Stewart McArthur, D-24588, is a British skydiver who now lives in the U.S. Since his first jump on Halloween Day in 1989, he has racked up a wide variety of skydiving and aviation accomplishments. With more than 23,000 jumps to his name, McArthur is an accomplished formation skydiver who won gold in 4-way FS at the British Nationals in 1993 and participated in many big-ways. As an instructor, he worked with the U.S. Navy SEALS for eight years. He is also well known for taking those with physical challenges on tandem skydives. Most recently, he transitioned from being a full-time skydiver to being a full-time jump pilot. However, he still gets into the air when he gets the chance to make fun jumps with friends.
Nicknames: S2E (Stuieee)
Birthplace: Rugby, England
Marital Status: Divorced
Pre-Jump Superstitions: No real superstitions; always been a big handle toucher, though.
Life Philosophy: I really do believe in living life to the fullest. Never refuse an adventure.
Team Name: Haven’t been on a team in a long time, but Flashback was my old team.
Sponsors: Sun Path
Container: Sun Path Javelin
Main Canopy: Performance Designs Stiletto 89
Reserve Canopy: Performance Designs PDR 126
AAD: Airtec CYPRES
Disciplines: 4-way and 8-way formation skydiving
Home Drop Zone: Skydive Perris in California. Used to be Sibson in England.
First Jump: Static-line jump on October 31, 1989
Licenses and Ratings: D-24588; Static-Line, Tandem and AFF Instructor; PRO
Medals: I have a bunch of medals from when I used to compete in 4-way, 8-way and 16-way FS back in Europe. The one I’m most proud of is a gold at the British Nationals for 4-way in ’93.
Total Number of Jumps: 23,000-plus
Tandems: 12,000 AFF: 8,000 FS: 2,000 Helicopter: 200 Freefly: 100 CF: 100 Accuracy: 100 Wingsuit: 100 Static-Line: 100 Camera: 50 Demos: 50 Balloon: One BASE: 11
Largest Completed Formation: 222-way in Bratislava in 1994
Total Number of Cutaways: 11
Most people don’t know this about me:
I used to play the bagpipes.
Does one jump stand out most?
When I got to take my mum on a tandem. She had always hated the fact that I skydived and never understood my passion for it, but after that jump with me she finally got it. I don’t think I’d ever seen her that excited about anything before.
Do you have any suggestions for students?
“Relax,” is probably the most common thing I’ve said as an instructor. The techniques to move around in the sky are pretty simple, it’s the environment of freefall that makes it difficult and stressful. It’s all in your head, so just relax and enjoy it.
The most common mistake I see with new jumpers is downsizing canopies way too early. Take your time, don’t be in a rush. Hell, all of us old guys with tens of thousands of jumps are upsizing now.
How long do you plan on skydiving?
Skydiving has been my life for over 31 years. I don’t think I will ever totally stop jumping. The last couple of years I switched from being a full-time skydiving instructor to a full-time pilot. It’s nice to be able to go make some jumps when your friends are in town, but the drive to want to do it every day has definitely faded.
What do you consider your most significant life achievement?
The first time I ever flew a jet. Got my type rating about two years ago. One of the most challenging things I’ve ever done but definitely the most rewarding.
Who have been your skydiving mentors?
There are many people who I look up to and respect in this sport, but as far as mentors, I’d have to go back to when I first started doing 4-way. Kevin McCarthy and Pete Allum were the two people who influenced me the most.
How did you become interested in skydiving?
I always thought that it would be fun but could never get anyone to go with me. Finally, one day one of my mother’s friends was organizing a group to do it to raise money for kidney research, so I jumped on board and signed up. I managed to raise around $500 for the charity, and after doing the first jump, I just fell in love with it and went back the next week and did another two jumps.
If you could do a fantasy 2-way with anybody, whom would it be with?
Patrick McGowan, a good friend who died in a skydiving accident.
What has been your most embarrassing moment at a drop zone?
When I fell out of a golf cart, tore my bicep and cut my head open. (Yes, there was a lot of alcohol involved.)
What has been your greatest competition moment?
Winning a gold medal at the British Nationals.
What was working with the U.S. Navy like?
Working at the Navy Parachute School was an incredible opportunity. I spent eight years there and had the privilege of working with some of the best instructors in the world. It was also a huge honor to get to teach some of the most elite units in the world. I cannot really talk too much about the training, but it’s extremely impressive what they achieve in such a short amount of time.
What do you like about making tandems with people who have physical challenges?
One of the best things about tandems is that it opens the sport to people who couldn’t otherwise experience it. It is extremely rewarding to be able to share that with them. As a tandem instructor, you always form a bond with your student, but when it’s someone with a physical disability, that bond is just that little bit closer.
What was it like working with Tony Robbins on “The Breakthrough” TV show?
Doing “The Breakthrough” with Tony Robbins was one of my best skydiving experiences. I got to go to Fiji for 10 days with a bunch of my close friends. The show was about a guy who, on his wedding day, dove into the pool and hit his head on the bottom and broke his neck and became quadriplegic. I got to take him on a tandem to signify his overcoming this huge challenge in life. It was an awesome experience and very rewarding.
Explain Stewart McArthur in five words or fewer:
Honest, loyal, funny, smart and adventurous.