Airborne: Miles Daisher’s love of skydiving, BASE jumping and ‘skyaking’
Miles Daisher must have driven his parents crazy. As a child, he was always climbing up to high places and jumping off. By the time he reached his teens he was jumping off way-too-high rocks at the Yuba River.
While in a fraternity at Chico State, he stacked up mattresses on the ground and jumped out of an upper level window — a crowd-pleasing feat that should never be re-enacted by anyone. During a season as a “ski bum” in Squaw Valley, Miles and his buddies perfected their stunts on a trampoline in their living room.
“Miles was an athletic kid and he would jump off almost anything,” said his dad, Penn Valley resident Phil Daisher. “Some of the things he did in his youth were a little shady. I hate to think of other people trying these things. The fact that he didn’t get hurt was a tribute to his control and capability.”
In 1995, Miles found a true passion — skydiving. But after two years, he discovered an even greater thrill — “BASE jumping,” which is parachuting or “wingsuit” flying from a cliff or structure. The term “BASE” is an acronym for jumping off points, such as buildings, antennae, spans or earth (such as cliffs). Jumping from lower altitudes makes BASE jumping significantly more dangerous than skydiving, and the sport is illegal in many places.
HOME IS WHERE THE HEIGHT IS
But the I.B. Perrine Bridge in Twin Falls Idaho — the eighth highest bridge in the United States — is purportedly the only made-made structure nationwide where BASE jumping is legal year-round without a permit.
Therefore, it’s no surprise that Twin Falls has been Miles’ home for more than a decade, where he coaches “Miles D’s BASE Camp,” trains for stunts and jumps for fun. In his spare time he’s hired by the military to teach precision parachuting. He also spent three weeks as a stunt man for the film “Iron Man 3,” where in a scene he’s suddenly airborne when a plane blows up and is “saved” by Iron Man.
Now an accomplished canopy pilot, having 7,200 skydives and 4,521 BASE jumps (as of Monday) under his belt, Miles has reportedly executed more known BASE jumps than anyone worldwide. In 2005, he set a BASE jumping record by launching 57 times in a single day, climbing a total of nearly 29,000 vertical feet. In June 2017, he reclaimed this title by completing 63 BASE jumps in 24 hours. He also set a world record for 737 BASE jumps in one year. Recently, he says he’s “got his eyes set” on the Foresthill Bridge in Auburn, where he hopes to secure a permit to host a BASE jumping event, with landing accuracy contests and other competitions.
SCRATCHING THE ITCH TO FLY
On Thursday, while swimming with family and friends at Englebright Lake to beat the heat, Miles got the familiar itch to fly.
“He climbed on top of a hill at Englebright and put on his parachute,” said family friend Annita Kasparian. “He figured out the winds, took a few steps and the winds did the rest. It was really cool to watch.”
If onlookers were impressed by Miles’ carefully executed landing at Englebright on Thursday, they would have been amazed to hear what he had planned for the following day. By 1 p.m. on Friday, Miles was in a small plane preparing to parachute over north Tahoe — in a kayak.
Inching toward the open door in his small kayak at 7,000 feet, Miles pushes off and is in instant free fall, using the boat to position himself properly in the air. He opens the chute at 5,000 feet.
His invented sport, “skyaking,” has attracted international attention, and requires a skill level high above a typical skydiver. Thanks to his sponsor, Red Bull, he has “skyaked” over the likes of Philadelphia and Mexico — even Dubai.
“Free falling in a boat can get a little hectic — it’s tricky,” said Miles. “Either you control the boat or the boat controls you. I’ve gotten upside down on many jumps — and I’ve gotten into a few barrel rolls. But if I’m stable and upright, it’s fun to throw in a couple of front flips and loops. But because you’re sitting in an L-position, you need to have perfect canopy skills to come in for a soft landing and avoid injury. If I’m not sitting pretty on the boat at 5,000 feet, it’s time for some evasive maneuvers. The kayak has its own chute.”
‘METHODICAL AND CALCULATING’
Friday was a perfect tribute to Miles’ technical skill and experience, as his parachute came to a near stop, hovering over the water at Tahoe before gently landing on the surface near a jubilant crowd on shore.
Now 48 years old and showing no signs of spending more time on the ground, many wonder if these spectacular stunts concern Mile’s wife and children, ages 12, 10 and 8.
“My wife knows I’m very methodical and calculating when it comes to each and every jump — complacency will kill you,” he said. “The only thing she worries about is if I’ll be home in time for dinner.”
But what about his parents?
“We don’t worry anymore, but that’s partly because we hear about these stunts after the fact,” said Phil, who served for 28 years in the Air Force and flew U-2s, which are ultra-high altitude reconnaissance planes. “Miles is very upbeat and jokes around a lot, but when he packs a chute, he does it very diligently. I hope he gets his pilot’s license at some point — I still love to fly.”
“My dad is a pilot and he loves to fly, “ echoed Miles. “I guess that’s where I get it. I haven’t gotten him to BASE jump with me — yet.”
To contact Staff Writer Cory Fisher, email her at Cory@theunion.com.
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