Judge finds in favor of Mile-Hi Skydiving following Longmont Noise Trial


Dropzone owner Frank Casares and jumpers at Mile-Hi Skydiving Center can breathe easier after Bolder District Court Judge Judith LaBuda ruled in their favor on every claim brought forth by a group known as Citizens for Quiet Skies (or Facebook page). Claims were for nuisance, negligence and negligence per se.
The group had complained that the noise from aircraft (in particular the well visible purple, yellow and white Mile-Hi Twin Otter) had negatively impacted their quality of life as well as reduced the value of their properties. Kimberly Gibb, the leader of the group, is reported to be considering an appeal.
The city of Longmont is hosting a public meeting on June 3 to discuss complaints regarding airport noise.

The basis for the ruling rests on a foundation in federal laws and regulations regarding airplane noise, which are the standards that Mile-Hi must (and does) comply with. No evidence was found that violations has taken place.
Click here for a link to the case file in its entirety.


News Reports: Times-Call.com,

Help a Jumper Out: Kylie Rhoads, Wilderness EMT Training

In our “Help a Jumper Out’ posts, we usually bring to your attention skydivers that have been injured or hurt, and need help while they recover. Today’s contestant hails from the other side of the spectrum – the first responder side.

Kylie is an active jumper and tunnel flyer. Having spent several years on a busy dropzone she has seen her fair share of what the sport has to offer – good, bad and the ugly. Much respect to Kylie for stepping up and becoming one of those people who can really make a difference outside of a sterile hospital room – such as the landing area.


A little intro from Kylie’s GoFundMe page:

In March 2015 I finally had the opportunity to pursue a long-time goal of completing Wilderness First Responder training with Wilderness Medical Associates. That course reinforced a passion to learn and help those in need and added more fuel to the fire, emboldening me to pursue another journey for a goal – to become a certified Wilderness EMT – a course which, when completed, will allow me to combine medical training and critical thinking to aid and assist people in emergency situations where medical care is miles away. In addition to backcountry medicine, following completion of this course I will also be certified as an urban EMT!

My passions and pursuits in “extreme” and outdoor sports have put me on the front line in situations where immediate medical care was necessary to save lives, and now I want to be in a position to offer that care. We all know life is a precious commodity, and I see the pursuit to care for and protect that commodity as a worthy cause.

I’m asking for help, so I can help others. No amount is too small, and any amount will be greatly appreciated. Plus…..if you give a little…you get back…in the form of cookies!

If you could lend Kylie a hand with a few pennies, hit up her GoFundMe site and donate. Having known her for years, we can certainly vouch for those cookies, her great character and the solid personality to go with it. Good luck, Kylie!

Remembering What We’ve Forgotten

Online Reprint

Originally printed in issue #11 (June/July 2010) of Blue Skies Magazine.

As we gain experience in our sport, are we forgetting what it was like at the start?

My ride to altitude was a blur of handle checks, fiddling with goggles and eyes clenched shut as I mimicked the “real” skydivers dirt diving their jumps in the hopes that some of their confidence would rub off on me. It wasn’t the unknown rush that was the first jump, or even the barely contained terror of the level one AFF. It was knowing that I would graduate on this jump—and then I’d be set free in the world of skydiving with no fucking clue what I was really doing.

I was lucky. I graduated my AFF program at a Nevada drop zone that happened to have an amazing crew at the time. Bruce Henderson, Kurt Issle, Chris Stump, Will Forchet, Mike Skeffington and a few others were all a huge part of my beginnings in the sport. Not just because they got me safely through my tandem, AFF and gear crossover, but because they didn’t just leave me hanging after the fact. That amazing crew of guys took me to Perris Valley to show me what the real sport was like. I survived a broken leg at 25 jumps and my first cutaway at 27 jumps. It was these guys who not only helped me find all my shit but forced me back on the plane before the day was done, ensuring that I wouldn’t be just another guy who once made a few jumps back in the day. They were the ones that made wisecracks after pounding myself in on that bad landing, burning into my brain the need to never make that mistake again … Yet I find that as the sport has gotten older right along with me, and become much more mainstream, I seem at times to have lost some of what makes it so special.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are still a hell of a lot of wonderful people in our sport who love passing on all the little things we take for granted, but they seem to be harder to find these days. On more than a few occasions, I’ve seen teams snub those looking to learn from them—unless, of course, it’s a paid gig or one required by their sponsors, and that’s a very disappointing thing to see. Almost gone are the days when Mary Tortomasi and I could load Shark Air to go do a fun jump with the Flyboyz. Eli, Fritz and Mike were the freefly team of the day, yet would happily give up training jumps to go flail around with a couple of newbies like Mary and me. It was an amazing experience to find ourselves in the air with, for lack of a better word, our heroes.

