10 years and counting

It has been 10 years since I first started experimenting with creating skydive related educational videos. Back in 2006, the internet was a very different place. As connection/download speeds started to improve, and online videos become more prevalent, new platforms of communication started to emerge. One of these was called Expert Village; a site I was introduced to by a friend and co-worker of mine, Patrick Eaves of WingEnvy Paragliding.


At that time, there were only two vertical wind tunnel in the US: Orlando Florida and Perris California. Other wind tunnel designs, like flyaway in Las Vegas were available, but they did not offer the clean, wall-to-wall air flow that the newer Skyventure designs provided. This is what set Skyventure tunnels apart from their competitors, and is what made these tunnels so desirable to skydivers. They better replicated the feel of free fall, and skydivers were able to train with their personal equipment (jumps suits, helmets, and in some cases rigs if covered by a sleeve).

From 2005 – 2007 I was a full time tunnel instructor (IBA certified) and coach at the Perris Skyventure wind tunnel. During the time, many of the worlds best coaches would visit the Perris drop zone and tunnel to hold skills camps and organize events. This was the time and place to be if your goal was to train hard and learn a lot. I was fortunate enough to be able to fly with some of the most respected names in every discipline, and watch them coach for hours each day at close proximity. I quickly realized that each coach had their own personality, values, and way of teaching. I observed not only what they taught, but also how they connected with their students.

Personally, I am a very analytical person and like to pick concepts apart mentally, make predictions, and then test ideas practically. This has always driven my training and coaching style. The online tutorials presented an opportunity to not only market my services, but also forced me to think more critically about the information I was sharing. These early videos were low budget and shot in one afternoon without a real script to speak of. The idea was to make people aware of the newly arising discipline (tunnel flying), and to let people know that professional coaching was available.

Looking back at the 10 year old footage, I have to say that I still agree with most of the information that is being presented. It encapsulated my working knowledge, and what was taught during that time. However, my coaching process has evolved substantially over the years.

I am still actively engaged in creating online content such as tutorials and instructional videos on the AXIS Flight School YouTube channel, as well as through USPA’s monthly printed publication Parachutist.

Screen Shot 2016-10-28 at 2.04.10 PM.png

Foundations of Flight is a monthly column that AXIS contributes to USPA Parachutist magazine. These how-to videos and articles are not just limited to free fall skills, but have been expanded on to also include canopy skills and much more.

Of course none of the tutorials have ever meant to be a substitute for professional coaching. They are meant to spark curiosity and provide some insight to a training method to jumpers who do not have access to professional coaching. They serve as an educational guideline and a small glimpse into what is out there.

sdaz_logo.pngIn 2010, AXIS moved its head quarters to Skydive Arizona, which is the perfect training ground for skydivers who want to sharpen their skills and learn at an accelerated pace. This is because the drop zone has great jumping weather year round, a massive fleet of aircraft, and a wind tunnel that is located on the drop zone. For more information about coaching or AXIS Flight School, contact us at Info[at]AXISFlightSchool.com


Arizona X-FORCE takes 3rd at the 2016 USPA Nationals!

2016-sdaz-nationals-logo-small.pngThe 2015 USPA Nationals were held at Skydive Arizona(SDAZ) in Eloy, AZ. In the 4-way VFS category there were 6 teams in open, and 4 in advanced –the same turnout as the previous year.

Last year, Arizona X-Force took 3rd place at the 2015 USPA Nationals in Eloy with a 13.13 average. After completing close to 200 training jumps at Skydive Arizona, and spending about 20 hours in the Skyventure Arizona wind tunnel, the team was only able to maintain their competition average at a 13.88 this year. Unfortunately Seth Studer (tail flyer) needed shoulder surgery 2 months prior to the competition, forcing him to stay on the ground. Luckely Jason Peters was able to fill in last minute for Seth; and with very minimal training, the team entered the competition.

2001 - Arizona X-FORCE.jpg

Left to right:Brianne Thompson, Niklas Daniel, Kevin Mitchell (video), Jason Peters, Johnny Gunn. Photo by David Cherry.

