i53 Mailing Now!


The April 2014 issue of Blue Skies Mag has been shipped from our printer to all U.S. subscribers! The postal service is a lot like the cable guy, though, so expect delivery sometime between now and April 30. Seriously. If you don’t have your issue already, DO NOT PANIC! Give it a few weeks and if don’t have it by May 1, please do let us know.

We do have one minor issue for our subscribers outside the continental U.S. Your shipment must have been feeling extra naughty because it went for a swim in uncharted waters and ended up at our distribution house totally ruined. We have replacements headed out now but you will have a delay receiving your magazine this month. We are sorry for this but we have a strict policy to send only the freshest, cleanest, driest mags to our friends!

Reader Question: How do you balance the BSBD?


Good cheesus, it has been a heavy start to the northern jumping season.

We use the acronym BSBD, which stands for “Blue Skies, Black Death” around here a lot because we like the old-schoolness of it, and more importantly, it points to the yin-yang duality of our sports. A lot of us jump because we know life is temporary, fleeting and unpredictable. You can’t know the good (those beautiful clear blue skies) unless you know the bad (the cold cruel black death). But it’s a balance — too much of either skews your world. So our reader question this month is:

How do you balance the BSBD?

When we go through times like this, when it seems like there’s a fatality around every corner, how do you celebrate life and living? How do you keep your head above water? A whuffo interpretation might be, “How do you deal with your grief?” but as jumpers it’s not quite that simple. A lot of these fatalities are people we’ve never met. Some might be our best friends, or the husband of a good friend, or the girlfriend of the guy who was our first tandem instructor, or that guy whose videos kept us sane in our cubicles at lunch. Their passing touches our lives in our small communities in unique ways.

So how do you deal with the black death in our blue skies?

Responses will be printed in the May issue of Blue Skies Mag (i54). If you comment here, post your name as you’d like it printed. You can also email responses to me at lara@blueskiesmag.com. If we get too many to print, we’ll select representative comments.


i53: April 2014 Is No Joke

i53: April2014 Blue Skies Magazine, LLC

Mostly because we couldn’t think of a good April Fool’s joke, but if you come across anything good, let us know!

The April issue of Blue Skies Mag is being printed RIGHT NOW! Send good inky vibes to PA. We’ll let you know when it’s mailed, so sit tight and wait for this gem to appear.

i53: April2014 Blue Skies Magazine, LLC

i53: April2014 | Matt Hill geeking the camera during the 2014 Pachanga Beach Boogie in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, hosted by SkydiveMex. Photo by Norman Kent • www.normankent.com.

On the cover: Sydney Owen Williams, former n00b, is here to tell you folks, IT. GETS. BETTER. A lot of us have been there at the beginning of a skydiving career wondering when this stuff gets fun. It does, we promise!

In the FlyBy, we have more latte art (anyone guessing the themes of these yet?), the comic “Take it DZ,” reader question, Ink of the Month, tit4tat and more.

Annette Lyn O’Neil takes us behind the scenes of this Squirrel Wingsuits ad:

Moe Viletto is in on the behind the scenes action, with his stories from the filming of this movie: movies.netflix.com/BestMovieEver. (OK fine, it’s “Drop Zone.”)

“Airgasm: How Skydiving Is Like Sex” by Dr. Mohawk. Science!

Douggs‘ logbook: the first of many entries from the actual logbook of the actual Douggs. This month, jump #60, April 25, 1998.

Competing Against the Evil Empire” by James La Barrie. What is the evil empire in skydiving? We’ll give you a hint – starts with “sky” and ends with “ride.” Even if you’re not a DZO, you might be interested in some of the business side workings of the sport. And if you’re not, well … maybe you should be.

Blannie Wagner is opening a powered paragliding/skydiving/air sports drop zone in Tightwad, Missouri. To fly a paramotor you have to start out getting the 53-pound thing on your back. Did we mention she has heart disease, is 5’3″ and weighs 110 pounds? In Paving the Runway, she feels the fear and kicks its ass!

Jenny and Lenny are SkyCouple of the month, interviewed by the awesome Eli Godwin. Get to know these adorable college sweethearts <3

Is Arizona Airspeed in trouble? Kurt Gaebel crunches the numbers to see just where the boys from Eloy stand against the Belgian Hayabusa waffles.

The Fuckin’ Pilot talks about someone who’s not nicknamed Princess! This guy (who’s not Roberta Mancino and is introduced at 0:37):

Melanie Grillet is Winning, yo! “Anyway, so we show up for the 2-way event and are clearly way out of our league. I am legitimately the most positive person I know (most of the time) and an experienced competitor, so when looking at this field of teams, I knew instantly that we would come in last … by a lot.”

