Meet Regan Tetlow: Professional Skydiver, Presenter, Voiceover Artist and Actor. Is there anyone else in the world with such a unique and fun-sounding combination of job titles? If there is, you can count them on one hand.
If you’re fortunate enough to be friends with Regan on Facebook and Instagram, then you’ve journeyed with him around the globe witnessing him jump into the world’s most exotic locations from the Blue Hole in Belize to a glacier in Alaska. We’ve followed him from the beginning of his announcing duties huddled in a CYPRES tent with Rob Kendall in the desert to becoming an emcee at the world’s largest aviation events and beyond. How Regan built this life hasn’t come by luck, but rather hard work and an adventurous spirit that has led him to take risks that
few are willing to take. As you read through this piece, you will see the reason for Regan’s success. He bet on himself. The stability of a regular paycheck wasn’t enough to hold him down from stepping out and seeing what he could create for himself.
I would venture to bet that Regan is living a life beyond what he could have dreamed when he started this journey at age 36.
Enjoy this profile with someone who has inspired me to dream a little bigger. I hope he’ll inspire you the same way.
- James La Barrie
You’re originally from the small town of Stalybridge, just outside of Manchester. How would you describe your childhood?
My first thought as I think the answer to this question is of being free. Outside a lot running or on my bike. Exploring fields where I lived. I wasn’t into the traditional sports football and rugby, but I was keen on cricket. I was abscessed with aeroplanes and aviation. The family house was on the flight line approach for Manchester airport 12 miles out. My bedroom window had a clean line of sight to the runways and I would spend hours watching the airport through binoculars, Following the action on my aircraft band radio.
On a weekend, from being 10 years old, I would get public transport to the airport to meet up with all the other plane spotters to spend the day writing down the tail registrations, eating salmon sandwiches and drinking tea.
I was also heavily into science. One summer I spent every evening writing a project on the solar system. Ended up as a big hundred page file with details about each of the planets and watching the stars with the same aircraft spotting binoculars.
I actually won a bet with my teacher at school about a very well-known science fact about our solar system. We wrote for two and leading British astronomer for the correct answer and I won a £5 book token.
I guess in today’s terms you would call me a geek.
What was your favorite subject in school and how were you as an overall student?
Art and science with history and maths coming second. I was an okay student. I was very motivated when out school but not very keen on homework.
Were there any early markers in your life that would indicate you’d live the life you’re living?
My mad passion for aviation. I was always looking for adventure climbing trees and buildings. My ambition as a 10-year-old was to be an actor or an astronaut. Well, now I’m acting and a skydiver is partway to being an astronaut suppose. I was also always keen on entertainment and making people laugh. From my earliest memories.
Who or what inspires you?
I am inspired by positive people who make life happen. People with open inquisitive minds. I am also inspired by life itself. I think it’s like a pinball machine. We are the ball that is rocketed into motion at birth. We roll around the flat plane of the machine bouncing from one idea to another sometimes up, sometimes down. Eventually, gravity and energy loss catches up with that ball, it loses all power and momentum then falls down through the gates. That’s death. It’s a one-shot. You only get one ball.
I am aiming to bounce and ping and collect as much experience as possible before the lights go out.
You have a positive and fun personality with a great sense of humor. Where do you get that from / who do you attribute that to?
That’s a very good question and I really don’t know. This is how I have always been. Even my very first school reports mention it. Apparently, my grandfather on my mother‘s side was very similar but I never met him as he died before I was alive. Perhaps it’s genetic.
What failure in your life set you up for later success?
Marriage. Because of my divorce, I started skydiving at a new DZ and met a group of students who wanted to take me to Spain to coach them. It was there where I was offered the job as a Full-time Organisor.
What are your interests outside of skydiving?
I love acting and performing and of course, presenting. I’m very fortunate that all my interests also my profession. But really enjoy movies and reading too. I’m still mad crazy about science and I watch every YouTube Nugget I can find.
What are you not very good at, but wish you were good at?
Languages and business organization. If I could just do my actual jobs and somebody else look after all the admink I would be great.
You’ve recently shared on Facebook that you’ve stopped drinking. What led to you making this decision and how has this decision improved your life?
