Meet the Team – Gary “Swoop”

Skydive LangarMeet the Team

Meet the Team - Gary - Tandem Skydive Instructor

How and when did you start jumping?

RAPS at Halfpenny Green – 1993. Had wanted to jump since I was 10 and finally did when I had some money doing a summer job. Didn’t tell my folks until I got onto freefall. I came to Langar in 1994, after Halfpenny Green shut – Dean dispatched me on my cat 8 jump!

How many jumps do you have?


Why did you want to be an instructor/camera flyer/professional skydiver?

I don’t consider myself to be a professional skydiver – it’s just my weekend thing. My dad used to jump and when I was 10 years old, I used to steam open his copies of ‘sport parachutist’ – I always wanted to be the guy taking the photos.

Have you ever shot anything you’d say is particularly cool?

I’d say the 400 way world record in Thailand, skydiving over the Giza pyramids and the 100 way diamond in Czech.

What are the main challenges of camera work?

It definitely helps to be competent in the discipline you want to film. I was a fairly competent FS jumper and I feel more comfortable filming FS than any other discipline. I was on a 100 way before I ever filmed one! I currently want to be more competent at FF and CF to take better photos of them. On big ways particularly use your peripheral vision to look for approaching traffic to avoid collisions – it helps to watch the dirt dive and as always head on a swivel while under canopy and walking off the landing area.

How did you end up working at Langar?

In the mid-nineties there was a serious lack of camera flyers – I started camera jumps with 210 jumps – Tony and Milko took me under their wings and I did my first paid tandem camera jump with about 280 jumps. Drifted into being a tandem instructor when I found myself ‘between jobs.

What do you like most about being an instructor/camera flyer?

I still love taking photos (when I get the chance Amy [It’s because he’s just so versatile and useful!]) and 99% of tandems are fun. It also gives a certain structure to my weekends that my OCD enjoys.

What’s your favourite thing about Langar?

Dave & Angela (and Sion).

Any advice for people new to skydiving, or thinking about it?

Don’t go in. Don’t rush to downsize. Get good coaching.

Are there any jumping achievements you are proud of?

When I started jumping, I wanted to be a world champion, take a front cover shot and film a world record. I was lucky enough to be on the winning team at the World Meet in France in 2008 (Team Storm women’s 4 way FS ) I have taken 15 front covers and have filmed 5 world records.

What’s the secret to getting a great skydiving photo?

The secret to good skydiving photography is to be ruthless with the delete key and only show people the good ones. A nice background helps too!

Tell us a good joke.

How many good tandem instructors does it take to change a light bulb? – for the punchline ask Dan Williams