Kevin Gibson | D-6943
Profiles | Sep 01, 2022
Kevin Gibson | D-6943

Brian Giboney

Kevin Gibson has been contributing to the sport of skydiving in an incredible variety of ways since he began jumping in 1976—and he hasn’t stopped yet. Through instructing, rigging, creating safety protocols, opening new drop zones, revising USPA manuals, representing members as a USPA National Director and spending 17 years as managing editor of Parachutist, he makes his devotion to the sport apparent to all those he meets. He knew he wanted to be a skydiving instructor even before he made his first jump, just from listening to stories told by his father-in-law, and several years after his first jump was helping Bill Booth, Billy Weber, Connie Simpson and Dick Higley introduce tandem skydiving to the world. Gibson has been a regular at Skydive Orange in Virginia since 1997, where he owns and operates Rahlmo’s Rigging.

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“Kevin, my first instructor, went far beyond the usual introduction to the sport. He shared his passion for skydiving, and it instantly infected me. His selflessness paved the way for me to become the skydiver I am today.” —Omar Alhegelan, Parachutist Profilee #206


Nickname: Rahlmo
Age: 69
Birthplace: Baltimore, Maryland
Marital Status: Married 15 years to Nira
Children: Bridget (25), Wekin (13) and Nora (8)
Pets: Gilbert the Cat
Pet Peeves: Gratuitous whining
Pre-Jump Superstitions: On the way to the DZ, my hands sweat if it’s going to work out that I jump that day.
Hobbies: Biking, guitar, woodworking
Favorite Food: Thai
Rock, Rap or Country? Contemporary Appalachian
Life Philosophy: Let’s try and see how this works out.
Hard opening or line twists? At 69? Line twists, definitely.
Neat packer or a trash packer? A very organized trash pack.
Would you rather swoop or land on an accuracy tuffet? How about both on the same jump?
Sponsors: The industry has been very generous with me, especially Mirage.
Containers: Many along the way, but currently Curv and Mirage
Main Canopy: This month, Icarus World X-Fire 113 and ōm-7 119, and Performance Designs Velocity 96.
Reserve Canopy: Icarus World or Performance Designs, any size to match.
AAD: Airtec CYPRES
Disciplines: Formation skydiving, canopy piloting, freeflying (still a rookie) and canopy formation (it’s been years)
Licenses/Ratings: C-12643, D-6943, USPA Coach and AFF Instructor, FAA Master Rigger, Designated Parachute Rigger Examiner and Private Pilot
Records: FAI 200-way and current Guinness World Record Holder for most night-ways
Total Number of Jumps: 10,000 (to claim more would be excessive)
    Tandems/AFF: 7,000  FS: 2,000  Freefly: 500  CF: 250  Camera: 250  Demos: 25

Most people don’t know this about me:
I performed the “bed-of-nails” act in a traveling circus.

Does one jump stand out most?
A demo into a Grateful Dead concert near Austin. We got to hang out with the band during breaks. A cop woke me up with his boot somewhere near the parking area around 2 a.m.

What do you like most about the sport?
That it provides a stepping-off point to self-discovery.

What do you like least about the sport?
When it overtakes a person’s identity without their knowing it.

Who have been your skydiving mentors?
I followed Tom Piras and Guy Manos’ big-way escapades through the ‘80s and ‘90s until Tommy went in. Jim Slaton inducted me into competitive swooping way early on; Omar Alhegelan, who was originally my skydiving student, eased me into freefly—guess who got the better part of that deal? There was Mike Truffer at Skydiving magazine (though I don’t think he ever liked me that much); Bill Ottley, who bludgeoned the best out of me at Parachutist; and Chris Needels, who later coaxed it out much more effectively.

What safety item is most important?
Keeping mind, body and soul in harmony. Know when to push forward and prepare correctly, and also when to let go of things. Be always aware; trust and act on your observations.

I skydive because …
Every time I think I’m over it, aging out or whatever, I come down the same as it’s always made me feel. Some endocrinologist could probably explain. A good friend of mine, another old-school guy, expressed much the same to me after he nailed a demo into a minor-league baseball game on July 4. I just don’t know where else you can get this stuff.

Any suggestions for students?
Appreciate how lucky you are to experience skydiving, and guard this totally fringe activity with your life!

If you could do a fantasy 2-way, whom would it be with and where would it take place?
Over Panama. I’d dive down to Tommy and dump his pilot chute. I think a lot of my old friends share that fantasy.

Is there one jump you would like to do again?
At a swoop meet in Panama City, Florida, I misjudged a turn over the beach and would have femured had it not been a beach. At least it woke my young ass up.

What’s your most significant life achievement?
Turning regret into understanding.

Suggestions for USPA:
Tighten up the instructional and rating programs and update the Integrated Student Program. Promote the Coach rating and ISP as only a minimum standard and a starting point for any operation.

Best skydiving moment?
Getting drafted out of a swoop competition in Florida to help B.J. Worth complete a 100-way demo after someone got injured. I had to borrow her jumpsuit, because I didn’t bring one. The legs were too short, and I couldn’t get the booties off in freefall. I wound up flailing in 100th.

How gratifying is it to still to be helping people in the sport?
I get the same thrill seeing one of my articles in Parachutist as I first did in August 1982.

Any advice for prospective riggers?
Take a truncated course first. We offer a two-day Advanced Equipment/Pre-Rigger Course that is actually the first two days of the full course but has a terminus. It avoids the awkward problem of someone paying for a full course and then finding out how much drudgery and responsibility is involved. And those who finish there leave with much more knowledge about their own gear.

Explain Mr. Gibson in five words or fewer:
Independent, analytical, snarky, persistent and forgiving.

What could everybody do to make Earth a better place to live?
The Titanic would have missed that iceberg with only a small course correction. Just steer a little left or right from where you are toward where your heart is telling you to go.

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