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.