I can remember the first time I met Ally Milne. It was at a European boogie. I shuffled up to see who my load organiser was for the day…
I saw his name but didn’t know who he was. I waited awkwardly, kicking rocks and waiting to see who he was. Up walked, quite purposefully might I add, a tall, fair-skinned man with ginger hair and a pen he was tapping rather importantly. It was, in my opinion, a little bit early to be so on point, (I’d later learn that Ally is a definite morning person), especially at a boogie. Ally was all work that day I jumped with him. He was professional, sharp, knowledgeable and he seemed like he had endless energy.
I got to know him better as he began to coach for me on my LSD bigway camps. He was always professional. Ally takes his roles very seriously. He looks beyond the skydive and sees opportunities in the jumps and debriefs to drill in safety and breaks down common sense items that don’t seem so common at times. And, after working together I’ve discovered he’s got a fiery sense of humor that gives deep stomach pains from laughing for hours, if you’re lucky enough to have that kind of time with him.
As a human, a skydiver, a teacher and a ginger, Ally’s pretty much top of the line.
Who are you, where are you located and when / how did you get started in skydiving?
I’m a full time skydiving coach and instructor based Nottingham UK and spend a lot of my time travelling around Europe, or further, for coaching, load organising and other projects. My first jump was in Feb 2000, which was a tandem with my Dad, Scotty Milne. I completed an AFF course with him in 2002 in Empuriabrava. At that time I lived in Edinburgh and used to spend a lot of my weekends travelling to the local DZs in Scotland but mainly Skydive St Andrews. Progression was often slow due to weather and plane capacity but we all made up for that with enthusiasm. A lot of people don’t know that it took 4 attempts to get my FS1! For the small size of the fun jumper pool we had there, I’m still amazed at the volume of successes that many jumpers who started at the time have gone on to achieve all over the world.
After graduating university I moved to Langar initially as a packer in March 2005. At that time I didn’t have a long term plan. I wasn’t sure how long I would stay there but ended up working there full time until end of 2016 when I went freelance due to being abroad more than in the UK. I got my all my instructor ratings and my advanced packer qualification in a 12 month period in 2007-2008. I took up free flying as a discipline as something to do on fun jumps, but I didn’t get my FF1 till I had 1500 jumps!
What was it like growing up with a skydiving father?
I guess when you grow up at the time you just take it for granted everything you do is normal. I used to play in the accuracy pit when the Red Devils used to train in Aldershot, and if there was space I’d sit in the co-pilot seat of the Islander when we lived in Cyprus. In Cyprus I remember the start of people using Cypres AADs and giving static line students square parachutes! When my Dad left the military and we all moved back to Scotland, I’d go every weekend I could to Strathallan and sit around with the club jumpers while my dad was jumping.
Have you guys worked together, do you cross paths often?
We have jumped together many times normally when he brings his AFF program over. I’ll help by being secondary instructor. In fact he calls the spare room in my house ‘his room’!
Jump numbers, disciplines, achievements, time in the sport etc.
I have 10,570 jumps, I still log them which is a common question I am asked. I’m glad the new Pro Track 2 can display 5 digit jump numbers! I have been jumping 19 years from my first jump.
- 164 way Head down Chicago August 2015
- 72 way Head up Arizona April 2016
- 54 way Head up Arizona April 2016
- 3 point 217 Way FS Arizona October 2017
- 2 point 219 Way FS Arizona October 2017
- 43 Way Head up (plane captain,) Empuriabrava June 2017
- 96 way Head down, Empuriabrava September 2013
- 80 way Head down, Empuriabrava September 2011
- 21 Way Head up (organiser) Hibaldstow, May 2019
- 18 way Head up (organiser) Hibaldstow, May 2019
- 14 way Head up (organiser) Hibaldstow, May 2017
- 12 way Head up Sibson October 2014
- 37 way Head down (co organiser) Hibaldstow, September 2015
- 30 way Head down Hibaldstow, September 2014
- 28 way Head down Hibaldstow, August 2013
Awards & ‘other’
- BPA Star Award
- BCPA Outstanding Contribution to Skydiving
- BPA Certificate of Merit
- BPA National Champion 2014
- 160 way FS Texas state FS record Houston April 2009
Tell us a bit about British skydiving and the community.
The British skydiving community is often at the mercy of the weather. That’s why most UK-based skydivers normally go abroad at least once per year (normally to Skydive Algarve or Skydive Spain) as it’s cheap and easy to fly over to sunnier climates.
I see the sport with regard to fun jumpers being now very event-driven. Rather than people showing up every weekend to the same DZ, the choice for UK fun jumpers in quality events has grown to match the demand. There are coaches and events for every kind of skydiving out there, so for consumers this is fantastic.
