Mike Swanson | Flying high & jumping big

Mike Swanson is a fearless human bird. The co-owner of Skydive Truckee Tahoe, Swanson has more than 23,000 jumps under his belt. He jumps from planes, helicopters and off buildings, which might sound risky to most people.

Red Bull WingSuit Team
July 8 | 10:30 a.m. & 1 p.m.
Truckee Tahoe Air Show & Family Festival

“I don’t necessarily think that I am risking my life. I am trained to do what I do. I am doing what I love. I might get nervous doing a jump that I’ve never done, in a spot I’ve never been, but I don’t think of it as risking my life,” he says.

Watch the Red Bull WingSuit Team jump over Manhattan

Swanson is a third-generation skydiver. The act of skydiving is when one jumps out of an aircraft, plane, helicopter or balloon with two parachutes, one of which is an emergency chute. Swanson is also a BASE (building, antenna, span, earth) jumper. He has done more than 1,500 jumps. In essence, the athlete jumps from a building, antenna, span or earth, such as from cliffs or down caves, with a single parachute. The jumps are lower than skydiving. A wingsuit may or may not be used for BASE jumping.

Flying with Red Bull pilot Kirby Chambliss in an Edge 540 plane, the nine-member team will jump from the craft and do an aerial show in their wing suits.

Swanson has jumped down into a 400-foot cave in the country of Oman.

“It was a massive cave — so massive the rocks on the cave floor looked like pebbles but were the size of cars,” says Swanson.

Swanson has jumped from the 108-story Sears Tower skyscraper in Chicago and travelled to Petra, Jordon, where he jumped 1,200 feet below sea level at the Dead Sea opening his chute 200 feet from the ground.

Swanson was on the set of The Rock’s new movie, “Rampage,” when we spoke. He was working with the production team.

“I am helping make everything happen for the stunt work,” Swanson said. “The Rock is a lot taller than me and weighs about 150 pounds more than me. He’s massive.”

Swanson has been featured in several movies including the most recent “Transformers” movie.

Swanson is a member of the Red Bull WingSuit Team that travels the world and was featured in the recent movie “Point Break.” They also perform in the largest air shows in the country, including the Truckee Tahoe Air Show & Family Festival on July 8. Flying with Red Bull pilot Kirby Chambliss in an Edge 540 plane, the nine-member team will jump from the craft and do an aerial show in their wing suits. Once they land, Chambliss will finish by dazzling the audience with his plane.

Another member of the team is Charles Bryan, a local from Tahoe City. “We call him the godfather,” says Swanson.

Whether jumping from 25,000 feet or deep below the Earth’s surface, acting in a blockbuster movie or playing in the sky with his team, Swanson is an incredible athlete. He is considered a pioneer of free flying. He’s won numerous medals in his career. He pilots paragliders and paramotors and is a professional aerial cameraman. When he’s not traveling the world, he’s jumping out of planes here in Tahoe at Skydive Truckee Tahoe.

For more information, visit redbullairforce.com or swansonmike.com.

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Priya Hutner
Priya Hutner is a writer, personal chef and meditation teacher. She writes feature articles about music, art, food and recreation. Priya loves to immerse in story. Whether jumping from a plane, eating obscure foods or hitting the Tahoe-Reno music scene, she is always up for adventure and experience. Having moved to the mountains from Sebastian, Fla., she embraces the Tahoe lifestyle and loves to ski, hike, paddle and swim. Priya is the owner of the Seasoned Sage, a business that prepares organic meals and facilitates workshops that promote a health-conscious lifestyle. She is currently writing a memoir about her experience living on an ashram and working on a series of cookbooks. | priya@tahoethisweek.com