If you’re like us, you’ve been wondering aloud, “Who is this Beau Riebe guy?”
Overnight, Beau went from local jumper doing his thing to the national spotlight having appeared as a presenter with Skydive TV at the 2016 US Nationals, made the front cover of Parachutist and now is the face of Performance Designs. We’ve met Beau on a couple of occasions and here’s what we know:
- He’s the ideal employee. Beau possesses everything you could hope for in an employee repping your company. Positive vibes, responsible, well-versed in the product and passionate about the sport. If you could ever hope for a brand ambassador, Beau is that in spades.
- He doesn’t take himself too seriously and knows how to have a great time yet, he’s super passionate about serious causes like bone marrow donation.
- He’s grounded and one of the nicest guys you could hope to meet in the sport.
Enjoy our interesting interview with Beau Riebe:
You’re originally from Mercer Island, Washington – a beautiful place wedged between Bellevue and Seattle. What was your childhood like growing up in such a beautiful place?
Incredible! It really is such a beautiful place, so green and alive. It’s a very active community and lifestyle in the Northwest, despite the rain. Because there was so many spectacular places to explore, it left me with an undying thirst of having to know what’s around the next corner. I think that definitely led to my adventurous drive. I’m a mountain-kid at heart, and I know I will get back up to the Pacific Northwest someday.
Tell us about your parents. What did they do when you were growing up and what was your upbringing like?
My family is very close. As a kid, we were always doing things as a family, whether it was skiing in Montana or backpacking down the Washington coast. We didn’t do a lot of fancy vacations, moreso family activities. Growing up, I was also busy with diving, which I practiced and competed full time since the age of 9.
Do you have any siblings?
Sure do! I am the baby of three. My older brother is a doctor in Missouri, and my sister works in graphic design in Minneapolis.
What was your favorite subject in school and how were you as an overall student?
I never minded school, but it was never anything that truly excited me. I was a good student, maintaining high grades without much effort. However, I knew my passions were outside the classroom.
What clubs, sports and activities were you involved in at school?
Diving was my main sport. I competed in my first national competition at age 11, and was afour-timee All-American and two time Washington state champion in high school. It was a full time sport for me, practicing 4-5 days a week for 2-4 hours a day. Also, I always have and will love to ski. I started when I was two years old, and will hopefully continue to ski until I’m old and grey.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
A pilot! Or a stuntman. I guess I kind of was able to combine both of those things into one?
Were there any early markers in your life that would indicate you’d live the life you’re living?
I reached out to my mom to ask her this exact question, and she said the number one indicator was my love of heights and flying through the air. I always liked jumping off of things and being up above the ground.
You studied economics at the University of Iowa. Iowa is a big disparity from Washington… how did you get there and why and what led you to study economics?
What can I say… I just really love corn! Hahaha, in reality I had left the Air Force Academy and knew I was going to go back to school to finish my degree, so I went where my girlfriend at the time was going. Iowa IS very different than anywhere I had lived before, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to see a different part of the country and experience a new lifestyle within the US.
Who inspires you?
Honestly, my biggest inspirations are my friends that are out there absolutely loving life and crushing it at everything they’re doing. They inspire me to do the same thing – “We get by with a little help from our friends”
You have a very positive and easygoing personality. Where do you get that from / who do you attribute that to?
Well, I’ve always been a pretty happy kid. If I had to put it in writing, I would say that positivity begets happiness! Meaning that if you make an effort to have a positive outlook, then you will be a happier person. I absolutely believe this is true, and that positivity is simply a choice. Whether it’s by jumping out of airplanes, walking through the woods, or sharing a beer with my friends, I try to do it with a smile on my face- it’s not what you do, but how you do it. Do it with passion and optimism, and I believe it will lead to a happier life. Sure, sometimes life sucks, but I always try to keep my head high. In fact, it’s been proven that the very act of smiling releases endorphins, so trying to smile if you’re feeling down, or just whenever, can help to be happier also!
If you won the lottery tomorrow and money was of no object, what would you pursue and how would your lifestyle change?
Well, I love my job, so I would keep doing it! But I definitely would hesitate less when buying plane tickets places, and I would certainly purchase a lot of new gear for all sorts of different sports! Money doesn’t buy happiness, but it sure can buy you fun toys! Oh ya, and if I have that much money, I’m buying all my friends whatever they want too!
What is something about you that few people know about that people would be surprised to learn?
Haha, well a lot of people call me “pretty boy” or “Ken”. Believe it or not, that actually gets pretty old.. And there are times that it gets under my skin. So I am constantly trying to establish myself as more than just a pretty face.
What are your interests outside of skydiving?