UPDATED 4/2/14: The cover photo was taken at the Pachanga Boogie hosted by SkydiveMex, not by Skydive Mexico. 

Sneak Peek: i52

i52: March 2014 | Exit with Skydive Empuriabrava’s Beech 99 during their Christmas Boogie, with Marleen Melissant, Efraim Folgerts, Luis Adolfo Lopez-Mendez, Gregor Van Den Eynden and Jarek Vel Bartek.
Photo by Gustavo Cabana • www.guscabana.com.

The March issue is making its way through the production line, soon to be hitting the streets.

It hasn’t mailed yet, so don’t panic if you don’t have it yet! We’ll let you know when it’s out and the date you should let us know if you don’t have it by.

Blue Skies Mag March 2014

Exit with Skydive Empuriabrava’s Beech 99 during their Christmas Boogie, with Marleen Melissant, Efraim Folgerts, Luis Adolfo Lopez-Mendez, Gregor Van Den Eynden and Jarek Vel Bartek.
Photo by Gustavo Cabana • www.guscabana.com.

Like probably every skydiver, I have vague dreams of one day BASE jumping. Getting to altitude in a natural way, not using fossil fuels, the pure beauty of it — it’s all really alluring to me. The cover story, “Never Leave a Man Behind,” by Douggs with the help of his friends makes me question if I really have what it takes to deal with the realities of BASE jumping. Could I not only watch my buddy die in front of me, but risk going to jail by reporting the accident and staying with his body? Man, I just don’t know. Could you or have you?

On a lighter note, we have a monthly comic strip! Nadene from Adventure Creative drew up “Take It DZ.” (Say it out loud.) Of course, we have the monthly tit4tat – which, don’t forget, is an awareness campaign for breast cancer – ink of the month, latte art, reader question and news all in The FlyBy.

Max Heidenfelder wrote a boogie review of the Swakopmund Desert Boogie that is actually a review! Honest and thoughtful, with a few critiques. No “The ____ Boogie is always fun and this year was no exception. Manifest did a great job and we had a BBQ by ___ with delicious ribs and beer.” By the way, please don’t ever submit a boogie review with sentences like that. Has anyone ever actually said out loud, “Blah blah blah was no exception?” No. No they haven’t. And, no one really cares how great the pancake breakfast at the boogie was.

Sorry, that was me straight up bitching. Not cool. Moving on …

Melissa Lowe (the former Miss Melissa Nelson) went to Mexico for New Year’s, Krisanne Combs went to the NorCal Free Flight Film Festival and Angie Aragon went to Bird’s Paradise Extreme Resort, a privately owned DZ in Thailand. These stories are all carefully engineered to make you Polar Vortex sufferers suffer just a little more. I know you were wondering.

Moe Viletto is back, with tales from the making of the movie “Drop Zone.” Tom Sanders of Aerial Focus contributed tons of  behind-the-scenes photos. If you love or hate the movie, it’ll be a good read back in time. 20 years back. Crap.

We have a new business-oriented column, too! Marketing guru James La Barrie ran Skydive Carolina for nine years, including the crazy popular CarolinaFest. He has some word-of-mouth marketing tips for DZOs this month, but we think fun jumpers will be interested in the business end of the sport.

SkyCouples! The feature that melts even my cold cold heart. This month Eli interviews Animare, the husband-and-wife team of Amanda and Brian Festi. If you don’t have or don’t use the incredibly handy QR code on your phone, here’s the video from their article:

Sydney is also back! Three years ago she was a fresh-faced marketing professional and skydiving n00b thinking about leaving her lucrative career to work in the sport full-time. Look at her now, running the events and marketing at an internationally known drop zone, training with her 4-way team, and generally remembering what it was like to be the new kid. If you’re struggling with fitting in on the DZ, learning a new discipline, getting over the “I kind of suck” hump or like helping those guys out, this is your stuff.

If you’re a subscriber, I don’t need to waste any more of your time telling you how awesome Kurt, the Fuckin’ Pilot and Melanie are. You know you love their columns. This month’s are no exception, and the chili dinner at this month’s boogie party was outstanding and earned rave reviews from all who attended.

Reader question: What do you wish people would ask you about jumping?

Time again to answer our monthly question and get in the mag!

What do you wish people would ask you about skydiving, or BASE jumping, or whatever kind of flying you do?

This could be whuffos, people from other disciplines, the media, whomever.

We’ll print your comment (or select few if we get a ton, with a touch of editing for clarity) in the April issue of Blue Skies Mag, with the name you sign here in the comments. You can also email answers to me at lara@blueskiesmag.com.