Alien Attack

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It never really crossed my mind. Being from Northern California, more specifically the Bay Area, I’ve been surrounded by them all my life. You get to a point where you flat out just don’t notice the difference anymore. I’m speaking of course of foreigners. In almost every major city in the U.S. it seems as though every third person you come across is from somewhere else. So when I got into skydiving, the fact that more than half of the jumpers I met were from another country never really registered.

Perhaps it’s because all in all the U.S. has some of the most favorable conditions for jumping. Relatively consistent weather, a large fun jumper base and an almost never-ending supply of first-time jumpers make the States one of, if not the, best place on the planet to be a professional skydiver. Whatever the case may be, the United States is absolutely soaked with Brit, Kiwi, Aussie, South African, Mexican, Italian, Swede, Swiss, Brazilian, Canadian, Slovakian, Russian, Polish, Japanese, Korean, Thai … You get the point. Yet up until 2006 it had never crossed my mind to go anywhere outside the States for work, or even a fun jump for that matter. It was an Aussie friend of mine working in California with me who first put the idea into my head.

The fact of the matter was, by the end of 2005, the thought of being stuck in Davis for another winter was almost enough to make me want to go out and get a real job! The previous winter I’d spent my time chucking drogues and freezing my ass off just outside the Bay, and even if the money had been good, which it surely was not, it wasn’t worth repeating. I’d worked in the States every winter since I’d started jumping, and had frozen my ass off every time.

Then in passing my friend Brad mentioned that he’d spent a winter season jumping in Fiji. He said that they were always looking for instructors AND pilots, so I figured what the hell, an e-mail couldn’t do any harm.

A week and a half later I was on a train bound for Los Angeles to catch my Air Pacific flight to Nadi, Fiji. The train had been the idea of the girl I’d been dating at the time, and turned out to be one of the worst ideas she’d ever had. Worst in my opinion, just behind going out on a date with me. Eleven hours on an Amtrak train with a sullen, quiet and very UN-horny girl (why the fuck we got the sleeper car if she didn’t want to screw around is beyond me), followed by the ever looming fourteen hours over the Pacific in coach was enough to make me slap my AmEx card down on the counter for an upgrade to first class. Best damn money I ever spent, I tell you! Coach was still loading while what seemed to be my own personal stewardess was asking, “Would you like fresh pepper on your salad Mr. Ricci?” The bottomless bottle of rum turned the flight into a happy blur of movies and naps and I woke twelve hours later to a soft hand on my shoulder asking if I was ready for breakfast.

It was just about then that it dawned on me that I was about to land in a country on the other side of the planet, and someone there was actually going to pay me to be there! Not only was I being provided with a place to live, transportation AND a job, but it was all happening on and above one of the most beautiful spots on the entire globe. The job was mine after just a few e-mails back and forth because as it turns out, a multi-rated instructor with lots of jumps can just about write his own ticket. As time passed I found to my dismay that working in Fiji wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, but the place itself was amazing. So what does a newborn gypsy skydiver do when a DZ just plain sucks? Quit, of course!

Having left the job I was hired for almost two months before I was supposed to leave also unwittingly gave me one other thing in common with most of my foreign friends: It voided my visa and made my staying in the country very illegal! I’d gone and managed to become an illegal alien in another country and now had to watch my ass to avoid getting deported! Although granted, busted in my case meant they sent me back to LA, but it still would have been quite the pain in the ass.

What Fiji did for me was, as I’ve been told, exactly what the first trip to the States did for quite a few of my friends: It gave me a serious bug to travel. By now I’ve had the opportunity to work at close to a dozen drop zones in the U.S. and seen most of our fifty states, yet now, like more and more of my American brothers I’ve set my sights on lands outside USPA’s territory.

Thanks to my friend Paul, as I write this I find myself on a bus traveling from Auckland to Whangarei, New Zealand. From here I intend to spend the winter chucking drogues over the beach, scuba diving, drinking and meeting heaps of new people. I’ll be bouncing back to Fiji for some amazing shark dives, backpacking over to Thailand to wander for a bit and basically letting this sport of ours show me the sights. That, and take great pleasure in being the foreign guy for a change!

