Jared Miller, D-22031, is the chief instructor at Skydive Arizona in Eloy, one of the busiest drop zones in the world. He started skydiving in 1995 and now has more than 22,000 skydives and multiple ratings. He is also a Federal Aviation Administration Senior Rigger and Private Pilot and a medal-winning tunnel flyer. Miller is an asset to the sport of skydiving and has much knowledge to share in the years to come.
Birthplace: Rockford, Illinois
Marital Status: Engaged to Carly
Children: All the instructors who work under me. (Actually, they are all amazing.)
Education: Skydive University in Cedar Valley, Utah
Pet Peeves: Know-it-alls
Pre-Jump Superstitions: I’m not superstitious, but I check my handles a lot.
Life Philosophy: It’s not work if you enjoy doing it.
Jump Philosophy: Just smile and have fun … you never know when you will end up in a cover shot.
Team Name: Team Dysfunction
Sponsors: Airtec, Hypoxic, Rigging Innovations, Vertical Suits
Container: Rigging Innovations Curve, the most comfortable rig I have ever worn
Main Canopy: Performance Designs Valkyrie 90
Reserve Canopy: Performance Designs Optimum 126
AAD: Airtec CYPRES
Disciplines: Mostly freefly, and a lot of belly instruction these days, but I’ve tried them all.
Home Drop Zone: Skydive Arizona in Eloy
First Jump: AFF in 1995
USPA Licenses, Ratings and Appointments: B-19668, C-29280, D-22031; Coach Examiner, AFF and Tandem Instructor Examiner; PRO; Safety and Training Advisor
Medals: USPA Nationals—gold in vertical formation skydiving, bronze in freefly, bronze in freestyle
Total Number of Jumps: 22,000-plus
Tandems: 7,000 (front rides: 100) Camera: 7,000-plus AFF: 5,000 Freefly: 2,500 FS: 500 CF: 200, mostly on a VX 95 AFF Instructor Evaluation: 200
Wingsuit: 100 Helicopter: 30 Balloon: 20 Accuracy: All of them BASE: 100
Largest Completed Formation: 60-way (FS) and 41-way (freefly)
Total Number of Cutaways: 90-plus (20 were tandem jumps. I’ve had two in one day; my reserve packs work.)
What was your canopy progression?
I listened to my instructor’s advice and downsized safely (which perhaps saved my life). I probably started on some sort of 260 and eventually ended up on a VK 79 [Performance Designs Valkyrie 79] … and more recently, upsized to a VK 90 because my fiancée’s pasta is really that good, you can’t not go back for seconds.
Does one jump stand out most?
I have had some pretty amazing opportunities over my career but teaching an astronaut how to skydive from start to finish was an experience I’ll never forget. The Harlem Globetrotter trick jumps were fun as well.
Who has been your skydiving mentor?
Tony Landgren was there for me when I needed it most. He provided an opportunity to keep me involved in the sport when I was unable to jump after a catastrophic injury that required three surgeries to reconstruct my knee and lower leg.
What safety item is most important?
Common sense. Your instructors tell you certain things over and over and over again for a reason. Especially the quiet ones.
Do you have any suggestions for students?
An instructor once told me, “Bust out the credit card. It’s better to die in debt—that way you get more out of life than you put into it.”
What has been your most embarrassing moment at a drop zone?
I once reached my hand out to shake the hand of my next tandem student, and when he didn’t reach out, I sarcastically asked him if he was blind or something. He was.
What’s the most bad-ass thing you can do in the air?
Teach my fiancée Carly to freefly, get her to relax and finally get to see her beautiful, infectious smile when she nails her sit.
What do you consider your most significant life achievement?
Getting engaged to Carly. I never knew someone could make me feel the way she does. She was speechless (literally for the first time ever in her life). We hiked to a beautiful waterfall in Hawaii with her two best friends. Totally took her by surprise; she slid off the rock. I had to get back down and ask her a second time because she was in shock. We weren’t sure if she ever said yes, and she just sat down on my knee, and—whew—she said yes with that beautiful, infectious smile. Pure bliss!
While in freefall, what has been your strangest thought?
“Why are the police at my house?” I could see it in freefall.
Do you have any suggestions for USPA?
I’m pretty happy with USPA right now. I really appreciate the work they are doing to stop all the “bro” signatures. People need to be held accountable, and if you want to renew your ratings, you need to actually complete the currency requirements.
What is your best skydiving moment?
After this many jumps, it definitely gets hard to choose. They are all special in their own unique way.
What is your greatest competition moment?
We were asked to compete in freestyle instead of freefly at USPA Nationals a few years ago to make sure freestyle had enough teams to continue as a discipline. With only a few training jumps, we were able to get the bronze medal and help our friends keep freestyle around.
What is your worst skydiving moment?
Exiting a King Air, my leg got hung up on a seatbelt, and I was hanging by it outside the plane. Three major surgeries (and a few cadaver parts) over a year and half, I was able to return to jumping full time.
As the chief instructor at Skydive Arizona, what do you like about the DZ?
The good weather year-round makes it easy for team training, plus there are plenty of aircraft. SDAZ does a lot of military, as well, and it is good to see some of those guys pursue the civilian side of skydiving.
Most people don’t know this about me:
If procrastination were a rating, I would be the examiner.
Explain Jared Miller in five words or fewer: