Noah Watts, D-28514, is a multi-faceted skydiver who holds multiple USPA ratings, including the most advanced: Examiner Course Director. He’s also a jump pilot, holds Federal Aviation Administration Senior Rigger and Commercial Pilot certificates and is a military jumpmaster and combatant diver. Watts was the second Marine in history to be on the Fort Benning Command Exhibition Parachute Team the Silver Wings. In 2007, he left the Marines to join the U.S. Army Golden Knights, where he served on the Black and Gold Demonstration Teams, became the team leader for the tandem section, the Safety and Training Advisor and head examiner. He recently rejoined civilian life, where he continues to skydive and also work as a jump pilot. Former teammate Matt Davidson said, “Noah is always willing to stop what he’s doing to help a teammate or anyone in need of a hand. I’ve seen it in the way he shares his knowledge and expertise in a wide array of skydiving disciplines.”
Birthplace: Alma, Michigan
Nationality: Black, White, Indian, Irish ... let’s call it a mix
Marital Status: Committed relationship
Pets: Twister, a border collie. He’s much smarter than I am.
Occupation: Retired military
Education: High school and the University of Science, Math and Culture (USMC)
Transportation: 2006 Toyota Tacoma (326,842 miles ... going for at least 500,000!)
Pet Peeves: People who doubt me. And sometimes more, people who doubt themselves.
Pre-Jump Superstitions: Think of the worst possible emergency, then solve it prior to exit.
Neat packer or a trash packer? Depends on which canopy.
Would you rather swoop or land on an accuracy tuffet? Never done a tuffet. Prefer to be able to walk away regardless of which discipline.
Jump Philosophy: Never stop learning
Sponsors: None (feel free to offer)
Container: Sun Path Javelin, Mirage Systems, Aerodyne Research Icon, United Parachute Technologies Sigma
Main Canopy: From 96 to 370 square feet
Reserve Canopy: From 112 to 360 square feet
AAD: Advanced Aerospace Designs Vigil
Discipline: Always open, always learning
Home Drop Zone: Triangle Skydiving Center in Louisburg, North Carolina
First Jump: Military static-line in 2000, AFF in 2005
USPA Licenses and Ratings: B-28670, C-35241, D-28514; Coach, AFF and Tandem Examiner; Examiner Course Director; PRO; Safety and Training Advisor
Total Number of Jumps: 7,868 Tandems: 3,650 Demos: 1,100 Accuracy: 1,020 Camera: 600 FS: 430 CF: 300 Wingsuit: Nine BASE: One
Largest Completed Formation: 40-something
Total Number of Cutaways: Five (one personal, four tandem)
Out of all your skydives, does one jump stand out?
1) Took my mom on a jump. 2) Jumped into Busch Stadium (baseball) in front of both my kindergarten and 9th grade language arts teacher.
What do you like most about the sport?
How it brings people together. The feeling of freedom.
What do you like least about the sport?
People’s lack of willingness to learn from your mistakes. Some mistakes should only be made once, so learn from those who have paid a price for you.
Who have been your skydiving mentors?
Tom Noonan, Michael Wadkins, Dale Warner and Tom Grayson.
What are your future skydiving goals?
Learn, and try something new. More BASE and wingsuit and more fun jumps with friends.
What safety item is most often neglected?
Gear checks from someone. A question not asked.
How did you become interested in skydiving?
Seemed like a good idea at the time
I skydive because ...
Why wouldn’t I?
Do you have any suggestions for students?
Trust the process; we have all been where you are.
What’s the most bad-ass thing you can do in the air?
Make a student smile and have confidence.
What is your favorite jump plane and why?
Anything that gets me to altitude that has the engine above or in front of the door
If you could do a fantasy 2-way with anybody, whom would it be with and where would it take place?
My student self (pre-50 jumps). His choice.
If you could make everyone do something to make Earth a better place, what would it be?
Just clean up after yourself and worry about yourself.
What has been your most embarrassing moment while skydiving?
I slipped and fell on a demo jump while jumping the American flag.
The toughest thing to do in the sport of skydiving is:
Let a student find their own way, then accept it when it’s better than yours ... LOL. Accepting change.
What kind of skydiving student were you, the typical flailer or a complete natural?
Natural, but I had to be given specific instructions.
What do you consider your most significant life achievement?
After I accidentally jettisoned an Otter window from 2,500 feet, I found it unbroken. I got to put it back on the plane that day.
Do you have any suggestions for USPA?
Keep listening to the membership. So many things have already been changing. I hope more are to come. Maybe have a nine-year term limit on the board in a single seat.
What has been your best skydiving moment?
All the firsts I’ve had and will have.
What has been your worst skydiving moment?
Tandem student breaking their ankle.
What has been your weirdest skydiving moment?
I had to explain to a bunch of second and third graders why my parachute exploded after hitting power lines.
You recently retired from the Army. How has the transition been?
Better than I could hope for. My first day on terminal leave, I got in my truck and drove to Florida to see my mom ... and didn’t have to ask anyone for permission!
What is the best thing about being a Golden Knight?
The traditions, teammates, places traveled and taking a plane up that’s not full.
Do you have any stories you’d like to share about your demo jumps or celebrity tandems?
Out of all the jumps I have been able to make, some of the most rewarding were those made to serve a higher cause: taking a wounded warrior, a family member of someone who has passed away in the military serving our country or someone with a terminal illness. Those are the jumps that stick with you.
Explain Noah Watts in five words or fewer:
Comfortable in my own skin.
Any closing comments?
It took me a while of doing self-assessments to figure out that I can be 100% right about something but if I don’t present it in a desirable manner, it doesn’t matter what is said; no one will hear or care.
Life is more enjoyable when you serve others vs. yourself.