Bodyglove liked the idea and was willing to give it a shot. No water on this shoot, but plenty of humidity over the mosquito capital of the world, summer time in Florida. There's not much to motivate a person to fly to central Florida in the middle of summer unless they were perhaps jumping. Between thunderstorms, Florida has the most beautiful skies a photographer could want. The tropical clouds climb to tens of thousands of feet against the deep blue sky and you can jump next to them and feel the real speed of a skydive as they race by at 150 mph. Jeff loaded me up with wet suits, boogie boards, and accessories for the trip.
I flew to Orlando, Florida, rented a car and headed to Deland. In Deland, the DZ owner introduced me to skysurfer, Ron and camera flyer, Jim, two guys from the Midwest somewhere training in Florida for competition skysurfing. Ron jumped the boogieboard Jim shot 16mm film behind my 35mm position. We got some terrific footage. Ron lost his grip on the first boogie board just about ten seconds into freefall. It flipped up and away at around 11,000 feet and we never saw it again. From the second board on, he took a vice grip out the door and hung on aggressively through every jump landing with the board every time. He quickly learned to carve around in the air and with the flippers on his feet, his tracking speed cranked. I have no idea how fast he was going because I couldn't keep up, but with the combination of the smooth board, wetsuit and efficient flippers, he was like a bullet.
We made seven or eight jumps together, each time looking for clouds. When we'd end up close to one, Ron would kind of carve down the side of it. A couple of times we passed through thin layers of moisture that clearly showed our speed, a stark reminder that the ground, although a few thousand feet farther away, was approaching at the same speed like an oversized fly swatter... and we're the flies. In freefall, it feels like you're floating with the clouds. When you pass near to or through a cloud, you realize, it's floating, not you. You're dropping at 150mph or so and the parachute on your back is your only anchor.
Rickster Powel jumped the board a few times too. Rickster is known as this hot canopy / camera flyer. Now he's a boogieboard flyer as well. Patrick Pass shot Rickster swooping his canopy into a hangar. I shoved him into a tight wetsuit on a 100 degree day. But there were great clouds that just needed shooting. Rickster and I got some really fun stuff up there. Thanks to Deland, Ron, Jim, Rickster, and Bob Hallet.