If you’re tired of the Brit or the South African banging all the hot chicks ‘cause they’ve got the fucking accent, then it’s time for you to go where you’re the one who talks funny! Take those ratings you worked so damn hard to get and go see the world! Go drive on the wrong side of the road. Go be the one living in a tent behind the hangar till the hot ass fun jumper takes you in. Go become an illegal alien and flirt with the possibility of being deported. Fuck it! It’s a big god damn planet but it’s a small sport, and because of that, you just might find you can manage to see it all!

Dean Ricci

Monthly Columnist

About the author: Dean “Princess” Ricci has more than 8,500 hours of flight time; 5,000 of those have been piloting jump ships for skydiving. He calls Skydive Dubai home now after a grueling stint in the Caribbean flying for The Man.

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Photo Interview: Laura Wagner

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I’m happy to report that I am starting to lose count of how many of these interviews I have done. Worry not about that though, because no matter which one this might be, I am confident you will enjoy this one. This young lady has some pretty serious skydiving in her DNA and has gone on to make quite a name for herself. She is very active in giving back to the sport through programs like Sisters in Skydiving (SiS) and enjoys helping to bring up the next generation of fliers. My goal is to introduce you to her as she is in the air, but more importantly who she is when she’s not being a badass in the sky or in the tunnel. Ladies and gents, I introduce to you Miss Laura Wagner.

Photo Interview: Laura Wagner | by Zach Lewis |

Zach: What is this I hear about you stealing a rig from a homeless guy under a bridge?
Laura: Craziest shit ever. The moment that made me realize the friends I have in skydiving are unlike any other. This dude steals two rigs out of the trunk of the rental overnight (read: don’t leave gear in your car!) and I, Rod Boden and Dave Rhea do an epic social-media blast. Within 30 minutes I had friends literally showing up at my hotel door with gear and calling me offering free shit. Fast-forward another couple hours and one manhunt later, and we find said dude walking around with both the rigs over his shoulder. I don’t think he even set them down, they were spotless! We even jumped those pack jobs!

One of my favorite questions for this series is: What do you suck at?
I suck at singing! Really, I have no musical talent whatsoever. Being tone deaf is embarrassing; I have to stay far, far away from karaoke bars for everyone else’s sake.

That is by far the most common answer to that question. Odds of the skydiving choir are looking slim. In the short time I’ve known you, I think you have lived in three or four cities. Where do you currently call home?
Right now, downtown Austin, Texas! Come party with me!

If you had to guess, when and where will you settle down?
Well I definitely never thought I would live in Texas. It is the fourth state I have lived in the past seven years so who knows where I will go from here! I grew up in a military town so I have this intrisic need to keep moving and exploring and, well, settling just sounds boring.

If someone was trying to impress you with a meal, what should they prepare or where should they take you?
Something simple and light but bursting with flavor. Extra points for having caught/picked/gathered the food themselves!

Photo Interview: Laura Wagner | by Zach Lewis |

I once saw a picture of you where your face was obscured, and recognized you by your abs. What is your trick to staying so lean and mean?
Lots of handstands and lots of flying!

Let’s talk booze! What is your cocktail of choice?
Hefeweizen in the summer, hot chocolate and Baileys in the winter. If I’m really in party mode, I go the basic-bitch route of vodka soda with lime.

You have traveled the world a little bit. Any favorites? Places you wouldn’t go back to?
I would go back to all of them! They would all mean something totally different through time and it would be interesting to see how my perspective of the place changes based on where I am in my life. My favorite so far would have to be Koh Tao, in the Gulf of Thailand. It was laid-back yet so, so fun; everyone was there to SCUBA dive and enjoy good food and drink beer on the beach, very simply and refreshing. Least favorite? Afghanistan definitely takes that title. It could have some really amazing ski resorts on its big, beautiful mountains though, sure would be cool to see that happen in my lifetime.

Photo Interview: Laura Wagner | by Zach Lewis |

My understanding is that you may not be the only Wagner who knows a thing or two about skydiving. Do you consider yourself a “DZ kid?”
DZ kid for life! Creepers were my favorite childhood toy and I made money charging skydivers for cursing in front of me. It’s something I wouldn’t trade for the world. I have met so many amazing people throughout my life. It blows my mind what a diverse crowd that skydiving manages to bring together. Passion knows no limits. Luckily too, my parents were great about keeping me in my own hobbies so the drop zone meant holidays and boogies and I wasn’t jaded by the time I was old enough to jump.

