National Aviation Day was established 75 years ago on August 19, 1939 by President Franklin Roosevelt, in honor of aviation pioneer Orville Wright's birthday. As we all know, Orville was one half of the Wright brothers, who are credited with inventing and building the world's first successful airplane and making the first controlled human fixed-wing powered flight.
There are few who have a better first-hand, visceral relationship with aviation than the members of the Red Bull Air Force, an elite group of aerial athletes with countless skydives, wingsuit flights, and B.A.S.E. jumps under their belts.
You can follow their adventures in the new video series, "Miles Above: The Red Bull Air Force Series," with episode one debuting today, August 19, and subsequent episodes dropping every other Tuesday.
In celebration of the series and of National Aviation Day, we invite you to meet the pilots of the Red Bull Air Force below. For more on the team, follow them on Twitter and Instagram, and visit their official Facebook page.
Jeff Provenzano is one of the pioneers of the high-speed, high-stakes skydiving discipline of swooping. Not only was he the 2007 Overall Champion of the Professional Swooping Tour, but for four years running he took the crown at the U.S. Pond Swoop Nationals. His countless other honors include winning the Vertical Relative Work World Cup Championship, and contributing to five world records. But what “Jeffro” is best known for is his talent for inventing never-before-seen aerobatics, such as “The Miracle Man” that’s been equated to pioneering the backflip in freestyle motocross.
Follow Jeff on Instagram.
With two decades of experience in the air, Luke’s primary aim is always to keep growing his talent, and to bring out the talent in others. He has devoted much of his time to progression of research and development of equipment and flying techniques. From proposing and developing new parachute deployment mechanisms to personally participating in test jumps at 28,000 feet, Luke has been a go-to consultant for researchers, as his work in the Red Bull Stratos project proves.
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“It’s a magical thing when you fall out of the air,” says Miles Daisher. He loves canopy work so much that he’s completed well over 2,700 B.A.S.E. jumps, in addition to his 3,100 skydives. In 2005, he set a B.A.S.E. jumping record by launching 57 times in a single day, climbing a total of nearly 29,000 vertical feet.
Mike is recognized as a pioneer of freeflying and has compiled a track record of more than 20,000 skydives (jumping from as high as 25,000 feet), over 3,000 wingsuit jumps (600 involving proximity flying), in excess of 1,000 B.A.S.E. jumps, over 200 hours as a private airplane pilot and roughly 300 live shows. He also pilots paragliders and paramotors, and has been a professional aerial cameraman for 16 years. He has co-organized and participated in five world records, including the current mark of 138 people freeflying head down in formation.
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As far back in her childhood as she can remember, Amy Chmelecki always wanted to be a skydiver. The ambition to learn the sport began as early as age 13, and continued through her teenage years, until finally getting her first chance at the legal age of 18. After that first experience of freefall, she knew skydiving would be a major focus of her life.
Charles was in the process of recording a rock album for A&M Records when, as a 21-year-old, he first jumped out of a plane. He soon moved to Arizona to pursue the sport full time, and today, any cursory research into the history of freeflying will bring up the name Charles Bryan.
Andy Farrington is the youngest member of the Red Bull Air Force, but, in a sense, he has the longest flying history. Andy’s mum, Jessie, made about 100 jumps while he was in utero – riding tandem, so to speak. Maybe that explains why he’s such a natural in the sky. He made his first tandem jump at age 12, went solo at 16, and has since accumulated over 16,000 skydives, over 1,000 BASE jumps, and 3,000 hours as a pilot.
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Jon has done stuntwork on movies like Transformers: The Dark of the Moon, Iron Man 3, and The Hangover Part III, and has logged well over 17,000 skydives and 500 B.A.S.E. jumps. As manager of the Red Bull Air Force, Jon DeVore is part educator, part performer, and 100% visionary.
Sean made his first tandem skydive at age 18 and within six months was skysurfing in the X Games -- straight to the podium. It wasn’t long before he accumulated an enviable collection of X Games medals. Today, Sean’s skydive tally stands at over 16,000, and he’s earned all possible instructional ratings; he frequently teaches skydiving techniques to military personnel, such as the Navy Seals.
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