Jimmy Pouchert

Name: Jimmy Pouchert
D.O.B. 1966
Number of Skydives: 4,700+
Number of BASE jumps: 1,500+

All time favorite BASE jumps: Cave of the swallows in Mexico, Angel Falls in Venezuela, Superbowl XXXVIII, The Titan in the Fisher Towers-UT, wingsuit jump off the mushroom of the Eiger, Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, sunset cliff above Tonsai beach in Thailand, El Cap

Passions outside of BASE and Skydiving: Marta, climbing, snowboarding, SCUBA, canyoneering, flying our powered hanglider, taking the Zodiac inflatable down to Lake Powell for 10 day "no phones, no computers" camping retreats, laughing-if you don't laugh at least once a day, you need help.

Jimmy Pouchert has been skydiving for 21 years and BASE jumping for 13 years. After a few jumps in Sparta, Illinois and Loveland, CO, he started skydiving full time at a small dropzone in Rifle, Colorado which was a weekend Cessna 185 operation. This was classic small DZ stuff where all 10 people who were there that weekend met at a "The Bayou" for beers, food and laughs. After Jimmy managed 200 jumps and a C license, they didn't have anyone else to assist his friend in beginning to skydive on a particular weekend, so Jimmy got promoted to jumpmaster that day. Instead of traditional static line deployments, the dropzone owner, Joel Zane, devised a system called PCA(pilot chute assist). Basically, the student would climb out on the step with Jimmy following with the student's P/C in his hand. Ironically, this is how students are deployed on their first BASE jump, so it was destiny from the beginning. When Jimmy started skydiving, B.A.S.E. was a four letter word around most DZ's in the country and around the world-in England, if they found out you BASE jumped, they would pull your skydiving license and ban you from the dropzone. He went into the video room one day and 2 jumpmasters were hunkered down in front of a TV watching a VHS tape. They looked up when he entered and quickly shut off the VCR. Jimmy hounded them until they broke down with "we really shouldn't be showing you this, but…check it out bro!" This was the first BASE jumping that he had ever seen and it basically blew his mind. This was before YouTube and there were maybe 2 shows on TV that had ever covered BASE jumping, one of them being "That's Incredible". It was a fringe sport even to skydivers and only those with that ever loving "death wish" even tried it. One day, when Jimmy had 500 skydives, an opportunity presented itself to Jimmy in the form of a friend of a friend knew a guy who had 2 BASE rigs and was willing to take him to a 2,000 foot tower. Although he knew that he wasn't ready as far as training went, there really weren't any "schools" at that time, Jimmy wasn't going to let this opportunity pass him by. After a very informative 5 minute course and watching the instructor pack his rig, Jimmy was ready to tempt fate. That's just how it was done in those days. After surviving that jump, Jimmy realized that a). He was in no way prepared to start BASE jumping and b). He was hooked. So after 5 years of snowboarding 100 days a year in Summit County, CO, it was time to move to where they skydived 7 days a week and it never snowed.

Jimmy and his dog Luke moved with everything they owned fitting into their S-10 Blazer right into tent city in Perris, CA. Jimmy had $750 in his account and a commitment to become a paid skydiver or go home broke with his tail between his legs. He had met Eli Thompson at his dropzone in Rifle when Eli brought out Woody Harrelson to make a skydive on the day that Jimmy was in charge of the DZ. That is another story for another time. So Jimmy walks onto the dropzone and sees what he is used to, the RW people in the tight fitting suits with grippers everywhere and 4 freaks in floppy corduroy suits with long hair, piercings and an energy that literally glowed. One of these characters was none other than Eli Thompson. Jimmy was very excited to see someone he actually knew on this big intimidating dropzone, but casually walked up and said, so what's with the suits? The little fish in the big pond found out quickly that freeflying was a new way of jumping that was a bit different than what had been done so far. After seeing the videos of what the Flyboyz and the handful of other freeflyers were up to, he wanted in.

Just had to find a way to make a living...

So every day, Jimmy would report in to the loft behind Square One and beg a job, having almost completed his rigging ticket. He would then walk the dropzone pestering the Flyboyz and any other freeflyer on how to stay on your head without imploding or sitflying without the wings, how to carve, take docks, whatever info they could offer. Then, for the sunset load, Jimmy would dig into his $750, get on the plane solo and work out the drills that the Flyboyz had come up with to get started.