How did growing up around skydivers shape who you are today?
The freeflyers were always way nicer to me, the guys let me braid their hair and showed me card tricks and didn’t yell at me to watch out for their lines. I knew from Day One that I had to be a freeflyer.

Did you always want to work in the skydiving industry?
Not at all! That’s why I went through the trouble of getting a college degree! But the heart doesn’t lie, a B.S. in geography couldn’t possibly outweigh my love of bodyflight.

Photo Interview: Laura Wagner | by Zach Lewis |

Would you consider yourself a girly girl or a tomboy?
I and another drop-zone kid gave ourselves the names Totally Cute Tomboys. That’s real! She was the same friend that dressed up as a Spice Girl with me for Halloween one year. I was Sporty Spice, of course.

If you could never jump or tunnels fly again, what would be the next sport or hobby you would dominate?
I would love to spend a few seasons living on a mountain and skiing everyday. I think that would be magical!

You are pretty passionate and involved with SiS—can you tell us a little bit about that?
It’s all about lady power! I am most inspired by my SiS Lisa Mazzetta and the friendship that blossomed between us when we were both newbies out at Skydive Arizona. If it weren’t for her, I don’t know how I would have continued in the sport. Skydiving can present challenges bigger than just exiting an airplane and quitting can start to look really easy. For me, I showed up at this huge, intimidating drop zone so unlike the small, East-coast drop zones I was used to, and I was doubting my place in skydiving. But having a mentor, a friend, is priceless, and now being able to share the knowledge and the passion is a tremendous feeling—it is what will keep women jumping and keep the sport progressing.

Is there anything you refuse to eat?
Oysters. They’re slimy! Ew!

Favorite boogie?
Carolinafest has proven itself over and over again in terms of great jumps and great parties. Voss Freefly Festival, though, THAT was such an epic adventure it’s hard to call it just a boogie. Experience of a lifetime that I can only wish to experience again someday.

Photo Interview: Laura Wagner | by Zach Lewis |



How do you like Texas?
Texas. Oh, Texas. Never thought I would live here! Living in Austin is pretty great because everyone seems new to the city and eager to be friendly. But really, happiness levels are not so much about the geographical location but rather the friend network. Lucky for me, working at a tunnel means my friends are always around!

What are your hobbies or interests outside the sport?
I am currently getting my yoga-teacher certification! Staying active, getting sweaty, I love all that typical white-girl stuff. Lately I’ve been really into cooking and baking healthy and whole foods.

If you had to pick out one of the high-school stereotypes, which would you be?
I would say I was a cool kid up until I started skydiving my junior year. Then I became the weirdo that hung out at this place in the woods called the drop zone with a bunch of older people.

Could you date a whuffo?
For sure! But only if he had a real passion for something cool and a hot body.

Have you tried any other air sports beyond skydiving and the tunnel? Is there anything that you want to try?
Not really. I would love to try my hands at paragliding, just haven’t lived in the right place for it yet.

BlueSkiesMag-i65_Laura WagnerbyZachLewis0602

What scares you?
Ceiling fans. They could fall and decapitate you at any moment! I see the irony, trust me, but they really do scare me. I also refuse to watch scary movies.

Do you think you will ever get tired of the sport?
No way, there are always new arenas to explore.

Talk to us about having close friends, and casual friends all over the country (world?). What’s that like? Is it difficult to manage?
I feel so truly lucky to have gotten to live all over and become close with such lovely people. The Cougar Den in Eloy, Veronica’s Frisco kitchen, drop-zone fire pits across the country, these are all little places I hold dear in my heart and can always return to and feel right at home.

Lightning Round
Chocolate or caramel? Chocolate.
Surf or turf? Surf.
Run or cycle? Cycle.
Comedy or horror? Comedy.
Rare or well done? Medium rare.
Milkshake or smoothie? Chocolate banana smoothie.
Friends or family? Friends are family!
Chicks Rock or Holiday Boogie? Chicks Rock.
Chopper or balloon? Balloon.
First date: kiss or hug? Hug.
Formal or casual? Casual.
Pink or black? Black.
Million dollars or a million memories? Memories.
Table or booth? Booth.
Air conditioning or patio? Dog-friendly patio.

