A Champion’s Journey Podcast Episode 7 Featuring Mike Mcgowan Is Live!!!

Click the image to listen to episode 7

The air is filled with excitement here at Skydive Arizona. The drop zone is buzzing with activity as teams from all across the globe finish up last minute preparations for the upcoming World Cup of Formation Skydiving and Artistic Events. During a break in training with Arizona Airspeed, I was able to sit down and have a conversation with legendary free fall photographer and videographer, Mike Mcgowan. 

Mike has been deeply involved in the sport of skydiving since he first stepped out of an airplane 55 years ago. He’s made so many meaningful contributions to the sport of skydiving that it’s hard to keep track. He helped revolutionize how skydiving competitions are judged by being the first videographer to film a team from the air, an element which is a necessary and inseparable part of our sport today.

In this episode we discuss many topics including, Mike’s service in the U.S. Navy as a parachute rigger and rescue swimmer during Viet Nam, his first free fall photography jumps with a hand-held camera, detailed descriptions of the first camera helmets and the challenges Mike had to overcome with that gear; how he better prepared himself to withstand the rigors of early free fall parachuting through his dedication to physical training and how that training helped save his life after a near brush with death; emergency procedures training; Mike’s involvement in the evolution of parachute gear as an air to air photographer and videographer for research and development, his most memorable R&D experiences; Mike’s advice for aspiring free fall photographers, his involvement in World Record free fall formations, the recent release of his book titled, “Selections,” and much more!

Mike has a uniquely beautiful perspective of our beloved sport. Shining through in every photo he takes, is a genuine love for skydiving and, to an even greater degree, for his subjects of focus, the people of the sport. For over half a century, he’s captured thousands of magical moments on film and for Mike, it really is all about living in the moment. He fondly refers to free fall as, “high speed meditation.” He’s endeared himself to hundreds, if not thousands of other skydivers by capturing their special moments of high speed meditation for all to see.

Legendary Free Fall Photography and Videography Pioneer, Mike Mcgowan
Mike under canopy at Skydive Arizona
Mike playing with his best buddy, Zeke
Mike and friends riding to altitude in a DC-3 high above Z-Hills, Florida in 1986
Mike and Willy having a laugh
Mike Mcgowan and ACJ Podcast host Matt Davidson
Joe Jennings and Rob Harris. Photo by Mike Mcgowan
Yoko. Photo by Mike Mcgowan
Mike (middle) enjoying a fun jump

A Champion’s Journey, Episode 6 has launched: World Champion Power Couple, Craig Girard and Eliana Rodriguez

Craig Girard and Eliana Rodriguez
Eliana and Craig BASE jumping off of a cliff together

I recently had the great opportunity to have a conversation with the most well known and highest achieving power couple in the sport of formation skydiving today. Together with their team, Arizona Airspeed, Craig Girard and Eliana Rodriguez have won multiple U.S. National and World Championship titles in 4-way and 8-way Formation Skydiving. 

In this podcast, Craig and Eliana reveal many valuable tools and techniques which are applicable for high achievement in any endeavor. We’ll learn about mental preparations for peak performance, focused visualization techniques, mental approaches for different competition scenarios, tricks for avoiding brain locks, how to better position yourself for opportunities, and so much more!

Before they met to become the force of nature they are today, Craig and Eliana accumulated impressive lists of individual accomplishments. Before joining Arizona Airspeed, Craig was a member of The U.S. Army Parachute Team’s, “Golden Knights,” from 1986 to 1995. He has won an incredible 18 U.S. National Championship 8-way titles, is an eight-time 4-way National Champion, five-time 8-way World Cup Champion, five-time 8-way World Champion, two-time 4-way World Champion, holds three records for the world’s largest free fall formations, has accumulated in excess of 38,000 jumps, AND is a 2012 Skydiving Hall of Fame inductee. His mind boggling list of achievements and accolades defy comprehension and are simply too numerous to continue mentioning here.

