As part of this 30th anniversary year, we are looking back at some of the saves involving people who work as skydivers – whether they did so at the time of the incident or progressed into a professional role later. Back in 2013, Carlos was saved by his Cypres unit and later went on to a full-time career in the sport. In 2017 he shared his story with us, and here we catch up with where he is today…
As a child, I was always into the idea of skydiving. It was just something I wanted to do. At eighteen I saw a tandem marketing announcement for Skydive Madrid – realising there had always been a dropzone 45 minutes from my house and I did not know it.
My entire life I have ridden motorcycles, and I like to drive – not to be a passenger. When I did my tandem I loved it, but not as much as I thought – I wanted to be like all these people around me that are flying alone and having fun. A new world opened up to me but I didn’t have money, so I started to save until a year later when I did my AFF course. For a while, I could only jump for a couple of days each month – so in three years, I did not get that much dropzone experience.
The save happened in 2013 on my 46th jump, in a plan with seven people via the dropzone organising. I was not sure if I was ready for that, but the people there told me it was ok. It was a base of four from the Pilatus, then me exiting next – and two more people after. The two people after me were a bit too long in the plane, exiting late and then diving to get to us. One of them didn’t see me and hit me with his knee. I was knocked out and woke up in the hospital twelve hours later.
The last thing I remember was being a little worried about if I was ready or not. It was my first time with a lot of people and I was a little bit nervous. I only remember that. I landed close to the dropzone and was super lucky. My nose was broken and my face a little bit scratched – but that is all. I don’t think the others knew anything until I landed.
Two months later I returned to the dropzone, and I was scared at first from thinking that maybe I had failed in some way. I was trying to feel out what happened because nobody seemed to want to tell me a lot of information – but when I saw the video I realised that I did not do anything wrong. An incident like this obviously makes you process things a lot, and it made me start to think about how to make a bad thing into the best thing.
People remind me of it more than I bring it up myself. Now that I work in skydiving I will share the story if someone asks me, but I try to connect with people in other ways before telling it. Progression in skydiving is an evolution. We are all normal people and you cannot be a superhero with fifty jumps. You cannot learn much in fifty minutes, so you have to balance the immediate with the long-term. The important thing is to stay here and enjoy it – not walk before you can run. Like with me, sometimes you are just in the wrong place at the wrong time – but my story can help others to learn about spotting a problem and avoiding it before it happens.
Now, I have joined with all the coaches in Madrid. There are three tunnels here now, and we have a lot of instructors – as well as those who teach AFF and do load organising. People were working well on their own, but our goal is to put all of our strengths together and so something here in Spain that has not been done before. After my AFF I felt a bit abandoned. I did not know exactly what to do next to improve my skills. I joined a jump with people that to me were super good flyers, and it almost killed me. I believe the most important thing is to help make jumpers autonomous as soon as possible – meaning they are able to gather information properly themselves and make the correct decisions.
We are planning many events now – mostly across Spain and Portugal. We want to include all kinds of people, with both basic level groups and those who are more advanced. Everyone is welcome. We want to develop a community feel, where people are not in competition with each other – or ever say that someone is not good enough to fly together. Everyone can learn from everyone else, and there is no roof on their evolution. Even the most skilled flyer at an event can learn a lot of things from the others.
So far, we are very happy with what we are doing. Skydiving is the main thing, but we always include other activities in our events – like some surfing or karting or something. It is great to do different things that change the context for people – it really helps to build the community feel we are aiming to achieve. Maybe in skydiving, I can help you, but in something else, you can help me.
If you want to read the original save interview we created in 2017 – The Day My CYPRES Saved My Life: Carlos Aviles
If you want to reach out to Carlos, you can get in contact here – https://en.usdcommunity.com/
Blue Skies, your CYPRES Team.