Download “Photo Interview: Laura Wagner”
Buy a reprint of this issue.
I’m happy to report that I am starting to lose count of how many of these interviews I have done. Worry not about that though, because no matter which one this might be, I am confident you will enjoy this one. This young lady has some pretty serious skydiving in her DNA and has gone on to make quite a name for herself. She is very active in giving back to the sport through programs like Sisters in Skydiving (SiS) and enjoys helping to bring up the next generation of fliers. My goal is to introduce you to her as she is in the air, but more importantly who she is when she’s not being a badass in the sky or in the tunnel. Ladies and gents, I introduce to you Miss Laura Wagner.
Zach: What is this I hear about you stealing a rig from a homeless guy under a bridge?
Laura: Craziest shit ever. The moment that made me realize the friends I have in skydiving are unlike any other. This dude steals two rigs out of the trunk of the rental overnight (read: don’t leave gear in your car!) and I, Rod Boden and Dave Rhea do an epic social-media blast. Within 30 minutes I had friends literally showing up at my hotel door with gear and calling me offering free shit. Fast-forward another couple hours and one manhunt later, and we find said dude walking around with both the rigs over his shoulder. I don’t think he even set them down, they were spotless! We even jumped those pack jobs!
One of my favorite questions for this series is: What do you suck at?
I suck at singing! Really, I have no musical talent whatsoever. Being tone deaf is embarrassing; I have to stay far, far away from karaoke bars for everyone else’s sake.
That is by far the most common answer to that question. Odds of the skydiving choir are looking slim. In the short time I’ve known you, I think you have lived in three or four cities. Where do you currently call home?
Right now, downtown Austin, Texas! Come party with me!
If you had to guess, when and where will you settle down?
Well I definitely never thought I would live in Texas. It is the fourth state I have lived in the past seven years so who knows where I will go from here! I grew up in a military town so I have this intrisic need to keep moving and exploring and, well, settling just sounds boring.
If someone was trying to impress you with a meal, what should they prepare or where should they take you?
Something simple and light but bursting with flavor. Extra points for having caught/picked/gathered the food themselves!
I once saw a picture of you where your face was obscured, and recognized you by your abs. What is your trick to staying so lean and mean?
Lots of handstands and lots of flying!
Let’s talk booze! What is your cocktail of choice?
Hefeweizen in the summer, hot chocolate and Baileys in the winter. If I’m really in party mode, I go the basic-bitch route of vodka soda with lime.
You have traveled the world a little bit. Any favorites? Places you wouldn’t go back to?
I would go back to all of them! They would all mean something totally different through time and it would be interesting to see how my perspective of the place changes based on where I am in my life. My favorite so far would have to be Koh Tao, in the Gulf of Thailand. It was laid-back yet so, so fun; everyone was there to SCUBA dive and enjoy good food and drink beer on the beach, very simply and refreshing. Least favorite? Afghanistan definitely takes that title. It could have some really amazing ski resorts on its big, beautiful mountains though, sure would be cool to see that happen in my lifetime.
My understanding is that you may not be the only Wagner who knows a thing or two about skydiving. Do you consider yourself a “DZ kid?”
DZ kid for life! Creepers were my favorite childhood toy and I made money charging skydivers for cursing in front of me. It’s something I wouldn’t trade for the world. I have met so many amazing people throughout my life. It blows my mind what a diverse crowd that skydiving manages to bring together. Passion knows no limits. Luckily too, my parents were great about keeping me in my own hobbies so the drop zone meant holidays and boogies and I wasn’t jaded by the time I was old enough to jump.
How did growing up around skydivers shape who you are today?
The freeflyers were always way nicer to me, the guys let me braid their hair and showed me card tricks and didn’t yell at me to watch out for their lines. I knew from Day One that I had to be a freeflyer.
Did you always want to work in the skydiving industry?
Not at all! That’s why I went through the trouble of getting a college degree! But the heart doesn’t lie, a B.S. in geography couldn’t possibly outweigh my love of bodyflight.
Would you consider yourself a girly girl or a tomboy?
I and another drop-zone kid gave ourselves the names Totally Cute Tomboys. That’s real! She was the same friend that dressed up as a Spice Girl with me for Halloween one year. I was Sporty Spice, of course.
If you could never jump or tunnels fly again, what would be the next sport or hobby you would dominate?
I would love to spend a few seasons living on a mountain and skiing everyday. I think that would be magical!
You are pretty passionate and involved with SiS—can you tell us a little bit about that?
It’s all about lady power! I am most inspired by my SiS Lisa Mazzetta and the friendship that blossomed between us when we were both newbies out at Skydive Arizona. If it weren’t for her, I don’t know how I would have continued in the sport. Skydiving can present challenges bigger than just exiting an airplane and quitting can start to look really easy. For me, I showed up at this huge, intimidating drop zone so unlike the small, East-coast drop zones I was used to, and I was doubting my place in skydiving. But having a mentor, a friend, is priceless, and now being able to share the knowledge and the passion is a tremendous feeling—it is what will keep women jumping and keep the sport progressing.
Is there anything you refuse to eat?
Oysters. They’re slimy! Ew!
Carolinafest has proven itself over and over again in terms of great jumps and great parties. Voss Freefly Festival, though, THAT was such an epic adventure it’s hard to call it just a boogie. Experience of a lifetime that I can only wish to experience again someday.
How do you like Texas?
Texas. Oh, Texas. Never thought I would live here! Living in Austin is pretty great because everyone seems new to the city and eager to be friendly. But really, happiness levels are not so much about the geographical location but rather the friend network. Lucky for me, working at a tunnel means my friends are always around!
What are your hobbies or interests outside the sport?
I am currently getting my yoga-teacher certification! Staying active, getting sweaty, I love all that typical white-girl stuff. Lately I’ve been really into cooking and baking healthy and whole foods.
If you had to pick out one of the high-school stereotypes, which would you be?
I would say I was a cool kid up until I started skydiving my junior year. Then I became the weirdo that hung out at this place in the woods called the drop zone with a bunch of older people.
Could you date a whuffo?
For sure! But only if he had a real passion for something cool and a hot body.
Have you tried any other air sports beyond skydiving and the tunnel? Is there anything that you want to try?
Not really. I would love to try my hands at paragliding, just haven’t lived in the right place for it yet.
What scares you?
Ceiling fans. They could fall and decapitate you at any moment! I see the irony, trust me, but they really do scare me. I also refuse to watch scary movies.
Do you think you will ever get tired of the sport?
No way, there are always new arenas to explore.
Talk to us about having close friends, and casual friends all over the country (world?). What’s that like? Is it difficult to manage?
I feel so truly lucky to have gotten to live all over and become close with such lovely people. The Cougar Den in Eloy, Veronica’s Frisco kitchen, drop-zone fire pits across the country, these are all little places I hold dear in my heart and can always return to and feel right at home.
Chocolate or caramel? Chocolate.
Surf or turf? Surf.
Run or cycle? Cycle.
Comedy or horror? Comedy.
Rare or well done? Medium rare.
Milkshake or smoothie? Chocolate banana smoothie.
Friends or family? Friends are family!
Chicks Rock or Holiday Boogie? Chicks Rock.
Chopper or balloon? Balloon.
First date: kiss or hug? Hug.
Formal or casual? Casual.
Pink or black? Black.
Million dollars or a million memories? Memories.
Table or booth? Booth.
Air conditioning or patio? Dog-friendly patio.
Like this article?
Get more just like it every month, delivered straight to your mailbox. Subscribe today!