Do we fly differently?

male and female symbols

I don’t know if this is allowed or cool or against the rules of reddit or the galaxy, but there is a really good question posted over there right now. An anonymous girl wonders if she’s “that guy” at her DZ — the one people worry about because she’s so unsafe and terrible at skydiving.

The question – and resulting great advice – has nothing to do with sex and/or gender, but it’s what I’m still thinking about. From the start, I had a hunch it was posted by a girl. She talks about only doing small tracking jumps because she’s not 100% confident in her skills and doesn’t want to put other people in danger. I know there are exceptions #noteveryman but I don’t hear that concern from male jumpers often.

And landings. Oh, the dreaded female landing problem. I die inside a little every time I think about this. I want to not see the obvious — that it’s usually women who can’t stand up landings when they want to. It’s usually women who dislike, or even fear, canopy flight. It’s usually women who don’t quite “get” landing patterns. There are lots of really good female canopy pilots, not just competitive CPers, but everyday, good, solid pilots. The people who do have problems though? Yeah. Lots of women.

There is no biological reason why women should have more difficulty flying a parachute than men have. None. You can talk to me about iron levels in the nose or depth perception or whatever crap you want but I simply don’t believe men and women have enough physical differences to matter when it comes to flying and landing a modern-day parachute.

Am I right in thinking that, although women make up 15% of the sport, we take up a lot higher percentage of the people who had trouble with canopy flight – or are not confident in our skydiving skills all around?

If you wouldn’t mind, click the button below to take a super quick survey, because I like data. I have a hunch what the results will be like, but maybe I’m wrong. If you don’t want a pop-up survey, it’s also here:

I shall report back with glorious graphs and numbers; in the meantime, what do you think? Do you see more women than men struggle with canopy flight and confidence in general? What can we do about that? Sisters In Skydiving is a great start; are there other programs or tactics you’ve seen work well?

PS: I don’t really know if this is a sex or a gender thing. I use “male” and “female” here in a kind of hazy, generic sex-and-gender way, with no intention to exclude or limit — more because I have no idea where the skydiving-confidence difference comes from.

Have you or someone else you know been that skydiver that other skydivers worry about? … | reddit

i58: Do It Anyway

Blue Skies Magazine October 2014 cover

It’s alive! Our October issue is mailing out now to current subscribers. If you are not a current subscriber, you can change that right here, right now.

Please give it until October 31 for the postal service to get your mag to you. If you still don’t have it by then, let us know by emailing Kolla at and she’ll get you sorted.

Blue Skies Magazine October 2014 cover

i58: October 2014 | James “Macca” Macdonald takes a selfie during UK Parachuting’s Sibson Boogie.

On the Cover

MACCA SELFIE WOAH! James “Macca” Macdonald takes a selfie during UK Parachuting’s Sibson Boogie and Beth Victor (née Athanas) writes about something I’m sure none of us have ever felt before. You know, because we’re all such radical, extreme WOAH risk takers. Or, you’re a normal person like Beth (and me, and Kolla) who is actually quite cautious, despite participating in one of the world’s most dangerous sports.

Featured Photo

Jim Hickey‘s parachute on fire. Really. Photo by Niklas Daniel,

The FlyBy

  • Comic Relief by Nadene Beyerbach, | Dummy holes abound.
  • Monthly tit4tat, | Get ready to say farewell to tit4tat; last entry is December. Unless … they get more contributions …
  • Finish freefliers set Nordic records!
  • Reader question: What’s your biggest fear?
  • 2014 Drop Zone Awards voting! Polls are still open, so get your votes in.


Most Jumps 2014 by Norman Kent, Jay Stokes tried to beat his own record with 700 skydives in 24 hours. Weather didn’t agree, but the attempt was remarkable.

Photo Interview: Hannah Betts by Zach Lewis

Hannah is one of those rare breeds who seems like an even more awesome human being than her looks — and her looks look pretty damned spectacular.

Jumping into Persia by Salman Amiri with Shahram Dabiri

Iran wasn’t exactly on my “I Want To Go To There” list before, but Sal and Shah may just change my mind. Sal and his partner Hadie are working to open the country’s first civilian drop zone and would cordially invite you to visit Persia.

Mustache BASE 2014 by Mara Schmid,

The funnest looking BASE boogie we’ll ever be totally unqualified to join.

Douggs’ Logbook

A peek into the actual BASE logbook of the legend Douggs,


It’s not a conspiracy that we print so many of Norman Kent’s photos or anything, he just makes it so freaking easy with so many amazing photos from so many places. Caroline E. Layne’s first helicopter is frozen in time this month.

Skydive Balaton & Tora Tora Helicamp 2014 by Max Heidenfelder

Hungary was already on my “I Want To Go To There” list and Max’s honest DZ review moved it up a notch or two.

Make: Custom-Molded Sugru Earbuds by Tiago “Quase” Seiler

I love Sugru and have been searching for someone to do an Instructable-type something with the stuff. Quase originally posted this on reddit and I pounced, bringing it to print for your page-tearing-out-as-reference pleasure

Personal Responsibility by Terry Wahlen

Not as exciting a term as some others, but probably the most important one. You can’t look sexy in a coffin.

How to Not Hate Skydiving by James La Barrie,

DZOs and anyone who works at a drop zone: READ THIS. Or, get burnt out and hate the most glorious sport in the world. Your choice.

And the Sky Is Still There by Sydney Owen

Sydney’s latest “From the Other Side: Tales of a Former N00b” is all about priorities. The sky is rad; even radder because it’s not going anywhere any time soon.

World Meet Hiccups by Kurt Gaebel, National Skydiving League

Some constructive criticism from an impartial observer of the latest World Meet. Thank Kurt for saying what needs to be said!

Turbine-Erotic Asphyxiation by the Fuckin’ Pilot

Pilot, I know you know where the term “pillow biter” comes from.

Back in the Day by Melanie Curtis,

Ah, back in the day, when we didn’t care how un-matchy our jumpsuits were or how we ranked in the world. Melanie goes there for Nationals.


SkyGod answers some questions, and some non-question questions.

Reader question: What are you most thankful for?


Yes, this is for the November issue. Hard to believe, but in just about 6 weeks, Americans will gather around a dead bird and be thankful. So let’s get an early start, shall we?

What are you most thankful for this year?

Let’s keep it air-sports-related-ish if we can, but no one’s getting ostracized if what you’re thankful for has nothing to do with flying.

Select responses will be printed in the November 2014 issue of Blue Skies Mag. Comment here or email; sign your comment or email with the name you want published in the mag. Responses may be edited for spelling, grammar or space.

Have you JUI?

Like most of you guys, I got my copy of Parachutist yesterday and went pretty straight to the incident reports. I still can’t really believe what I’m reading.

If you haven’t gotten your copy yet, toxicology reports on both (unrelated) fatalities in October’s incident reports indicated recent marijuana use — i.e., within hours of jumping — that most likely contributed to their deaths.

I’m naïve about drugs. Not that I have never or will never done them — and I don’t much care what other people do or don’t do — but it never occurs to me that people jump drunk or high or anything. I guess I think of drugs and booze squarely in the weather-hold or done-jumping time slots. So I’m curious — have you jumped under the influence?

This poll is completely anonymous, and you can leave anonymous comments as well.

Have you ever jumped under the influence?

I’m not condemning these jumpers and I don’t want to start any hate campaigns. We’re all grown ass adults making our own decisions, and these guys certainly fall under at least the age requirement for that.

Anyone else in as much shock as me, or am I the only stupidly ignorant one out there?

Highlights from Tony Uragallo’s AMA


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…


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.

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