How to do a Mr. Bill – and live to tell the tale

This past weekend we lost a fellow jumper during a Mr. Bill attempt. It could easily have been a double fatality, but thankfully the other jumper involved should make a good recovery. After any incident like this, the initial reaction is often a bit knee-jerk, along the lines of “ban Mr. Bill’s!” or “we need a special Mr. Bill rating!”. But maybe that is not necessary. The fact is that these types of jumps have been around a long time, and have been done quite successfully at times. They’ve not worked out just as often (probably more often), but usually it just involves the hanging jumper falling off, maybe not so gracefully.
Let’s learn from this one. Keep yourself safe, keep your friends safe. Read on.

By Karl Meyer


Don’t worry – this is not some rant about flying yourself into the dirt with a perfectly functioning canopy above your head. This is a rant about how as skydivers, we tend to have this belief that we have “mad skills” and that every jump we do is the same, that they carry the same level of risk, and same level of needed skill sets. That’s a very deep and dark rabbit hole to fall into.

This part weekend we all took one step closer to the front of the BSBD line, when a jumper went in doing a Mr Bill. Based on information available when this is penned, it’s clear that a series of very bad decisions were made, and maybe a bit of bad luck came into play as well. 

For those of you who are not familiar with a Mr Bill, it’s basically two skydiver exiting while holding onto each other, both wearing their own rigs. The idea is that one jumper deploys his docile main canopy and the other jumper if smart, lucky, strong, or dumb enough will stay holding on.  After deployment, they both will fly around under a single canopy, before the second jumper will let go and deploy their own canopy.

This type of jump bring it’s own interesting list of “No shit there I was” possibilities, and the likelihood of puling it off successfully is marginal.  Here are some tips and tricks to get somewhat closer to success:

1. Like my AFF Instructor always drilled into my head: PLAN THE DIVE, DIVE THE PLAN. – Once you have the dive planned, stick to it, each cog (skydiver) in the plan needs to stick to their plan, don’t change it up if shit goes south.
2. Use a student rig as the primary canopy, the bigger the better, for a few obvious reasons i.e. canopy size, docile flight characteristics, wingloading.
3. Deploy as soon as possible out the door. The longer you remain in freefall the harder the opening could be, and the harder it will be to have someone hold onto you. 
4. Best exits have been the “holder” to face back to prop wash, the jumper to face into the prop wash and exit poised, head high. Practice, the exit, practice the exit, practice the exit …. Get my point?
5. For the love of all things “silver and bold” watch out for all the god damn handles. Last thing you want is a two out at 11k, while shit gets weird.
6. Practice, the exit, practice the exit, practice the exit …. Get my point?
7. Have a hard deck, stick to the hard deck, for when the hanger will let go of the jumper.
8. Look below you, around you, don’t just let go, you never know when tandems, students and other jumpers, might fly under your line of flight a few thousand feet below you.
9. Let the DZO, Pilots know what you planning …. Nothing worse for a DZO is to see a possible incident nearly happen, and them being clueless to the events.
10. If you have anyone following you out STOP right there. Make sure they have experience following people out who are about to deploy a parachute, and most important, make sure they know to stick to the plan, if they are to pull right out the door, make sure they understand to do just that, and not dive after you. Communicate!
11. If a jumper is following you, make sure they have the skills needed to fly in close proximity with other open canopies and position themselves during and after exit. You’ll be too busy to avoid them if they pull a “mad skills” move under canopy and try kill you.

On a side note, you could try get some piano wire, tie it to a fleshy (nipple, ball sack, ear lobe, nose ring) part of your body, and tie the other end to the jumpers chest strap, I promise you, you’ll have extra incentive to hold on.

In the end, it’s important to have fun, and enjoy our time in the sport, just remember to not let the excitement overwhelm, leaving you in freefall for the last time. 
If we don’t learn from the mistakes of others, we’ll need comfortable shoes to take those steps closer to the from of the line ….. it might be a short or a long wait, the choice is yours to make.

KarlMAbout the author:
Karl Meyer has mad skills (in more than one area) and can usually be found around Skydive Elsinore, doing his thang. He has a slew of ratings, lots of years in the sport and may or may not have unrecognized 4-way talent. Time will tell. 


BSBD Donald Bragg, Skydive the Farm

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BSBDcrop smOn Saturday, August 30th, 2014 Donald Bragg died from injuries sustained during a jump at Skydive the Farm in Rockmart, Georgia.

