Ever see a ginger with a smile eight miles long, a man like no other. A pilot that can bring a flying brick (skyvan) to altitude in the same amount of time it takes a King Air. Well kids he is not a myth. He does exist --- and I get to call him my friend. I met Ross Leventhal when PussFoot was LO at Skydive Sussex That's how we roll boogie, soon after realizing that we could do so many fabulous things together we started to collab on a few events for Skydive Suffolk. If you have been to Burning low man you know what im talking about. Anyway I could go on and on about his stunning red hair and his strange way of making me feel all warm in my no no spots, but i'll stop here. So sneak off to the bathroom and give this one a read like now!*
Tell me who you are.
I am hard charging and passionate about my profession, my wife, and my life in general. In most aspects of my life I probably seem pretty boring. I wake up early to drink coffee and read books about finance, I watch Harry Potter with my wife and giant dog, and go to bed early. But when I throw my rig on, it’s like flipping a switch bringing out the extreme focus, energy, and competitiveness I take on every jump. When things go wrong (and they do every now and then) I think and act with clarity and purpose. But I also like long skydives over the beach with fast swoops to a beach cabana for happy hour drinks.*
What do you do for work?
I am a full time professional pilot and skydiving instructor. I love the technical challenge the Skydiving industry presents both in performance and management. I have been the DZM for Skydive Suffolk since 2019 and prior to that was the Chief Pilot for a military freefall training company. Prior to that I was a mechanical engineer chained to a desk and I did not like that one bit.*
How did you become interested in skydiving?
I have always wanted to be a skydiver. As a kid I remember jumping off of everything I could pretending I was skydiving. I started flying at 14 years old and as I grew up I always knew I’d find a way to work in this sport for a living.
When did you start?
My first jump was August 10th 2010 at Skydive Perris in Perris Valley, California. After that I immediately started saving to begin AFF. I started my AFF program at Skydive San Diego then moved around for work as a pilot. I did some jumps at CSC in Illinois and eventually landed at Skydive Suffolk where I finished my A-License.
Ranger panties or board shorts?
Ranger panties in the gym all the way. Luckily my wife doesn’t mind since I’m an early bird and typically workout alone from 430am-6am before work but I’m not allowed to wear them in public. Board shorts on the other hand are a staple in my wardrobe seeing that I’ve been surfing almost my entire life.
all I see when I think about you at the gym
What is your most memorable moment as a skydiver to date?
My most memorable moment in Skydiving would have to be my first Tandem. I remember thinking I was absolutely crazy and trying to hide the fear (not well I might add) so you know, I’d look cool. What surprised me however was as soon as we left the plane I had an overwhelming sense of calmness come over me and I knew right then and there this was going to be my life passion.*
What is your favorite part of the skydiver life so far?
The tight community and being in a high energy environment. We get to do and share incredible things that so few ever experience in life. I couldn’t imagine not being a part of it.*
What is your least favorite part of the lifestyle?
The hours do get long and arduous in the summer and it’s difficult to keep up with friends and family having to work every weekend. But, having the support of my incredible wife makes all the difference in the world.
Awww to cute
Big spoon or little spoon?
I have a 120 pound dog that insists on being the big spoon if he ever sleeps in our bed. We bend to his will because he’s too heavy to move.*
Tell us about a day in your life
Wake up, coffee, workout, start planning for the day, open up the hangar, preflight my gear or aircraft depending on what I’m doing, jump or fly all day while making sure things are running safe and smooth, clean and close up the hangar late at night when everyone’s finished jumping and go straight to bed to do it again the next day!*
Tell me about your shenanigans at boogies.
While I’m not the quintessential party skydiver I really enjoy organizing boogies and seeing everyone enjoy the wild events people like Brian and Pussfoot comes up with. And I mean wild…
What an Epic Boogie
I know you like to wear women's underwear, full backs or thongs?
Full commando all the way.*
Do You travel often?
I don’t travel super often right now but in the last few years I’ve done amazing trips. I flew a caravan from Nepal to Chicago single pilot, flew hurricane relief in the Bahammas after hurricane Dorian, and flew jumpers in the mountains of Montana.*
So the word on the street is you are a diver driver. What's that like?
It’s very quiet for me. I’ve been doing it for so long that it’s become second nature, like driving my truck down the street to the store. Normally when I don’t fly I’m interacting with tons of people and running around doing a dozen different jobs in a day. When I fly, it’s just one job and I just focus on the instruments and listen to music.
Being a pilot, you must love to tell everyone you meet! How do they react?
Haha honestly it’s so normal to me I don’t think of it as a big thing. Plus my wife and I are very quiet people. As much as I love this world, I don’t really bring it up when we hang out with people outside of the industry unless they ask.*
What's next for you and your adventures?
I’m really focusing on competitive swooping and continuing to build my technical skills within the sport. I look for challenges to keep myself mentally and physically engaged. I don’t want to lose my edge and the best way to avoid that is stepping out of your comfort zone and pushing yourself to be better.*
Where would you like to see yourself in 10 years?
Shoot PD factory team sounds pretty cool haha. But who knows, there are so many incredible opportunities in this industry that I am going to keep pushing myself and see where it takes me.
Just a day at the office
What was your favorite boogie and why?
The first Burning Low Man Boogie at Skydive Suffolk in 2019. It was the biggest event we’d ever organized and it was really successful. While it wasn’t the biggest in the country, everyone had an incredible time and it showed what happens when you get the right team together to pull off something cool.*
Moist or Dry?
Definitely moist. Wait, that question is referring to brownies, right?
What is the craziest thing you have done at a boogie?
Again, I’m not the party type so I’d have to go to a jump memory. Brad and Allison from Performance Designs recently came up to organize for our Wet Hot American DZ boogie. Allison organized an INCREDIBLE high performance canopy flock and it was a blast. Definitely looking to do more of that.
Never mind a boogie, what's the craziest thing you've ever just done?...
I have a lot of these. Cutaways, losing engines, instruments failing, etc etc. Between flying for over 15 years and jumping for 10 I have an absurd amount of time in the sky. The scariest one however was bringing 2 caravans from Nepal to Chicago to be used for jumping. I was flying one and another pilot was flying the other. I almost died about a dozen times and on top of that got detained in India, caught one of the planes on fire in Belgium, outran border patrol in England (filed wrong paperwork, thanks Brexit), dodged wild weather over the North Atlantic forcing us up to the Arctic Circle. And that’s just to name a few. I swear I could write a book on this one.
If you could go back and give yourself some advice a year ago what would it be?
Win the multi millions lottery since I’d know the winning numbers, put all of it to buy whatever stocks went up during Covid, then retire, take the money and travel around the world with my wife while lavishly exploring and jumping.*
Do you have any advice for anyone looking to progress in this sport?
Take it slow and surround yourself with experienced people! I was fortunate to have great mentors along the way that would politely help me check my ego when I would get too ambitious. It’s a constant battle toeing the line between confidence and complacency for all jumpers regardless of experience. Toe it carefully as the consequences for complacency are deadly. Err on the side of caution and build your skills over time. It’s not a race.
If you were a drink what would you be and why?
Old fashioned for the smooth and refined nature.
Do you prefer the number 3 or 43?
3 for sure.
cause who has time for the number 4
After a few of them drinks, how would you feel if I whispered “cream pie” in your ear?
whispers MOIST in my ear
Thank you Ross for taking some time to do this with me. I am lucky to call you a friend. Lets send it soon!!!
Until then stay safe, keep on keeping on and Blue Skies
Ross is the best pilot. Love when he shows up with the van down here