From The Mag

Reader Question: How do you balance the BSBD?

Written by Lara

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.

PD New Beginning

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 If we get too many to print, we’ll select representative comments.



  • Im a rookie, only 122 jumps, but I already know that if I went whilst jumping it would be doing something that I loved and something that made me feel alive. I guess this is the small thought, in the back of my mind, when I hear of a passing in our great sport ‘they were happy’.

    Don’t get me wrong, I take safety very seriously. I am never afraid to watch countless videos or read/ listen to endless stories, in the hope I will learn something that might just help me out one day.

    I in no way jump to play with death, or anything macabre like that, quite the opposite. I revel in the ‘live for the moment’ attitude that surrounds this great sport which has stolen my heart. I think we all accept the risks that come with it, i just hope to keep using my bag of luck for as long as possible. blue skies friends x

  • BSBD, for me, means that no matter how many jumps you have, no matter how many years you have been in the sport, no matter if you are famous (holds world records or compete at the highest level) or not, the probability of a malfunction happening on your next jump is the same as every one else. Hence, never ever take your next jump as granted and mentally practice having diverse malfunctions on your way up to altitude (beside practicing the dirt dive) and get a rig check before jumping out and repear the favor to some one else.

  • The people who participate in high risk sports like skydiving, BASE or whatever it might be, wouldn’t be the people they are if they weren’t participating. The risk of death is always present, that’s part of why people are involved in these sports, overcoming the animal in us all that wants to flee and living in the moment. Blue Skies and Black Death aren’t two different things, there are always black clouds in our blue sky, whether we see them or not.

  • Regardless of whether I know the person or not, I try to make sure I learn (or, more often, am refreshed/reminded) whatever lessons can be learned from the incident. Sometimes there’s no direct lesson for me (for example, when the fatality occurs in a discipline I’m not going to pursue, like canopy piloting or proxy flying), but there’s almost always an indirect one – often about progression, decision-making, risk assessment, etc.

    For people I knew and loved… I try to be grateful for the time I had with them, and remember that it’s better that the alternative – to have never known that person. Still hurts every time.

  • BSBD

    I hate it. I always have. I don’t agree with it and I’m not striving to earn it next to my name one day. It’s not bad ass, it’s not cool and it’s not the way “I want to go out”.

    Everyone knows Blue Skies. A little cheesy, but people use it all the time and it’s a great expression. Wishing you blue skies, what’s better than that? The black death part, well, I can leave that one behind. Maybe it’s just one of the few hold overs from the days I started jumping a few decades ago like “Hey Asshole!” or “Him, Him……” A few of those old traditions, though now faded, were fun back then, but how BSBD has remained in our vocabulary as jumpers puzzles me.

    Every time I jump out of a plane, I do everything in my power to walk away and save my life. Checking straps, handles, pins, etc….over and over and over again. Know who you’re getting out after and who’s getting out after you. Make sure they understand what your group is doing and communicating with the pilot if necessary. I remember my first trip to Florida back in the mid 90’s and seeing a shirt for sale in the gear store with the grim reaper on it. Something about respect thy altitude or the earth will rise up and smite thee. I’m sure I miss quoted it, but it gets the point across. I don’t want that shirt. I don’t want to glorify the reaper or black death. I want to live and experience everything I can in this world and part of that living is flying my body in freefall with my friends.

    BSBD has run it’s course. I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count all of the friends that I have lost to this sport over the years. I try to think of them as often as I can, but not once have I ever thought about saying BSBD. I remember them fondly and their smiling faces and the fun jumps we made and the things that I learned from them and try to pass on those vibes and that knowledge the best way I can. BSBD does anything but that in my opinion.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: