 2 minutes later I was holding my heading and controlling 90, 180 and 360 degree turns. That’s all it took. I soared through the rest of AFF when I got home and haven’t looked back since.

Everyone at the dropzone said the tunnel was an incredibly valuable training tool, but I had no clue how true that was until I got in there. The whole clean column of air in a non-life-threatening situation thing is magnificent. Just flying time. Just training my muscles to do the right thing.

Tonight I get on a plane to go back to Colorado and will be spending 40 minutes in the tunnel over the next two days. 40 jumps later, I have a lot more body control and experience under my belt and am really looking forward to honing skills like side sliding, fall rate adjustment and possibly starting to dig a bit into mantis position flying. I like flying on my belly. I want to rock out at RW. And it’s just going to be really fun spending two days flying in rotations with other CSC jumper friends and seeing everyone work on whatever they’re trying to improve these days.

Plus, my Dad bought a few minutes with in there with the same coach I work with. It’ll be cool to see him try to belly fly.

See you soon, SkyVenture Colorado. Let’s make this look way better than last time.

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my other love: photography

Obviously, I’m in love with skydiving. But, one true passion I’ve had for a long time is photography. I’ve always had an eye for it, and absolutely love capturing moments. It’s kinda my thing.

Totally destined to be a camera flyer one day. Someday.

A friend of mine is the PR/Marketing/Events Coordinator person for CSC and we struck up a little deal for me to do some ground photography during a boogie this spring. Turns out, they loved what I shot and I’ve been the boogie photographer ever since. So much fun.

Here is the photoset from CSC’s Boogie for Boobies, an event in June that raised money for the National Breast Cancer Foundation. My mom is a survivor, so it was really cool to be part of it.

Enjoy.

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4-way

So, there’s a rockin 4-way team called CSC Syndicate and bless their hearts they offered up their skills to jumpers of all experience levels to work on RW skills. As a newbie, this is insanely valuable. Learning to nail different kinds of exits, fly different positions within a formation, learn how to adjust to different fall rates, stay relative to 3 other people all while presenting the right grips at the right time to the right person - well, it’s a lot.

I’m definitely still learning to fly my body, so building the muscle memory of what to do to get a turn right or a limb placed correctly still takes some focus for me. But, I can feel myself getting more relaxed and feeling like it’s coming a bit more naturally on every jump, which I love.

And also, I found a jumpsuit. With booties (those little things that go over your toes to give you some more surface area to work with) and it made a huge difference in my flying, especially tracking away at the end of the dive. So, whatever, I know I owe beer for first jumps in the new suit.

Here are two videos from our 4-way training jumps. We were supposed to jump all day but the dropzone had some plane issues, so we only got to make 2. But, making small little improvements along the way is what counts!

I’m the one in the black jumpsuit with purple arms and the all-black rig on my back. In case you’re curious.

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another amazing week at csc.

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freefall is sexy.

Gives me chills.