How Skydiving Changed My Life

Michael Hoy

I took my first-jump course in Iowa in 1983. But those were college days, which meant no time or money, so my jumping didn't really take off until the summer of 1986. It was because of skydiving that I met Tim. Tim took his first-jump course in 1987, and we started jumping together.

It was also because of skydiving that I got to know Craig. Craig worked at my office and was a pilot and a FAA-certified instrument and multi-engine flight instructor. So, in 1988, I introduced him to the DZO so that he could fly the jump plane. Craig then taught me to fly (for free) and I got my private pilot’s license in 1989.

It was because of Tim that I moved to Guam in 1990. And because of moving to Guam, I met Phil. Phil owned a De Havilland Beaver. Phil instructed tandems and I shot the stills and video. We always landed on the beach. It was great.

Phil and I went to the Boogie in Bali that year, and while there I got to meet B.J. Worth and some other cool people. (I’m sure B.J. doesn’t remember me.) Also, because of learning to skydive and moving to Guam and meeting Phil, Phil introduced me to Tom Sanders. And then by some dumb luck, I got to be in Tom’s epic video, “Over the Edge,” in the skydiving-and-scuba-diving grand finale filmed on the Rock Islands of Palau. I'll admit, that was not a terrible way to spend over two weeks of life.

Then, because of Craig, I moved from Guam back to Iowa in 1992. Craig was now working at an aircraft-sales company and was able to get me a job working with him. And so, because I had learned to skydive and had met Tim and Craig and learned to fly and moved to Guam and met Phil and met Tom and moved back to Iowa and was working for an aircraft-sales company, I was able to find a really good deal on a 1965 Cessna 182 and bought it. And then Phil from Guam decided to sell me his tandem rig and student rig and a bunch of jumpsuits and other gear, and suddenly I owned a DZ. Phil, who was a tandem examiner, also put me through my rating course, so I then had a tandem rating to go along with the tandem rig and the plane and the DZ. Oh boy.

Work for the aircraft-sales company sometimes took me to the FAA Flight Standards District Office in Des Moines for business. One day I was at the FSDO office and I offhandedly asked if the paperwork had been completed for a movie stunt that Tom Sanders was scheduled to conduct in Des Moines the upcoming weekend. Well it turns out that it hadn’t been. And so I stayed at the FSDO office all day helping to fill out and file the necessary paperwork for the stunt, which required landing parachutes on top of a parking garage in the middle of downtown at dusk. I also rented a plane for the stunt, and I got to be the pilot. The movie, “The Puppet Masters,” starred Donald Sutherland. So, because I learned to skydive, I met some new cool people and I have my name in the credits of a Donald Sutherland movie and in the IMDB database. Woo-hoo. My one small claim to fame in the skydiving world.

On one trip for the aircraft-sales company, I delivered a Cessna 414 from Iowa to Frankfurt, Germany. After delivering the plane, I drove to Interlaken, Switzerland, and met up with Tom Sanders and the rest of the stunt crew while they were finishing filming a stunt for the James Bond movie “Goldeneye.” So that was pretty cool, too.

During the three years I flew ferry flights for the aircraft-sales company, I earned my commercial, multi-engine and instrument ratings and logged more than 1,300 multi-engine hours and 1,100 single-engine hours as pilot in command. I made 26 Atlantic crossings and three Pacific crossings in small, piston aircraft. I also flew part time to every corner of the U.S. for another 12 years. By the end of it all, I had logged flying time in more than 70 models of aircraft. It was quite a ride, and all because I began skydiving.

I carried my rig with me regularly on these flights and, if time and weather allowed, made skydives. I jumped in Turku, Finland; some place in Germany; Spa, Belgium; and again in Guam (thanks, Phil). I almost got to jump in Japan, France, Iceland and Holland, but weather or work just didn’t allow it (although I did show up to those DZs with rig in hand). 

The adventures I’ve had because of skydiving and then flying are beyond measure. (I didn’t even get to mention the BASE jumping.) But the greatest way that skydiving has changed my life is the richness added by all of the unbelievably fantastic people and friends that I’ve made through this 35-plus-year journey in the sport.

Michael Hoy    |   D-12622

Grimes, Iowa

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jeff johannesmeyer

7/15/2019 12:13 AM

Mike, great article. We did a couple tandem jumps at a Boogie I believe in Ft. Dodge. Would like to go again and bring a friend...I hope you still tandem jump and would take us out....especially if there is a Boogie coming up nearby (Omaha) where there would be a DeHavilland of such a plane to take us up in that 18,000 area. Please let me know at or call 402-680-9064. Thanks, Jeff

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