Finally, the Flyboyz came at him with an ultimatum. Buy a discounted $1,000 block of jump tickets and only do coached dives with one of the Flyboyz with the agreement that after those 100 coached jumps, Jimmy would then be the first official sanctioned instructor for the Flyboyz school of freefly. It took him about 1.5 seconds to agree to these hard terms. It was basically a dream come true. So after another year of learning and then coaching, Jimmy teamed up with Shaylan Allman and Billy Calhoun IV to become the second sponsored freefly team at Perris Valley, "Perris Valley Structure Fire". This was the Golden Age of freeflying. Getting an 8 way head down round was a record in these days. Freeflying was entered in the X-Games as a trial event with Skysurfing as the headliners. About the same time, canopy swooping events were just coming into fruition. So after the X-Games decided that freeflying just was too confusing for the general population, the teams started splitting their time coaching freeflying and coaching swooping. Touring the World swooping and freeflying while making rent and food by rigging had become Jimmy's life. BASE jumping was a sport that Jimmy pursued through a good friend, Marty Tilley and some local jumpers who did alot of CRW and BASE, "The Ghost Riders". Although he had yet to make his second BASE jump, Jimmy did about 300 CRW jumps and had gotten a full time slot rigging at the Square One loft on the Perris DZ, upping his total skydives to about 1,000. During this time, he learned the BASE pack job, how to react to malfunctions, the huge differences between skydiving gear and BASE gear, and a whole bunch of what to do and especially what "not to do"!

Jimmy met Marta Empinotti in Hawaii at a boogie in 1998 that he was doing a freefly seminar with his team, which was now Shaylan and the Mack Daddy Clint Clawson, and Marta was manifesting. Marta and Jimmy became friends, as most skydivers do, horsing around and playing practical jokes. A few months later, Marta is walking on the Perris dropzone with Mad Dog McGuire and Jimmy finds out she is moving to Perris. Finally, after doing the homework and begging to be led into the world of BASE, Marta finally relents and takes Jimmy to Deland to build his own rig and start BASE jumping. After a few weeks of intense training and working in the shop, Jimmy finally gets to make his second BASE jump. After doing about 30 jumps down in Florida, they return to Perris, happy and coincidentally, starting to realize that they are quite compatible. They eventually become great friends and more, after 6 years at the Perris dropzone, Marta and Jimmy decided to move Marta's company, Vertigo, along with her right hand man, Mario Richard from Deland, out to Moab, where the cliffs are legal and were virtually untouched.

In the year 2000, there were maybe 5 exit points that had been established in the Moab area. BASE jumpers would come in town and just not have the time it takes to search out new exit points, so they would do some or all of the 5, with Tombstone being the first and easiest/safest of all. This is still the cliff that Apex takes their students to for their first Moab cliff. We are talking kids in a candy store in those days. Jimmy, Marta and Mario along with "Cactus Jack" Gaudet rented a house and would build rigs, risers, PC's, toggles and everything else out of there and wander 10 minutes in any direction and open up a new cliff after work. These were truly the golden years for opening up the jumps close to Moab. There are still miles and miles of canyons that have never been jumped, but pretty much everything that's worth jumping within 1/2 hour of Moab has been opened up. In 2000, about 6 friends from Colorado and California came out for Thanksgiving. This small group opened up about 6 new jumps and the weather was so perfect that Jimmy and Marta decided to invite anyone with enough jumps to come out for Thanksgiving every year to experience the best exits that had been opened up in the past year. The Turkey Boogie was born.

It's one thing to be a good jumper, it's entirely another thing to be a good instructor. Jimmy had been teaching skydivers how to freefly for about 6 years and teaching non skydivers how to skydive for the 5 years before that, so it was a fairly natural progression to teach BASE jumping. The new advantage to teaching BASE at this time was that they now had a legal bridge which they didn't have to sneak onto in the dark and maybe get one jump in. They could pack right on the grass by the bridge, teach at the hotel and wait for perfect conditions to jump, all in daylight. Newer jumpers tend to take this for granted, but in those days, it blew the old school jumpers away. Over the years, Jimmy and Marta have taught more students how to BASE jump than any other instructors in the World, thanks to this wonderful beginner's object and their absolute passion in teaching this amazing sport.

From Jimmy:

"I've always loved to teach people how to do things they thought they could never do. From freeflying to BASE jumping, getting to meet a total stranger and then going through this intense experience with them is something most people just don't get the opportunity to do. We've gotten so lucky with the students that we've had the opportunity to teach over the years, it's just amazing. Some jumpers take the course, have a great time, but decide that BASE just isn't for them. Some jumpers go on to make hundreds of jumps and get to the point where we can invite them on our trips to Angel Falls, or to the Go Fast Games, or go on to wingsuit BASE, it's the best feeling in the world knowing that we helped them get their start. We hear from so many people after their first day of jumping that this has been the best day of their entire lives! Imaging getting to be a part of that, it's what keeps us amped up for each course after all these years. We love hearing from our students keeping us posted about their jumping in Europe, or China or their first wingsuit BASE jump or their first building jump, it's awesome."

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