Carmen Villamil, D-30297, began jumping in her native Puerto Rico but now makes her home at Skydive Arizona in Eloy. She is involved in many aspects of the sport—instructing, videography, rigging and competing—and has excelled at each.
Jake Jensen, D-30450, is a two-time Fédération Aéronautique Internationale World Champion and five-time USPA National Champion in vertical formation skydiving with team SDC Core.
Max Cohn, D-20252, made a name for himself in the 1990s as an East Coast freefly talent when most of the evolution of the discipline was occurring in the West and in Florida.
Thomas Dellibac, D-24918, is a highly decorated canopy pilot turned DZO. From 2007 to 2016, Dellibac was all over the competition scene.
Sammy Vassilev began jumping in 1989 in Bulgaria, where he grew up around the sport. (His mother was a world champion.) He moved to the United States in 1991 and immediately began having an impact on the sport here as a talented skysurfer and camera flyer.
Like so many jumpers of his generation, Adam Buckner—at the time a freestyle BMX rider—started skydiving in 1991 after seeing the movie “Point Break.”
Marylou Laughlin, D-12418, started skydiving in 1988 and soon became heavily involved in competition, first as a competitor, then as a judge.
Stu Metcalfe, D-2563, is 71 years young and still killin’ it. This Cornhusker started skydiving in March 1969 in Lincoln, Nebraska, and soon became interested in precision accuracy.
Jeremy Dubansky is a fun-loving guy who has become a large presence in the Midwestern skydiving scene. He travels extensively to events, has a genuine love of his sky family and helps out jumpers in any way he can.
Rich Grimm, D-18890, started skydiving in 1980. He has been a competitor and a DZO, but he’s best known for being the creator, facilitator and organizer of epic international boogies in exotic locations.
John Mitchell, D-6462, started skydiving in 1974 and has been a positive presence in the sport since the first day he set foot on a DZ. He is a longtime AFF, static-line and tandem instructor and a weekend fun jumper who is always willing to jump with others, regardless of skill or experience.
Jim McCormick, D-12379, is a big-way and demo skydiver who has earned 15 world records (including the 400-way Fédération Aéronautique Internationale World Record for Largest Formation Skydive) and jumped over the North Pole.
Brent Findlay is a laid-back Kiwi who started skydiving in 1982. Since then, he’s become an iconic member of the New Zealand skydiving scene. He met his wife skydiving and raised a family around the sport. (His son, Dale, is also a skydiver.) Today, Findlay is an active formation skydiver who continues to set records, the most recent the 2018 New Zealand Competition Record for Most Points on a 4-Way Formation Skydive. By all accounts, Findlay is just getting better with age!
Katie Hansen, D-29694, is a badass skydiver who can pretty much do it all. She can carve up the sky in freefall, in a wingsuit and under canopy. She’s an AFF and tandem instructor, holds a PRO rating and is a world-record holder in head-up and head-down flying. And when she isn’t in the sky, she is helping society as a registered nurse.
Ari Perelman, D-27247, is a world-class formation skydiving competitor, coach and organizer. He is a current member of Arizona Airspeed, which recently took silver in 4-way FS at the 2018 Fédération Aéronautique Internationale World Parachuting Championships in Australia. Also skilled in vertical flying, Perelman has competed in vertical and mixed formation skydiving and was on the 138-way FAI Head-Down World Record in 2012.
Travis Mills, D-27249, is a world-class canopy pilot who flies competitively for the PD Factory Team and is a canopy coach for Flight-1. He is also talented in freefall and has been on numerous world-record-setting big-way jumps and medaled in freestyle and vertical formation skydiving at the world championships. The most recent of his many accomplishments are winning the first meet and taking silver overall at the two-meet 2018 Swoop Freestyle World Championships and taking bronze overall at the 2018 USPA Canopy Piloting Nationals.
Mike Bohn, D-28398, is a world-class freefly competitor, drop zone owner and AFF instructor. He’s a high-energy person who has medaled in freefly both nationally and internationally with his teammates on Team FLO. Bohn organizes state record jumps in Colorado, and also holds numerous world records.
Hannah Betts, D-30022, is a competitive skydiver, instructor and stunt performer who began her jumping career in the U.K. but now lives in California. Betts’ 4-way formation skydiving team—Bodyflight Storm—won the Féderátion Aéronautique Internationale Women’s World Championships and twice won the British Championships, and she was a member of the 181-way team that set the FAI Women’s World Record for Largest Formation Skydive. Skydiving opened the door to a career in Hollywood, where she now does stunt work for TV shows and movies, which have included “NCIS,” “The Walking Dead” and “Antman.”
B.J. (Bruce Jeffery) Worth, D-3805, is an epic figure in skydiving. He helped develop competitive formation skydiving and went on to become a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale World Champion; performed parachuting stunts in blockbuster movies (including playing James Bond from 1979-1997); organized the famous Olympic rings skydive in Seoul in 1988; and led World Team, which set multiple FAI World Records (including the standing 400-way record for largest formation). Worth also served as president of the USPA Board and president of the International Parachuting Commission and earned the USPA Lifetime Achievement Award and the FAI Gold Medal for Parachuting, Bronze Medal and Air Sports Centenary Award.
