Ryan Risberg, D-22873, is a vertical formation skydiving competitor and freefly organizer. He was a member of SDC Core, which won the gold in vertical formation skydiving at the 2015 USPA Nationals, and was also a member of the team that set the 164-way Fédération Aéronautique Internationale World Record for Largest Head-Down Formation Skydive. Risberg, who is known for jumping in flip-flops, now travels the world sharing his knowledge and love of the sport and all facets of freeflying.
Birthplace: Dallas, Texas
Marital Status: Solo, looking to build
Children: Not that I'm aware of
Pets: All you filthy animals
Transportation: 1999 Chevy Tahoe—“Truck Norris”
Hobbies: Woodworking and design, hiking, camping, photography, speedflying, travel
Favorite Food: Local
Rock, Rap or Country? Yes
Would you rather swoop or land on an accuracy tuffet? Swoop accuracy
Jump Philosophy: Learn something every time you are in the wind. Be an all-around flyer.
Sponsors: Advanced Aerospace Designs, Cookie Helmets, Larsen & Brusgaard, Performance Designs, Tonfly, United Parachute Technologies
Container: United Parachute Technologies Micron 306
Main Canopy: Performance Designs Valkyrie 79
Reserve Canopy: Performance Designs Optimum 126
AAD: Advanced Aerospace Designs Vigil II Extreme
Disciplines: I believe in being an all-around flyer. Most often I am freeflying, though.
Home Drop Zone: Wherever I'm at that day
First Jump: AFF in 1998
Licenses: A-32551, D-22873
Medals and Records: Gold in Vertical Formation Skydiving Open, 2015 USPA Nationals. 138- and 164-way FAI World Records for Largest Head-Down Formation Skydive; 44-, 52-, 55- and 72-way FAI World Records for Largest Head-Up Formation Skydive; 33-way FAI World Record for Largest Four-Point Head-Down Formation Skydive; 57-way FAI World Record for Largest Two-Point Head-Down Formation Skydive
Total Number of Jumps: 7,000-plus
FS: Not enough
Accuracy: Goal—every jump; actual—not
Balloon: Attempted—15; completed—0. If you want to do a balloon jump, don't invite me; something will prevent it from happening. BASE: Four
Largest Completed Formation: 164-way
Total Number of Cutaways: Six?
What was your canopy progression? Something I'm not proud of.
Would you rather have a hard opening or line twists? I’m not aware of such problems; I jump a [Performance Designs] Valkyrie.
Are you a neat packer or a trash packer? Somewhere in between.
Most people don't know this about me: I design and build custom furniture.
Of all your skydives, is there one jump that stands out most? The first jump with the LED suits while filming the Star Search project at Skydive Chicago [in Ottawa, Illinois]. The plane was glowing when we turned the suits on. I think I was laughing and smiling like a kid on Christmas from the moment we exited until we got back into the hangar.
How long do you plan on skydiving? Depends on how much altitude we get.
What do you like most about the sport? The community. I have met the most amazing people from all over the world. Their stories and passion drive me.
What do you like least about the sport? Egos. There is always something to learn, always someone better than you. At one point, none of us could fly.
What are your future skydiving goals? Continue learning, sharing and, hopefully, motivating.
What safety item do you think is most important or most often neglected? Having a second audible [altimeter].
How did you become interested in skydiving? I had seen it but probably not given it much thought. A roommate went and did a tandem and I just got motivated. It seemed like something that matched my personality. The first time I ever stepped foot on a DZ, I started my ground school.
I skydive because … I love the the freedom. Being 100 percent in that moment. Anything else going on in life does not matter when you get in the wind.
What's the most bad-ass thing you can do in the air? Hopefully, insipire and motivate others.
What is your favorite jump plane and why? Skyvan. I like the possibilities for creative exits off the tailgate. But mostly because I can actually stand up straight in it.
Were you a hard child to raise?
I think that is a better question for my parents:
"You had your moments, like all kids. You always were an independent thinker, and sometimes that was a challenge. Overall, you were easy to raise." —Momma Risberg
What has been your most embarrassing moment while in freefall? I was organizing a hybrid for someone's 1,000th jump. I dove out last and flew right by it and never made it back up. It looked pretty cool from 100 feet below.
The toughest thing to do in the sport of skydiving is: Battle the mental game and let go of your head. Flying is not actually that difficult. The hard part is to believe you can do it.
What has been your best skydiving moment? Having the opportunity to compete on a fun pickup team with one of my AFF instructors 16 years after she taught me to skydive.
What has been your greatest competition moment? Winning the 2015 Nationals in 4-way VFS open. I vocalized that goal in 2010. SDC Core gave me the opportunity.
What has been your worst skydiving moment? Watching a friend have an accident and being the first one on the scene.
What is your perfect day like? Waking up in a tent in the mountains. Enjoying a cup of coffee with some good conversation. Going for a hike.
Are you living the dream? I think a lot of flyers have the dream to travel the world getting paid to skydive. I feel extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to make a living doing what I love.