i60: December 2014

Blue Skies Magazine i60: December 2014 | Steve Curtis cuts away during a GoPro Swoop and Slide project at Skydive Arizona. Photo by Samantha Schwann www.samanthaschwann.com.

Ho ho ho! The December issue is mailing out now to current subscribers. If you are not a current subscriber, you can change that right here, right now. You can also buy copies of this issue without a subscription!

Please give it until January 1 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 kolla@blueskiemag.com and she’ll get you sorted.

Blue Skies Magazine i60: December 2014 | Steve Curtis cuts away during a GoPro Swoop and Slide project at Skydive Arizona. Photo by Samantha Schwann www.samanthaschwann.com.

i60: December 2014 | Steve Curtis cuts away during a GoPro Swoop and Slide project at Skydive Arizona. Photo by Samantha Schwann www.samanthaschwann.com.

On the Cover

Try not to get the shivers looking at Steve Curtis on a slip ‘n slide; he’s in warm sunny Arizona, we promise. Samantha Schwann captures the splishy splashy moment he cut away. Results are in for the 2014 Drop Zone Awards–congratulations to all the winners!

Featured Photo

Miles Daisher and Mike Swanson have a bit of a tussle during Bridge Day 2014. Photo by David Cherry.

The FlyBy

  • Reader Question: What’s your dream life?
  • Comic Relief: Take It DZ by Nadene Beyerbachadventurecreative.ca
  • Monthly tit4tat, tit4tatcanda.com. Sadly, this is the end of the line for tit4tat–thank you to Joe and the gang for spreading the word about breast cancer awareness, in the most fun way possible. We’ll miss you! All future boob photos can come directly to us…
  • Freedom; a poem by Annette Raven Perin.
  • Pink Bra Jumps at Skydive Carolina by Curt Vogelsang
  • Alter Ego All-Girls CP Weekend by Carrie Transue
  • Compass & Crow Studios by Marissa Barclay

2014 Drop Zone Awards

You voted, we tabulated! And re-tabulated and re-tabulated and we promise, those are the actual results. We might move to the greater Chicagoland area now. Full winners will be posted online after the new year. Extra copies are available in the Blue Skies Mag shop: 2014 Back Issues.

Photo Interview: Joy Riders by Zach Lewis

BAMF team Joy Riders gets their turn in front of Zach’s lens.

“2015 is the year of the JoyRider; we have some super nice projects coming up and I’m really excited to get the chance to play along!”—Anna Moxnes

Get the Shot: Isolate Your Subject by Randy Swallows

Up your photography game with this ongoing series by the sport’s awesomest photographers.

Being deliberate in what you want to shoot will yield one of two results: you will get a shot that varies in perspective to 90 percent of the freefall images around, or you will fail.


Martin Gostner flying the AirDesign RISE 2 Superlight paraglider above Olüdeniz, Turkey. Photo by Josef Nindl.

Tunnel Got You Stiff? by Emma Tranter

We are so excited about this: Emma Tranter is a world-classs yoga instructor at the Yoga Shed in DeLand AND a BAMF tunnel flyer who will spend the next few issues giving you FREE yoga/stretching sequences. This first month focuses on neck and shoulders. Shout out to reddit user Chiemel for inspiring this series!

In the tunnel, the neck is often in a state of hyperflexion as we attempt to lift the chin to spill more air or look over a shoulder to see where we are going. Neck and shoulder problems are among the most common injuries, in and out of the tunnel.

Super Sky Sleuth

Find the 10 differences in these photos of MFS team Ridiculous Maneuvers by Bolt. Look for an in-depth, hard-hitting interview with the team by Missy Keough in our next issue!

SkyCouples: Courtney and Kaitlyn by Eli Godwin

Courtney and Kaitlyn are the ‘newest to skydiving’ couple Eli Godwin has introduced us to so far.

Skydiving has brought us closer as a couple. We love that we share a sport and can talk to each other about certain aspects and the other doesn’t get sick of hearing it.

Relative Work by Sydney Owen Williams

Sydney tackles the age-old dilemma for jumpers: Spend holiday time with your biological family, or go to a boogie somewhere warm with your sky family?

Let’s be serious. If you’re reading this magazine, there’s a good chance that skydiving has completely taken over a portion of your life, if not all of it.

Turning Points: Free Competition Training by Kurt Gaebel, NSL

We go full meta on this one. Kurt Gaebel read Sydney’s last column and has a response! Competition will always cost money, but there is free training out there.

The only thing in this scenario that is not free is my good craft beer that I have to buy first.

Read the full article online at skyleague.com.

A Million Ways to Die by the Fuckin’ Pilot

You’re more likely to die in a car crash than skydiving.

One of my favorite writers once said, “On a long enough timeline everyone’s chances of survival drops to zero.” So knowing that, have as much fun as you can, be as safe as possible about it, and enjoy the hell out of this fucking ride!

Marathon Training Sucks by James La Barrie

No shit. It is 100% worth it though.

If your offseason planning consists of creating an event schedule and ensuring you have enough staff, I hate to break it to you, but you’re training for a 5K, not a marathon.

