Alexey Galda began skydiving in 2013, just one year after earning a PhD in theoretical physics. His analytical mind helped him reach the highest levels of wingsuit performance flying competition, which requires calculation and planning along with top-notch flying skill. He’s a two-time USPA Wingsuit Performance Flying National Champion and a member of the U.S. Wingsuit Performance Flying Team that won the 2021 Fédération Aéronautique Internationale World Championship, as well as a Guinness World Record holder.
“Alexey and I have been training for Team USA at Chicagoland Skydiving Center for the past three seasons. He is a dedicated athlete who puts in the work—precise, professional, consistent and driven. He deserves to be on the podium.” —Maxine Tate, Parachutist Profilee #175,
Occupation: Quantum computing scientist
Education: B.Sc. in applied mathematics and physics, Ph.D. in theoretical physics
Pet Peeves: Bad drivers
Pre-Jump Superstitions: I am not superstitious.
Life Philosophy: Never stop learning
Hard opening or line twists? Hard openings are neither fun nor pleasant; line twists can at least be fun!
Sponsors: Airtec, Squirrel, United Parachute Technologies
Container: United Parachute Technologies Vector 3
Main Canopy: Squirrel Omicron, Squirrel Epicene Pro
Reserve Canopy: Performance Designs Optimum 126
AAD: Airtec Wingsuit CYPRES
Discipline: Wingsuit performance flying
Home Drop Zone: Chicagoland Skydiving Center in Rochelle, Illinois
Year of First Jump: 2013
Licenses: A-68376, B-40231, C-43257, D-36496
Championships, Medals and Records: Fédération Aéronautique Internationale Wingsuit Performance Flying:
- silver at the 2017 FAI World Cup, team gold and individual bronze at the 2021 FAI World Championships
- USPA Nationals Wingsuit Performance Flying: Gold in intermediate in 2015, gold in open in 2016 and 2021, silver in open in 2018, bronze in open in 2017 and 2019.
- Guinness World Record for Fastest Horizontal Speed in a Wingsuit
- FAI World Record for Best Wingsuit Performance—Time
Total Number of Jumps: 1,650-plus
Wingsuit: 1,550 FS: 80 CF: 20 Helicopter: 10 Freefly: 5 Balloon: 2
Largest Completed Formation: 28-way (wingsuit)
Total Number of Cutaways: 2 (both in the first week of flying my first high-performance wingsuit)
Does one jump stand out most?
One of the most beautiful jumps I have ever done was a helicopter jump over the Eiger in Switzerland. Strong winds had interrupted the wingsuit competition I was organizing in Grenchen, and we drove for an hour and a half to Grindelwald to make a couple of helicopter jumps over the mountains.
How long do you plan on skydiving?
For as long as I can enjoy it.
What do you like most about the sport?
People and the unique mental and physical challenges that this sport offers.
What do you like least about the sport?
Injuries. While skydiving is one of the least injury-prone activities that I practice, (performance) wingsuit flying takes a significant toll on your body, particularly on the back and shoulders. Permanent partial hearing loss and tinnitus are also common things that need more awareness in the community.
What are your future skydiving goals?
That is a tough one! On one hand, I would like to continue pushing the limits of what is possible in a modern wingsuit and developing new technology and wingsuit-design solutions to improve human flight. At the same time, the future of this skydiving discipline is with younger wingsuit pilots. My goal for the next few years is to develop the next generation of technological solutions (online competition platform and coaching) that will enable an efficient way to learn and improve wingsuit performance flying skills.
What safety item do you think is most often neglected?
Canopy skills. Every skydiver should be comfortable performing rear-riser and toggle stalls, front-riser landings, etc., assuming they fly a large enough canopy. Most accidents in this sport occur due to pilot error on landing, yet very few skydivers take advanced canopy courses and continue practicing those skills afterward.
How did you become interested in skydiving?
I used to be a paraglider pilot and frequently flew in the Alps back when I lived in Europe. After moving to Chicago in 2012, I started to look for a new hobby because flying a paraglider over corn fields just was not as interesting for me. I decided that skydiving would be a good new hobby because some of my paragliding skills would be transferable to it, giving me a head start. So, I started skydiving not to experience freefall, as most people, but to fly a canopy. Before I reached 200 jumps, I made a large number of high pulls and canopy formation jumps, solidifying my preference for canopy flight over freefall. Ultimately, choosing the wingsuit discipline was a natural step in my progression because it allowed me to literally embed my body inside of an airfoil, significantly extending the flight capabilities and pushing the limits of what is possible.
Any suggestions for students?
Try to experience as many skydiving disciplines in your first few seasons as possible before you ultimately settle on one of them. It will give you a better understanding of the sport, help you advance faster and be a safer skydiver in the future.
What’s the most bad-ass thing you can do in the air?
Set various world records in a wingsuit.
If you could do a fantasy 2-way with anybody, whom would it be with?
Sharing a jump with Patrick de Gayardon flying in modern high-performance wingsuits would be a great way to show him what his original ideas and inventions evolved into.
What kind of skydiving student were you, the typical flailer or a complete natural from jump one?
I failed the AFF level-three jump twice. For a moment, I even considered giving up on the course because of how frustrating it was to be unable to control my heading in freefall. However, I regained confidence after just 30 minutes in a wind tunnel and breezed through the rest of the AFF program. I believe I was fortunate to experience my first failures in the sport so early, and I learned more from my failures than from my successes throughout my skydiving career.
What was your greatest competition moment?
The excitement from the realization of winning the 2021 USPA Nationals while still in the air during the final jump of the competition. I pretty much knew that I had just completed a good enough jump to guarantee first place. Re-claiming the title of the U.S. Champion was just as significant and memorable for me as winning bronze and gold at the [FAI World Championships] Mondial two months prior.
What drives your competitive spirit?
Two things: desire to unlock the full potential of performance wingsuits and self-development.
Please explain yourself in five words or fewer:
Analytical, ambitious, inventive, adventurous, kind.