Well, I try to stay pretty active in a handful of outdoor sports. Speedflying, climbing, BASE, skiing. Those are probably my main four, but there’s not much I would say no to. Also, I love craft beer. My girlfriend lives in Bend, Oregon, which is a huge hub for breweries on the west coast. Whenever I go out and visit her, we always indulge ourselves. Speaking of, my girlfriend Riley is a very important part of my life, and I am super excited about conquering the world with her in the future! I’d like to keep downsizing my life, and someday soon build out a van to travel and adventure in.
What achievement are you most proud of?
In 2012, I was matched to donate bone marrow to a 49-year-old woman with a type of Leukemia. I was able to donate my marrow, and today she is alive, well and happy. Meeting her and her family has been a beautiful gift, and so, therefore, I am very passionate about the National Marrow Donor Program. I was able to host registry drives at Chicagoland Skydiving Center two years in a row where we added over 150 new people to the international registry. Little promo – if you are interested in signing up for the registry, you can do it all for free at www.bethematch.com. And if you have more questions about the process, feel free to reach out to me anytime!
What are you not very good at, but wish you were good at?
I always wished I was a better artist. My mom, brother and sister are all fantastic artists, and I’ve always envied them for that.
Where did you make your first skydive and what was the circumstance that took you to the dropzone that day?
Growing up with a lot of outdoor action sports, I was attracted to skydiving since I was a child. When I turned 16, my dad took me to Skydive Kapowsin and signed me up for a tandem. It was a cloudy day, and we waited around for hours before the sky was finally clear enough. Needless to say, the jump was incredible and I have been hooked ever since.
You’re into BASE jumping and speedflying. How and where did you get involved in each of those sports?
Yeah! I love them both! I took courses in both to learn the basics. Speedflying definitely aligns with my stoke on flying wings, and BASE is simply an incredible feat. I love the aspect of earning your flight/jump, where you have to hike or climb in order to play. Also, I love that both sports are done in nature! To be honest though, there really is something magical about hiking up a mountain, careful measuring the conditions, and if all is well – simply running off the top of it and flying away.. Whew, get’s me excited just thinking about!
What other sports and activities have you / currently pursuing?
I’m lucky that my girlfriend is more badass than I am, so we do lots of activities together. I’ve skied since I was 2, and we will always love to ski together. We’re also passionate about rock climbing, hiking, and camping. I slackline and want to build my skills to one day take up highlining. I’m going on a kite-surfing trip this winter, which I’m excited to learn. And paragliding has been sparking my interest a lot lately, as well.
Is your family involved in adventure sports?
I definitely owe my sense of adventure to my parents. They impress me more and more each winter with all the time they spend in the outdoors. They live in Montana and ski all winter long and white-water kayak all summer long. When they were young, I know they were super rad. My brother and sister both have families of their own now, so their priorities are a bit different, but both are practically fearless and enjoy the freedom of adventure.
What’s the most memorable skydive you’ve ever made?
Cheesy answer, but taking my mom and sister on tandems :)
Most memorable BASE jump? (that you can talk about)
Probably jumping the KL Tower in Malaysia. It’s one of those jumps I saw on TV and in youtube videos, before I ever skydived. It was magical standing on the edge of that building and having a moment of realization for the path that had brought me to that point in my life.
You’re an excellent canopy pilot, what’s the best advice you can give to those thinking about getting into the discipline?
It’s hard to categorize the “best” advice, but probably the number one thing I recommend to people trying to get into CP is to get coaching from a professional canopy coach. There is a huge benefit gained from video review of your jumps, learning the theory behind how/why wings fly the way they do, and getting proper coaching in technique and progression.
List your canopy progression from jump 1 through present day:
Since I started with the Air Force, we were limited in what we could jump, so my canopy progression is a bit unorthodox. For my first 500 jumps, I was on an original PD 253 and 235. Then I purchased civilian gear and once I was out of the Air Force, my progression was:
Triathlon 160, Crossfire 119 (young and foolish transition…), Pilot 132, Sabre2 135, Sabre2 120, Sabre2 107, Velocity 103, Velocity 90, Comp Velocity 90, Comp Velocity 84, Valkyrie 79, Hybrid Valkyrie 79.
How many jumps do you have?
How many cutaways?
List your skydiving equipment:
Container: Velocity Sports Equipment Infinity I-11sn
Main Canopy: PD Hybrid Valkyrie 79
Reserve: PD Optimum 126
Altimeter: Alti-2 N3
Jumpsuit: All I’ve ever want to jump in is shorts and a t-shirt, that’s why I chose Canopy Piloting
Helmet: Cookie G3
AAD: Vigil 2+
If you could make a 4-way jump with anyone in the world (alive or deceased), who would be the other three on that skydive?
Shane McConkey, Kelly Farrington, and my friend JuanFe Montoya who smiles bigger than anyone I’ve ever known.
What discipline of skydiving excites you the most?
Canopy Piloting! This summer, going to many different drop zones, I’ve also had the opportunity to organize a handful of high-performance canopy flocks and do some very dynamic flying with other pilots. I think this sub-discipline within CP is in its infancy and will only grow more and more, and I can’t wait to keep learning about it, pushing boundaries, and fly with other people along the way!
