Travis Mills, D-27249, is a world-class canopy pilot who flies competitively for the PD Factory Team and is a canopy coach for Flight-1. He is also talented in freefall and has been on numerous world-record-setting big-way jumps and medaled in freestyle and vertical formation skydiving at the world championships. The most recent of his many accomplishments are winning the first meet and taking silver overall at the two-meet 2018 Swoop Freestyle World Championships and taking bronze overall at the 2018 USPA Canopy Piloting Nationals.
Birthplace: Petaluma, California
Marital Status: Married to Alexia Mills
Pets: Two dogs, one cat
Occupation: Canopy coach for Flight-1
Education: High school
Pet Peeves: People who lounge around on the pack mat on a busy day taking up much-needed packing space. It’s a pack mat, people!
Pre-Jump Superstitions: No superstitions, but I do strongly stick to my pre-jump routine when it comes to training and competition jumps.
Life Philosophy: Don’t take life too seriously; you’ll never get out alive.
Hard opening or line twists? Hard opening. Line twists on the small wings I’m jumping get pretty spicy.
Neat packer or trash packer? Neat
Did you start as an AFF, static-line or tandem student? In 2001, I started off going through AFF, but after level 3, my instructor, who I became very close to, died after losing a toggle on landing. I was a little shaken up from that, and I didn’t jump for about six months. When I started back up, I did tandem progression.
Team Names: PD Factory Team and Team Dysfunction
Sponsors: Airtec, Alti-2, Cookie Helmets, Flight-1, Liquid Sky Suits, Performance Designs and Sun Path Products
Container: Sun Path Javelin Odyssey
Main Canopies: Performance Designs Valkyrie 79 and Peregrine 79, 67 and 64
Reserve Canopy: Performance Designs Optimum 126
AAD: Airtec CYPRES 2
Home Drop Zone: Skydive Arizona in Eloy
Licenses and Ratings: C-33322 and D-27249; Coach, AFF and Tandem Instructor, PRO
Championships, Medals and Records: 2018 USPA Nationals—bronze in overall canopy piloting, bronze in distance. 2018 Fédération Aéronautique Internationale Swoop Freestyle World Championships—silver for overall championship, gold at meet one. 2016, 2015 and 2013 USPA Nationals—silver in vertical formation skydiving. 2012, 2011 and 2010 USPA Nationals—gold in freestyle. 2010 FAI World Championships—bronze in freestyle, silver in VFS. 2009 USPA Nationals—bronze in freestyle. 2008 USPA Nationals—bronze in freestyle and gold in advanced VFS. 2015 FAI World Record for Largest Head-Down Formation Skydive. 2014 FAI World Record for Largest Head-Up Formation Skydive.
Total Number of Jumps: 14,530 Camera: 7,500
Freefly: 3,500 Hop-and-Pops: 3,000 Tandems: 500
FS: 25 Balloon: 8 BASE: 97
Largest Completed Formation: 164-way head-down world record
Total Number of Cutaways: 12
Most people don't know this about me: I love to cook.
Of all your skydives, does one jump stand out most? When I first started skydiving, both my mom and my brother started with me. I was able to get many jumps with them individually before they stopped jumping, but there was one time we were able to do a 3-way sunset jump together. That has to be the most memorable.
How long do you plan on skydiving? Until the end of time.
What do you like most about the sport? All the amazing people you meet from so many different walks of life.
What do you like least about the sport? The people with egos!
Who have been your skydiving mentors? I’ve been very fortunate to have a lot of awesome mentors over the years: Jared Miller, Dwight Quillin, Shay Jones, Mike McGowan, Tony Landgren, T.J. Landgren, Dusty Smith, Jason Peters, Steve Curtis, Sara Curtis, Ty Losey, Amy Chmelecki, Ian Bobo, Shannon Pilcher, J.C. Colclasure and Jay Moledzki, just to name a few.
What are your future skydiving goals? To become a world champion in canopy piloting.
How did you become interested in skydiving? I’ve always been an adrenaline junkie, and when my older brother showed me the video of his first jumps, I immediately got on the phone to schedule mine.
Do you have any suggestions for students? Get coaching and stay humble.
Were you a hard child to raise? I definitely didn’t make it easy on my parents.
If you could make everyone do something to make Earth better, what would it be? ELE (Everybody Love Everybody) —Jackie Moon
What has been your most embarrassing moment in freefall? It was a hot summer day at Sky’s the Limit in New Jersey, and I decided to go commando under my jumpsuit. I was sit-flying in front of a tandem, and the crotch of my jumpsuit split open, giving the tandem pair a full frontal of my twig and berries.
The toughest thing to do in the sport is: Understanding the difficulty of learning new things—whether it’s in freefall or under canopy—and allowing yourself to accept failure as part of the learning process.
What kind of skydiving student were you? I had to get pulled out on my very first AFF, because I was geeking the camera. After that mishap, I caught on pretty quickly.
What has been your best skydiving moment? The time I got to take my amazing wife, Alexia, on a tandem.
What has been your greatest competition moment? So far, it would have to be my first place at the Swoop Freestyle World Championships—Meet One in Copenhagen.
What has been your worst skydiving moment? The time I dislocated my ankle.
What drives your competitive spirit? My overwhelming desire to push myself beyond my own limits and better my performance in whatever I do.
How did you become interested in swooping? It has always appealed to me from the beginning. Being on the pack mat early in my career watching all the instructors and videographers swoop in with grace and ease, I knew I would be doing it someday.
What do you see in the future for swoop comps? Nothing but bigger and better things. With the way swoop freestyle has been taking off, the possibilities are endless.
What’s the best thing about being on Flight-1? Being able to help those who are scared of canopy flight and landing in other-than-favorable wind conditions by giving them the knowledge and teaching them the skills to confidently fly in crowded skies and accurately land without harm.
How would you describe your win at the FAI Swoop Freestyle World Championships in Copenhagen, and what was the venue like? The feeling of the win was so amazing! I am so grateful to be a part of such an amazing event. Jumping over such a big, busy city is awesome. The visuals of swooping in between buildings and straight at a bridge loaded with thousands of people is just mind blowing!
Explain Travis Mills in five words or fewer: Loving, passionate, driven, humble, grateful.