Name: Jonathan Markowitz
What is your role at Skydive Orange?
AFF-I and Videographer (and usually head snarkalofogus).
How long have you been in the sport?
I have been skydiving since 2000, with a few “lean years” in the middle where I was just making a handful of jumps a year. I have roughly 3000 skydives, with a big chunk as working video jumps, a bunch of freefly fun jumps, some wingsuit jumps, and AFF/Coach student jumps.
How did you first learn about skydiving/what brought you to the sport?
My first brief thought about skydiving was when I was in High School and my father mentioned about wanting to skydive. It resurfaced a few years later when I saw two friends of mine at a party one Saturday night. Every so often they would point at each other and scream “WE JUMPED OUT OF A PLANE TODAY!!”. It then resurfaced a few years after that when I began working with two skydivers. We talked a lot about skydiving but I still hadn’t taken the final step to jump. After a particularly tough week full of pain, arguments, and personal conflict, I asked one of them ‘Are you going to the dropzone this weekend? I think I need to get out of town..’ That Saturday, we headed to the dropzone and I made a Tandem skydive. With my feet back on mother Earth, I could only marvel that all of that petty, trival angst I had been feeling that week was insignificant when compared to what I just experienced. I knew that I was a skydiver at heart, and here I am, 20 years later.
Who would you invite to join you on your dream 3-way?
I think I would love to put together a jump with Rook Nelson and Olav Zipser.
What’s you next skydiving goal?
New discipline, records, ratings, etc. As a relatively ‘young’ AFF-I, one of my goals is to expand my experience and teach a new crop of jumpers over the next few years. I really enjoy helping others achieve their skydiving goals. I am also on the lookout for another 4-way VFS team to compete in indoor and USPA nationals. It was incredibly satisfying when I was on a team in 2017-2018, and I hope to do that again.
Tell us about your most rewarding skydive to date.
There are so many to choose from (My final AFF-I Evaluation jump with Monica, two-way no-plan jump with Rook Nelson, shooting footage for National Geographic Today), but I think the most rewarding jump in recent memory is being a part of the Virginia State record at Skydive Orange.
What is your favorite thing about the skydiving community?
I think the diversity in the skydiving community is my favorite thing. Taking people from all walks of life and tossing them all together in the sky, on the ground, and around the bonfire makes for such an endless multitude of possibilities. The bond of skydiving is (to me) like nothing else in the world.
What is the biggest challenge you’re battling in light of COVID-19?
I think the biggest challenge is staying focused on staying safe and healthy in these crazy times. Thankfully I am still fully employed in my ‘weekday job’ which is a tremendous relief. Skydiving-wise, it has been really tough seeing beautiful days pass us by and being unable to feel the wind, breathe the rarefied air, and bask in the sun at 14,000 feet. But in the scheme of things, skydiving can wait. I have experienced two significant layoffs in my skydiving career, one after 9/11 and one because life seemed to take me on a detour. The first jump back will, I think, be an emotional one.
There are a lot of challenges with Coronavirus, but what are the silver linkings about all of this that you hadn’t anticipated?
I think that many people are taking the time to re-evaluate what is important to them and hopefully make changes to help them preserve those things. It might expose that you may not have as big of a financial safety-net as you thought. Or it could show you who are _actually_ the most important people in your life. Challenge, to me, leads to focus.
Everyone is facing challenges. What companies or people have impressed you during these challenging times?
Well, I think that all of the staff here at Skydive Orange has impressed the heck out of me. From our management team, the staff, all the way down to all the fun jumpers who are finding creative ways to make sure that Skydive Orange is ready and able for business when the dust settles. Many other parts of the skydiving community has taken this opportunity to step up in these challenging times. Julio Ruiz from Liquid Sky blew me away when he immediately shifted to making the best non-rated protective masks he could to help fill the gaping void for personal protective equipment.
We’ve all taken things for granted, that we now miss and appreciate. Outside of skydiving, what had you taken for granted that you appreciate more now?
I think challenging times always makes me appreciate the people with whom you surround yourself. Outside of the skydiving world, I think I took for granted the sunny Saturday, sitting on the deck in the sunshine.
Aside from skydiving, what are you most looking forward to doing when all of this is over?
That is easy — being able to hug everyone again.
If you could recommend one song for everyone to listen to, what would it be?
A song that encapsulates forced breaks from skydiving… On + Off by Maggie Rogers
Who/what is your spirit animal?
A Motherf@$kin Bearodactyl
Tell us about a memory that instantly makes you smile?
Each and every sunset jump once the canopy is open.
The largest tandem skydiving center near Northern Virginia, Washington D.C. and Maryland.