Eliana is well known not only for her contagious and illuminating smile, but also for being a shining beacon of inspiration who has blazed a path as a modern day pioneer for women across our sport. She became the first and only female competitor in Arizona Airspeed’s 25 year history AND is the first woman to win an 8-way World Championship as a formation flyer! 

Eliana started her skydiving career shortly after completing her military service in the U.S. Army. She became Women’s World Cup 4-way Champion in 2000 and hasn’t looked back. Since then, she’s become Women’s 4-way World Champion, 4-way Open class World Cup Champion, 8-way World Cup Champion, 8-way World Champion and 4-way Open class World Champion, an achievement widely regarded as the pinnacle of success in Formation Skydiving. Her incredible list of achievements doesn’t stop there. Eliana also holds World Records for three of the world’s largest free fall formations in addition to World Records for the largest free fall sequential formation, largest women’s free fall formation, and largest women’s vertical head down formation. And these are just SOME of the incredible things she’s achieved!

It is my GREAT pleasure to introduce this awesome couple! Please welcome, Craig Girard and Eliana Rodriguez.

Bodyflight Bedford Indoor 4-way Champions
Eliana jumping off the Perrine Bridge in Twin Falls, Idaho
Craig BASE jumping off the Perrine Bridge in Twin Falls, Idaho
Eliana flashing her illuminating smile and some Gold bling
Craig Girard was a member of the U.S. Army Parachute Team, “The Golden Knights,” from 1986 to 1995
8-way over Dubai, UAE
Arizona Airspeed 8 with the Russian 8-way team
Craig and Eliana in Dubai, UAE
Craig and Eliana in Egypt
U.S. National 4-way Champions, Arizona Airspeed
U.S. National 4-way Champions, Arizona Airspeed
Eliana BASE jumping
Craig with some adoring fans in Japan
Craig Girard, 2012 Skydiving Hall of Fame Inductee
Formation Skydiving Power Couple, Craig Girard and Eliana Rodriguez

Episode 5 of A Champion’s Journey featuring World Champion and Sport Skydiving Icon, Dan Brodsky-Chenfeld is available to stream!

Episode 5: World Champion and Sport Skydiving Icon, Dan Brodsky-Chenfeld
Dan Brodsky-Chenfeld
Dan, bottom row, 2nd from left, during training with Arizona Airspeed 8, August 2019
Dan jumping with his team, “Airmoves,” in the early 1990’s

Welcome to episode 5 of, A Champion’s Journey. I recently had the unforeseen and incredible opportunity to have a conversation with one of my heroes, Dan Brodsky-Chenfeld. 

Dan B.C. is a seven-time World level Champion skydiver and co-founder of the highly successful skydiving team, Arizona Airspeed. 

While training for competition in 1992, Dan survived a catastrophic plane crash which killed 16 people, including his close friend and teammate, James Layne and videographer Dave Clarke, who filled in for Dan’s team videographer due to a camera malfunction for that jump. Dan spent six weeks in a coma with severe traumatic injuries which included a broken neck and collapsed lung. During his long and painful road to recovery, Dan resolved to rebuild his strength and make his return to competitive skydiving.

Not only did Dan return to skydiving, but he went on to lead his team in an impressive list of achievements including four World Cup victories, three World Championship titles, and sixteen National Championship wins. After spending nearly 40 years in the sport and accumulating 28,000+ jumps, Dan has enjoyed continued success, not just as a world-class competitor but as a coach, role model, and mentor. In addition, he continues to motivate and inspire countless others with his remarkable story as an author and public speaker. Dan’s book, “Above All Else,” gives a detailed and personal account of his deeply emotional and profoundly inspirational journey.

Purchase your copy of Dan’s book, “Above All Else,” here: https://read.amazon.com/kp/embed?asin=B005NHN0A2&preview=newtab&linkCode=kpe&ref_=cm_sw_r_kb_dp_C3evDb6X4AZ04

Visit Dan’s website: http://danbrodsky-chenfeld.com

Watch Dan’s Tedx Talk here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHEMVhNEIuI

ACJ Podcast Episode 4 with World Champion Skydiver, Niklas Hemlin Has Launched!

