By Brian Giboney
Logan Donovan, D-31751, is an Ivy League-educated software engineer who is using her skills to benefit skydiving. Along with being a competitive canopy pilot and national canopy piloting judge, she created the Control Tower scoring system used to judge CP events around the world. Donovan has medaled numerous times in Northeastern Canopy Pilot League and Florida Canopy Piloting Association meets. In September, she earned her first medals at a USPA Nationals.
Birthplace: Manhattan, New York
Nationality: U.S. and U.K.
Marital Status: Single
Occupation: Software Engineer
Education: Bachelor of science, Columbia University School of Engineering
Pet Peeves: People not stowing their toggles after landing and handing a giant mess to a packer
Life Philosophy: Take a deep breath and try to do better than you did yesterday
Jump Philosophy: Keep training and getting coaching. Hard work and dedication pay off.
Team Name: Control Tower
Sponsors: Larsen & Brusgaard, Skydive Store, Sun Path Products, Vertical Suits
Container: Sun Path Javelin Odyssey
Main Canopy: Performance Designs Valkyrie 75
Reserve Canopy: Performance Designs Optimum 126
AAD: Airtec CYPRES 2 Speed
Disciplines: Freefly and CP
Home Drop Zone: Skydive Cross Keys in Williamstown, New Jersey
Year of First Jump: Tandem in 2009, AFF in 2010
Licenses and Ratings: A-58127, B-34091, C-38808, D-31751, Canopy Piloting National Judge, Coach and AFF Instructor
Medals: 2017:Bronze overall and bronze in zone accuracy in the advanced class of canopy piloting at the USPA Nationals
Total Number of Jumps: 2,250 Hop and Pops: 1,200
Freefly: 900 Camera: 70 Wingsuit: 66 FS: 10
CF: One Tandem: One Demo: One Balloon: One
Largest Completed Formation: 25-way head-down formation at a women’s world record tryout camp
Total Number of Cutaways: Five, two of them were SkyHook demos
Most people don't know this about me:
I had terrible asthma as a kid, so I never played sports and would wind up hospitalized after trying to run for more than 5 minutes. I’ve mostly outgrown it, but when I was younger I never thought I’d be competing in a sport at a high level.
Of all your skydives, does one stand out most?
When I crashed on the pond at Zhills [Skydive City Zephyrhills in Florida] in February of this year. When in doubt, go to toggles, friends. Ambulance rides aren’t fun. The margin for error in CP is near zero, so you can never let your guard down. Luckily, I was able to walk out of the hospital later that day and was back to jumping two months later with a very different outlook on the sport.
What do you like most about the sport?
The community and the friends I’ve made.
What do you like least about the sport?
Watching people get hurt or die. I get sad when I watch people start BASE jumping; I’ve lost a lot of friends to BASE.
Who has been your skydiving mentor?
Pam Young got me through AFF and looked after me until I left Skydive Orange [in Virginia]. Greg Windmiller has taught me basically everything I know about flying parachutes and pushes me to keep challenging myself. Nick Batsch has also been an invaluable coach over the last two years, and the Golden Knights CP team has always watched out for me. I’ll never be able to thank any of them enough for helping me get where I am.
Do you have any suggestions for students?
Seek out advice from qualified people but not around the bonfire at night. Also, listen to their advice; progressing is fun but takes time. Don’t walk around asking the same question until you get the answer that you want; it’s probably not the right one.
If you could do a fantasy 2-way with anybody, whom would it be with?
I’d do an XRW jump with Mathew Kenney. Unfortunately, he passed away before I was a good enough canopy pilot to try it.
Were you a hard child to raise?
No, I think my mom wishes I would have had more fun. I told her I went streaking in college, and she literally jumped for joy that I did something “bad.”
What has been your most embarrassing moment at a drop zone?
I was doing a swoop-and-chug at Skydive Elsinore [in California] during my first year of jumping, and I cut away to run for the beer but forgot my RSL was attached. I was able to compress my reserve pilot chute with some pull-up cords before my flight home that night.
What has been your best skydiving moment?
My first run in my first swoop competition. We started with speed. I had never carved my canopy before, so I asked the pros, and they just said to lean through the course. I missed the entry gate on every other run, but I made that one and screamed with happiness the whole way through once I saw the exit gate in front of me. The judges applauded me for making it after working with them doing scores for the whole season. I was hooked. You don’t need to be amazing to come to a comp; it’s a great place to learn, and everyone is really friendly and helpful.
What has been your greatest competition moment?
Taking third place overall at the 2017 USPA Canopy Piloting Nationals in the advanced class and, in the same competition, taking third in what is normally my weakest event: zone accuracy. It was a very long competition—nine rounds—and maintaining mental composure through it all was a challenge that I'm proud to have successfully faced.
What has been your worst skydiving moment?
When someone asked my roommate if I was a robot. I can be quite stoic and focused when I’m training or jumping, so people who aren’t used to it are concerned. I’m also a little socially awkward, so that contributes to it, but my self-appointed “fun coaches” have worked hard, and I’ve been getting a lot better.
You and Matt Leonard run Control Tower. What do you want people to know about it?
Control Tower is a scoring system for canopy piloting and canopy piloting teams. I built the software so that I could attend the meets and learn how to swoop. Now I compete and do the scores. Recently, I’ve been developing more software tools and working on other projects for the community, like testing out canopy trackers. We have also been diversifying what we do as a team, attending boogies and a variety of canopy-related events, like XRW.
How did you become interested in canopy piloting competitions?
I was trying to start an artistic freefly team, but my teammate backed out on me so I decided to book a ticket and fly down to Florida to watch an FLCPA [Florida Canopy Piloting Association] meet to see what real swooping was like. I was terrified, but I really wanted to do it. Elijah Florio from USPA knew who I was and mentioned that they ran the meets on an Excel file and that I, being a computer science student, should come up with something better. After a three-day weather hold at Summerfest later that year, the Control Tower software was born, and we ran the first Sun Path Open that fall. The team followed when Matt and I agreed to buy jerseys and hang out at Carolinafest the following year.