Name every job you’ve ever had since you were a kid to present day:
- Raspberry salesman
- Dive coach
- Air Force Academy cadet
- Business Consultant for Wells Fargo (hello cubical, goodbye cubical!)
- Full-time skydiving instructor- Tandem, AFF, videographer
- On-camera host for SkydiveTV
- PD Rep
You’re the rep at Performance Designs – one of the most respected companies in skydiving. What was the process for you to getting your job at PD?
I still get goosebumps when I see that written: “you’re the rep at PD”… Since I started working in skydiving full-time at Chicagoland Skydiving Center, I had a goal of working in the industry- in marketing or sales since I like dealing with people. Over time, I earned my Senior Rigger ticket, focused a lot on CP, and tried to maintain a positive reputation within the community. When this job became available, I was fortunate to have a strong network of people who recommended me for the job. I did a jet-lagged Skype interview from my hotel room in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to which I answered the first question of why I think I’m a good fit for the team with “because Karl Meyer has a huge crush on me” and started with PD about a month later!
As a marketing rep for PD, that means a ton of miles traveled around the US. While many would call this the ‘dream job’ in the industry, it is also a super hard job. What’s your secret for keeping refreshed and energized and avoiding burnout when on the road?
I am very fortunate this year to have traveled via RV. This has made my life so much more enjoyable because I have my ‘home’ everywhere I go, including my bed, shower, clothes, and all my extra gear. I was able to go camping, hiking, speedflying, climbing, or whatever I chose. Getting out and spending a day doing the other activities I love definitely helped refresh me for the next weekend. Also, I’m a sucker for a day just lounging in bed, watching movies and eating snacks. I’m really good at sleeping-in :)
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Can I say two things? First and foremost, for the same reason most of us enjoy skydiving, the opportunity to meet so many amazing people all over this country. We’re a big group of weirdo’s, and I love it. I’m also super grateful for the knowledge bank I’ve been opened up to at Performance Designs, and it’s fun sharing that knowledge with others. Seeing other individuals go from struggling with canopy flight to succeeding with canopy flight by either changing their wing type or changing their techniques is a huge reward.
What’s the most challenging aspect of your job?
Visiting 31 drop zones in the past year, most of the times during boogies is awesome…but also often exhausting. There were definitely times throughout the summer that it was difficult to be “on” with individuals. And that’s the job, you know, to always be switched on and ready to impress. The act of rigging the gear is not too challenging, but the personal relationship you are trying to build with each customer- that is the real trick. Not trying to complain, because I love my job and that’s the nature of it, but at times it took some self-reminding that even though it is my ____ number boogie for the season, it is probably that jumpers only boogie and their only interaction with Performance Designs is through me. Fortunately, I’m able to feed off energy pretty well, so a quick cup of coffee and an excited jumper would leave me feeling energized and ready for some canopy fun!
Of all the boogies you’ve been to this summer, which were highlights for you and why?
First off, all the drop zones I went to treated me amazing! The skydiving community is a family, and I was so lucky to meet, jump with, and share great experiences with so many people at so many different places this summer. Lost Prairie Boogie in Montana was epic, beautiful, exhausting, irreplaceable, and truly awesome. La Bamba Boogie at Skydive California impressed me with the number of dedicated canopy pilots at that drop zone. Boogies are great, but so are simple PD weekends at drop zones where I get a chance to connect with local jumpers on a more intimate level rather than with the large hustle and bustle of boogies.
What’s the most common trend in skydiving that concerns you today?
I talk to a lot of people that want to downsize because they want to go faster and get more “swoop” from their wing… The issue is, most of the time, you CAN go faster and get more performance from your CURRENT wing with proper training and technique. It’s so much easier to learn to build speed on a larger slower wing than it is a smaller and faster wing! Then, once you get to the small and fast wings, you’re going to be a much better canopy pilot ready to truly push the wing, rather than just trying to survive. And yes, perhaps that person will survive their next downsize, and the one after that; but by constantly cutting corners and skipping steps, people are only hindering their progression and eventually the consequences can become drastic.
Favorite skydiving movie?
Fandango skydiving scene
Favorite sports outside of skydiving?
Favorite Board Game?
“It is the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting…” -Paulo Coehlo, The Alchemist
Place You’d Most Like to Visit?
India, Norway, South America (all of it!), Alaska
Favorite DZs and why?
I can only speak to my experiences. Chicagoland Skydiving Center – the staff and fun jumpers were such a family the years I was there, it was magical. Skydive California, amazing canopy pilots (get that pond Aaron!). Skydive Moab for the views and epic activities in the area.
Most embarrassing skydive you’ve ever made?
The one that got me on the cover of Parachutist for FAILING to land in a boat… it was fun, but how embarrassing!