Carl Nespoli - The Unknown StuntmanBy Carl Nespoli - The Unknown Stuntman on 2001-05-29
Carl Nespoli may not be a name that you associate with skydiving stunts (yet), but he has participated in some of the best known skydiving and aerial stunts ever performed. Carl is often the unknown skydiver in front of the camera or in control of the team that's working in the background to ensure the safety of the likes of Troy Hartman and others. Dropzone.com spoke to Carl after he recently participated in a plane-to-plane jump organized by his friend and mentor, Joe Jennings. Keep your ear to the ground, Dropzone.com believes we'll be hearing a lot more from Carl in the future.
First Jump: 1986
Rig: Javelin J5
Canopy: Spectre 170
Born: Brooklyn, NY
USPA License: D
Home DZ: Perris
Favorite Discipline: Sky Surfing
Dropzone.com: So Carl, I never realized all the stuff you've been in until I looked over your homepage. What did you do with Charlies Angels??
Carl: I was the aerial stunt crew assistant to Joe Jennings. I assisted in Joe's camera work, assisted riggers, and ground control.
Dropzone.com: Dropzone.com was one of the first to report on this plane-to-plane jump you did with Joe Jennings. Tell us about that stunt and what you had to do with it.
Carl: I was in the porter which was acting as the recovery for the target aircraft with the jumpers. We had come up with an automatic drogue deployment system which wasn't always guaranteed to work. So I had to be the official drogue man and take it out and make sure it didn't catch on any of the catch points. Prior to exiting I had to turn on 5 pov clamshells to capture the divers coming into the aircraft.
I had to take it out backwards hold on to it's bag and make sure the static line was fully out before letting go of the bag. I had remarkable video of both the skydivers and the bag deployment.
Dropzone.com: So the plane was going straight down when you exited?
Carl: No actually the plane was flying correctly when I exit then he would cut the engine and feather the prop.
Dropzone.com: Did they have a cut away system?
Carl: Yes, at about 4,500 feet the pilot would use a 3 ring cutaway process similar to that of a cutaway system on a rig. Then start the engine and land safely.
Dropzone.com: I noticed you helped with Senseless Acts, we are also interviewing Troy Hartman - do you have anything to say about Troy after working with him?
Carl: Absolutely, troy was the first person that put me out on my skyboard. To get the opportunity to work with him was pretty incredible. Rob Harris was obviously the main person who first inspired me but troy was the one that got me on my first skyboard. So to work with him was definitely a privilege and an honor. My duty on Senseless Acts was to oversee Troy's safety. Troy had to look good memorize lines, carry up different povs, battery packs, etc.. I made sure his board bindings were on tight, and things were safe. During the different stunts he was doing I would just simply isolate him 5 minutes before going up and just go over a couple of safety measures and bail out options.
On the burning canopy stunt Troy had to go up with 2 povs a burn suit a motorcycle helmet, knives, a flare gun holster, so many things. There were actually a few things I had to veto. There was a 3rd POV that was optioned and I had to relocate his cutaway handle to actually stick it out more because of visibility concerns due to the helmet he had on. They also wanted to put a flare gun on his wrist which I had to veto as well.
Dropzone.com: How's work going? You working on anything new right now?
Carl: I am bidding on a job, waiting for an answer. There is a Leno spot coming up at the end of the month where they will be jumping into NBC Studios. There will be ground to air communication, Jay will have communications to Troy Hartman - he will be playing like a human video game. This was originally set for November but due to presidential elections and Olympics the communication systems weren't available. I don't know if it is finalized yet, but that is the last I heard.
Dropzone.com:We've been having an ongoing discussion on dropzone.com about having to avoid certain living things when coming in for landings. Have you ever had a problem with animals during any of your parachute jumps?
Carl: I've had obstacles but they weren't living. Shrubbery and such. That's why I jump a Spectre, it's more of a technical canopy.
Dropzone.com: Do you have any skydiving role models or inspiration?
Carl: Rob Harris, Patrick, and Joe Jennings, definitely. I had about 6 jumps and saw the video. My first jump was in 86 but started back in 94 it was towards the beginning of the new year and gave it up for a few months, then started just before November and after that Rob passed away and I saw Joe's work. I was instantly inspired and started to pursue Joe. 2 years later he finally gave me the opportunity to meet him. My first project with him was IMAX where I was jumping with Joe Jennings.
Dropzone.com: What is the worst injury you have had from skydiving?
Carl: I had double canopy out, had my main entangled in my reserve and landed backwards in a fetal position. I actually walked away and got back on the aircraft - that was jump 26. I was in a high spin had a slider hang-up, grabbed both handles, pulled my reserve, it was pilot inexperience and pilot error.
Dropzone.com: What do you like least about the sport?
Carl: The fact that it is perceived as a dangerous sport. That people don't really know much about the sport.
Dropzone.com: What is the coolest non skydiving thing you've done?
Carl: I hate to be corny, but became an uncle to my nieces and nephews.
Dropzone.com: How do you go about getting selected for movies? Do you advertise yourself, have an agent, or what?
Carl: All of the above. I advertise, I'm with an agency, and I go on auditions very similar to what actors go on.
Dropzone.com: ESPN Recently axed skysurfing from their X-Games because sponsors didn't feel like it had an "automatic consumer base" what do you think about that?
Carl: I am very very curious to see once the public gets wind of this how their reaction is going to be.
Dropzone.com: What do you think can be done in the skydiving community to make it a more accepted sport?
Carl: Show more of the accomplishments in skydiving and less of the accidents, glorifying the negative part of the sport. It is human curiosity to want to see the accidents at the auto race and see athletes get injured but I think that is the media that just capitalizes too much on how dangerous skydiving can be. I attribute the confidence I have from skydiving to help me conquer other things in life.
Dropzone.com: If you could take anyone in the world skydiving with you, who would it be and why?
Carl: I'd like to take my mother, I'd like to show her and have her experience what I experience and have her worry less for me and actually be more happy and see what I am crazy over. She has a hard time with the sport.
Dropzone.com: If you could wave a magic wand and change something about the sport of skydiving what would it be?
Carl: The egos that skydivers of one discipline have towards skydivers of another discipline. For instance how the freeflyers treat the people doing RW and such.
Dropzone.com: Finally, what is something not many people know about you?
Carl: I have never forgotten the people that had inspired me, Rob & Patrick specifically because they are no longer with us. Any so called fame I achieve or recognition, I put it in perspective; those are they guys that are responsible for any type of recognition that I receive.
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