When we talk to Instructors Academy Founder/Owner Marcus Laser, he’s enjoying some time at home in Spain. As a highly regarded, sought-after Instructor Examiner, Marcus has historically spent a lot of time on the road; these days, he stays close to his home base at Skydive Spain as often as he can. That said, he still heads out more than occasionally: As a matter of fact, he’s just returned from Kuwait, where he was running a suite of rating courses and consulting on a new dropzone an hour out of Kuwait City.
That spanking-new DZO is asking Marcus’s counsel for good reason. Though he looks and acts quite a bit younger than he is, Marcus has been in the parachuting industry for 23 years. The son of a military jumpmaster, Marcus is originally from Germany. He hasn’t lived there for a while, however: instead, he has made his home in Spain for many years (but for a short sabbatical he spent running the first modern dropzone in Greece). It’s a storied career indeed.
It could be said that Marcus comes by his penchant for skydiving genetically. In the beginning, Marcus entered the sport via the same route his father had chosen: military service. In Germany, young men are given the choice to sign up for civil service or military service; Marcus determined, if he had to go, he’d sign up for the paratroopers. It was 1990; he was 20.
“So there I was in the paratroopers,” he laughs, “Jumping off planes with luggage and guns on the side.”
In 1995, he decided that he wanted to take his parachuting skills into the private sector and have some fun.
“It was not so easy to find a dropzone, or any place to do this,” he remembers. “There was no Google. I went to the German FAA and discovered a kind of directory for dropzones. I got in touch with a club close by, in Dusseldorf, but I ended up at a dropzone in Belgium. I rode my bike down there on the weekend and when I arrived, I saw a guy swooping. Well—not swooping as we know it, because there was no swooping in those days. I had only seen the military stuff, so I just burst in asking, ‘What is that?!’”
That Belgian dropzone agreed to take Marcus through his AFF, and he did his first jump in June of 1995.
“Immediately I know this would be my job,” he smiles. “After level one, I was asking stupid questions about how to become an instructor. They laughed about the rookie, of course, but I proved them a bit wrong, because I became an AFF instructor after two years with barely 500 jumps.”
To get those jump numbers, in those days, it was necessary to go to America. Marcus was certainly game. He followed his mentor, beelining for that legendary hub of freefall activity: Florida’s Skydive City at Zephyrhills. After spending a little while getting his feet wet, he hopped right into the swing of things as a Load Organizer.
“At some point,” Marcus recalls, “The chief LO came up to me and asked if I wanted to work there again the next season as a load organizer. Of course I said yes. I was just happy to get a couple of bucks and free slots. The ratings—AFF and coaching—came after.”
Just two years afterward, Marcus became an Evaluator; another year later, he became an Examiner in the German system; soon after, once the rules had been more internationalized, in the US-based system. At that point, he was one of the 6-or-7 people worldwide holding a full deck of Examiner ratings in every USPA discipline. He still has them.
The Instructors Academy came about in its own right when Marcus was the Chief Instructor on a dropzone in the middle of Spain. It was, to put it mildly, a challenging position.
“That was a game changer for me,” he explains. “At first, it was a good dropzone. We did a lot of jumps and we followed the rules. Later, they were more about the money than the safety. There was a terrible accident that I felt could have and should have been prevented. In 2009, I decided to leave that place and become self-employed.”
Instructors Academy opened shop in 2007.
“I am self-employed,” he explains. “I do my own thing. I don’t work for greedy people. I don’t support unsafe behavior. I do what I can in my rating courses to warn people and try to protect them from having to see the things that I have seen. I tell them, Don’t do what you know is wrong. The lawyers knock on your door. You have the rating. The boss who told you you had to jump will be sitting at his desk, counting the money. Protect your students and protect yourself.”
Marcus, as well as offering such essential wisdom to his students, offers–naturally–world-class training. Many of his students have gone on to high-flying careers in the skydiving industry, and one of his favorite things about the work he does is watching those ex-students make luminous waves in the sport he loves. He’s always ready with an example.
“This happened really recently with a friend of mine,” Marcus elucidates. “When he had about 150 jumps, he did an internship with the Instructors Academy. He’s a freelancer now. He’s a freefly load organizer, working on one of the biggest dropzones in Europe at the moment. He’s also a Tandem and Coach Examiner, working on his AFF Examiner rating. It has been awesome to see him progressing. That’s the way it is with students: One day, you realize you taught them how to walk and now they’re running.”
It might go without saying that Marcus is a badass athlete in his own right. He has jumped all over the world, diving deep into all the disciplines—but his favorite jump to talk about is the truly jaw-dropping world record in which he jumped: the biggest group skydive in world history, with a behemoth 400 people in the formation. Set in Thailand in 2006, the record still stands.
“There were 6.25 seconds where we were holding this formation,” he exudes. “We even had time to look around. It looked like a big magic carpet of people. Wow. Everybody was in the slot. Everybody said they felt electricity. I get goosebumps even remembering what that was like. It was awesome, and I am proud to say I was a part of it.”
Talking to Marcus, you get the sense that such an intense moment wasn’t an isolated incident; that there’s a lot of magic and electricity that zings through his life. For example: the love story he shares with his stunning wife, an ex-student of his. He met her in 2000, when he was doing a gig in Northern Cyprus, on the Turkish side. She was a student there. Throughout Marcus’s worldwide travels, the pair remained in correspondence. Exactly 14 years after the day of their first meeting—on December 14th—Marcus proposed to her atop the highest building in Europe: Istanbul’s Sapphire Tower. They married in 2016 and now live together in Spain. When he’s home, Marcus enjoys the sunshine of his adopted country, his wife’s company, and flying a small plane that he keeps there.
“Some people ask me how long I want to keep teaching,” he says, winkingly. “Well: They keep calling, so I’ll keep going. I’m 48, so I still have some years left, I guess.”
“I truly believe this,” Marcus insists. “That this sport keeps you young. When you’re in it, you’re dealing with so many characters. This is what I like in skydiving, the colorful characters. Dreadlocked, long-haired dudes next to bank directors. Is it possible in any other sport to get so many people from so many cultures at one table?”
“What we have is cool,” he smiles. “I want to keep bringing people into it.”
CYPRES is proud to support Marcus Laser’s quest to continually elevate the standard of excellence in skydiving training. To train with Marcus, reach out to him at instructorsacademy.com.