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B.J. Worth | D-3805

By Brian Giboney

Profiles | October 2018
Monday, October 1, 2018

B.J. (Bruce Jeffery) Worth, D-3805, is an epic figure in skydiving. He helped develop competitive formation skydiving and went on to become a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale World Champion; performed parachuting stunts in blockbuster movies (including playing James Bond from 1979-1997); organized the famous Olympic rings skydive in Seoul in 1988; and led World Team, which set multiple FAI World Records (including the standing 400-way record for largest formation). Worth also served as president of the USPA Board and president of the International Parachuting Commission and earned the USPA Lifetime Achievement Award and the FAI Gold Medal for Parachuting, Bronze Medal and Air Sports Centenary Award.

Age: 66

Marital Status: Married to Bobbie

Children: One daughter, Sara; one granddaughter, Teya

Occupation: Filmmaker, aerial stunt performer, videographer

Education: University of Montana, Bachelor of Science in zoology

Team Names: 1975 U.S. Freefall Exhibition Team, Mirror Image (1977-1985), 1988 Seoul Olympic Skydiving Exhibition Team, World Team (1994-2014)

Sponsors: Airtec, Aerodyne Research, Alti-2, Flite Suit, Nike Thailand, Performance Designs, Royal Thai Air Force, Russian Air Force, Skydive DeLand, Sun Path Products, Thai Airways, United Parachute Technologies, United States Forces Korea

Containers: Aerodyne Research Icon, Sun Path Javelin, Relative Workshop (now United Parachute Technologies) Vector, Jerry Bird System, Strong Enterprises Stylemaster, NB-6 (all still jumpable)

Main Canopies: Performance Designs Pulse and Stiletto, Glide Path (now Flight Concepts) Raider, Para-Flite Strato Star, Strong Enterprises Starlite, Para-Commander, 26-foot Lo-Po, 7-TU (all still jumpable)

Reserve Canopy: Performance Designs PDR 126, Para-Flite Swift, 26-foot Navy conical, 26-foot flat circular (all jumped and still jumpable)

AAD: Airtec CYPRES 2

Home Drop Zone: Meadow Peak Skydiving in Marion, Montana; Skydive DeLand in Florida

First Jump: Static line in 1970

Licenses and Ratings: C-6785, D-3805, PRO

Championships and Records:

1974 FAI World Cup Champion, 10-way speed FS; 1977, 1979 and 1981 USPA National and FAI World Champion, 8-way FS FAI World Records in 10-way speed FS (5.16 seconds), 8-way FS longest sequence (9, 10, 14, 16 points), largest formation (40-, 100-, 200-, 282-, 357- and 400-way), largest two-point FS (110-way)

Total Number of Jumps: 7,777    FS: more than 5,500  Freefly: fewer than 100    CF: about 50    Camera: about 50 (primarily IMAX and POV cameras)  Tandems: about 300 (no commercial jumps, primarily friends and friends of friends)   Accuracy:  about 300 (primarily as a stunt performer and exhibition jumper)    Demos: about 100    Balloon: 25    Wingsuit: five    BASE: five (El Capitan: two; Angel Falls: two; Eiffel Tower: one)    Other: about 1,500 jumps as stunt performer for media productions

Largest Completed Formation: 400

Total Number of Cutaways: 12 (and three additional reserve rides)

Most people don't know this about me:

I designed, built and jumped the first hand-deploy pilot chute in mid-1974. I still have that original pilot chute and the Jerry Bird Velcro-closed main container that I used with it. Albeit, my design was not ready for prime time, and I was pleased to see Bill Booth perfect a user-friendly version of this product.

Of all your skydives, does one stand out?

The Olympic Rings exhibition jump into the 1988 Seoul Olympics opening ceremonies. There is no take two on a live jump being broadcast to nearly 2 million viewers, so the pressure was on to perform. Everyone on the formation team, the accuracy team, the camera flyers and the support team in and on the stadium performed spectacularly. The result of this collaborative global effort by 88 skydivers from 44 nations was invaluable in creating spectacular positive publicity for our sport.

Who has been your skydiving mentor?

Jerry Bird—as a leader in our sport, as well as being a principled human being who has a heart of gold. Although Jerry Bird and I have different organizing styles, I could never have accomplished what I’ve managed to do without his leadership, inspiration, guidance and encouragement.

What has been your best skydiving moment?

On February 8, 2006, 107 seconds after exiting five C-130s at 26,500 feet being flown by the Royal Thai Air Force’s top pilots. On our third jump of the day, World Team built a rock-solid 400-way to set the FAI large-formation world record. This collaborative effort included a team of incredibly talented skydivers, leaders, photographers, judges and supporters from 36 nations. That moment still gives me pause.

What has been your greatest competition moment?

Mirror Image’s most challenging 8-way competition was the 1981 U.S. National Championships. We were one point down going into the 10th round. Jerry Bird watched the leading team’s dive from the door and then gave us some solid encouragement just before we exited. We performed our best dive of the meet by digging deep and acutely focusing on each formation on that jump, scoring nine points to win by one.

What has been your weirdest jumping moment?

In 1984, after 22 practice jumps from hot-air balloons at altitude, I was standing on top of the Eiffel Tower doing my best imitation of Grace Jones [about to make a BASE jump for the James Bond movie “A View to a Kill”]. Tweet Caltvedt had carefully packed my main into its D-bag after unstitching the lower corners of my Wonderhog. Roger Moore was running up the stairs toward me, and I was ready to make skydiving history. The four cameras were supposed to be running at 3x speed to elongate my freefall time after I exited from 450 feet, but one of the cameras jammed.

Terry, the second assistant director, asked me to relax while all the cameras reloaded. I laid down on the scaffolding and promptly fell sound asleep. No, it wasn’t because I was so cool or because I was tired. My adrenaline gland had been pumping double-time, and when the jump was called off, my adrenaline uptake abruptly halted, and I was out. Fifteen minutes later, Terry apologetically shook me awake but noted that they had a movie to shoot. I moved to my mark, and on their cue, I took that memorable leap of faith.

How did you become a Hollywood stuntman?

It was never my intent to become an aerial stunt performer, but Hollywood came knocking on my door. Then-executive producer of the Bond films, Michael Wilson, wrote a scene where Bond was thrown out of a plane without a chute and had to wrestle one away from someone in freefall. After researching who was who in the skydiving world in 1976, he contacted Rande Deluca (freefall cinematographer in “Wings”) and me (director and dive organizer of “Wings”) to see if it was practical to perform and shoot this stunt.

After a successful screen test, we got the green light. Five weeks and 83 jumps later, we delivered the clips for the iconic freefall fight sequence between the pilot (B.J.), Bond (Jake Lombard) and Jaws (Ron Lugginbill) that was used for the pre-title sequence in “Moonraker.” That early success led to more opportunities.

Explain B.J. Worth in five words or fewer:

Walter Mitty unleashed—fulfilling dreams.

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