Wingsuit Progression Series
A series covering WS skydiving, from your FFC through Exits, Skydiving with Others & Safety, by Matt Gerdes & Taya Weiss...
Luke Hively has been a member of the Apex BASE team for several years now, and this guy does it all. From his start in skydiving at age 15 (Yes, you read that right.) he's made over 3000 jumps across nearly all disciplines: freefly, RW, wingsuit, BASE, freefly BASE, wingsuit BASE, etc.
We caught up with Luke in the midst of some major life changes (getting married, moving to Switzerland) to see what he's up to now and what he's got in store for the future!
You've got an interesting resume. What are some of your proudest achievements to date?
I started jumping at 15 and have had countless opportunities to make bad decisions. I’ve made several bad decisions, but I’m proud that I remained humble, progressed with care, and made it this far without any major injuries. My proudest moments in the sport so far (in order of importance): competing with my dad at the US Nationals (RW) and placing dead last, competing at the US Nationals (3-way freefly) and earning a silver medal, and competing in the Wingsuit BASE environment.
As someone who started very young, do you have any advice for newcomers to the sport?
No matter how good you are or how much you think you know, there’s always a bigger fish. Remember that jump numbers don’t tell the whole story; stay humble and take your time if you want to continue progressing.
What's the biggest problem we have in the sport right now, and what can we do about it?
Our biggest problem is making the mistake that meeting the “minimum jump number” for certain things is a guarantee of competence. We need to continue educating each other that minimums are only guidelines, but everyone learns at different rates. This is especially true when it comes to more demanding areas in the sport such as swooping or BASE jumping. Meeting the minimum number of required jumps to get that new canopy you want doesn’t mean you are ready in any way. Maybe you were ready much earlier, or maybe you’re not going to be ready for another season or more. Seek expert coaching and/or guidance, be humble, and take things slow so you can survive the sport unbroken and undead!
Our biggest problem is making the mistake that meeting the 'minimum jump number' is a guarantee of competence
You just moved to Switzerland. Tell me about your motivations and what you plan to do now that you live in one of the best BASE destinations on planet Earth!
If someone told me on my first BASE trip to Lauterbrunnen, in 2005, that the future me would be building a life with the most beautiful person I could imagine, in a small village above the [Lauterbrunnen] Valley, I would’ve laughed. We have a tight circle of friends living here in our little fantasyland, and I can’t believe I get to be a part of it. After living on a drop zone for several years, I’d say it’s a bit like that. You no longer feel you HAVE to jump as much as possible when you’re always at the DZ, because you know you can join your friends for every jump that’s important to you. I’m excited to be able to jump with all of my friends when they’re on their once or twice a year BASE trip, without worrying about whether I can align my “vacation time” with everyone else.
Now that you're in Europe, tell me about the Dallas BASE Crew and what your plans are for DBC moving forward.
One of the easiest yet most difficult decisions I ever made was moving far, far from home. While I will not be seeing my best friends as frequently as I used to, we will always be sharing our travels together. I’m not 100% sure what is ahead of us, but I know that our interests remain aligned and we will always be sharing new experiences together. One thing is 100% certain — we have many years of adventures ahead!
What's next for you personally, aside from being a really awesome husband and model Swiss citizen?
Last winter I started speedflying and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. I’m stoked for this winter season to get back on the mountain with friends, have some barbecues, ski, and speed ride.
What do you spend too much money on but never regret?
Travel, and gear!
What was the biggest breakthrough/decision in your life?
Deciding to walk away from a stable, high-paying career as a marketing consultant to move to the dropzone, live super cheap, do intermittent freelance work, and spend 2-3 months a year jumping big walls in Europe.
Favorite place in the world to jump and why?
Skydiving at my home DZ in Dallas or BASE jumping into the Lauterbrunnen Valley — it’s a short walk from home and beats riding the train down to run errands.
What equipment do you jump, and why?
Skydiving: UPT Micron and PD Velocity.
BASE jumping: Apex BASE Summit or TL with my Lobo or FLiK 2. Why? R&D, R&D, R&D. Over and over, long before the gear gets into the consumers’ hands.
Luke Hively, ladies and gentlemen! You can catch him year-round in and around the Lauterbrunnen Valley and elsewhere as he travels the globe jumping, coaching, and living the good life!