Photo Interview: Laura Wagner | by Zach Lewis |

Zach Lewis

Photo Interviewer

About the interviewing photographer: Zach Lewis started jumping in 1997 and flies camera for Dallas Khaos Khobalt. He enjoys jumping, taking pictures, taking pictures while jumping, and whiskey.

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Blue Skies Magazine i66: June 2015

Blue Skies Mag i66: June 2015 | Cover photo: Maël Baguet going for a Sunday afternoon stroll at Brévent, Chamonix. Photo by Elina Sirparanta | Cover photo: Project : BASE Mission: Ethiopia by Sam Hardy

In this issue (full details and links to online versions here!):

  • Cover story: Project: BASE | Mission: Ethiopia by Sam Hardy
  • Featured photo by Jessica Brownlow
  • The FlyBy: Take It DZ, skydiving insurance, National Skydiving Museum goes to Florida, new Cookie colors, tunnel tips from Vince Arnone, Castaway Boogie by Hillary Hmura
  • “Not Crazy, But Beautiful by Mara Schmid
  • “Tiny Island Living: A Week on Contadora for Pepe’s Island Boogie” by Lisa Mufson
  • “Getting Hurt at a Boogie” by Gil Sharon
  • Centerfold by SSG Mike Koch
  • From the Logbook of Douggs
  • “The Second Time Up” by Annette O’Neil
  • “Skydiver Physical Therapy: Hips” by Nancy Grieger, PT, CSCS
  • “Reflection, Perspective and Privelege” by James La Barrie
  • “History of Skydiving Terminology: Confusing?” by Kurt Gaebel
  • “Money Motivation” by the Fuckin’ Pilot
  • “Prom” by Melanie Curtis
  • Dear SkyGod


If you’re in the market for stuff of any kind, buying from these guys (and letting them know you saw them in Blue Skies Mag) will help keep the mags coming to your door.

Alex Wakefield Fine Art
Bee Realty Corp
Bev Suits
Chattanooga Skydiving Company
Eyedea Worx
Fluid Wings
In Flight Dubai
Jump at Life
Larsen & Brusgaard
Learn to BASE jump
Melanie Curtis
NZ Aerosports
Opening Shock
Option Studios
Performance Designs
Skydive Arizona
Skydive Chicago
Skydive Orange
Skydive Radio
SSK, Inc
Sun Path Products
Sunrise Rigging
Sunshine Factory
Tony Suits
United Parachute Technologies
Vigil America
Velocity Sports Equipment
Wicked Wingsuits
Dropzone Marketing

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The Tandem “OH SHIT” Factor

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Fifteen years in this game, and the variety of reactions I see still amazes me. The reactions of the students and even of the instructors in our sport seems sometimes to fit in to just a few pre-arranged categories that can be read like the menu at the snack bar, but more times than not, it’s a complete fucking mystery.

Like most long-time tandem instructors, I like to pride myself on the ability to get a pretty good read on my students within just the first few minutes of our meeting. The sharp, focused look in their eyes or the glazed-over Valium stare, sweaty palms on that first handshake or, if you can believe it, what can only be called complete disinterest. Yet sometimes they start with one attitude, run through the entire spectrum and end up back where they started without missing a beat. It’s this variety of reactions that to this day makes tandems my favorite form of skydive, but it certainly didn’t start out that way.

When I was first “approached” about becoming a tandem instructor, I was completely and totally against the idea for about a thousand reasons—namely, every damn one that I had filmed up to that point. I’d seen the ones that had gone very right and I’d seen the ones that had gone VERY wrong, and the only part of tandems that appealed to me at all was filming them. It was primarily for this reason that when Mikey Hawkes (he hates being called Mike, Mikey, or any variation other than Michael, hence the reason I’ve put it in print) of the original Skydive Las Vegas (now thankfully under new management) told me that if I didn’t agree to become a tandem instructor for him, I could fuck off and go be a cameraman for someone else, I just about shit my pants.

The best of the best tandem gear at the time was the Vector tandem rig with 360s, 421s and the dreaded 500s as mains, all of which were made of F-111 and opened like freight trains. Flying them was like trying to do bar dips with 200 pounds strapped to you, and when you flared these damn things, the only fucking thing that changed was your expression. These canopies sometimes opened so fast and so violently, especially in a desert environment, that the cameramen were known to hurt their necks trying to keep the tandem in frame. Yet the fact remained that I had absolutely no choice but to agree to go through the training. I was completely vested in the sport by that time, rooted in Las Vegas, and completely fucked.

