Local Legends… Lachlan Russell

I know Lachy from my home DZ, Skydive Oz. He’s an all round top bloke and becoming a bit of a demon in his wingsuit 😉

When he’s not jumping he’s behind the camera as one of the owners of Headstrong films. Not bad considering he’s only 32! If you’ haven’t heard of Headstrong you should def go and check them out… (insta @headstrongfims) especially all the motocross, V8, BMX and other extreme wheels content. It’s pretty awesome.

In fact, it was shooting a commercial with Jacko Strong for Monster Energy in India that first introduced Lachy to skydiving. 3 years, 600 jumps and a D licence later, there’s no stopping him.

Lachy is just a positive, happy dude and it’s always a good time when he’s at the DZ. So, let’s get on with it… Say hello to this week’s local legend… Lachlan Russell!

How did you first become interested in skydiving?

For me it all started through work. We had an idea for one of the many video projects we work on with Jacko Strong for Monster Energy. One day sitting around the coffee table on our lunch break at work we got talking about some big ideas for a project we had coming up to film in India. So we thought a good idea would be to get Jacko skydiving in at the start of the video to mix things up from the usual dirt bike focussed content we normally do. None of us had any experience in that world at all, so for that he first had to learn how to skydive. He went on to do the AFF course with the legends at Skydive OZ and just raved about it the whole time. I even hitched a ride over in his plane to check the place out when he went back to finish his B Rels and it looked like the funnest place on Earth and such a good community there. That was definitely the point where I knew I’d love to get involved. So once we finished up that video project that started it all, we rounded up a few good friends to book in for the AFF course at Skydive OZ a few months later and never looked back.

What was your first jump like?

My first jump went relatively okay. I got the usual sensory overload and could hardly remember what numbers I read on my alti after I had landed but I’d still managed to get everything else okay. In the lead up we were so excited about it that we would always watch AFF jump videos on our lunch breaks so we had some idea of what to expect. So I just made sure I did everything to a T that the guys taught us so I didn’t screw it up haha. It only made it easier sharing the plane with all my mates that were doing it together so there was a bit of friendly competition the whole week.

What motivates you to keep skydiving?

For me I guess there are two parts to it that really keep me motivated. Firstly the social side of the sport is something I love and really keeps me coming back. I’ve always put a bit too much focus on my work/career for the last 15 years so it’s been such a big outlet for me to forget about that and just have fun with mates. The other part that keeps me skydiving is learning new stuff. Every time you learn something new or nail something you’ve been trying for so long, it’s such a buzz and there’s nothing else like it. Before starting I though skydiving would be something you would have a bit of fun with for a little while and I assumed I’d move on from it pretty quickly after that. But I never expected how much there is to learn. It’s like there’s never ending progression that keeps it challenging and rewarding and keeps you coming back every time.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced as a skydiver and how have you overcome them?

I’ve always been a bit of a risk averse kind of person. I work a lot around other extreme sports with my business and through that have witnessed a lot of rough accidents in my day. So from that I generally steer away from anything that seems super risky. So that was a big one for me to overcome. But what it has really taught me is that you can just about do anything by going about it the right way with the right training and experience. A good example of that is I think of doing the first flight course with Dan Rowen. I never even thought I’d be capable of that before starting the skydive journey. But the natural progression over time means you learn enough different skills to the point the WS seems achievable and before you know it you get to try it out yourself.

How has skydiving impacted your life outside of the sport?

The best way to describe how it’s impacted my life outside the sport is that it’s taught me the baby steps approach to taking on bigger challenges. Like I wrote above about the progression over time, if you go with a plan, keep at it, get the training and experience you need, you can really take on bigger challenges and for me that translated across to my work.

Have you ever participated in any skydiving competitions?  What is competition like?  Is it worth the effort?

I did the NSW/ACT states last year at Picton. I really didn’t know what to expect but it was actually a lot of fun. I was on a 4 way blast team with a bunch of legends. We hadn’t done any training together but got involved anyway and we actually learned so much and were all smiles all weekend. It was 100% worth the effort. I think if more people got involved it would make it even better. I’d really like to get involved in some more comps in the future and be a bit more prepared with some training. WS performance is something I’d really like to get into once I’ve got some more experience in bigger suits.

Are there any particular destination or drop zones that you consider favourites and why?

My clear favourite by a country mile is Skydive Oz in Moruya. The regular fun jumpers there, the staff, facilities, beach and river. Whenever I go it’s not like I go to skydive, it always feels like a holiday and an escape from the real world which is always a really good reset for me.

Do you have any skydiving role models that have influenced your approach to skydiving?

A big influence for me has been Dan Rowen at Moruya. It’s always easy to get caught up doing your thing and work on your own skills as much as possible, but Dan’s always been a really good role model in showing how to give back and help others as well. I can’t even count the number of times he’s just burned a stack of jumps chasing me around on jumps to help me improve. So now I always make sure I try and do the same and help out where I can for others. In the long run I feel like that stuff has a big impact on keeping people in the sport and enjoying it. It’s really a big part of why I enjoyed the sport in that early period and I kept coming back, because there was always people willing to jump together and give advice wherever they could so that is something I’d really like to keep passing on.

What’s your favourite bit of kit?

My favourite bit of kit is for sure my old green Squirrel Hatch wing suit. I don’t think I’ve ever had any more fun in in the sky than when I’ve had that on. It’s a really special bit of kit for me too because it’s actually the legendary Chris Byrnes’ old suit.

Photo: Tony Harrington

What’s next for you in skydiving?  Do you have any big dreams or aspirations related to the sport?

For me I’ve really enjoyed going down the wing suit path so far. I’m still pretty new (only been into it for a year or so now) but I don’t think I’ve ever had more fun in my life than that haha! So for me I just want to learn more and improve at that and help others get into it too. Eventually once I get some more experience in some bigger suits I really want to give WS performance competition a go.

Photo: Tony Harrington

Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to yourself at the outset of your skydiving career?

Looking back I think one bit of advice I’d give myself is to make a bit of a plan with it all. Although I had fun doing it, I would always just jump on with whatever was going on and never really focussed on any particular discipline until now. I really wouldn’t change much because I’ve always had so much fun doing so much different stuff but I think a good focus on following a certain path earlier would’ve really helped me out a bit at this point

Cheers Lachy!

I’ll be hitting some random people from various fun jumpers pages to feature them on the blog, but if you’d like to volunteer then shoot me a DM!

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