Like so many jumpers of his generation, Adam Buckner—at the time a freestyle BMX rider—started skydiving in 1991 after seeing the movie “Point Break.” He began his jumping career in New Mexico and soon became involved in a variety of disciplines, including formation skydiving, freeflying, skysurfing, canopy formation and even early wingsuiting. Now, Buckner is known not only for his in-air skill, but also for his graphic design. He is very in-demand in the industry and has created countless skydiving-related logos, signs, pull-up cords, advertisements, wind blades, jerseys and just about any other item you could name. This business, along with caring for Tyler, his young son with special needs, keeps him very busy.
Birthplace: Los Alamos, New Mexico
Marital Status: Married
Children: Two—Jaymeson, 19; and Tyler, 7
Occupation: Art director, designer, entrepreneur
Education: Bachelor of Fine Arts, Eastern New Mexico University
Pet Peeves: Repeating issues and things that don’t get fixed
Pre-Jump Superstitions: I always check my chest strap repeatedly. Right, Jaret?
Life Philosophy: Overall awareness leads to enlightenment, which leads to problem solving. Pay attention to your surroundings, and you will increase your probability of success and/or survival.
Container: Velocity Sports Equipment Infinity
Main Canopy: Big Air Sportz Samurai 136 and Renegade 7 170
Reserve Canopy: Performance Designs Optimum 150
AAD: Airtec CYPRES 2
Disciplines: Practically all of them
Home Drop Zone: Skydive New Mexico in Belen
First Jump: A static-line jump in 1991
Licenses: A-14321, C-22311, D-16514; former USPA Static-Line, AFF and Tandem Instructor
Total Number of Jumps: 9,000-plus
Accuracy: 10 FS: 2,500 AFF: 2,500 Camera: 2,000 Freefly: 1,500 Tandem: 500 Skysurf: 500 Wingsuit: 200 CF: 50 Demos: 50 Balloon: 50
Largest Completed Formation: 60-way
Total Number of Cutaways: Nine
Would you rather have a hard opening or line twists?
Line twists. I’ve had my fair share of hard openings; not a fan of my teeth rocketing out of my head.
Of all your skydives, does one stand out?
Going out backwards on a skyboard out of the Skyvan at [Skydive] Perris [in California] and getting a big thumbs up from all of the FlyBoyz.
Who has been your skydiving mentor?
I’ve been influenced by so many … but probably Holt Durham. He got me into the sport.
What are your future skydiving goals?
To get back into wingsuiting.
What safety item do you think is most often neglected?
Awareness of your surroundings. Problems, situations and malfunctions are typically a series of unfortunate events. This includes your gear and the people you jump with, from packing to loading to jumping to flying to landing.
Do you have any suggestions for students?
Become an information and experience sponge. Every jumper has something to teach you, both good and bad. Devote 80 percent of your jumps to jumping with someone who is better than you, but don’t forget to bring up the ones who are following you and are new. You might be on the same jump or plane together some day.
If you could do a fantasy 2-way with anybody, whom would it be with and where would it take place?
Patrick DeGayardon and I were going to do wingsuiting when it was really new. The week prior to coming to [California], he met his end in Hawaii. Still wish I could have jumped with him.
The toughest thing to do in the sport of skydiving is:
Absorb all of the little messages and knowledge bits presented in a very limited space of time.
Is there one jump you would like to do over?
On my 1,000th jump, a wingsuit jump with Norman Kent in Eloy, I wasn’t flying well and dropped out on him so there’s no video or photos. Why? It’s Norman F%#@ing Kent!
Do you have any suggestions for USPA?
Keep innovating and implementing new techniques in instruction. Keep it simple and keep it understandable.
What has been your best skydiving moment?
Taking a terminal cancer patient on her bucket-list tandem skydive. The energy transfer of giving her that experience was incredible.
What was your worst skydiving moment?
Watching two canopy collisions within 10 minutes. Only one person lived.
What was your weirdest skydiving moment?
A spinning canopy malfunction that transitioned from horizontal to vertical. Chopped at the apex and was basically slung upward and weightless. Watched my reserve come out over my head and it seemed like it opened in slow motion. In reality, it all happened quickly, but time slowed down for the moment.
How do you juggle your career and caring for your special-needs son?
I’m not perfect. Having a special-needs little boy takes priority, but it’s more about how everything is relative and symbiotic. My job requires a lot of time and so does he. I wouldn’t say juggling is the right term but more like finding a balance that is constantly changing.
Someday I am going to own …
Honestly, I don’t want to own anything specific. I just want to have the tools, resources and experiences to help my son, Tyler, be the best he can be.
What is the jumping scene like in New Mexico?
The scene consists of very enthusiastic newer jumpers looking to expand their horizons, mostly. World champions got their start here; Mickey Nuttall and Noah Bahnson come to the top of the list.
How did you get started in graphic design for the skydiving industry?
I had done some shirts and whatnot for our little drop zone, and then I took a job with SquareOne to do their advertising and web, and that blossomed into doing the ads for [Skydive] Perris and [Skydive] Elsinore and several others, as well as shirts, stickers, flags, etc. Today, I do design work in nearly every country and have worked with nearly every major manufacturer or DZ. I just try to do better than the last project I finished, regardless of who it’s for.
How cool of a feeling is it to know that at any given moment, your graphic designs are probably in freefall somewhere around the globe?
It’s a bit overwhelming, actually. Throw in the [Red Bull] Stratos and [Alan] Eustace [record-breaking, high-altitude] jumps, and that realm incudes space, as well as Mother Earth.
Explain Adam Buckner in five words or fewer:
Deep, creative explorer of awareness.