Entrepreneurship in the Industry

Compared to other industries, skydiving is a relatively small market and therefore would likely be dominated by a few “category-killer” companies. However, the opposite is true: The industry is full of small, lean companies led by focused and passionate people. The individuals in this article make their livings ensuring that planes fly, gear fits and apparel matches the passion. At their core, skydiving companies are like any other small businesses. Starting out requires a leap of faith (like Tom Grayson betting his life savings on SAFEish) and the ability to overcome unforeseen obstacles (like Rich Grimm, though his obstacles were unusual in scale). more »

What is a Team?

Most big challenges are difficult to accomplish flying solo. It’s possible to achieve great things completely on your own without any support, but it’s usually not the best strategy for success. Pursuing an ambitious goal will more likely lead to success and be more rewarding—whether you reach the goal or not—if you do so with a team. more »

A Healthy Disrespect for the Impossible

At seven seconds past 7:00 on Friday morning, October 24, 2014, near Roswell, New Mexico, Alan Eustace lifted from the earth under a massive stratospheric balloon and ascended nearly 26 miles to the edge of space. A few hours later, at 135,891 feet MSL, he dropped away from the balloon and with little fanfare (his team had purposely avoided publicity) broke Felix Baumgartner’s world record for highest skydive set during the Red Bull Stratos Project almost exactly two years earlier. Along with the high-altitude record, Eustace set two other Fédération Aéronautique Internationale world records: highest vertical speed and longest distance of fall using a drogue. The feat took skydiving enthusiasts—and the world—by surprise. Few expected anyone to so quickly best what had once been such a longstanding high-altitude record. After all, Baumgartner’s 127,852-foot jump took place a full 52 years after Joseph Kittinger, then a young Air Force captain, leapt from 102,800 feet and into the record books. more »

Raising the Stakes

One of the beautiful things about skydiving is that unlike many other sports, pure size and strength are not an advantage. Female athletes across all skydiving disciplines have proven that men and women can compete on an even playing field in the sport. But if any doubt remained, 117 women proved it beyond question on October 17 when they set the world record (and not just the women’s world record, but the world record) for largest two-point sequential formation skydive. more »

Game Changers

After World War II, skydiving took off when returning veterans, many of whom served in airborne units and related fields, yearned to once again feel the rush of adrenaline as they exited an airplane. The passion they experienced while making static-line-deployed jumps made them hunger for more excitement. These early skydivers used modified military surplus equipment to participate in the blossoming sport. In the 1950s and ’60s, military B-4 containers, C-9 round canopies, 24-foot twill reserve canopies, pilot chutes, ripcords, helmets and boots saw heavy use at drop zones around the nation. Many jumpers didn’t particularly like military surplus equipment because it was bulky and uncomfortable, so a few started designing new equipment just for recreational skydivers. The equipment revolution began diminishing every aspect of military influence and changed skydiving forever. Here are some of the most original and dynamic inventions since that time. more »

Wingsuit Myths You Should Stop Believing

Ah, wingsuiting: the reigning king of extreme sports. More and more athletes are entering skydiving with the express purpose of learning to wingsuit and then, eventually, jumping that thing off a cliff and into internet stardom. more »

Choosing (and Using) a Reserve: The Seven Cells Between You and the Cold, Hard Ground

When your mentor tells you, “My main canopy is a toy. My reserve is my parachute,” it’s not just semantics. That square of orange (or white or red...) nylon is not the curvy little plaything that co-stars in all your GoPro footage. It’s not pretty. It’s not built for style. And it’s definitely not an aspect of your gear to think of only in annoyance when your repack date comes up. It’s built to save your butt, which makes it a vital part of your career as a skydiver. It’s your parachute. Make sure you get a good one and, just as vitally, learn how to fly it. more »

Five Things to Ask Yourself Before Downsizing

It's a topic that nearly all skydivers face at some point in their skydiving careers: downsizing. And it's a discussion that the Performance Designs staff has had with numerous skydivers of all experience levels over the years. Now, with the majority of incidents in skydiving occurring under fully open (and fully functional) canopies, it’s that much more important to talk about when it is and is not appropriate to downsize. more »

Giving Back

The All Veteran Group—a skydiving team whose mission is to use the skills that members learned in the military (including in combat) to remember, honor and serve their fellow veterans—has had a busy spring filled with noteworthy jumps, including a jump with the 41st president of the United States, George H.W. Bush. Primarily made up of former members of the U.S. Army Parachute Team Golden Knights, as well as patriot volunteers, AVG provides non-profit tandem skydives and other activities to service members, veterans and gold-star families (families of fallen service members) that are designed to bring a passion for life back into their hearts. The group also provides demonstration jumps to veterans’ charities and other national and international organizations. Mike Elliott, AVG’s president and founder, said, “I've seen a guy who's looking sad, and at the end of a jump he's smiling and high-fiving. To be able to give back is one of the biggest things." more »

Blue Skies or Gray

On iffy-weather days, you’ll see them sitting in folding chairs with icy beverages in hand exchanging knowing glances and wry smiles as much younger jumpers with untested immortality head to the plane. They’re the guys who say, as a thunderstorm advances, “It’s better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air than in the air wishing you were on the ground.” They’re the one’s who’ve been there, done that and lived to tell about it. And every summer, without fail, they set up their chairs right before the stormy weather moves in, and they pull their jumpsuits back on right after the danger has passed. more »