Slobodan “Bo” Babovic, D-13403, saw a skydiving advertisement in 1975, and at the age of 17, he took to the sky under a T10. Forty-seven years later, he has logged more than 17,000 skydives and is one of the most prolific instructors in the United States. Given the time frame of his skydiving career, he can attest to the advancement of the sport and equipment like few can. He spends his time as the DZO of Wisconsin Skydiving Center in Jefferson, holds every possible USPA Rating, and is also an FAA Master Rigger, A&P/IA and Commercial Pilot. However, he remains most passionate about his roles as a husband, a father to three and a skydiving mentor to many more.
Birthplace: Pozarevac, Serbia(former Yugoslavia)
Marital Status: Married to Alex for 23 years
Children: Olivia, Sofia and Lucas
Pets: Luigi, a Bernese Mountain Dog
Education: Bachelor’s degree, painful life lessons (lots of them)
Pet Peeves: Defensiveness, drama, gossip and politics
Hobbies: Parachute rigging and community building
Favorite Food: Yes, please!
Rock, Rap or Country? Classical—Beethoven rocks!
Life Philosophy: Be in it, but not of it.
Hard opening or line twists? Line twists, please! I know how to get out of line twists.
Neat packer or trash packer? Efficient.
Did you start out as an AFF, static-line or tandem student?
Static line. On my first jump, I was absolutely, positively sure that my static line was going to break. It didn’t.
Jump Philosophy: We are all brothers and sisters as skydivers. Relate to people in their entirety. Have respect for the sport of skydiving and the people in it. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
Team Name: WSC Friends.
Sponsors: My tandem students
Container: Javelin, but I still love my old Racer containers from the ‘80s and ‘90s.
AAD: CYPRES, go Helmut!
Disciplines: Style and accuracy, 4-way FS
Year of First Jump: 1975 (B.C.)
Licenses/Ratings: AFF, Static-Line, Tandem and Coach Examiner; PRO; Examiner Course Director; and S&TA. I am also certified to mop the floors and make sure that trash is safely taken to the dumpster.
Championships/Medals/Records: A tangled mess of medals from a previous life; Nothing to write home about.
Total Number of Jumps: 17,000-plus
Largest completed formation: 64-way
Total Number of Cutaways: I don’t know. I think I have nine, and my wife thinks I have over 20.
Going back to student status, what was your canopy progression?
T10, Para-Commander, Strato Cloud, Sabre 170, Jonathan 150, Blue Track, Stiletto 120, Katana 107, Valkyrie 103. I’m the poster child for progressive downsizing … 45 years from round to cross braced!
Most people don’t know this about me:
I watch chick flicks. I cry.
How long do you plan on skydiving?
For as long as my body will let me. After my body stops cooperating, I’ll focus on levitation.
What do you like most about the sport?
The sport heightens my sense of being alive. Friends. Genuine, authentic, unapologetic characters.
Who has been your skydiving mentor?
No BS: My students, for the stimulation and challenge they provide! They humble me.
What are your future skydiving goals?
To save as many new jumpers as possible from being “cool.” To make them understand how great it feels to be connected , intimate, engaged, empathetic and compassionate. To nurture skydiving camaraderie.
What safety item do you think is most important or most often neglected?
Emotional management. I feel it’s so important that we teach it in our first-jump course at our DZ.
I skydive because...
It keeps me physically fit, mentally engaged, emotionally connected and spiritually aligned with a purpose beyond my immediate needs and wants.
Any suggestions for students?
Pick a mentor and don’t let them off the hook. Demand mentorship; you are entitled to it. It’s their duty to provide it.
What’s the most badass thing you can do in the air?
Make a terrified student smile.
What is your favorite jump plane and why?
A Cessna 182. Because it’s impossible to sit in a 182 and be cool, detached and aloof.
If you could do a fantasy 2-way with anyone, whom would it be with and where would it take place?
Any AFF student, at my DZ. Dalai Lama would be a distant second.
Were you a hard child to raise?
I’ll just say, my parents were troopers … having me didn’t extend their life span.
The toughest thing to do in the sport of skydiving is:
To stay alert and keep your head in the game. At some point, experience starts working against you. You become complacent, and there’s a fine line between comfortable and complacent. After so many years in the sport, it’s my greatest challenge.
What has been your strangest thought while on a skydive?
Back in 1992, I had a one-of-a-kind, difficult equipment malfunction in Hawaii. I looked down hoping that I was over the ocean.
Suggestions for USPA:
Keep examiner standardization meetings going.
Best skydiving moment?
When the entire staff comes together at the end of a busy day to grill out, drink insanely cold beer, watch the sunset and tell stories that leave everyone belly-laughing. That’s the best moment!
Worst skydiving moment?
Watching my instructor go in.
What is your perfect day like?
Blue skies peppered with bright cumulus clouds, my DZ humming like a well-oiled machine and everyone doing the right thing. I am not a boss, I am just another happy guy in the rotation. And then there are my staff and students, walking around with that glowing grin on their faces. I have a lot of these days.
How did you become interested in training future instructors?
I am a teacher, and I have a need to make a difference. When I teach a student, I touch a life, and when I train an instructor, I touch many lives.
What drives your competitive spirit?
I don’t compete anymore, I create.
Why should people consider Wisconsin as a place to come make a skydive?
Wisconsin is lush and green. They call it “God’s Country,” but the best part is the people. They are kind and down to earth. They wake up slowly and taper off from there.
Weirdest skydiving moment?
The moment I realized that I can make a living doing this. It’s still surreal.
What do you consider your most significant life achievement?
As a student and teacher of skydiving, I have had the privilege of touching many lives. I do make a difference.
Please explain Bo in five words or fewer:
(Striving to be) authentic, content, available and compassionate.