Many Happy Returns

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Many Happy Returns

My professional relationship with Airtec began, as with many others, as partial sponsorship for my skydiving team. Over six years we did alright, graduating steadily from having no idea to some idea of how to do it. We turned in steadily better results, climbing up the national podium and representing Great Britain out in the world. As we progressed the relationship grew, taking us towards the more friendly ground occupied by teams trusted to turn in regular content of value enough to signify positive influence in our chosen work. At the same time, my partner (Annette O’Neil) and I would contribute to CYPRES via our other personal projects and additional professional connections – mostly as wandering athletes who write stuff. 

These days, I am the CYPRES Guy

I attend events as their brand representative – with the tent, wind blades, demos, information, giveaways, and the assorted other things that this means. My opportunity to do this work came about as Airtec was looking for someone with a suitable affinity for the open road – that also had proven communication skills and was grown up enough to get on with it without supervision. Perfect. It took a minute to get properly comfortable with the role, but now I genuinely love doing it – and this has no small part to do with what CYPRES has contributed to skydiving in the thirty years since the unit became available.

Credit: Sergey Aleseevich Ffracoon

I suppose I am likable enough, but when visiting even a brand new dropzone I am received with nothing other than genuine warmth and total positivity. This is generally true in the skydiving community, as you can turn up at a dropzone pretty much anywhere and get involved – but it is particularly apparent through my work as a testament to both the trust people have in Cypres and the support Airtec give freely to our sport year, after year, after year. This high standard, and the overall strength of the Cypres name – built by others and those who have passed this way before – provides a rich standard to hold to as well as I am able.

Working with Airtec turned into some great

adventures over recent years – from a quest across the full width of South Africa to the swoops world cup, or attendance at the 25th-anniversary boogie in 2016 where I captured some of my best ever photography work – to a great many event finale throwdown jumps over mainland Europe. Most significantly and best of all, I have been fortunate enough to hear the story of the genesis and development of the CYPRES unit from Helmut himself, generous enough to gift Annette and I an entire afternoon of his valuable time to share it – with depth, detail and the ability all the while to fondle the relevant actual pieces of technology from his desk of many things. 

Credit: Chris Meyhew
If you find yourself in the rural heartland of Germany

it is well worth asking if you can join a tour of the factory. I have now visited a bunch of times, usually careening in and out on my way between two dropzones best linked via the autobahn, to stock up on gifts and swag for the scheduled events. The place is a treasure trove of paraphernalia intertwined with the developmental history of skydiving – branded items here and there that have long since transitioned from being old stuff hanging around to vintage items of irreplaceable coolness. The atmosphere is of quiet professionalism, in the way that Germans are the very best at – and despite the lab-coat ambiance making me feel (as such environments generally do) like a labrador in a top hat – I always set off again feeling uniquely supported, increasingly motivated and brimming over with the possibilities of what the future holds for the work we do.

I am genuinely immensely proud to represent CYPRES as an athlete, a brand representative, and an overall communicator of the quality they have stood for across three decades. I am grateful for the trust they extend to me and the working relationship we continue to develop. Most importantly, I am thankful for the creation of a device that is so remarkably suitable and utterly reliable that owning and using one is as natural as breathing.   

Happy Birthday, CYPRES. 

Joel Strickland




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