It was Mr. Simon Wade that did it to me. He was the one who got me successfully through my tandem course, and in the process forced me to believe that I’d made some serious miscalculations with my life. It was him who showed me the sidespin video, him who drilled into me all the different ways that a student could fuck me (figuratively), and him who redeemed himself by being the dumbass to ride on the front for the required drougeless tandem. He drilled into me the importance of making sure I communicated to my student all the things they needed to do to help make the skydive a success, and then sat back and laughed his ass off as manifest assigned to me a Japanese student who spoke no English.

With very little skill and a whole lot of luck I managed to survive my first 100 tandem skydives without fucking anything up too terribly bad. The fact remained that I hated pretty much every moment of it—right up until I met a student who would change my mind about the whole damn thing.

His name was Randy, and he was a complete fucking tool. He’d been brought to Skydive Las Vegas by his wife and two close buddies to make the tandem skydive that he’d been given as a 40th birthday gift. He was sporting a pair of Oakley Blade sunglasses a few inches above his ‘70s porn star moustache, a nice fat gold chain around his neck and a No Fear™ t-shirt about two sizes too small stretched across his chest. He tipped the scales at just over 220 pounds and I hated him instantly.

As he put on the required (by Mikey) jumpsuit, frap hat, gloves, elbow pads AND knee pads—all taped on, no less—he did nothing but bluster in front of his wife and friends about how he not only felt No Fear™ over the upcoming tandem, but how disappointed he was that he was required to do it strapped to another person. When I told him that I was glad he wasn’t scared because I was terrified, he thought I was kidding and laughed like a total jackass, right along with his No Fear™ (and No Jump™) buddies.

As we rounded the corner to load the Otter for the jump, his behavior flipped quicker than a Catholic schoolgirl’s after her first hit of Ecstasy kicks in; he went from the full-of-himself-couldn’t-care-less asshole to a scared little kid. I thought I might even have to help him up the ladder to get in the plane.

As I told him it was time to sit on my lap to start getting ready, he was totally done in. He looked me in the eyes, and with more sincerity than I’d ever seen, told me to “Please please, make me do this, no matter what!” As I began getting him all attached and ready to go, I seriously began to fear that good old Randy just might piss all over me, and had just about decided that he was going to be my first student refusal as a tandem instructor. To my surprise just a few minutes later, I found myself in freefall with him.

As the canopy cracked open I could hear, with increasing volume, Randy screaming his ever-loving ass off. At first I didn’t know if he had completely lost it, or if it has just been that good. Then I started to make out the words, “FUCK YEAH,” and “HOLY FUCKING SHIT,” and what I still to this day swear was a bit of a sob, and realized that Randy had just quite literally had the time of his life.

With more skill (or luck) then I had yet displayed as a tandem instructor, I put Randy down to within twenty feet of his wife and friends and disconnected him, expecting the usual jog over to give the boys a high five before kissing the wife. Instead, in a flash, he turned to face me, jumped up and wrapped both his legs around my waist, dropped me to the ground like a sack of flour, and kissed me full on the mouth! I was so completely shocked by the radical turn of events that I just flailed around like a turtle turned over on his shell, wiping off my mouth and trying to figure out why my face itched…and just like that, I loved being a tandem instructor.

Fuck you. No, it’s not because I realized my untapped gay side (that still is and shall forever remain untapped, unless it’s prison and then it doesn’t count). It was because for the briefest of moments, Randy was truly just Randy. He wasn’t the image of himself he’d painted over the years, he wasn’t the Randy that his wife and his friends expected him to be; he wasn’t anything but the product of an event that he never truly could have imagined before that day, and it was me who had the privilege of giving him the experience. He had in turn, without knowing it, shown me just as quickly and clearly the gift that I had been given: The ability to show people what living in the moment really is, and just how amazing, even for the briefest of times, our lives can be. For that, I will never forget, and always thank, that big prick for being EXACTLY the way he was when he arrived, and the completely different person he briefly became before leaving.

It’s for that same reason that I am still chucking drogues, still telling the same old terrible jokes, and still shocked and thrilled every time I get lucky enough to meet another tool like Randy.

