Brandon Mikesell, D-36904, is a world-renowned wingsuit flyer with more than 5,500 skydives. He also has 800 wingsuit BASE jumps to his credit and won the 2019 World Wingsuit League Grand Prix in Hunan Province, China. Videos of his specialty wingsuit skydives, as well as his BASE jumps, are spectacular. Along with being a talented flyer, Mikesell is very detail orientated and has performed and coordinated wingsuit stunts for ABC, BBC, The Discovery Channel, Ford Motor Company, Google and Universal. Recently, he and his teammate, camera-flyer Ben Verde, have focused on running BM Wingsuit School, where they share their flight skills with others.
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California
Marital Status: In a relationship
Education: University of Washington
Pre-Jump Superstitions: I call it my “penguin shake” on exit
Hobbies: Jumping is my only hobby.
Favorite Food: Mexican
Rock, Rap or Country? Rap
Life Philosophy: Anything worth doing is worth overdoing. Moderation is for cowards.
Hard opening or line twists? Line twists for sure! My body can’t handle too many more hard openings.
Neat packer or trash packer? Trash packer
Would you rather swoop or land on an accuracy tuffet? Land on an accuracy tuffet, because it’s the thing that is overlooked the most by people.
Jump Philosophy: Safety is always number one.
Sponsors: Bern, Honeystinger, Mirage Systems, Squirrel, Vonzipper
Container: Mirage W-Series and Mirage G4 (MX)
Main Canopies: Squirrel Ibex 220 and Epicene 116
Reserve Canopies: Performance Designs PDR 116 and 99
AAD: Airtec CYPRES
Disciplines: Wingsuiting and then more wingsuiting
Home Drop Zone: Kapowsin Air Sports in Shelton, Washington. They have every aircraft you can think of, each discipline has several different sky ninjas you can learn from, as well as making you feel like family. The skill level that is at this DZ is unmatched to any DZ in the world. It’s something I’ve been very fortunate to have throughout my skydiving career. It’s a one-stop shop for me, and because of that I usually don’t travel to other DZs unless it’s for courses.
First Jump: Static-line jump in 2010
Licenses: A-63724, C-40688, D-36904
Total Number of Jumps: 5,500-plus
Wingsuit: 5,300+ Balloon: 30 BASE: 800-plus
Total Number of Cutaways: Five, back before we had wingsuit-specific canopies
How did you become interested in skydiving?
I saw a video of Jokke Sommer in “Dream Lines-Part 1” flying his wingsuit through the mountains in 2010, and a few months later I was jumping.
What kind of skydiving student were you, the typical flailer or a complete natural from jump one?
Probably somewhere in the middle.
What was your canopy progression?
How long do you plan on skydiving?
Until I can’t walk anymore, then maybe do a few more still.
What’s the best thing about flying your wingsuit?
Being able to fly wherever you’d like. The freedom entailed with that is priceless.
What do you like most about the sport?
The freedom it provides. It can be a solo activity or you can enjoy it with tons of other people. It’s up to each individual and what they prefer.
What do you like least about the sport?
Egos. It’s probably the one thing that turns me off the most about the sport.
Who, if anybody, has been your skydiving mentor?
The man, the myth, the legend: Andy Farrington.
What are your future skydiving goals?
Pass down knowledge to the future generation through my school, bmwingsuitschool.com
What safety item do you think is most important or most often neglected?
Gear checks. It is something we all need due to how complacent we can be.
I skydive because:
It’s my form of mediation and a place where I can live in the moment.
Do you have any suggestions for students?
Take pride in how far you’ve come. Have faith in how far you can go. But don’t forget to enjoy the journey!
Were you a hard child to raise?
If you asked my parents, they’d definitely say, “Yes!”
If you could make everyone on the planet do something to make Earth a better place, what would it be?
Empathy. I think it’s the thing we all tend to lack the most of, from time to time. A little bit of empathy can go a very long way.
What has been your most embarrassing moment while in freefall or at a drop zone?
Any time I’m forced onto belly big ways, my friends know I’ll just lie in my arched position while they move me around to the different points. Good times!
The toughest thing to do in the sport of skydiving is:
To not get complacent. Complacency is a dangerous game we play.
What is your favorite jump plane and why?
Twin Otter, because you can stack a bunch of wingsuiters in the door.
What is your favorite type of skydive?
The greatest times I’ve had flying have been from helis. Being able to leap from a helicopter and fly my wingsuit past city skyscrapers and buildings is beyond unbelievable. Every child dreams of being able to fly through the city like Batman, and I’ve been able to do it a bunch of times. Leaping from a helicopter and flying down city streets almost makes it feel like a daily commute to work. Nothing beats flying by skyscraper windows and blowing people’s minds.
If you could do a fantasy 2-way with anybody, whom would it be with and where would it take place?
I’ve been beyond lucky enough to make that list come true, and I’m beyond grateful for it.
What special precautions do you take when wingsuiting out of helicopters?
A lot of people think the heli should come to a hover, however it’s actually the opposite of what you want them to do. The best thing to do is have a forward speed around 30 knots. This allows the heli to stay stable and comfortable while you’re spotting, and the wingsuiters actually have airspeed and comfort when exiting. The wingsuiting group can stick together easier and, most importantly, it keeps any swaying and safety issues with the heli to a minimum. I know some of you wingsuiters think you’ll be blown off the skid, but you need way more than 30 knots to do that.
What do you consider your most significant life achievement?
Creating BASE jumping and skydiving courses has got to be one of my greatest achievements. To be able to pass down the innovative and scientific knowledge that has been lacking in our sport for so many years is a blessing. I look forward to seeing how far my students take this new knowledge and push the sport even further.
What drives your competitive spirit?
Trying to constantly outdo myself and improve myself on a daily basis.
Most people don’t know this about me:
Everything I do is extremely calculated.
Explain Brandon Mikesell in five words or fewer:
No different than you!