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Chuck Blue - SkymonkeyONE

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At 39 years old, Chuck is pretty long in the tooth as compared to most of his fellow swoop competitors. At 5'7" and 153 pounds he is not a very big guy either; don't let that fool you, Chuck is more than capable of taking care of business. He is a second generation skydiver who grew up on dropzones. A former serious 4 and 8-way competitor, CRW dog, and vidiot, Chuck now spends the majority of his time managing the Raeford Parachute Center School and swooping. Recently retiring after just over 21 years in the military, Chuck has gotten "serious" about skydiving.

Nicknames:SkymonkeyONE, fiesta boy.

Age:39

Birthplace:Opelika, Alabama USA

Marital Status:Divorced. Seriously involved to a sweet girl.

Children:Not yet

Occupation:Manager of Raeford Parachute Center School, skydiving instructor, professional swooper<

Education:three years college, tons of Army crap

Hobbies:Riding and hot-rodding my Harley, all water sports, snowboarding

Team Name:A team captain in the PST series, sponsored by Performance Designs. Formerly with Team Cobalt (Atair Aerodynamics)

Container:Javelins

Main Canopies:Performance Designs Velocity (75, 79)

Reserve Canopy:Performance Designs 106R

AAD:Cypres, except during pond swoop meets

Home Dropzone:Raeford Parachute Center, North Carolina; Skydive Opelika, Alabama

Year of First Jump:1981

Licenses and Ratings:AFF-I, SL-I, Tandem-I, BirdMan-I, professional "student" rigger and jump pilot (since age 6)

Total jumps:3,300 plus a bit

RW:2200

CRW:about 400, lots at the bottom of RW jumps.

Demo accuracy:400

Tandems:just over 400

Canopy swoops:well over 2000

Total Cutaways:4 in 22 years

Most people don't know this about me:I am just as good on water or snow as I am in the sky.

Out of all your skydives, is there one particular jump that stands out the most?Man, I can't nail it down to just one. First skysurf in the state of North Carolina (1990)? A military freefall jump at 3:00am where I was blown backwards at over 50 MPH under canopy and almost got fried in high-tension power lines?

What do you like least about the sport?The fact that so many dropzones feel the need to charge for services and instruction that used to be part of the first jump course. This makes me sick.

What safety item do you think is most important and most often neglected?Most important nowadays? Simple, the audible altimeter. Most neglected? I would say a hook knife. We all need to get back in the habit of jumping them.

How did you get interested in skydiving?Hard not to get interested when your dad is a DZO takes you to the DZ ever weekend as a child.

Any suggestions for new students?Yes, shop around before you commit to any one school. Once through your training, attach yourself to a group of more experienced jumpers and learn from them.

What the hell is a Skymonkey and why are you number one?A skymonkey is a member of the loose-knit band of jumpers that jumps with the Green Beret Parachute Club or at Raeford. I am SkymonkeyONE because I coined the term while teaching classes there. Kip Lohmiller, the former club manager(now also retired), is SkymonkeyTWO as he and I teach together most of the time. Nobody else is numbered. There are now hat-wearing monkeys at a variety of other dropzones that I have visited.

Were you a hard child to raise?Absolutely not; I was very well mannered. Now, my sisters were a pain in the ass!

What's the toughest thing to do in skydiving?Stay up with the Jones's.

Someday I am going to own:My own dropzone.

Most embarrassing moment in freefall or at a dropzone:I was skysurfing into a demo back 1991 and my main (a monarch 135) opened so hard I shit myself. I was barely conscious, landed, shucked the board, then walked straight to a porta-potty where I promptly cleaned up and disposed of my undies. Nice, huh?

What's the most bad-ass thing you can do in the air?I don't know; 18 points in time? Swoop my canopy the length of the dropzone? Tandem a guy 6'8" and 275 pounds?

What kind of student were you?A very quick study.

What's the dumbest thing you have ever done?Very nearly blew myself up by attempting to cut the "unleaded gas only" restrictor out of my truck's gas filler neck with a TORCH! Unbelievable. I have no idea what I was thinking.

What is your most significant life achievement?Earning the green beret.

While in freefall, what was your strangest thought?"Why can't I see out of my goggles and why can't I move my left arm?" This after regaining consciousness after being knocked out by a flailing jumper trying to swoop a 12-way I was videoing. I woke up at 8 grand, covered in blood, and with my lip busted wide open with a buddy right in front of me ready to pull me out. Nobody I knew jumped an AAD back then so I could have very easily died.

Please explain you passion for canopy swooping?I have always pushed the limit with parachutes. I had a new Excallibur the month after it's introduction, then "the next best thing" every time something faster came out. I don't get any greater satisfaction than when I make a nice, carving turn over the top and rip it across the pond or through the course. Swooping competitions are the one thing that erases the line in the sand separating RW and freefly folks on most dropzones. In my opinion, that is the best, most diverse crowd of people I have ever jumped with, bar none.

What's skydiving like with a 65 square foot canopy over your head?Things happen very fast and you really have to pay attention to who is below you in the sky.

What advice would you give to someone with 300 jumps trying to break into canopy swooping?Ask questions of the accomplished people on your dropzone, attend competitions and seminars when possible, do not ignore people like myself, J.C. Colclasure or Andy Farrington when we are trying to school you. Lastly, do not downsize too rapidly just for the sake of vanity.

Explain Chuck Blue in five words or less:Skymonkeys in flight, afternoon delight!

Submitted by Carlos Azul (Chuck's alter ego)




By on 2001-12-02

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