The World Tour by Melanie Curtis

Melanie Curtis, melaniecurtis.com, is circling the world, y’all! #MFWT

Why? Because you’re skydivers. We jump. Both literally and figuratively, as fierce livers of life knowing that things we think might be possible, almost certainly are.

Dear SkyGod

SkyGod is in the holiday spirit.

You know what doesn’t count as insurance? Breaking yourself for no good reason and asking the community to send money to a PayPal account.


Guess who pays for your magazine to be printed and delivered to your doorstep? These guys. If you’re in the market for new stuff, buying from these guys (and letting them know you saw them in Blue Skies Mag) will help keep the mags coming to your door.

Above All Else
Adrenaline Obsession
Alter Ego
Bee Realty Corp
Bev Suits
Edge BASE magazine
Fluid Wings
Larsen & Brusgaard
Learn to BASE jump
Mirage Systems
NZ Aerosports
Opening Shock
Performance Designs
Skydive Radio
Sun Path Products
Tony Suits
Vigil America
Wicked Wingsuits
Dave DeWolf

Tell me old friend, what are you doing here?

Skydive San Marcos   Google Maps

By Josh Zammit

2014. What an amazing year.

Funny thing though, if you would have told me in November 2013 that in less than a year, I would have all ratings recurrent, be jumping every weekend, and be back on the staff of Skydive San Marcos, I would have laughed in your face. Funny thing, life; it has a way of surprising you—and this year, mine has been full of surprises. Here is the story of my favorite, my skydiving phoenix saga.

January 2014, still reeling from my bad-ass celebration of New Years’, I started off the year feeling as I am sure many Texans did: “Fair to midland.” No I didn’t spell that wrong, here in what Texans refer to as the center of the Universe, we use that to mean “above average.” The year was bright; I had a house, a dog, a girl and a daughter. My family was on the rise in the city of San Antonio.

"Tell me old friend, what are you doing here?" A holiday story of returning to the sky, by Josh Zammit. | Blue Skies Mag

The center of my universe.

What was flatlined, however, was my skydiving career. In January I had not jumped for almost four years. Not since my 1,298th jump in February 2010. A memorable jump and number for me, as it ended—after an uneventful freefall with a tandem slide-in landing—with a loud “pop” sound, and my leg broken in six places with my ankle dislocated.

"Tell me old friend, what are you doing here?" A holiday story of returning to the sky, by Josh Zammit. | Blue Skies Mag

Jump #1,298: Uneventful freefall, memorable landing.

As I lay healing, that girl who had my baby decided she no longer approved of my part-time job. In the interest of my traditional family, I hung it up, sold the rig, a couple of jumpsuits, and moved along. I kept my logbooks and a Da Kine Rags suit along with my helmet for sentimental value. I vowed to her that I would never jump again.

That was of course, before January 4 and the overnight bag, ironically made by Da Kine, that I found in the backseat of her car.

Picture this: You give up what you love, for someone you love. You feel obliged to do so, seeing the large sacrifices they made for you (i.e., childbirth.) In the end, you catch them doing something they promised never to do. She had moved on from me. I was, in a moment, heartbroken. Worse than anything I felt, I got a little crazy from grief.

I mourned her loss and some of the powers that be/were in my life did not understand, nor did I take the proper time to explain. I tried desperately to become a single parent in a small amount of time, and my methods were far from efficient. I had to leave work early so I could pick up my daughter from day care. I worked multiple side jobs, and the bosses noticed every bit. I would end up fired mid-March from the nonprofit I served, and in my heart feeling completely lost at the bright young age of 34.

Fortunately, when I feel lost, I like to go for a car ride.

I drove there without even knowing where I was going. I sang along to country songs with the 4-year-old in the back seat. Before I knew it, Willow and I traded the city with its streets and buildings for the back roads and barns of my favorite parts of Texas. We drove until perched in the road in front of us was a sign for a business, nestled in the wreck of a Twin Bonanza.

"Tell me old friend, what are you doing here?" A holiday story of returning to the sky, by Josh Zammit. | Blue Skies Mag

I drove there without even knowing where I was going.

I was at a place that I once called home, Skydive San Marcos.

I loved visiting my old stomping grounds and walking through there that day, I felt all of the beautiful contradictions that skydiving exposes to us. I felt nostalgia and alienation; the place had grown in my absence. I felt warm hugs and cold shoulders; with many friends there I felt welcomed but held at arm’s distance by the noobs. All those feelings passed away when I came into contact with my old friend, Eric Butts.

Eric is not a small man. To some, he is so large that he could be considered frightening. He has no time for drama or petty drop-zone bs but he always, always has time for a friend. His appearance reminded me of one of his old nicknames, “BarbEric.” He looks like a motorcycle gang member. That day he hugged me, as he has many times in the 10 years we have been friends, with the glow of a giant teddy bear. Eric asked about life and I regaled him with the story that was just relayed to you, dear reader. Eric was quiet for a moment, and without much fanfare he asked a simple question: “Would you like to come back to work for me.”

