For professional skydiver and BASE jumper, and I/O Crew member, Bee Goncalves, leaping out of a plane or off a cliff is all in a day’s work. With more than 2,000 jumps under her belt, the self-confessed ‘DZ Brat’ – someone who literally grew up in a Drop Zone – now makes a living showing people what it’s like to fly.
Travelling around America in ‘Burgs’ her trusty Chevy Van, Bee took time out to have a chat with fellow I/O Crew member Sputnik who was visiting from Australia. As you’ll see in the accompany video, she didn’t just chat with him, she also threw him out of a plane to show him what this jumping thing was all about.
The Parachute Centre in Lodi, California, is one of the largest and oldest drop zones in the United States, serving the sport since 1964. Bee was having a day off recovering from the flu when Sputnik visited, but was more than happy to talk about how she found her way into the sport.
“Both my parents were skydivers” she explained. “They were jumping since before I can remember. They taught me how to skydive and my dad taught me how to BASE jump.”
While most parents would want to keep their kids as safe as possible, Bee’s parents were more than happy for her to follow in their high flying footsteps. “Any normal parent is not going to want their child to become a professional skydiver because most people think it’s not the safest thing and they want their child to be safe” she said. Her parents, however, saw the world differently – from above! Especially her dad, who sadly passed away a few years ago, but not before having a massive influence on her direction in life.
Bee didn’t automatically pursue sky diving in her teenage years, but very affectionately refers to her late father as her hero. And one that had little regard for traditional gender roles as well.
“This is a male dominated sport” she concedes, “and I find myself doing things only men typically get themselves into. My dad taught me how to jump and how to do it well, and not to toot my own horn, but we can do it just as well as men – and sometimes better!”
So what exactly is it that she loves so much about jumping out of planes and off cliffs? “What’s not to love?” she laughs. “It constantly pushes you to your limits of comfortability. It’s so magnificent but the consequences can be quite serious.”
Serious enough that less than a week later, one of her friends and fellow instructors Robin Ballachey, who jumped with Bee and Sputnik and filmed some of the footage in our video, was involved in a fatal tandem jumping accident. And the same week another close friend Graham Hunt, was involved in a fatal wing suit BASE jumping accident with the legendary Dean Potter in nearby Yosemite.
If ever there was a bleak reminder of just how serious this adrenaline inducing sport can actually be, this was it. As fun and exciting as it can be, it’s certainly not something to be taken lightly.
While Bee’s been jumping since her teens, it’s way more recently that she discovered the wonders of I/O Merino, right before a trip to the Swiss Alps. “It was great timing and the gear was perfect. Since then, I/O Merino has been a great friend of mine to take along on these journeys everywhere I go.”
Before discovering the wonders of I/O Merino’s MicroMerino® fabrics, Bee explains she was always faced with a compromise with what she’d wear. “If it was soft I would sweat, if it was thin I was cold… I didn’t think I could get the best of both worlds. Now there’s really not a day I don’t wear I/O in my day to day life outdoors. Even if it’s a warm sunny day like today I still wear the neck warmers as a hair wrap!”
As a qualified yoga instructor, Bee manages to sneak in some early morning yoga on most days as well, again, in her I/O Merino. “The best time for me to do yoga is when it’s quiet and peaceful before the sun comes up and drop zone gets chaotic and crazy. It can be quite chilly so that’s when my I/O comes into play – early in the morning doing my yoga then I switch my clothes out and put on my jump gear and I’ve got my I/O on there too. Then when I get off work, take a shower go out make a BASE jump – got my I/O there too! So I/O has definitely been a big part of my life for the past three or four years.
Sputnik and Bee both wore their limited edition Altitude ‘Mongrel’ crew necks long sleeve tops for the jump. Get yours now!