Arizona Airspeed Team Captain, Niklas Hemlin checks the spot before a jump.
Arizona Airspeed
Current Airspeed lineup Left to Right: Niklas Hemlin, Matt Davidson, Thiago Gomes, Mikhail Markine, David French (not pictured)

 

Welcome to this special addition of A Champion’s Journey podcast coming to you from Skydive Arizona where I’m currently training with Arizona Airspeed 4-way Formation Skydiving Team. 

Airspeed is a team with a rich legacy dating back to the early 1990’s. Over that time, they’ve been a formidable powerhouse on the National and International stages, winning Championship titles several times over.

Today, we’ll have a conversation with Airspeed’s Team Captain, National and World Champion, Niklas Hemlin. Nik is one of the hardest working people I’ve ever met. His drive and passionate obsession for his craft are uncommon even amongst his peers. In addition to being a World class athlete, Nik is a phenomenal coach, highly skilled and well versed in the rich and layered nuances of Formation Skydiving. 

Nik’s Journey has had it’s share of obstacles along the way, but his vision and relentless dedication in leading Airspeed on the path to victory have given him the strength to overcome and become one of the best skydivers and most sought after coaches in the sport today.

“A Champion’s Journey,” Episode 3 with World Champion Brian Krause, launching tomorrow!!

Brian, “BK,” Krause, center, standing, after jumping into Stonehenge.

Brian Krause, also known as BK, is a former member and Team Leader for the U.S. Army Parachute Team’s Formation Skydiving Competition Team. He is largely credited for rebuilding and leading the Golden Knight’s 8-way Team out of a 15 year slump to win the 2012 World Parachuting Championships.

If training for the World Championships wasn’t enough, BK went to work on gaining command approval and recruiting team members to form an all female Golden Knights 4-way Formation Skydiving Team. Six years after their inception and four years after BK’s retirement, GKF4 would go on to win the 2016 World Championships.

Not one to slow down after his military retirement, BK remains active in the sport as a Formation Skydiving competitor and coach, most recently winning the 2019 World Indoor Skydiving Championships with his team, Paraclete XP8.

Double flag jump with GK8 and GKF4 over Laurinburg, NC. Team Leader, Brian Krause in center.
BK geared up for high altitude testing in the Himalayas.

Surprise Change for Episode 2!!

Our planned interview with Brian Krause for episode 2 had to be delayed due to scheduling conflicts but we got a surprise visit from Jose Pruneda, early member of The U.S. Army Parachute Team’s first Canopy Relative Work competition team from the early 1990’s. Jose left in 1994 and, after traveling the globe, is back for the first time in 25 years!

I had the honor of interviewing three of the early members of the Golden Knight’s first CRW team: Mike Eller, Jose Pruneda, and Mario Rivera in a round table discussion. Each shared compelling, emotional, and riveting stories of their Champion’s Journey. You really won’t want to miss this podcast.

Jose Pruneda, bottom jumper, performing a two-way Canopy Relative Work stack.
Jose Pruneda
From left to right: Mario Rivera, Mike Eller, Jose Pruneda, and Matt Davidson

Stay tuned for, A Champion’s Journey episode 2 with Brian Krause

ACJ host, Matt Davidson and Team Leader, Brian Krause running to the plane with GK8 to make a training jump in preparations for the 2010 World Parachuting Championships.

Brian Krause, also known as BK, is a former member and Team Leader of the U.S. Army Parachute Team’s Formation Skydiving Competition Team. He is largely credited for rebuilding and leading the Golden Knight’s 8-way Team out of a 15 year slump to win the 2012 World Parachuting Championships.

If training for the World Championships wasn’t enough, BK went to work on gaining command approval and recruiting team members to form an all female Golden Knights 4-way Formation Skydiving Team. Six years after their inception and four years after BK’s retirement, GKF4 would go on to win the 2016 World Championships.

Years after his military retirement, BK remains dedicated to the sport he loves and continues to stay active as a Formation Skydiving competitor and coach, most recently winning the 2019 World Indoor Skydiving Championships with his team, Paraclete XP8.