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.

* Amazon affiliate link: Blue Skies Mag will receive a portion of sales from this link.

What the (non)Mentor Did

In our December 2012 issue, Charity Kelly told us how she was inducted into the Dallas BASE Crew (DBC). Her boyfriend Brad is a member and helped her get started, but gave her strict instructions NOT to call him her mentor. At the end of her story, DBC was on their way to Switzerland for a BASE trip well beyond Charity’s experience level. Here now is video proof of what the (non)mentor did on his Swiss vacation:

And the next DBC trip to Switzerland? Charity’s plane tickets are already booked.

Issue #39

January 2013 | Issue #39

The January issue is out and about, merrily skipping around the globe. If you’re a subscriber and don’t have your issue by January 31, email kolla@blueskiesmag.com.

If you’re not a subscriber, you can fix that here and now. ~*SUBSCRIBE*~

Here’s what’s in this issue:

  • Resolutions for the End of the World by Dean “Princess” Ricci aka The Fuckin’ Pilot
    • Is The Fuckin’ Pilot really a safe zombie sex advocate?
  • Kickass Designs, Facebook Posts, & Free Canopies: The NZ Aerosports SkyArt Competition Uncut by Shannon Seyb
    • Boobs, flames, turtles, dragons, Spongebob Squarepants, and Decepticons have one thing in common: They all failed to win NZ Aerosports’ SkyArt competition.
  • Turkish Delights: Hijinks over Father Mountain by Annette O’Neil
    • Were you in the market for another exotic locale to daydream about? We got your exotic daydream fantasy subject right here.
  • XRW How-To by Katie Hansen and TJ Landgren
    • Do you really know what you’re doing up there? Maybe read this article before your next XRW attempt. The life you save could be your own.
  • 2012 World Parachuting Championships: A Photo Essay by Rolf Kuratle, Emirates Aviation Association
    • Have you heard of this placed called Dubai? It looks amazing!
  • Flopping Your Hog: A Guide to Boogie-ing on a Weather Hold by Faith Hewitt-Treadwell
    • Sandy hijinks at Skydive Palatka.
  • Homegrown Good Times by Amahra Perry
    • The best boogie you’ve never heard of, deep in the heart of the Midwest.
  • Racquetball, Anyone? by Moe Viletto
    • We are super psyched for the chance to publish some of the craziest, actually really happened stories by an urban BASE pioneer. This is the first of hopefully many entries into the BASE history category.
  • Centerfold: Roberta Mancino flies the crack by Noah Bahnson
    • She’s the shit.
  • Mission to the Eiger, Part 3 by Alastair Macartney
    • The conclusion of Jump4Heroes epic journey to the epic Eiger. With minimal casualties this time around. Video coming out any day now…
  • No More Needles for Me by Ian Smith
    • Ian sold plasma to buy his first rig.
  • My Egg Carton by Mariah Veis
    • Mariah sold future humans. Mariah wins.
  • World Wingsuit League Grand Prix
    • Speedy wingsuiting in China. Julain Boulle wins.
  • A Day with a Champion by Jay Sylvester
    • In what other sport can a beginner compete on the same team with a world champion? Skydiving wins.
  • Turning Points: Mondial 2012 in Dubai—and a Golden Opportunity by Kurt Gaebel, National Skydiving League
    • Kurt goes to Dubai with skepticism, comes home with belief. We all win if Dubai wins.
  • Baby, You’re a Firework by Melanie Curtis
    • Everyone says you should make your dreams come true, but Melanie can actually show you how.
  • SkyGod’s New Year’s Resolutions by SkyGod
    • “Resolution #1: Stop telling people to f*** off unless they really deserve it.” Sorry SkyGod, but we think you may have already broken that resolution.