Featured Friday - Steve Woodford

December 18, 2015

Skydive Arizona is a big drop zone. No - a GINORMOUS drop zone with a lot of people from visiting to local jumpers, to staff, pilots, instructors, ground crew, maintenance, manifest to teams, event organizers and load organizers!!! The Featured Friday series is aimed at getting to know the people that make Skydive Arizona work and rock

In this week's series, we meet a man who's dream to fly began in South Africa in 1969, meet Steve Woodford!


When & where did you start jumping?

My first jump was in South African Airborne in 1967. DC-3 at 600ft. Then started civilian jumping in 1973 at Lovely Banks DZ at Geelong in Australia.

What are the major differences of skydiving from when you first started to now?

So many advances in gear. Parachutes(I started on 28ft round “TU”s), rigs, jumpsuits, aircraft, disciplines and World Records. And attitudes as well. The old “Blue Sky Black Death” mindset, ‘Get in or go in”, ‘Cardinal Puff” drinking games are not around anymore. Generational thing…

Steve & Maria Demo Jose Cuervo

What keeps you jumping after all of these years?

I really don’t know what I would have done with my life if not for jumping. Since I was knee high I wanted to be in the Paratroopers. Did that. The adrenalin, friends, travel and so much more. It is a unique world as opposed to the “Real World” out there. I have worked at 30 DZ’s in 23 years as a fulltime AFF, Tandem Instructor/Examiner and videoman.

What inspired you to organize the night record?

Jerry Bird organized the successful Night 40-way and later the Night 50-way attempt( one out and two in wrong slots) at ZHills back in the late 80’s. I had a blast on them and was always ready for the next one. But no one tried to organize anything. So finally in 1998 I organized the Night World Record(unofficial) 2 point 42-way at ZHills in 1998. Then the completed 2 point 49-way at The Ranch in 1999. And in 2000, the Night 50-way( one grip short of 2nd point) at Lake Elsinore. This is still the Record. What is cool about this for me is that I was on the first day 50-way ever built in the world, also at Elsinore back in1978.

You are also organizing the 10-way meet in December after a successful meet last year. Tell us about 10-way and what inspired you to bring back the event:

I have always had a “love affair” with DC-3’s. From my first jump in Airborne ( my “rebirth” static line/umbilical cord) , 3 years at Elsinore in the 70’s jumping them and then back in South Africa we won a Gold Medal at Nationals out of a DC-3. At ZHills organizing loads from them for 9 years in the 80’s to early 90’s.

Back in the 70’s I was fortunate enough to be taken under the wing of the World Champion 10-way Team “Captain Hook and the Sky Prates”. They let me follow out their 10-way practice dives and the 10th man, Mitch Poteet, taught me the swoop. I was on Roger Nelson’s 10-way team that won back in mid 80’s. And a 10-way team at Perris that won in about 2007, also from a DC-3.

During the Christmas Boogie here at Eloy in 2013, Thomas (from Airspeed) organized a 10-way DC-3 dive with fairly inexperienced jumpers. I followed them out and the swoop just inspired me to create the event

Who can participate in the 10-way Meet?

Anyone who is C-License qualified. My team “The Heat Seeking Moisture Missiles” will be available to teach the art of DC-3 lineups and exits to any team interested on the weekend just before the Meet.

Hauling Ass Z-Hills 1988

What are your future skydiving goals?

Plans are already in the works for the Night World Record 60-way next year here at Eloy. This coming February we will do a Night Record 22-way. I petitioned USPA to create two new Categories, Night large Formation Record and Night large Formation Sequential. It was unanimously approved at a meeting I had with the Competition Committee at PIA in Daytona Beach in March of 2015.

So the previous Night 50-way was retroactively recognized as a National Record. But there is no Sequential Record. USPA would not recognize the completed 2 point 49-way because there were three concentric rings. Rules now say that all jumpers have to be connected. So the 22-way will get the ball rolling.

Goal is just to keep skydiving….they say “You don’t give up skydiving because you grow old. You grow old because you give up skydiving”.

True or not, that is my mantra.

2011 Reunion Z Hills

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