After Frank Carreras took his first-jump course in 1988, it took him a mere 14 months to earn his AFF Instructor rating. In the time since, he has become one of the most respected authorities in the European skydiving community. A USPA Examiner in all methods, he founded his AIRCREW Skydiving and Rating Academy in 1993, which to this day remains a world-class educational facility for students and aspiring instructors.
“Frank strives for safety within the tandem community. If he doesn’t know something, not only will he let you know he doesn’t know, but he’ll help you find out.” -Noah Watts, Parachutist profilee #259
Birthplace: West Berlin, Germany
Marital Status: Married to my wife, Dany, since 1993
Children: About 25 rigs
Pets: See “Children.”
Occupation: Self-employed skydiving instructor and rigger
Pet Peeves: Complacent and unprofessional instructors
Favorite Food: It changes constantly.
Rock, Rap, or Country? Everything, but rather classic rock than rap.
Neat packer or trash packer? Very neat packer.
Would you rather swoop or land on an accuracy tuffet? Neither, just softly taking a step or two onto a nice lawn landing area—with accuracy.
Jump Philosophy: Always have at least a second layer in your safety net.
Container: For sport, a Velocity Sports Equipment Infinity and United Parachute Technologies Vector; for tandems, UPT Sigma and Vector Tandem; for my students, Rigging Innovations Telesis.
Main Canopy: Ones by Performance Designs, especially Spectres, Sabres, Sigmas and Navigators
Reserve Canopy: Again, Performance Designs
AAD: Airtec Cypres 2
Home Drop Zone: Ampfing, in Bavaria. The DZ does not exist anymore.
Year of First Jump: I started on 8/8/88, easy to remember. Roman Schwaller, the famous jazz saxophonist, was my FJC Instructor and is still a dear friend.
Licenses/Ratings: USPA D-14371, C-21540, B-15114 and A-13917; all USPA instructional ratings as well as PRO; FAA Private Pilot and Master Rigger; Tandem Examiner for most tandem manufacturers and United Parachute Technologies Tandem Instructor Examiner Course Director
Number of Jumps: 8,100-plus
AFF: 3,000 Tandem: 2,800 RW: 1,000 Camera: 700 Freefly: 100 Demos: 100 CRW: 50 BASE: 25
Total Number of Cutaways: Nine; three solos, six tandems (three in front, three in back)
Most people don’t know this about me:
Despite my name, I don’t speak Spanish.
Is there one jump that stands out most?
Hard to pick one. Night jumps over Tempelhof Airfield in Berlin, Gryphon flights and a very dear friend’s ash dive come to mind, for totally different reasons.
How long do you plan on skydiving?
I am not a quitter.
What do you like most about the sport?
You will never be done learning. You will never be bored.
What do you like least about the sport?
Who have been your skydiving mentors?
Pitt Weber, Hannes Graile, Don Yahrling, Hans Ostermünchner, Mark Baur, Rocky Evans and Tom Noonan, to name a few that were not only mentors but great friends, excellent instructors and overall outstanding personalities and role models.
Any suggestions for students?
Take your time and carefully choose your instructors and training facilities.
What’s the most bad-ass thing you can do in the air?
Turn pedestrians into skydivers.
If you could do a fantasy 2-way with anybody, whom would it be with and where would it take place?
Not exactly a 2-way, but a random Category C1 AFF jump with Don Yahrling on the other side. On an aircraft carrier. That would be fun.
Most embarrassing moment at a drop zone:
Decades ago, I forgot to switch on a student’s radio. He did land fine, unassisted.
Someday I am going to own …
Not much, unless I win the lottery. So I guess it will just be loads of good memories.
The toughest thing to do in the sport of skydiving is:
Say “No!” when it is appropriate.
Is there one jump you would like to do again?
My 11th BASE jump was a night jump from a 1,500-foot cliff, on a bright full-moon November night in front of the snow-sparkling Eiger/Monch/Jungfrau mountains in Switzerland. That one was magic.
What do you consider your most significant life achievement?
I believe I assisted quite a number of students and ratings candidates to live their dreams.
While in freefall, what has been your strangest thought?
“Did I just exit without a rig?” No, I didn’t.
Suggestions for USPA:
Keep the “currency items” separate from the “renewal requirements” for TI ratings. The latter ones need to be met only once a year; the former ones always, whenever you do tandems.
Best skydiving moment?
Every time the lights go on in an AFF student’s eyes.
Worst skydiving moment?
Physically, a very hard opening during a tandem tethered bundle jump that left me slightly injured. Emotionally, the aforementioned ash dive.
Weirdest skydiving moment?
After my own deployment, watching a friend being saved by a CYPRES and an implanted defibrillator at the same moment, then his following perfect stand-up landing in the middle of the DZ because of a perfect spot.
What is your perfect day like?
Great weather, great people, great skydives.
Your AIRCREW Skydiving and Rating Academy is top-notch. When did you start and how was that process?
I started as AIRFOX in 1991 as a freelancer and self-employed skydiving instructor after working for two seasons at Skydive Colibri. That developed into AIRCREW Skydiving School by the end of 1993, which eventually evolved into a foremost rating academy after I earned my examiner ratings in the mid-90s. Ten years ago, I started developing and selling specialized training tools, like my Tandem Passenger Dummy “Rubbert” and other training weights, mostly for military customers and tandem examiners.
Explain Frank Carreras in five words or fewer:
Well, my wife went for honest, reliable, pedantic, passionate and competent. I won’t disagree.