Bill Jones, D-924, is a legendary skydiver, instructor, drop zone owner, innovator and the patriarch of a large skydiving family. Nearly the entire Jones family jumps: six of his children have made their livings from skydiving, and five of the six still do. At age 86—after actively sport jumping for more than 50 years—Jones still has skydiving goals, proving that this is a sport for life.
Bill Wenger, D-3774 and a U.S. Army Golden Knight from 1974-1980, has dedicated much of his life to coaching and developing military skydivers, bringing dozens of teams to the USPA National Collegiate Parachuting Championships. He helped pioneer the 8-way FS discipline and earned numerous medals in FS and accuracy at national and world competitions. His peers describe him as “a great guy,” “humble,” “hard working” and “a great father” (to current Golden Knight Jason Wenger).
Chazi Blacksher, D-28539, is a busy load organizer and competitor who is heavily involved in the Sisters in Skydiving program, women’s world record jumps and freestyle competition. Blacksher moved to Arizona years ago but stays close to her roots at the Lincoln Sport Parachute Club in Weeping Water, Nebraska, where she load organizes at the DZ’s Redemption Boogie every year.
Danji “DJ” Marvin, D-22292, is an influential and safety-conscious AFF Instructor Examiner, Tandem Instructor Examiner and Coach Examiner who owns and runs The Ratings Center instructional ratings school. Marvin, along with co-host Nick Lott, also shares his enthusiasm and passion for the sport on Gravity Lab Radio.
Jeannie Bartholomew is a dedicated professional canopy pilot who (along with her husband, Curt Bartholomew) has put everything she has into the sport of skydiving. She is a member of Team Alter Ego Fastrax and travels the globe to teach canopy piloting skills and compete in events. Prior to skydiving she was a competitive cheerleader, and jumpers feel her positive attitude and energy wherever she goes.
Raymond Adams, D-30158, is a talented vertical formation skydiver and camera flyer who started jumping in 1993. Adams can often be found at boogies and record events, participating both as an inside flyer and outside cameraman. His photos have graced numerous Parachutist covers and centerfolds. Despite his accomplishments, his friends describe him as “humble,” as well as “someone you can count on” and “an asset to skydiving.”
Just a few weeks after giving this interview, on December 29, beloved skydiving mentor and big-way organizer Tom Jenkins, D-7707, died from the complications of Parkinson’s disease. During the interview, Jenkins—who knew his health was failing—stated his wish to pass away as a world-record holder. He achieved this wish three-fold, at the time of his death holding the 400-way Fédération Aéronautique Internationale World Record for Largest Formation Skydive (set in 2006), as well as the two-point 219-way and three-point 217-way FAI World Records (set in October, when he was suffering from the ill effects of his disease but was still able to jump at the highest level). From the moment of his first jump in 1978 through the more than 22,000 jumps he made afterward, Jenkins kept up a love for skydiving that never faded. His loss has left a big hole in the skydiving community, but the lessons he taught will help guide the sport for years to come.
Dusty Hanks is a family man, four-time USPA Nationals gold medalist, world champion, world record holder and all-around good guy. Like Jason Russell and Jake Jensen, two of his teammates on 4-way vertical formation skydiving team SDC Core, he is a former motocross racer turned professional skydiver. SDC Core successfully defended its 4-way VFS national championship at the 2017 USPA Nationals and will represent the U.S. at the world championships in 2018.
Craig O’Brien, D-19294, is a world champion skydiver, world-class freefall photographer and Hollywood stuntman and camera flyer. In the late 1990s, O’Brien and his then-soon-to-be wife, Tanya, formed the skysurfing team Firestarter. With Tanya on the skyboard and Craig flying camera, they were virtually unbeatable in national and world competitions. Later, O’Brien began working in Hollywood. His credits include filming and doing stunt work on “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” “Iron Man 3,” “Godzilla,” “Charlie’s Angels,” “The Bucket List” and many other movies, as well as commercials, documentaries and other productions.
Logan Donovan, D-31751, is an Ivy League-educated software engineer who is using her skills to benefit skydiving. Along with being a competitive canopy pilot and national canopy piloting judge, she created the Control Tower scoring system used to judge CP events around the world. Donovan has medaled numerous times in Northeastern Canopy Pilot League and Florida Canopy Piloting Association meets. In September, she earned her first medals at a USPA Nationals.
T. J. Hine started skydiving in 1985, and his love for the sport and its people continues today. A well-known formation skydiver at Skydive Chicago in Ottawa, Illinois, Hine has set many state, national and world big-way records and has medaled in 8-way and 10-way at the USPA Nationals. As one of his colleagues said, “T. J. has always balanced his work and his passion for skydiving. His longevity and enthusiasm in the sport inspire many to keep going.”
(More articles being added every day!)
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