Much harder to deal with than The In Crowd making it hard on the new kids is watching instructors do the very same thing with their students. Watching an instructor work with a difficult student with barely contained disgust is a horrible thing. Some of us were able to glide through our training with ease, but others had to fight and scratch for each and every level. It’s these students that I find become not only the best overall skydivers, but the most caring and attentive instructors. These are the people more than likely to give their all in the sport because it’s something they have incredible pride in—pride earned from a difficult task overcome with drive and determination, along with the helping hands of an instructor that gave a damn.

Whether you’re an instructor or a very experienced jumper, remember what got you into the sport, and more importantly, what kept you in it. Remember to pass on all the wisdom that you’ve gained over the years and keep it as fun and exciting for the students and low-timers as your instructor or mentor did for you. Instead of finishing the day having drinks in a team room or being closed off from the rest of the DZ buried in your clique, invite that new guy or girl to join in with you. Let them see what our lifestyle has to offer once the last load has landed. And don’t forget about all the little after-hours things you may have had to learn the hard way; teach that 50-jump wonder who decided to hang out for the weekend that he may want to consider taking his shoes off before he passes out at the DZ …

I also believe it is of the utmost importance to teach your students how to deal with the aircraft, the ground crew and the pilot as well. Teach that new jumper that the airplane you fly to altitude in is your lifeline right up until you jump out and deserves respect befitting its importance because your very life depends on it.

Teach them that one of the hardest jobs on the DZ is manifest, and it would be wise indeed to always remain on their good side. The term “Manifest Bitch” is one they need to learn to use with EXTREME CARE, if ever at all! Teach them that the ground crew helping start, move and load the aircraft are ultimately there to help and shouldn’t be given a handful of shit for telling you where to be, how to load or when. It’s their job and they are doing it to help provide the best service possible, as well as keep everyone safe. And if you think about it, at the end of a 12-hour day in ninety degree heat, wouldn’t you be a bit fucking irritable, too?

And for Christ’s sake, teach the new girls coming up in the sport how to get extra altitude. If you’ve been in the sport for a while ladies, let’s get back into the swing of things! I’ve noticed a drastic lack of titties in recent years, and can count on one hand the number of times I’ve given extra altitude for a good boob shot. The pilot needs love too, and you’ll find your local “Fuckin’ Pilot” will be much happier throughout the day if you help keep this particular tradition alive.

We are all guilty at times of forgetting what has drawn us to—and kept us in—our sport. As with anything, sometimes we forget how it used to be. Use the energy of that tandem student or recent A-license recipient to get yourself just as jazzed as them. Teach them a thing or two in the air and on the ground and see if you don’t end up just as excited as them!

Dean Ricci

Monthly Columnist

About the author: Dean “Princess” Ricci has more than 6,000 hours of flight time; 5,000 of those have been piloting jump ships for skydiving. He calls Skydive Dubai home now after a grueling stint in the Caribbean flying for The Man.

Photo Interview: Jennifer Sensenbaugh

Online Reprint

Originally printed in issue #51 (February 2014) of Blue Skies Magazine.
Download “Photo Interview: Jennifer Sensenbaugh”

In this third installment of the photo interview series, I hope to introduce you to another amazing character in our sport via a photo shoot, a few drinks and an interview. As might be expected, skydiving will be a common theme, but the real goal is to get to know the interviewee as they are off the DZ as well. You may recognize her from one of the wind tunnels that has been fortunate enough to have her as an employee, or maybe you remember her from the one of the early (and best!) cover photos of the most awesome skydiving magazines around. Either way, she isn’t one who is easily forgotten. Readers of Blue Skies, I hope you enjoy getting to know Jennifer Sensenbaugh.