Two jumpers were attempting a Mr. Bill*,  with Donald as the third, doing outside video. To the best of our knowledge, the pair exited and deployed. Jumper B was not able to hold on through deployment and fell away. Donald was situated above the deploying main and the jumpers collided hard. Donald had initiated his own main deployment but not in time to avoid the deploying main or the jumper underneath. As a result of the collision both reserves were deployed, resulting in a double two-out scenario. It is possible that Donald was killed in the collision, but at the very least both jumpers lost consciousness. Donald was located by emergency responders and pronounced dead at the scene. The other jumper involved in the collision was transported to a hospital for treatment for his injuries and is expected to recover well.

The incident is under investigation.

We send our sincerest sympathies to the friends and family of Donald Bragg and everyone at Skydive the Farm.

News Reports:,

*A Mr. Bill is when one jumper (Jumper A) holds on to the harness of another (Jumper B), while that one (B) deploys his main. This is typically takes place right out the door, the pair aiming for a sub-terminal opening.  Later on,  jumper A will let go of the harness and fall away from Jumper B, to deploy and land under his own canopy.

Rookie Roundup at Skydive Arizona

AXISA little public service announcement from our friends at AXIS Flight School!
If you are new to the sport, holding a freshly minted A-license (and have less than 300 jumps), this event is for you. Run by professional coaches at top-notch facilities, and free. Did we mention FREE? As in, the good folks at Skydive Arizona are picking up the tab for coaching provided by world-class athletes. Oh, and beer. Did we mention beer? Tunnel?

Event: Rookie Roundup
Dates: Sep 27 & 28, 2014
Location: Skydive Arizona, Eloy, Arizona
Registration: Free

Ever feel a little bit left out when you arrive at the DZ? Not sure who to jump with, afraid to “be that guy” who might ruin the jump? Not sure how to go about receiving coaching, or which coaches are good ones, etc, etc. Rookie Roundup is geared toward newer jumpers looking to improve their current skills. It’s FREE! Skydive Arizona will provide coaching from Arizona Airspeed, Arizona Arsenal, AZTC and AXIS Flight School.

Rookie Roundup is an awesome weekend of jumping, tunnel, seminars and free coaching from some of the world’s best. That’s right. Arizona Airspeed, Arizona Arsenal and AXIS Flight School will be coaching everything - belly, freefly, tunnel and canopy. All of it. Wrapped up in a weekend of awesomeness. Oh yeah, and the coaching is free!

Rookie Roundup will be Sept 27 and 28 and is for jumpers new to the sport, with less than 300 jumps.

The weekend includes:

      • $23 slots
      • Free Coaching 
      • $75 tunnel time
      • Free Coaching
      • Free Coaching
      • A little bit of free beer
      • … and more FREE Coaching.

If you want to sign up – and I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t – email Skydive Arizona if you have any further questions.  Be sure to hurry, registration is free but slots are limited!

Tunnel for Rookie Roundup will be on Friday evening Sep 26, 2014 from 6pm-9pm at SkyVenture Arizona. If you have any questions about tunnel and/or want to sign up, please contact the tunnel directly to sign up. Slots are limited so hurry! Contact Annette via email (Annette at to register. 


2015 PIA Symposium


PIAThe Parachute Industry Association (PIA) is gearing up for the 2015 PIA Symposium, to be held in Daytona Beach, Florida March 30th – April 3rd, 2015. Which means it will be in full swing on April 1st, offering nearly UNLIMITED pranking potential, but that is a topic for another time.

If you are into skydiving gear, rigging or manufacturing, the PIA Symposium is an event you might want to seriously consider attending. It is loaded with seminars by some of the top gurus of the industry. The event offers opportunities for continuing education for riggers.

For 2014, PIA has launched a separate website for the Symposium: visit for more information about the event. Registration opens September 1st, 2014 (today!).  You can also like the PIA on Facebook  (direct link to “event page”) and get updates there.

Movie Club: Angles and Swoops. And Woosh.


Curated and presented by Movie Club President Missy Keough!

It’s FRIIIIIDAY – Movie Friday!

Get up and get moving with some jazzy clips by Richard Scheurich  (thanks to Keith Creedy for the hot tip!).  We bring you an episode of Fly4Life (currently there are 4 episodes and they are all fucking great).

Episode 2: Angles and Swoops

Get cha some.
Want more? Grab a beer (or 2), head on over to Richard’s Vimeo page, subscribe, share and ENJOY.