Highlights from Tony Uragallo’s AMA

tonyAMA

As you know, I was very excited for Tony Uragallo’s AMA and the charmer did not disappoint. As always, he was honest, forthcoming, kind and generous with answers to all kinds of questions. Some highlights below, but the entire AMA is worth reading: Tony’s full AMA.

On the highlight of his 30+ year career:

What is your favorite kind of wingsuit competition?
I have thoroughly enjoyed every wingsuit comp I’ve ever done, except for the Stechelberg one which was too low. Diving at the ground for 20 seconds from 2,000 feet, is not my idea of a fun skydive.
I think Red Bull aces is the best format so far, in terms of safety and excitement. Do you have any competition format ideas that haven’t been tried yet?—askingtony
I can’t think of any other competition like these guys are doing. They’re coming up with new ones all the time, and I’m gobsmacked every time. The thrill of doing them is the highlight of my career. More so than the 6 world meets I’ve done competing for my country, which at that time I thought was it. And at age 56 I found something to top being at the world championships. Isn’t life grand?

On making jumpsuits:

When did you first decide that jumpsuits was a thing you’d get into?
When I discovered that I wouldn’t have to get on the London bus to go to work in the rain as a bricklayer.
And was it a trial and error “lets see if this works out for me” kind of thing, or did you immediately know that this was the thing you were going to get into?
I didn’t know. I made two jumpsuits and said never again, both times. But when the third person asked me to make them a suit, I went out and bought a commercial machine and I loved it after that. I enjoyed tremendously listening to music and the traffic jam reports as I made suits in my bedroom.
Also when did you transition into manufacturing of wingsuits, and what made you branch off into that category? —austin_16x
I used to do it for Patrick deGayardon back in the 90′s. But I only made the suit and he added the wings. I seriously got into developing it 10 years ago when I saw how popular it was, and it was something I loved immediately. Experimenting with the different suits and results I get by making small changes. When I made parachutes, I’d spend a week making a prototype and couldn’t tell the difference between it and the production line parachute. I didn’t like that very much.

Someone (from another post) jokingly asked why my company is called Tony Suits, and actually, it was originally called something else, but people kept saying Tony’s suits, so we just went with it.

What’s the story behind the Jonathan canopy? —bendite02
Back in the day, when everyone was jumping rectangles, I saw a ridge-surfing parachute with the rear corners cut off. And I wondered how that would be for skydiving. So I started making kites, testing different shapes, and while I was flying them, people asked, why the different shapes? and what’s wrong with the rectangle? to which I usually replied, I don’t know. And they’d ask, how will you steer it if you cut the corners off? to which I replied I don’t know. And all of that reminded me of the book, Jonathan Livingston Seagull* by Richard Bach (who skydived at the time). In the book all the seagulls are asking Jonathan, why do you want to fly higher and faster, what’s wrong with hunting food all day like the rest of us? So I called the parachute Jonathan, after the seagull, and then later, we put airlocks in it and it became the Jedei.
Tony, I think the entire community would love to see how things work from your end. ‘How a wingsuit is made” Any possibility of getting a glimpse? a small intro video may be? —JudeCP
It is a fabulous product, in two and a half days to turn a small pile of fabric into a wing you can wear to fly your body, or use as a blanket when it’s cold, haha. We’ve had a couple of episodes filmed, how it’s made and how do they do it, I’ll see if I can get someone to find the links. We could take a video, but there’s house secrets that we don’t want our competitors to see…

Advice

If I don’t want to choose between RW and freeflying, but I only want to buy one jumpsuit then what should I do? —JStarx
Freefly leg on an RW suit.
What’s your biggest piece of advice to novice jumpers, specifically those just off student status? —flyboy10029
Do lots of jumps. Lots and lots of jumps. And quality jumps. Always trying to go beyond. Always trying something new. Don’t get locked into one event. People think they have to do one event to get good, to concentrate on that one thing. But I say do lots of different stuff to learn lots of things.

On the future of wingsuiting, BASE and his designs:

Hi Tony, what is the next awesome wingsuit after your famous Jedi….? —dreamderbase
Right now I’m working on race suits. The big deal right now is to be the first across the finish line, like in the China race and RedBull Aces. So right now the newest suits are being designed for more speed rather than glide ratio. But, I have the Rebel 2 off to the side, and I’m working on the Rebel 3 that is more about glide ratio…
Do you think we will be able to safely land wingsuits without the need to deploy parachutes? (Mainstream, not stunts on cardboard boxes) —mkroser
No. No we hurt ourselves landing parachutes, it will never be normal to land a wing half that size. IMO. Until wingsuits have the area or efficiency of a hang-glider, that is.

On the ideal ratio of fun over time:

Recently, there were lots of wingsuit fatalities. The saddest is many of them were pro flyers. What do you see in this? Is the pace of wingsuiting going too fast? —JudeCP
The pace is going just fine. But yes, the number of experienced pilots dying is horrifying, and something that needs addressing in everyones pre-flight brief. How to have the most fun over a long period of time, not all on that one jump.

* Amazon affiliate link: Blue Skies Mag will receive a portion of sales from this link.

TBT: Rings over Seoul

1988olympics

Remember this?

A bunch of no-name (tee hee) skydivers got to jump into the opening ceremonies of the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea.

And here’s what it all looked like to the spectators:

Anyone on the jump want to share your photos or stories?

