Reader Question: +/- Five Years

5-year anniversary photo shoot

We have another two-part question for you readers! Our fifth anniversary issue is coming up (the June/July combined issue, #55*) and we are quite naturally reminiscing about the last half decade — but also looking forward at what the next five years might bring.

So, our question(s) to you is (are):

  1. What has been your greatest accomplishment in the last five years?
  2. What is your biggest goal for the next five years?

*We have enlisted the infamous Robert J. Carmody to take pretty pictures for our anniversary again. Stay tuned … Better yet, subscribe now and you’ll get issue #55 with his soon-to-be masterpieces in them, already printed out for your framing needs. Teaser photo below. What does it all mean???

5-year anniversary photo shoot

How Can Mirrors Be Real If Our Eyes Aren’t Real

i54: Neither the studio nor the car

i54: Blue Skies Magazine
i54: Blue Skies Magazine

i54: May 2014 | Yahoo Brother Owen Johnson licking air at Skydive Carolina in Chester, South Carolina. | Photo by Chad Wilcox •

On the cover: A reader question. We want to know how everyone still here on earth is dealing with all the recent losses. These are your answers.

In The FlyBy: ParaflySim Beta, Mexican 4-way record, tit4tat, ink of the month, Flight-1 canopy flight tip, Take it DZ comic.

You may have watched Douggs’ web series on last year, Planet Douggs. This month he tells you all about what went on behind the scenes, the lost footage and what didn’t make it to the show.

Pachanga Boogie 2014 by Benjamin Forde, photos by Norman Kent et al. “It was an awesome time, perfectly simple, insane, free and genuine … a place that felt free of overblown egos and ulterior motives. We just had a lot of fun and hangovers.”

Basically, a bunch of awesome people hang out at Matt Frohlich’s house and jump off cliffs. That is the Arizona BASE Boogie 2014 by Matt. “From the beginning, the boogie has had a simple formula: take the rowdiest group of jumpers we can find, add a bunch of great albeit technical jumps, a lot of PBR, and then let them crash our house for a week.”

A photo essay by Gustavo Cabana,, on Ethernal Boogie in Argentina.

The final installment of Moe Viletto’s adventures on set of “Drop Zone” with photos by Tom Sanders,

An open letter to new AFF instructors, by Melissa Lowe, Ben Lowe and Barry Williams, aka very experienced AFF instructors.

Transformative Marketing: Culture, Service, WOM by James LaBarrie. “This approach changes the idea of having someone handle the marketing for a drop zone into having an army of marketers out in the community pushing your experience.”

From the Other Side: Tales of a Former N00b by former n00b Sydney Owen Williams. N00bs Assemble! “Go forth, n00bs, and get your boogie on.”

Turning Points by Kurt Gaebel, NSL. Live Coverage: Empuria – Montreal – Bedford. “The brave new indoor world has allowed skydiving competition to take the next step in bringing our sport closer to the general public and to the media.”

The Devil You Know? by the Fuckin’ Pilot. “It’s true. If you put me in a room with 99 normal well-adjusted women and one bi-polar, schizophrenic booze hound with daddy issues, I’ll make a straight line for the mental case pretty much every time!”

“Let’s bring our brains back to the task at hand … back to the skydive we’re on, back to the people we’re with … back to the present moment.” Worth Trying by Melanie Curtis Grillet,

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!

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 •

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 •

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