It only took a minute to decide and I was back to the contradictions. I said yes. Yes to a second chance, a second act in skydiving. I agreed to any terms he put out there for my recurrence.

I felt the contradictory nature of the first time we all experienced as jumpers: fear and exhilaration.

Old emotions swirled in. “I love this thing but it could kill me.”

I felt anticipation again.

I felt assured of the love of my friends, all the while fearful of their crazy, daredevil natures.

I felt the warm hand of the universe, as I have come to understand it, active in my life.

Nothing, not my feelings or friends, could prepare me for how it would feel to jump again.

I chose Kevin Hawkins as my coach for jump #1,299 on May 3, 2014. In the years that I have known Kevin, he has always encouraged self-awareness and self-discovery. Knowing this, I asked Kevin what he thought would happen. He told me simply that no one knew. I would only know once I was up there.

Would I love it again? Would I only hear the sound of my bone breaking and live my life in fear of it? Kevin had a powerful point: There was only one way to find out.

The sky was clear and the winds were favorable. With my totally terrified appearance, some rental gear and that old helmet I had kept, Kevin and I boarded the plane. I remember watching the way the light danced around the plane as it made its circular climb to altitude, friends staring at me to see if I would puke, and the powerful sound of twin turbine engines.

What happened next, I remember vaguely, just like many of the jumps I have made from Twin Otter 122PM with Kevin Hawkins. What I will never forget is how the jump made me feel.

I was 21, on my first jump again, screaming at the clouds of San Marcos.

I was 24, getting my first license.

I was 30, laying in the landing area surrounded by people who cared about my well-being, as my jumping came crashing to a halt.

I was home. I landed and hit my knees in a moment of reverence and gratitude.

The next month flew by, and I got my coach rating recurrent. I found a way to trust the Sigma once again with my and another’s life, then I found three new friends brave enough to ride it with me at the helm. Thanks to Tandem Instructor/Examiners Kevin Purdy, Connie Krusi and Vic Krusi, I was able to conquer one of the most crippling fears. Vic even let me start working again, right after that last recurrency jump.

I said words once lost, and broke down in tears soon after. “Hi, I am Josh and I’m your instructor.”

"Tell me old friend, what are you doing here?" A holiday story of returning to the sky, by Josh Zammit. | Blue Skies Mag

Hi, I am Josh and I’m your instructor.

I believe in the healing power and growth factor of skydiving again.

It’s the holidays, and in a time we all take to say thank you, perhaps it’s a hard time for you to do that personally, perhaps you are right where I was not all that long ago. Perhaps you feel lost, without direction, and broken and that is all right. My name is Josh Zammit, I have been up and I have been down but not out, and I believe that the best is yet to come, for you and me both.

May you find it in your heart to keep going, to be grateful, and to jump. In those jumps may you find joy and perspective, gratitude and peace. May you surrender to the sky as you have come to understand it, may you admit your faults to your family and friends and join us on a happy path to destiny.

You never know, your Eric Butts may well be waiting for you not too far up ahead, grinning from underneath a ball cap, mischief in his eyes, saying, “Tell me old friend, what are you doing here?” Just like that, leg straps, chin straps, seat belts and closing pins will be in place, and in no time at all, as it seems from the last, you are flying.

Blue skies, love and laughter,
Josh Zammit

Josh Zammit

Skydive San Marcos Instructor

About the author: Josh Zammit works at Skydive San Marcos on the weekends; on the weekdays find him dreaming about it. He is not done writing for you yet, skydivers—more to follow.

Reader question: What’s your jumping weather window?


Up here in this hemisphere, it’s getting cooooooold. We’ve heard rumors that it’s actually getting hotter in that other hemisphere, but that seems like just hogwash. Whatever season you’re in, this month’s reader question is:

What’s your weather window?

How cold is too cold, and how hot is too hot? Do you have a formula? Like, the temperature must be at least twice your age minus 10 and no less than half your age plus 4? Not that that’s mine or anything …

Select responses will be printed in the upcoming issue of Blue Skies Mag. Comment here or email me at lara@blueskiesmag.com. Sign your comment or email with your name or nickname as you would like it printed. Responses might be edited for spelling, grammar, clarity or space.

Caption this: Trunk’s View

Ty Losey, Johnny Gunn, Chazi Blacksher and Nathan Smith watch videographer Mark "Trunk" Kirschenbaum do ... something.

We haven’t had a good old fashioned caption contest around here in eons. That stops today.

Trunk of Hypoxic brilliance, fame and infamy, got this shot at Skydive Arizona on a head-up record attempt skills camp jump. Now it’s your turn to add to the genius: caption this photo! Winner will be hand selected by Trunk and will receive stickers, internet glory and a cup of coffee, redeemable at Blue Skies Mag HQ in DeLand, Florida.

Ty Losey, Johnny Gunn, Chazi Blacksher and Nathan Smith watch videographer Mark "Trunk" Kirschenbaum do ... something.


Trunk did manage to pull it together enough to later capture the successful head-up record. Not like we thought he wouldn’t, obviously.

Enter your caption as a comment below to enter official judging!

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