Photo Interview: Jennifer Sensenbaugh | by Zach Lewis | blueskiesmag.com

Zach: You have moved around a little bit as your career has progressed. Can you tell us a little bit about where you are from and how you got from there to here?
Jennifer: I was born in Uppsala, Sweden. My dad met my mom in Stockholm when he was getting his Ph.D. and on the prowl for a hot European wife. When I was two, my family moved from Sweden to Jupiter, Florida, a small beach town near West Palm Beach. I went to college at the University of Central Florida in Orlando and got a degree in hospitality management. I fell in love with skydiving, and then started working for iFLY Orlando in Customer Service. In November 2012 I transferred within the SkyVenture company to work for iFLY Austin. One year later I transferred again to open and operate iFLY Dallas! So now here I am in Texas. The word “y’all” has very comfortably worked its way into my vocabulary. I would have never thought that was possible.

I had a question on this list that was going to ask you where you got your cheekbones; I had several exotic guesses … but never would have guessed Swedish!
I suppose they could be Swedish! My dad’s side of the family comes from Germany and Portugal, so I’m a big mix.

Photo Interview: Jennifer Sensenbaugh | by Zach Lewis | blueskiesmag.com

Did you find anything unusual when you moved to Texas?
I was pleasantly surprised with how friendly people are in Texas. Also, people here are more inclined to stop and smell the roses. I love it. I’m definitely trying to take a page out of their book.

Sure, why not! I like to dance for fun when I’m out with friends but I’m no ballerina! That’s for sure.

Where did you get your first paycheck?
I worked at a little burrito shop called Pyros Grill. I did everything from prepping the sauces, cutting the chicken, and washing dishes to taking people’s orders and making burritos. Now I always want to show the people at Chipotle how it’s done. Their portions and ingredients to tortilla ratio is always all off.

Photo Interview: Jennifer Sensenbaugh | by Zach Lewis | blueskiesmag.com

I am always interested to find out how people in the skydiving/tunnel industry navigated from their first jump or flight, to finding themselves in a place where this industry is their livelihood. How did you find your way?
My first few jumps were a disaster and I nearly quit. I broke my foot on level 1 of AFF after landing off in a junkyard in high winds. Then I failed level 3 after flailing out of the plane and showing my AFF instructors my technique on how to fall as slow as possible, and what a non-existent arch looks like.

While I was a crappy student, I did know that I loved being on the drop zone and the overall great vibe that came with being surrounded by such unique, exciting people. My instructors recommended that I spend some time in the tunnel, so from there I was able to become more stable and comfortable with the freefall portion of skydiving. Fast forward a couple of hundred skydives, and after some begging, groveling, and numerous job applications, I was finally able to put my degree in hospitality management to use and start work as a customer service representative at iFLY Orlando.

While in college, I was unsure of what I wanted to do with my life in terms of a career. People always told me to start doing what I love and the rest would follow. I had no idea how true that would become. Skydiving completely changed the path of my life, and I am forever grateful of everyone who encouraged and helped me along the way.

Photo Interview: Jennifer Sensenbaugh | by Zach Lewis | blueskiesmag.com

When it comes to music, what do you enjoy listening to? Is there anything that might surprise people?
I like classic rock from the ‘60s and ‘70s. All the good stuff that I used to listen to as a kid with my dad while cruising around town in his car. The Doobie Brothers, The Eagles, Bob Dylan, The Beatles. Top 40/pop/hip-hop isn’t really my thing (unless of course I am dancing) I also listen to a lot of indie music. It really depends on my mood. No big surprises in my music taste.

Is there a skydiving event that you would recommend to the readers?
I love the Invasion! I’m from Florida, and Skydive Sebastian is such an awesome drop zone. The view! The people! The awesome New Year’s party!

When it is time for a nip, what is your cocktail of choice?
I wish I could confidently say that I have a drink of choice. This again depends on my mood. I enjoy good red wine and Champagne. I will come up with any reason to celebrate for Champagne!

Photo Interview: Jennifer Sensenbaugh | by Zach Lewis | blueskiesmag.com

Would you consider yourself an introvert?
I think most people have both sides in them, but I always considered myself an introvert. I am a pretty quiet person and sometimes keep to myself. However, when I started skydiving, I opened up and became much more extroverted. I really love the big personalities that come with skydivers. I also love being around and interacting with skydiving/indoor skydiving students, because their nervous excitement is so apparent and it reminds me of how I felt when I first got into this sport. My job also requires a certain level of social interaction, so as I got older, I slowly broke out of my shy bubble. Sometimes I crawl back in though. It’s comfortable in there.

