Profile - Brian Buckland | D-19047
Brian Buckland once “cut away” by selling his house and walking away from a job with a six-figure salary in order to skydive and travel the world for two years. He’s a respected freeflyer who has photographed two world records for largest vertical formation (a 69-way in 2007 and the current 108-way record in 2009) and two Canadian, one Australian and countless state records. Additionally, while flying camera with his former team, Mandrin, Buckland won a USPA Nationals gold medal in vertical formation skydiving (VFS).
Marital Status: Single
Occupation: Software sales
Education: Bachelor’s Degree
Pre-Jump Superstitions: Always wear a parachute...
Life Philosophy: Live life to the fullest, ask questions along the way, and explore to the far corners of this tiny world while you still can. Meet the people, hear their stories, taste their food, and experience their cultures: You just might learn something.
Sponsors: Airtec, Conceptus Inc., Get Hypoxic, Performance Designs, Shred Shop, Sky Systems USA, SkyVenture Colorado, United Parachute Technologies and Vertical Suits
Containers: United Parachute Technologies V3 Micron
Main Canopies: Performance Designs Katana 120
Reserve Canopies: Performance Designs Optimum 143
AAD: Airtec Cypres 2
Year of First Jump: 1994—two tandems, then AFF
Licenses and Ratings: B-18426, C-25880, D-19047 and PRO
Medals and Records:
2005: World Record for Largest Vertical Formation (53-way)
2007: USPA Nationals VFS, gold (with Mandrin)
2008: World Cup VFS, silver (with Mandrin)
World Record for Longest Sequence-Vertical (with Mandrin—40 points in 35 seconds)
Total Number of Jumps: 3,700
Freefly: 3,500 (3,400 of these with a camera)
Balloon Jumps: One
Total Number of Cutaways: Two
Would you rather swoop or land on an accuracy tuffet?
Neither; I just want to land safely on two feet.
What is your jump philosophy?
As my first jumpmaster once said, “I’d rather walk a mile than crawl an inch.”
Would you rather have a hard opening or line twists?
The two hardest openings I’ve had stick in my mind. I was wearing a camera on both. During one, all I could hear was my neck cracking; on the other, I shattered my chin cup on my chest.
Most people don’t know this about me:
I’m a geek.
Of all of your skydives, is there one jump that stands out most?
Falling off of a Twin Otter that was about to stall (it was bucking) during a world record attempt. I tracked across the sky and made it back [to the formation] in time to capture the last 10 seconds. This was also one of my scariest skydives for the same reason.
What do you like most about the sport?
The amazing people that make this sport what it is.
What do you like least about the sport?
Losing those amazing people.
Who have been your skydiving mentors?
Jason Peters taught me a lot about filming big-ways. Peter Wolfe instilled good, core skydiving values that I’ve held onto for the past 16 years. Jeff Sevich showed me the balance between life and the sport.
What are your future skydiving goals?
To find a way to keep it in my life and stay passionate about it. To pursue more with aerial photography and help the general public get a glimpse into our world.
What safety item do you think is most important or most often neglected?
People get complacent and stop learning. I’ve seen it take friends of mine. It’s not just one thing; it’s all of them. Complacency in this sport is not OK.
Do you have any suggestions for students?
Ask lots of questions, and make sure to jump at a USPA [Group Member] drop zone.
What’s the most bad-ass thing you can do in the air?
Capture the moment, even if it’s a fraction of a second.
If you could make everyone on the planet do something to make earth a better place to live, what would it be?
Learn to forgive, and just live your life without negatively affecting others.
What kind of skydiving student were you, the typical flailer or a complete natural from jump number one?
I failed AFF level 3 [equivalent to today’s category C] because I was flying like a potato chip.
What do you consider your most significant life achievement?
Selling my house, walking away from my job, putting everything I owned in storage and traveling the world for two years. Easily the best decision I have ever made in my entire life.
While in freefall, what has been your strangest thought?
I think Kyle [Starck—a teammate on Mandrin] just pooped his pants!
Do you have any suggestions for USPA?
Tranquilo—we’re all skydivers here. Loosen up!
What has been your best skydiving moment?
Landing after a demo into the Special Olympics and seeing the pure joy on the kids’ faces.
What has been your worst skydiving moment?
Coming in fourth during the 4-way VFS pilot event at Nationals after helping pioneer the sport. Disappointing, to say the least.
What drives your competitive spirit?
The desire to get the shot.
What quirks do you possess?
I was on a team named after alcohol, and I’ve never been drunk.
What makes you tick?
The pursuit of a better quality of life while being able to pursue all of my passions: skydiving, travel and photography.
How did you get to your current level of vertical skydiving talent?
I started freeflying in the late ’90s and just never looked back.
Can you explain how it felt to be the videographer on Mandrin, the team that set the VFS world record by turning 40 points in 35 seconds?
When we got the draw, we knew it was going to be, as my teammate Mike [Wittenburg] would say, “a burner.” Right out the door, [we turned] two or three points on the hill, and I was just trying to keep the guys at the right angle. Unfortunately, there were two points that never counted because grips were eclipsed by a head. All in all, averaging more than one point per second really set the bar for VFS. I’'m sure it will be smashed at some point with the right draw and the right team, but for the past two years, it’s held its ground.
What was it like winning the VFS National Championship with Mandrin?
Satisfying, knowing that the discipline we helped establish was here to stay.