‘Don’t forget to breathe’

Base-jumper Miles Daisher, who was in Dubai recently to showcase his skills, speaks about his motivation to experience new heights

By (Mohamad Kadry)

Published: Sat 23 Jan 2010, 10:10 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 12:33 PM

Comfort zones are a peculiar thing, mainly because some people don’t seem to have them. Case in point: Miles Daisher, the man at the helm of an international base-jumping community who has performed no less than 2,570 jumps from the most spectacular vantage points on earth. Last week the Red Bull athlete even jumped from a tower in Dubai Marina to the surprise of crowds lining the beach.

The sport, widely regarded to be the most dangerous activity man has ever conceived, could easily be mistaken as an act of stupidity or even foolishness. But in his bid to continue pushing the limits of technology as well as human endurance, Daisher is inspiring millions with his no-holds-bar attitude and gusto for life. We catch up with the free-faller to get his perspective on living a life without limitations.

What was it like growing up on military bases across the world?

My family moved every three years so it was difficult keeping friends. Yet I’ve made many friends in all parts of the world and have learned a lot of different cultures and styles of living.

How did this unique upbringing spur your passion for jumping?

I was always interested in flying as my father is a pilot and I became addicted to skydiving upon living my childhood dream with my first jump from an airplane on September 6, 1995. Since then I’ve learned a variety of jumping styles and techniques from skydiving to fixed object parachuting – AKA base-jumping.

Can you walk us through your first-ever base jump?

My first base jump was from a tall bridge since this is the safest thing to learn fixed object jumping from. I wanted to go first in our group and was really nervous. I stopped breathing and became dizzy just before jumping and had to climb back over the rail to regain my composure. Now I know why Mr. Miagi always told the Karate Kid: “Don’t forget to breathe”. It was a great jump and I felt more alive than ever afterward. Serious endorphins are released when you conquer your fears and learn new things. I couldn’t stop talking about every moment of the jump for the next two days.

What kind of endurance and preparation is needed to do what you do?

This sport requires physical abilities like quick reaction speed, balance and timing. More importantly, it requires mental strengths such as the ability to stay calm under pressure, preparation of a good plan, anticipating possible problems, a great sense of depth perception as well as a strong desire to avoid serious injury and death. You also have to gain a great deal of knowledge about the gear and how to use it as well as the weather conditions you’re working with. The real biggie is training yourself to be ready for anything by building motor muscle memory so that you are able to react to situations as they arise instead of having to make an adjustment or movement to save your life.

Unofficially, you’ve base jumped more than anyone else in the world. Does it feel lonely at the top, figuratively speaking?

To my knowledge I have more base jumps than anyone else on the earth, totalling 2,570 and counting. Does it feels lonely at the top? Not at all, on the contrary. I’ve met hundreds of jumping friends and I try to help anyone who would like advice since this sport is fairly dangerous. We are all teammates trying to enjoy an altitude adjustment together. People tell me I’m an animal for doing what I do and as much as I do it. I think we, as humans, are all animals, it is just that I may be hungrier for airtime than others. I’ve simply found a passion that drives me forward and I strive to put myself in the correct environment to blossom into the jumper I know I’d love myself to be.

You have a base-jumping camp set up in the US. Do you feel this is the best way to share your passion with first-time flyers?

I teach base-jumping in my hometown, Twin Falls, Idaho, as we have a 486-foot tall bridge with a sweet, wide-open landing area into the Snake River Canyon. People come from around the world to safely practice the art of fixed object parachuting. I usually teach between two and 10 people each year how to jump safely. It’s a really great way to share the knowledge I’ve acquired over my 14 years in the sport. I also help with the research and design of new gear to try and make it as safe as possible.

Which location has been your favourite spot to jump/sky dive from? What makes it so memorable?

My favourite jump was a two-way (jumping with another person). It was with a wing suit flying from the Troll Spire on the Great Troll wall in Norway. The cliff is just over 5,000-ft tall to the landing area. My roommate showed me the footage of him jumping it before, and from there, he taught me how to base.

Do you consider yourself an adrenaline junkie? Are you always looking for the next thrill?

I don’t think I’m all about the rush of adrenaline but it sure feels good. I love discovering what is possible by making jumps in a baby step learning curve to get to the big picture of totally awesome jumps I dream up from time to time. If you can imagine something really cool and cutting edge and then figure out how to make your dreams a reality, you are really having fun.

Tell us all about the film you’re shooting Human Flight: 3D. What can people expect from the footage?

Right now I’m working on a 3D movie called Human Flight that will hit theatres this summer. It is a movie about me and my teammates on the Red Bull Air Force and how we’ve helped shape the growth of the skydiving sport with free flying and canopy swooping. This Proximity flying is the coolest in 3D. The film is the best way to share what we do with everyone because you can really understand how we feel while falling/flying as it’s the closest you can get to doing it without the risk. In the movie I play myself so doing my own stunts isn’t too difficult. This is the biggest project I’ve worked on so far so I urge everyone to check it out this summer in IMAX digital theatres.

You’ve led an amazing life. What is the best part about what you do?

The best part of what I do is the stories I tell and the videos I have to share about ideas that I’ve turned into reality. Funny, but I’ve had some dreams when I was very young that have felt like deja vu in my adult life. That, to me, is something really special.

Email: kadry@khaleejtimes.com

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