Dean Ricci

Monthly Columnist

About the author: Dean “Princess” Ricci has more than 8,500 hours of flight time; 5,000 of those have been piloting jump ships for skydiving. He calls Skydive Dubai home now after a grueling stint in the Caribbean flying for The Man.

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Photo Interview: Nancy Koreen

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Once again, I have to confirm that life doesn’t suck. I recently found myself in the company of one of the coolest people around, and somehow persuaded her to participate in an interview to share with all of you. As you may remember, the idea of these interviews is to introduce you to some of the most badass people in our sport, but not completely focus on the sport itself. Of course, we will talk a little about getting our knees in the breeze, but we will also try to get a feel for who they are in the real world when not wearing their awesome pantz. We take a shot at that over a little wine or whiskey, some photos and a quick interview. This round, I’d like to introduce you to someone with the best “work remote” corporate job in the world, and one of the most humble rock stars in the sky. Readers of Blue Skies Magazine, I hope you guys will enjoy getting to know Miss Nancy Koreen as much as I did.

Photo Interview: Nancy Koreen | by Zach Lewis |

Zach: Miss Nancy, let’s start off with the basics! Where did you start off in this world, and where have you called home over the course of your life?
Nancy: I was born in South Florida in the town of Hollywood, and I lived there growing up until I went to college in Philadelphia. After college, I moved to Washington, DC and lived in DC and Virginia until a couple of years ago. Currently I live in Eloy, Arizona.

What scares the shit out of you about skydiving?
Everything?! Not really, but I have this weird fear about not being able to cut away from a violent malfunction.

What is the best way to really piss you off?
I get annoyed easily enough, but it’s pretty hard to make me genuinely angry. It takes way too much energy for me to stay really pissed off at someone. Even if I try, it doesn’t last. There are a couple people in my life that I might hold grudges against, but for the most part, I try to remind myself that you never really know where people are coming from.

Photo Interview: Nancy Koreen | by Zach Lewis |

Outside of skydiving and the tunnel, what do you do for fun? Are you allowed to have a non-skydiving hobby when you live inside Eloy city limits?
You can try, but it isn’t very easy. There isn’t much to do around here other than skydiving and the tunnel. There are some places to go hiking and I try to get out and do that kind of stuff.

Do you have any nicknames? More importantly, are there any stories on how those nicknames might have been earned?
A lot of people call me Pantz. A skydiving friend of mine started calling me that years ago, I think just because it rhymed, and it kind of stuck. Also, Nancy Buge, but that one only my old school skydiving friends understand.

You live so close to Skydive Arizona, do you work for the drop zone?
I have a desk job. I work for USPA doing marketing and PR. I freefly load organize at Skydive Arizona on the side.

Even badasses have their Achilles’ heel; what do you suck at?
Singing! I’ve always thought that if there was one thing that I could change about myself, I would be an amazing singer.

What accomplishment—skydiving or outside of the sport—are you most proud of?
The women’s records always felt like big accomplishments because those were specific skydiving goals I was able to work toward. When you skydive for a long time, sometimes it feels like you’re just having fun and not making big improvements. Those jumps gave me something to train for, work toward and accomplish.


On those cold winter nights in the desert of Arizona, to help warm you up, what is your cocktail of choice?
I’d have to go with red wine.

Photo Interview: Nancy Koreen | by Zach Lewis |

The times I’ve run into you, you have always seemed very outgoing, do you consider yourself an extrovert?
That’s hard to say. Maybe a little bit of an introvert, but not really. I guess it depends on my mood and the situation. I’m not super shy, but I am also not always going a million miles an hour.

Is there anything that might end up on the menu that you can’t stand to, or won’t eat?
Mayonnaise. So gross. If it’s in something and I can’t taste it, we might be OK. But if I know it’s in there, it’s over.

Let’s turn that one around. What is your favorite thing to eat?
Dessert! Ice cream or homemade cookies.

Do you enjoy cooking? If so what is your best dish?
I do. I don’t have a very extensive repertoire. I have a handful of chicken or fish dishes that are my go-to meals, plus all kinds of salads. I like to cook healthy food and make it really yummy.

Somehow I’m not surprised that you like to eat healthy. You are in incredible shape. Is it safe to assume your fitness is not all due to your healthy eating?
I exercise a lot and try to eat healthy. I normally exercise 5-6 times a week. I try to mix up my workouts and do different types of things so it isn’t super boring. It definitely helps my mental well-being to get the blood flowing.