I hope you don’t mind my saying so, but you are in amazing shape. Is there any specific strategy in your diet and exercise routine to help you accomplish your goals?
I don’t really work out very much. I am just a small person with a fast metabolism. I eat a lot, and it will catch up to me one of these days. Flying in the tunnel is a great workout! A lot of the food I eat is home-cooked and organic, and I don’t eat fast food. Unfortunately I really dislike going to the gym. I wish I liked it, because I would like to have more muscle and bigger legs. According to advertisements/social media, “Real women have curves,” and I’m lacking in the curve department.

You once told me that you like to cook; what is your best dish?
I do like to cook, but I’m definitely not the best cook. I enjoy making healthy meals, lots of seafood and vegetables. Sometimes I watch the Food Network and imagine myself side-by-side with Paula Dean, whipping up beautiful dishes in a nice kitchen with organized spices and a sweet knife set. Then I come to, realize that I manage a wind tunnel, and cooking is not my forté.

Photo Interview: Jennifer Sensenbaugh | by Zach Lewis | blueskiesmag.com

Outside of the tunnel and drop zone, what do you enjoy doing for leisure?
I love to travel! I go to Sweden every summer to visit my family. Any little random trip I can take, I try to take advantage of. I’m somewhat of a homebody though. After a long, hectic day at work I like to be at home with my cat and a good book. I suppose that is the introverted side of me.

Any clues on what things are sure to make you smile?
Being around my family. Airports and knowing I’m about to go on vacation. An awesome skydive where something hysterical happens and then recapping it under canopy equals huge smiles. Witnessing random acts of kindness that momentarily restore my faith in humanity. Cliche, but the smell of jet-fuel. I’m a pretty smiley person; it isn’t hard to make me smile.

If you could go back in time at any point in the last 10 years, would you change anything in your life?
No. Any tiny change would completely alter the course that I’m on now! I am pretty content with that path. I have made a lot of mistakes, as do most people, but I have also learned a lot from those mistakes. The person that I am today is a reflection of my past 10 years, so I don’t think I would change anything. But the going back in time thing is a whole different story. We can save the time travel paradox discussion for a rainy day, over Champagne!

Photo Interview: Jennifer Sensenbaugh | by Zach Lewis | blueskiesmag.com

People always like to talk about what they do well, but what I want to know is—what do you suck at?
I suck at a lot of things! I’m pretty clumsy, and I’m unfortunately I’m not one of those people who just picks up on things really quickly. I sucked when I started tunnel flying; I was a rather slow learner. I suck at singing; I have a pretty squeaky voice, so I just refrain from singing.

What really pisses you off?
When people lie! I mean, I understand why people lie; they don’t want to hurt others, or to save themselves from a bad situation. People who are inconsiderate piss me off. I also hate when people are obnoxious, or rude for no reason.

If we were to throw a steak on the grill, how would you like it prepared?
Medium-rare, or rare if I can get away with it. It depends on the restaurant, but if I am at a nice restaurant I will usually get it rare. People who get their steak well done … why?

Photo Interview: Jennifer Sensenbaugh | by Zach Lewis | blueskiesmag.com

If you could do something to help improve our sport, what would it be?
It would be nice for skydiving to be more accepted and understood. It’s difficult to explain skydiving as a sport to someone who doesn’t skydive; they always look at me like I’m crazy. I think indoor skydiving has and will continue to improve our sport as more people experience it and become interested in body flight. It will be awesome to see how skydiving as a sport evolves as more people continue to push the envelope, as technology and video quality develop, and as skydiving/BASE/tunnel flying get more exposure via various media outlets.

If money and time were unlimited, where would your next trip take you?
All over the world! I would never stop exploring. I think I would start in Thailand. Or maybe South Africa.

When you were a kid, did you ever do anything crazy or mischievous that your parents never knew about?
I always got caught! My grandparents in Sweden live on a river that flows out to the Baltic Sea, and every year they open a dam which makes the river current extremely strong and dangerous. I remember one fine summer day in Sweden when I was about six, I was determined to go swimming in that raging river without drowning. I ended up getting a long rope and a life vest and tied the rope to a rock on shore and the other end to my life vest. I then ran full speed off the dock and jumped into the current. I quickly learned that I was not the pro body surfer that I had fashioned myself to be. Luckily my dad came running down and hauled me back in before I got swept out to sea. I didn’t get away with much when I was younger. I was always plotting something.

Photo Interview: Jennifer Sensenbaugh | by Zach Lewis | blueskiesmag.com

In the event you knew you were having your last meal, what would you have prepared?
I hope I wouldn’t know I was having my last meal, because that would make it super unenjoyable. In fact I would probably lose my appetite. But to entertain the question, I would order a steak. Medium-rare! And lobster, with a glass of red wine.