What are some future goals for you, sport or otherwise?
I have recently completed my BPA Pre-Advanced course and will be taking the final part of the course to become an Advanced Instructor in November so this is my main goal for the year.
I think it’s important to always have goals. I find when some people complete their goals, if they don’t find a new one, they begin to lose interest and slowly fade away. Sometimes that new goal is to try another discipline, compete or get on some big formations. That’s the beauty of skydiving, you’ll never complete it!
Who are some of the influencers in our sport?
Skydiving as a sport has a variety of different influencers at every level from the first jump student, DZ staff to coaches and teams.
The sport has changed in the last 10 years with the influx on tandem numbers driving revenue to the DZ business. Many of these students are regular participants in outdoors activity and with that comes the added expectation of good customer service. This is an area that is improving quickly as DZ looks to increase numbers with social media recommendations.
DZ staff play an important role, as they set the example that others will follow. Their enthusiasm and training will guide fun jumpers and keep them keen.
Coaches also have an important part to play, imparting the knowledge of up-to-date good working practices that reduce risk to participants.
Teams also push the boundaries of what is possible; trailblazing new techniques and raising the skill level of their own respective discipline.
Do you have one piece of advice you wish you could share with every young skydiver?
If you bring enthusiasm we can teach you everything else!
Any sponsors or shoutouts?
I am happy to be sponsored by the biggest brands and innovators in the industry!
- Performance Designs
- United Parachute Technologies
- Larsen and Brusgaard
Big thanks to my sponsors for all their support in achieving everything!
With over 10,000 skydives, what do you think it is that keeps you coming back to jump, besides a paycheck?
I think the challenge of different aspects of the sport. Right now my focus is on planning and breaking the UK Head-up record. After that I’ll need to find another jumping goal. Sometimes I’ll just come up with an idea and want to make it happen in the air or tunnel. But not every freefall jump goes to plan, but that’s cool – as long as everyone is safe I can still enjoy the rest of the jump flying my Valkyrie. This year I hope to make a lot of high hop ’n’ pops flying around with others.
Do you think our sport has gotten safer?
Generally speaking the design and manufacture of equipment, safety features such as the Skyhook and electronic back-up devices have increased our safety. However we then make it more dangerous by the less experienced flying faster canopies that have smaller margins of error.
What are some things you still see that could be improved upon?
One key area I think we as a sport can improve on is Canopy Skills, in regards to, discipline and experience. We develop our canopy skills in our early progression from our instructors. Most countries’ progression systems include a variety of skills to develop for B-licences and beyond, which is a great improvement. Luckily there is also a great increase in demand for Canopy Courses and some great enthusiastic canopy pilots touring the world to improve skills such as PD Flight-1 and Curt/Jeannie Bartholomew.
However canopy discipline is something that I think we all need to talk about. So often in the pattern I see people making too many turns, spiralling, cutting into the pattern, and making a swoop when they should’ve aborted. Some people are in a rush to downsize and missing out on key skills as there is some perceived race to get onto a faster canopy. Sometimes I also wonder if people aren’t bailing to toggles when they need to because they are worried about what people will think. And people opinion-shopping when it’s time to downsize, keeping asking people till someone says it’s a good idea! Or worse not asking anyone. I still ask someone when I get a small canopy in case I’m suffering from some kind of cognitive bias. You can often be the worst person to judge your own skills.
We can also work a bit harder to develop canopy experience too, practicing landing in a crosswind or slight downwind. If you can’t land well in all conditions you probably have a canopy that’s too small for you. It takes a big person to own up and correct that, but the advantage is you’ll spend more time doing one of the coolest things in skydiving. Walking off the landing area without a limp!
What’s your schedule like this year? Where can we find you?
This year is another busy season packed full of events. The most up-to-date list is on the events tab of my FB coaching page ‘Ally Milne Tunnel Coaching and Load Organising’. So far I have European events in Italy, Belgium, Poland, Slovakia, Sweden, Germany, Spain, Cyprus, Netherlands and hopefully finishing off the year in Portugal as well as lots of UK-based coaching weekends mainly at Hibaldstow and midweek Bedford tunnel trips to Twinwoods Adventure.
Final parting wisdom for our readers?
If you want to improve, you need to gain knowledge and develop in the sport. You would be amazed about how much you can progress by asking the people who have already succeeded in your discipline. Skydivers are a helpful bunch but sometimes people will give advice only from what they have experienced. The people at the top of your discipline can guide you to the best (often not the easiest!) path so you don’t have to guess the way for yourself. Having some look over your progression means you can progress further, safer and have more fun.