Here is a look at the draw for the open devision:

  1. H-14-4
  2. 16-G-6
  3. B-L-A-E-15
  4. 12-13-J
  5. 9-D-2
  6. 11-F-5
  7. i-7-M-K
  8. 3-1-10
  9. N-17-8 (tie breaker round) not jumped


SDC Core and Arizona Arsenal ended up taking the first two spots on the podium. There was an exciting fight to the finish between Arizona X-Force, the ARMY Golden Knights, and Skydive California Super Serious as they battled for the bronze until the last round. In the end, X-Force managed to put two more points on the board than the Knights, securing their 3rd place finish. For more in-depth information, please visit omniskore, and for more media coverage check out SkydiveTV.

Scoring Summary.png

Arizona X-Force would like to thank Skydive ArizonaSkyventure Arizona, and all of our equipment sponsors who made this training season possible. Special thanks to Jason Peters for filling in last minute.

IMG_7145 edit.jpg

VFS Open team Arizona X-FORCE. Photo by Jochen Althoff.

IMG_7148 edit.jpg

VFS Open podium photo by Jochen Althoff.

Teams from left to right: Arizona Arsenal (2nd), SDC Core (1st), Arizona X-FORCE (3rd)


Choppin’ with style

Another cutaway photo by Mark Kirschenbaum; this time as the featured photo in Blue Skies Magazine! i82: Oct 2016


Using a tertiary system, Niklas Daniel performs an intentional cutaway over Skydive Arizona. Photo by Trunk / Hypoxic


AXIS at CSC for 1st Vector Camp

CSC_logoDarker.png13062454_1075000679225457_3689017340747840641_n.pngOn August 11-14, AXIS Flight School went to  Vector Camp #1 at Chicago Skydiving Center (CSC) to organize and coach in both FS and free-fly disciplines.

Brianne put together large belly groups and challenged them with formations AXIS put together. These jumps involved stepping out of the usual FS skill sets and rules and required participants to think fast and fly very precise. Nik provided video for some of the FS groups and also provided some free-fly organizing and angle jump coaching. The AXIS vs. Grillets big way belly sequential event ended up with a slightly different format than advertised. Because the turn out of the event was lower than expected, there just simply were not enough people to form four 10-way teams. Because of this, the participants were  encouraged to come together and challenge their skills with more complex dives.

Performance Designes hosted their Backyard Accuracy Challenge, where participants were able to demo the Optimum reserve and fly through a simulated back yard with obstacles. The winner of the event walked away with a free OP Reserve!


Jason playing the didgeridoo after a couple of shots at 9am Australian local time.

On the evening of the 12th, three famous figures in the skydiving community were put onstage and asked to recall some of their favorite memories from their skydiving carriers. The evening took on a humorous mood as the mixing of crazy stories and alcohol continued. As Jason Cooke is located in Australia, he joined the event via a webcam and light projector.  13738363_1127571877301670_6289208481130646850_o.jpg


CSC hangar during drunken skydiver history


later in that evening…

For more images and info, check out the Vector Camp Facebook page.

Brianne fire:castle.png


I would like to thank Mark ‘Trunk’ Kirschenbaum of Hypoxic for accompanying me on some fun jumps over Skydive Arizona. A couple of weeks ago, Trunk captured some great footage of some intentional cutaways, which AXIS Flight School intends to enter in a film festival contest later this year.
Congratulations Trunk, on snagging the October 2016  Parachutist Centerfold spot! 
Cutaway Centerfold by Trunk.jpg
Using a tertiary canopy system, Niklas Daniel performs an intentional cutaway at Skydive Arizona in Eloy. Photo by MARK KIRSCHENBAUM.
About Parachutist: “When PCA (USPA’s predecessor) first published the magazine in 1957, it was not much more than a newsletter, but it did serve the very important purpose of keeping the organization’s members informed about news in the sport. In the mid-1960s, the magazine first began printing its cover in color, foreshadowing the glossy magazine you see today. Through the 1970s and ’80s, Parachutist’s circulation continued to grow as membership and advertising revenues increased. The magazine began to showcase stunning color photography inside and out. It not only kept members up-to-date on industry news, it served as a forum for opinion, disseminated safety information, covered the sport’s history, offered general-interest skydiving articles and listed events, drop zones and membership data for reference purposes. With the rise of internet communications in the 1990s and through the 2000s, Parachutist shifted its focus from news and reference to concentrate more on education, entertainment and safety features. That change in focus and the advent of technology is what you see today with this website. This is our effort to expand the reach that Parachutist has as both a safety and instructional tool.”