Lightning Round
Weights or cardio? Cardio.
Ice cream or cake? Neither.
Swoop or tip toe? Tip Toe!
Muscles or brains? Brains.
Saver or spender? Saver.
Fly or drive? Fly.
Business or laughs? Laughs.
Comedy or tragedy? Comedy.
Violin or guitar? Violin.
Desire or discipline? Desire.
Brute force or careful consideration? Brute force.
Poker or blackjack? Neither.
Spicy or mild? Spicy baby.

Photo Interview: Jennifer Sensenbaugh | by Zach Lewis | blueskiesmag.com

Zach Lewis

Photo Interviewer

About the interviewing photographer: Zach Lewis started jumping in 1997 and flies camera for Dallas Khaos Khobalt. He enjoys jumping, taking pictures, taking pictures while jumping, and whiskey.

“Sunshine Superman” review

“If there are mountains let’s climb ‘em. If there are buildings let’s jump off of ‘em.”

For a long time, Carl Boenish has been a legend to skydivers and BASE jumpers. He is considered the father of BASE jumping, and his innovative videography of skydiving and BASE was hugely influential in spreading awareness of those sports to the mainstream in the 1970s and 80s. But outside of airsports communities, today almost no one knows who he is.

Sunshine Superman, the new documentary by Marah Strauch, is poised to change that. I attended a press screening of the film in April, and I can safely say that this film is going to appeal to the mainstream in much the same way that Carl’s work did.

The movie features countless clips of Carl’s original 16mm footage alongside interviews with everyone from his wife and BASE partner Jean Boenish to Bill Wednt, the Yosemite park ranger responsible for first deciding to officially allow BASE in the park on a limited permit basis, then responsible for banning it. The film includes some reenactments, of things like a car driving along a road, but all of the skydiving and BASE footage is of the actual original jumps and jumpers. I cannot exaggerate how amazing this is, and how rare. How often when history is being made is one of the key participants a filmmaker who insists on filming every last bit of it?

And the footage is spectacular. When Carl and his friends did their first jumps from El Capitan in Yosemite, Carl had multiple cameras running including setups rigged to the jumpers’ helmets. For the first building jump his crew completed, in Houston, Texas, Carl actually hired a helicopter to get outside video. For him, the filmmaking was as important as the jumping, even when it added extra complications. Nick Di Giovanni’s writeup of BASE history includes a quote from Tom Start stating, ”You never want to go anywhere with Carl Boenish. He makes you walk up and down the same sections of the trail over and over as he films from this angle, that angle, then another angle.”

However frustrating his obsession with recording might have occasionally been at the time, the payoff for us, his future audience, is absolutely priceless. Marah Strauch’s team has done an amazing service in restoring much of his footage (100,000 feet of 16mm film in reversal stock!), and Jean Boenish has given us all a big gift in protecting it and now sharing it.

I felt that the one deficit in the film was the lack of tying Carl’s work to the modern BASE world. What Carl started with modified sky gear, notes scribbled at a coffee table, and sheer gumption has exploded into a diverse world of specialized equipment, ever-expanding possibility, and milestones realized all over the world. (The closest the film gets to hinting at this is the final scene, of a wingsuiter successfully completing the jump that took Carl’s life.) It touches only lightly on the controversies that arose around BASE, resulting in its status as a generally illegal activity today—at least in the US, the very country where it began. People outside the community watching the film will end with little knowledge of what BASE has become today, although the spirit of the activity does shine brightly throughout the film.

But those of us in and connected to the community—we know. And what we see in the film is a joyous, madcap, intelligent, shining reflection of BASE and BASE jumpers today. It rings deeply true, from the baffled park ranger asking, “How do you herd of a bunch of cats?” to the circus antics. From the intersection of intellectual analysis and physical exuberance to the wide grins and joie de vivre, from the dreams dashed to the dreams achieved—it’s all there.

Like Carl, this film is going to speak to skydivers and BASE jumpers, while also acting as an emissary to the rest of the world about why we love this crazy sport. Like Carl, it uplifts, inspires, and moves the progression of humanity and our dreams further along. We can’t ask for more than that.

Mara Schmid


About the author: Mara Schmid is a writer, skydiver and the Editor-In-Chief of Hussy Magazine, www.hussymag.com.