Wingsuit Progression Series
A series covering WS skydiving, from your FFC through Exits, Skydiving with Others & Safety, by Matt Gerdes & Taya Weiss...
Overnight, Beau went from local jumper doing his thing to the national spotlight having appeared as a presenter with with Skydive TV at the 2016 US Nationals, made the front cover of Parachutist and now is the face of Performance Designs, on Tip Tuesday and others. Beau is the ideal employee. Positive vibes, responsible, well-versed in the product and passionate about the sport. He’s grounded and one of the nicest guys you could hope to meet in the sport.
You’re originally from Mercer Island, Washington – a beautiful place wedged between Bellevue and Seattle. What was your childhood like?
Incredible! It really is such a beautiful place, so green and alive. It’s a very active community and lifestyle in the Northwest, despite the rain. Because there were so many spectacular places to explore, it left me with an undying thirst of having to know what’s around the next corner. I think that definitely led to my adventurous drive. I’m a mountain-kid at heart.
Tell us about your parents and your upbringing
My family is very close. As a kid, we were always doing things as a family, whether it was skiing in Montana or backpacking down the Washington coast. Growing up, I was also busy with diving, which I practiced and competed full time since the age of 9.
What clubs, sports and activities were you involved in at school?
Diving. I competed in my first national competition at age 11, and was afour-timee All-American and two time Washington state champion in high school. It was a full time sport for me, practicing 4-5 days a week for 2-4 hours a day. Also, I always have and will love to ski. I started when I was two years old, and will hopefully continue to ski until I’m old and grey.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
A pilot! Or a stuntman. I guess I kind of was able to combine both of those things into one?
Were there any early markers in your life that would indicate you’d live the life you’re living?
I reached out to my mom to ask her this exact question, and she said the number one indicator was my love of heights and flying through the air. I always liked jumping off of things and being up above the ground.
Who inspires you?
Honestly, my biggest inspirations are my friends that are out there absolutely loving life and crushing it at everything they’re doing. They inspire me to do the same thing – “We get by with a little help from our friends”
You have a very positive and easygoing personality. Where do you get that from?
Well, I’ve always been a pretty happy kid. If I had to put it in writing, I would say that positivity begets happiness! Meaning that if you make an effort to have a positive outlook, then you will be a happier person. I absolutely believe this is true, and that positivity is simply a choice. Whether it’s by jumping out of airplanes, walking through the woods, or sharing a beer with my friends, I try to do it with a smile on my face - it’s not what you do, but how you do it. Do it with passion and optimism, and I believe it will lead to a happier life. Sure, sometimes life sucks, but I always try to keep my head high. In fact, it’s been proven that the very act of smiling releases endorphins, so trying to smile if you’re feeling down, or just whenever, can help to be happier also!
if you make an effort to have a positive outlook, then you will be a happier person
What achievement are you most proud of?
In 2012, I was matched to donate bone marrow to a 49-year-old woman with a type of Leukemia. I was able to donate my marrow, and today she is alive, well and happy. Meeting her and her family has been a beautiful gift, and so, therefore, I am very passionate about the National Marrow Donor Program. I was able to host registry drives at Chicagoland Skydiving Center two years in a row where we added over 150 new people to the international registry. Little promo – if you are interested in signing up for the registry, you can do it all for free at www.bethematch.com. And if you have more questions about the process, feel free to reach out to me anytime!
What are your interests outside of skydiving?
Speedflying, climbing, BASE, skiing. Those are probably my main four, but there’s not much I would say no to. I slackline and want to build my skills to one day take up highlining. I’m going on a kite-surfing trip this winter, which I’m excited to learn. And paragliding has been sparking my interest a lot lately, as well. Also, I love craft beer. My girlfriend lives in Bend, Oregon, which is a huge hub for breweries on the west coast. Whenever I go out and visit her, we always indulge ourselves. Speaking of, my girlfriend Riley is a very important part of my life, and I am super excited about conquering the world with her in the future! I’d like to keep downsizing my life, and someday soon build out a van to travel and adventure in.
What do you like about BASE and speedflying?
I love them both! I took courses in both to learn the basics. Speedflying definitely aligns with my stoke on flying wings, and BASE is simply an incredible feat. I love the aspect of earning your flight/jump, where you have to hike or climb in order to play. Also, I love that both sports are done in nature! There really is something magical about hiking up a mountain, carefully measuring the conditions, and if all is well – simply running off the top of it and flying away.. Whew, gets me excited just thinking about!
I love the aspect of earning your flight/jump, where you have to hike or climb in order to play
What’s the most memorable skydive you’ve ever made?
Cheesy answer, but taking my mom and sister on tandems :)
Most memorable BASE jump? (that you can talk about)
Probably jumping the KL Tower in Malaysia. It’s one of those jumps I saw on TV and in Youtube videos, before I ever skydived. It was magical standing on the edge of that building and having a moment of realization for the path that had brought me to that point in my life.
How many jumps do you have? 3000
How many cutaways? Three
List your skydiving equipment:
What discipline of skydiving excites you the most?
Canopy Piloting! This summer, going to many different drop zones, I’ve also had the opportunity to organize a handful of high-performance canopy flocks and do some very dynamic flying with other pilots. I think this sub-discipline within CP is in its infancy and will only grow more and more, and I can’t wait to keep learning about it, pushing boundaries, and fly with other people along the way!
What’s the best advice you can give to those thinking about getting into the discipline?
Probably the number one thing I recommend to people trying to get into CP is to get coaching from a professional canopy coach. There is a huge benefit gained from video review of your jumps, learning the theory behind how/why wings fly the way they do, and getting proper coaching in technique and progression.
Name every job you’ve ever had since you were a kid to present day:
You’re the rep at Performance Designs, what was the process to land this dream job?
I still get goosebumps when I see that written: “you’re the rep at PD”… Since I started working in skydiving full-time at Chicagoland Skydiving Center, I had a goal of working in the industry- in marketing or sales, since I like dealing with people. Over time, I earned my Senior Rigger ticket, focused a lot on CP, and tried to maintain a positive reputation within the community. When this job became available, I was fortunate to have a strong network of people who recommended me for the job. I did a jet-lagged Skype interview from my hotel room in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to which I answered the first question of why I think I’m a good fit for the team with “because Karl Meyer has a huge crush on me” and started with PD about a month later!
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Two things… First and foremost, for the same reason most of us enjoy skydiving, the opportunity to meet so many amazing people all over this country. We’re a big group of weirdos, and I love it. I’m also super grateful for the knowledge bank I’ve been opened up to at Performance Designs, and it’s fun sharing that knowledge with others. Seeing other individuals go from struggling with canopy flight to succeeding with by either changing their wing type or changing techniques is a huge reward.
We’re a big group of weirdos, and I love it
What’s the most common trend in skydiving that concerns you?
I talk to a lot of people that want to downsize because they want to go faster and get more “swoop” from their wing… The issue is, most of the time, you CAN go faster and get more performance from your CURRENT wing with proper training and technique. It’s so much easier to learn to build speed on a larger slower wing than it is a smaller and faster wing! Then, once you get to the small and fast wings, you’re going to be a much better canopy pilot ready to truly push the wing, rather than just trying to survive. And yes, perhaps that person will survive their next downsize, and the one after that; but by constantly cutting corners and skipping steps, people are only hindering their progression and eventually the consequences can become drastic.
Read more about Beau – Full article on DropZone.Marketing here.