Reader question: What gear brands are most popular at your DZ?


What brands does your DZ go for?

What is the most popular brand of rig, canopy, helmet, jumpsuit, camera, altimeter and/or wingsuit at your DZ? And bonus question – why?

We’ll print selected, lightly edited answers in the December issue of Blue Skies Mag. Comment here with your answer and your name exactly as you want it printed, or email answers to me at

Next month’s question topic: Your 2015 in review. Start tallying your jump #s, $ spent, good times had!

i70 Desktop Wallpaper: Head-down over Bay Area Skydiving by Jessica Brownlow

Katie Hansen leads a head-down flock over Bay Area Skydiving in Byron, California. Photo by Jessica Brownlow. | Blue Skies Magazine i70: October 2015 |

Online Reprint


Another gorgeous one from Jessie Brownlow!

Katie Hansen leads a head-down flock over Bay Area Skydiving in Byron, California. Photo by Jessica Brownlow. | Blue Skies Magazine i70: October 2015 |

Katie Hansen leads a head-down flock over Bay Area Skydiving in Byron, California. Photo by Jessica Brownlow. | Blue Skies Magazine i70: October 2015 |

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It’s almost closing time on the 2015 Drop Zone Awards voting, so get your vote in! We’ll close the polls the first week of November, and results will be printed in the December issue of Blue Skies Mag.

If you can’t see the form below, go to for direct voting.

Paramotor launch from a truck stop .:. Icarus Trophy update

The closest I’ve gotten to paramotoring was one very confusing early AFF jump where I tried to follow a funny-looking canopy’s pattern down to land (spoiler: it wasn’t a skydiver). So I don’t know dick about getting one off the ground, but this launch looks miles from standard to me.

David Wainwright is currently in the lead for the Race Class division of the Icarus Trophy, a 2-week paramotor race down the Pacific Coast that he’s whittled down to basically a 3-day race. He smashed this masterful launch from a tiny friggin’ parking lot where he had stopped to refuel yesterday:

And the story behind the takeoff (from the Icarus Trophy Facebook group – which you should join for more updates and cool stories and photos):

Day 2! Wow this is crazy hard work! Trucking along at max speed for 9.5hrs and 485km it’s a long day. It was a beautiful day right from the start. I just had to look at everything. (Bryan West) this was me for the day. Started great but my first fuel stop was a problem as the pumps only took card and my debit card doesn’t word and the was no other facilities so after landing just as a thermal broke off giving me a tail wind landing I went down on my hands and knees and managed to damage my start/kill switch cable! So I had to start the motor by hand out it on my back hook everything up while keeping it running and take off in a field with really long grass to fly down the road to a truck stop to get fuel and do some repairs.

I landed in the truck stop car park thing after circling to sus out the hazards you know trees trucks buildings nothing to worry about right! Anyway landing was sweet like slalom between the trees on the way in. Best fun!

The locals were kicking to themselves saying oh he probably needs gas. Then they come over and ask what I’m doing, oh you know just stopping for gas. Oh and do you have a socket I can borrow I busted my cable and need to get this out. So off he goes to his truck and comes back with all the tools I need to fix it! That was about and he pit stop after that then the really exciting part was to get in the air again! So the car park is t exactly long enough to get me and the 65kgs on my back off the ground in a straight line so I had to set up into wind get the glider up and moving then steer around the trucks doing a lap of the facility to get a long enough run to get air born. Few! glad I didn’t mess that up, Clear Truck! I gave the helpful owner a wave and I was out of there headed for Weed. One quick fuel stop and back in the air as Fish had caught up to me cruising up high with a nice tail wind. After that I was chasing down fish in the lead waiting for him to have to stop for fuel. Which ended up being the same place as me and with a couple of minutes of light to spare. Getting up early for the drag race to goal! One stop for fuel and we are there it’s long to be a F1 stop and racing every second will count. Can’t wait. Stay tuned.

Follow the race at

The Icarus Trophy paramotoring race has begun!

The Icarus Trophy race course map. From

I like to say that skydivers were my first glimpse into the world of the unconventional — people who don’t necessarily follow the college > wedding > kids > retirement path. But that’s not entirely true; my FIRST encounter with this rare, live-the-dream specimen came in coastal South Carolina where I spent a year after college. The McLesters, Sarah and Donald, did have 9-5 jobs (which is where I met Sarah) but they didn’t at all subscribe to the mainstream idea of what life should be. They’d do crazy things like save up all their day-job cash to sail to the Bahamas for a few months, or drive broken-down heaps of junk up Peru, or drive a short bus around the world.

I’m not the only one who admires these two; Charleston-area brewery Freehouse Beer named one of their freaking beers Life of Don. “Named for a Wadmalaw Island adventurer and free spirit, the Life of Don is a summer frolic, a detour to a different place. Full of funky, bouquet-like aromas, it is both a smooth and complex summer beer. Life of Don just is.”

And here’s where we get to the relevance: The Icarus Trophy has launched in Washington this morning. It’s a 2-week, unsupported powered-paragliding race to California and Don McLester, complete air-sports newbie (aside from a tandem at Skydive Carolina), has learned and gotten certified just to compete. As he says, “I proudly include on my aerial resume that I have flown a number of jets as well as a helicopter and several smaller planes. Always as a passenger enjoying cocktails and treats while others did the heavy lifting of getting them off the ground and to the proper destination and a proper landing.”


Whether you care about Don or not (BUT YOU SHOULD), this should be an interesting one to watch — and there are tons of ways to follow along:

Read about all the pilots:
Follow on Twitter:
Facebook group chat:
Check out the race course:
Follow live GPS tracking:
Don’s entourage is on Periscope if that’s your jam:
Or a blog:

The Icarus Trophy race course map. From

The Icarus Trophy race course map. From