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Everybody knows that you’ve gotta have a skydiving pilot to jump out of planes. Right? Well: We’d like to announce that we’re pretty sure we have the very best one in the world on our team here at the Wisconsin Skydiving Center.
We’re so lucky to have Ryan Daly as our pilot! We know him affectionately as “RyanAir,” and everyone who meets him adores him right off the bat. This guy is so friendly, positive and upbeat. Not only is he an amazing pilot, he’s a breath of fresh air — a perfect match for our skydiving crew. So let us introduce him to you!
“I grew up in aviation,” Ryan begins, “because my father has been a pilot my entire life.”
In college, Ryan decided to pursue his own dream of flight. He decided to do an aviation program at the local university. “I was off to the races,” he grins.
After college, however, super-smart Ryan ended up taking on one of the other opportunities presented to him. He went into the corporate world and dove into being an engineer at IBM instead. The better part of his 20’s were spent doing precisely that- and happily flying in his free time. Over those years, Ryan racked up his licenses (including the tough-to-get multi-engine license).
“I was flying nonstop and it was what I loved to do,” he explains, “but I was making good money at IBM. It was quite some time later that I realized that all I really loved doing was flying and decided to get back into it.”
About two years later, Ryan decided to leave his job to finish up his commercial pilot’s licence. He picked up a job in construction to pay the bills in the meantime.
Not long after, a stroke of luck zapped him (and us!). As Ryan was faced with the important decision regarding which route to take with his shiny new commercial license, he came across our advertisement for a skydiving pilot in a trade paper.
“When I got to speak with Bo and Alex, I was sold,” Ryan says. “And honestly, I’ve been ecstatic ever since. I love being where I am.”
As it turns out, the match was made in heaven before Ryan even stepped his first foot on the WSC dropzone.
“I knew I had made the right decision before I even met them for the first time,” he smiles. “I left New York to drive over to the interview in Wisconsin at four in the morning. A long day of driving was ahead of me. At about 8:30 or 9 that morning, Bo called to check in with me, just to see how the drive was going. I would have never expected that from a new boss who hadn’t even met me yet. Things have only gotten warmer since I showed up. I really love being here.”
We’ll be the first people to tell you that flying skydivers is far from the easiest thing in the world. Ryan, however, does it with incredible warmth and — dare we say — flair.
“I love the flying portion of it,” he enthuses. “And I love the challenges, too! The biggest challenge for me is remaining undistracted. There is so much going on in the plane — and on the ground, too — that you have to keep your head on your shoulders in order to stay focused on the job at hand, so to speak. Flying itself can be challenging because we only have one short runway, so you are almost 100% of the time taking off with a decent crosswind and you are always dealing with a busy traffic controller. I love it, though, and I have a great time up there. My job makes me very, very happy.”
It’s nice to note, too, that — just like the rest of us at the Wisconsin Skydiving Center — it’s the community that really keeps Ryan smiling.
“When I taxi up,” he grins, “I always see some of our sport jumpers right there to greet me. Everyone will be waving, and I’ll see big smiles on their faces, like it is Christmas morning, or something. I don’t even have to tell you that that is a pretty great feeling. I know I get that reaction because I’m showing up with the plane, but it is pretty cool regardless. Every time they get into the plane, my WSC jumpers have smiles on their faces. Everybody is ecstatic to be where they are, and I get to be a part of that.”
Ryan is excited about — perhaps, someday — becoming one of those smiling faces in the back of the plane himself. It goes without saying that there are plenty of different routes a keen and talented pilot can take in aviation. Going into skydiving (instead of doing instruction, charter commuter airlines, freighters or another, more established route as a career path) is already a choice against the grain. All that said, Ryan is having “a blast,” and his goals reflect it.
“I don’t know where my next step is going to take me,” he says. “But I do know I’m loving it out here in Wisconsin. And I told Bo that he’s going to have to be ready to have me next season so I can learn to skydive myself.”
Wanna fly with RyanAir? Come down to our dropzone for a tandem skydive! Book your adventure online now.
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