What might be something people would be surprised to know you do well?
I can juggle and hula hoop at the same time!

Have you had any close calls in the sky?
Sure, lots of them. I’ve definitely gotten lucky more than a few times, but probably nothing worse than most skydivers experience. Funny story: When I had 70 jumps, I landed about 40 feet up in a tree under a round reserve (which I didn’t know was in the borrowed gear I was jumping). That was fun!

Name someone who you can beat up.
I don’t know, I have a pretty mean right hook, but only if I’m punching bags. If I had to hit another person I’d just start laughing.

Photo Interview: Nancy Koreen | by Zach Lewis |

For the new jumpers out there, would you like to share any tips or advice?
Just keep doing things that you think are fun, and skydive for the right reasons. It’s not all about rushing toward an end goal. You hear a lot of students say they just want to get their A license, as though that’s when they can start having fun. Remember that every skydive is fun! Just enjoy the process of learning and don’t feel like everything is about getting to the finish line. As soon as you figure out one thing, there will be something else that you want to get good at. If you could be good at everything right away, it would be boring!

What did young Nancy want to be when she grew up?
I wanted to be an actress or a figure skater.

Who do you look up to?
I have a couple friends who have faced serious tragedy and heartbreak but who have still found the courage to be happy and love life. I don’t know if I’d be able to do the same thing in their situations. I really admire people who surprise me with their courage, even in small ways on a daily basis. Also, unrelated, my grandma is one of the smartest, strongest, coolest people I know.

If we took a peek into the future a few years, where would we find you, and what might you be up to?
If I knew that, I’d probably already be doing it. I am happy where I am, doing what I’m doing. But who knows, in five years or however long, that may change. At some point I’ll have to figure out my next destination.

Photo Interview: Nancy Koreen | by Zach Lewis |

What makes your heart race?
Planning trips!

Tell me about these trips! Where do you travel?
I love to travel and go places I haven’t been before. I have an ongoing goal to go to at least one new place every year that I have never been, whether it’s in the U.S. or outside of the country. Internationally, Norway was one of the most beautiful places I have jumped. Some places on the top of my wish list are Thailand and an African safari.


What type of music do you listen to?
Modern alternative. Not a fan of Techno or House music.

What is your most important possession? What is the one thing you couldn’t live without?
I have these boxes of photo albums from growing up that have been the only things that have made it with me on all of my moves. Those would be really hard to part with.

Do you have many regrets in life?
Not really. I don’t really believe in regrets, although sometimes that’s hard to stick to. It seems like a pointless waste of energy because you can’t do anything about it. I just try to make better decisions in the future.


Are any other family members into extreme sports? What do they think about you jumping?
No, they are not at all. I’ve been doing this long enough that they are used to it now, but they don’t really get it. I guess they are fine with it. They think it is cool now. After I did my first jump and told my mom about it, she made me promise never to do it again. So I didn’t tell her again for a few months but she eventually figured it out.

Photo Interview: Nancy Koreen | by Zach Lewis |

For those of us who have been jumping for longer periods of time, I think the things that made us start jumping (bucket lists, fear rushes etc.) are no longer the things that motivate us to keep jumping. What is that like for you? What keeps you shredding?
For me skydiving wasn’t anything I ever really wanted to do or thought about doing. Even after I started, I wasn’t convinced I wanted to keep doing it. It kind of gradually sucked me in. I made tons of amazing friends, and the drop zone where I started jumping was awesome. Plus there is always something new to try, to learn or to do better. I’ve gone through stages of being burnt out, but then something new comes along and draws me back in.

Lightning Round
Lobster or shrimp? Shrimp.
Hot or cold? Hot.
Football or soccer? Football.
Sunrise or sunset? Sunset.
Chinese or Italian? Neither.
Introvert or extrovert? Introvert.
Freckles or dimples? Dimples.
Tattoos or piercings? Tattoos.
Spicy or mild? Spicy.
Older or younger? Younger.
Money or time? Time.

Photo Interview: Nancy Koreen | by Zach Lewis |

Zach Lewis

Photo Interviewer

About the interviewing photographer: Zach Lewis started jumping in 1997 and flies camera for Dallas Khaos Khobalt. He enjoys jumping, taking pictures, taking pictures while jumping, and whiskey.

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