H/T to cptnpiccard for the reddit thread!

Reader question: What’s your biggest fear?

question

Oh boy, late call on this one! I need answers PDQ for October’s reader question, which is:

What’s your biggest fear in skydiving, BASE jumping or paragliding (or your air sport of choice)?

Responses will be printed in the October issue of Blue Skies Mag, signed with the name you comment as. You can email answers to me as well, to lara@blueskiesmag.com. Be sure to state that it’s okay for us to print, and sign as you want your name printed in the mag.

Tony Uragallo is doing an AMA tomorrow!

tonyAMA

9/17/14 11:40 AM EST: The AMA is live!
http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/2go1ao/im_tony_uragallo_skydiver_base_jumper_and/

Tony Uragallo, the most interesting man in the world, is doing an AMA on reddit tomorrow, Wednesday Sep. 17 at noon EST!

What the hell is an AMA? reddit?

AMA stands for “Ask Me Anything” and is a popular feature on the website reddit. Anyone can make an account and post questions for Tony to answer. The most popular AMAs include President Obama, Bill Gates, a guy with two penises, Neil deGrasse Tyson and a guy who “was mauled by a bear, fought it off, and drove 4 miles down a mountain with [his] face hanging off.” Really.

How do I ask a question?

Go to reddit, click “want to join? login or register in seconds” in the top right corner to create an account. When Tony’s AMA starts, at noon tomorrow, click on the title of his thread (it doesn’t exist yet – we’ll post the direct link as soon as it’s up). Right under the description box will be an empty square that says, “Please remember, all top-level comments must contain a question.” Type your question in that box and hit Save. You can also comment on other question threads by clicking the green “Reply.”

Do I have to join reddit to view?

Nope! You can read everyone else’s questions and answers without an account. We’ll post highlights here later this week, too.

Who’s Tony Uragallo?

Oh no you di’int. Tony Uragallo owns TonySuits, the company that makes jumpsuits and wingsuits. He started out tinkering with parachutes and created the Jonathan elliptical canopy in the ’80s. When he gets tired of one thing, he moves along to the next. Most recently he moved on to wingsuit BASE competitions and has dominated. At age 60. Silver Grey Sports Club did a great interview and summary of the Tony-ness.

Minus the vertical-video syndrome and terrible audio and general horribleness of my skills (don’t worry, I will leave the videos to professionals from now on), this video from PIA 2013 gives you a few glimpses of the naughty schoolboy twinkle in his eyes and the Jack Sparrow-like charm. Also a peek of Tony’s beautiful wife Mary in the background :)

i57: Coming Soon

We just got word that i57, the September 2014 issue of Blue Skies Mag, is in the mail to subscribers around the world!

If you don’t have your copy by the end of the month, please let us know! Be patient though, it’s not called snail mail for the fun of it.

 

If you’re not a current subscriber, you can >> SUBSCRIBE HERE << and tell us you want to start with this issue. Otherwise, we’ll start you with i58, the October issue.

i57: September 2014 | Kjersti Eide, Gridset, Norway. Photo by Marius Back Dahle www.mariusbeckdahle.com/fashion/

i57: September 2014 | Kjersti Eide, Gridset, Norway. Photo by Marius Back Dahle www.mariusbeckdahle.com/fashion/

We start out with a profile of Norwegian BASE jumper Kjersti “Kitty Cat” Eide, by the always fabulous Cynthia Guzman.

In the FlyBy: Take It DZ, the monthly comic by Nadene; tit4tat, the ever-popular breast-cancer awareness PSA; reader question of the month; Lonnie Bissonette’s first jump back at the bridge that bit him 10 years ago; and the opening of the 2014 DZ Awards Voting!

An ekstremsportveko ’14 photo essay by Chris “Giant” Stewart, Team One Call.

A peek into Douggs’ personal BASE logbook.

The Four Times You Might Quit Skydiving” by Gil Sharon. Yes, you might actually think of quitting someday.

A Photo Tour of the Windy City’s Two Biggest Boogies: Skydive Chicago’s Summerfest and Chicagoland Skydiving Center’s Independence Boogie, by Norman Kent.

Predicting the Future” by Moe Viletto. A select few were there to hear this speech Moe gave at Bridge Day a few years back; we thought it was still relevant enough for everyone to read today.

The Perfect Madness of a BASE-Jumping Dad” by Alastair Macartney. How do you reconcile being a parent with participating in the world’s most dangerous sport?

James La Barrie has more DZ-management wisdom. “The Devil Is In the Details” will help your DZ go from good to unforgettable. More business = more jumps for you.

Feel like it’s been a rough year for fatalities? Sydney Owen Williams, former n00b, feels you. “If You Stay” might help you keep trucking.

4-way guru Kurt Gaebel of the NSL explains why you might be disappointed with your outdoor results after an awesome indoor training session in “The 4-Point Indoor Illusion.”

I’ll admit it, I asked the Fuckin’ Pilot how he managed to get porn in Dubai. His response — and more, of course — in “Fuckin’ Porn: Pros & Cons.” Remind me to think before I ask questions.

Melanie Curtis Grillet, highcomms.com, makes friends EVERYWHERE. You totally can, too. “Car Selfies and RAPA Revelations” might help you figure out how.

SkyGod. Rants.

We hope you like it! Please let us know what you think, and don’t forget to vote in the 2014 DZ Awards. Results will be in the December issue.

Happy September!

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