I was very aware that was drinking every evening. With almost constantly being on tour and in hotels it’s an easy trap to fall into. I was putting on weight and feeling more lethargic. It was halfway through a boogie in Kenya where I became ill from something I had eaten and because of that did not eat or drink for 24 hours. The next day I just had soup and bread and water. Then I realised I had had no alcohol for two days. I decided to carry on from there. The change has been incredible.
Physically I have lost weight and my skin is better. I have had psoriasis for over 30 years especially on my elbows and knees.
Mentally my thinking is faster and sharper. My mood is 100% more positive.
What is one of the best investments you’ve ever made (time, money, energy)?
I would say the best investment has been twice when I have made a big leap from what I was doing on to an unsecured next level.
When I left my full-time job in the UK to be a full-time skydiver in Spain, then when I resigned after 10 years to become a freelance skydiver and presenter. Both of these moves had massive risks.
List every job you’ve ever had:
- Age 10 – Shelf-filler and paperboy at a local shop
- Age 14 – Car garage helper babysitter and supermarket shelf-filler
- Age 16 – Graphic designer and nightclub worker
- Age 18 – Full-time bar manager
- Age 19 – Licensed Publican (landlord of a pub)
- Age 29 – Bar and hotel owner
- Age 33 – Newspaper sales exec and DJ
- Age 34 – Business travel sales exec
- Age 35 – Recruitment consultant
- Age 36 – Full-time skydiver
- Age 46 – Freelance skydiver and presenter
- And now, Freelance skydiving organiser. International Airsports presenter. Jetski TV presenter. MC. Voice-over artist. Actor.
Of all the jobs listed which one would you say was pivotal to your development and your future self?
What I am doing now encompasses each of those previous roles but without a doubt becoming a full-time skydiver and leaving the UK was pivotal.
You’re a professional emcee, commentator, actor, and professional skydive load organizer. To do all of these well requires a lot of energy and to be ‘on’ all of the time. With long hours and extensive travel, how do you summon the energy to ‘bring it’every day when you’re feeling most tired?
Because what I get to do is an absolute privilege. Thoroughly enjoy every work roll I have. If I ever do find myself feeling a bit down or tired I remind myself of just how fortunate I am to be doing what I do. My mother worked in horrible conditions in a cotton mill and my father died young. I absolutely love what I do but I am totally humbled by it.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to be an entrepreneur (which is risky) and live their dream?
Do it right now. Quit what you are doing walk away and do it right now. Not tomorrow or next week. Do not waste another second, go for it. You owe it to yourself to start immediately. It doesn’t work out well go back to something else.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Which one? Hehe.
I think if I had to take an overriding enjoyment from everything I do it would be being able to share my passion with others.
What’s the most challenging aspect of your job?
Keep the work coming in. It’s a constant uphill push of contacts and emails and calls to make sure my calendar is as full as it can be. It’s an easier route of having a job getting a salary but I’ve tried that.
Of all the gigs you’ve been able to do is there one that you enjoyed more than any other?
What springs to mind is the two World Games that I have presented at. Cali, Columbia in 2013 and Wroclaw, Poland last year. These games are just one down from the Olympics and a big honour to be part of.
Being an entrepreneur is about taking risks… what is the riskiest thing you’ve done to date to make things happen?
I think to leave my secure full-time job in Spain, living next to a beautiful beach, salary and pension, no problem to go into later life just on ground control shouting “clear drop”
Walking away from that to become freelance with no guaranteed work – that’s for sure a big risk.
As a world traveler, what’s the best purchase you’ve made that positively impacts your travel?
My Bose qc35 headphones.
List your skydiving equipment and sponsors
Container: Javelin Odyssey from Sun Path
Main Canopy: Performance Designs Sabre 2 107
Reserve: Performance Designs Optimum Reserve
Altimeter: Ares 2 from Larsen and Brusgaard
Jumpsuit: FS comp suit from Intrudair
Helmet: Cookie G3
AAD: CYPRES 2
Where did you make your first skydive and what was the circumstance that took you to the dropzone that day?
Skydive Tilstock in the UK.
In my local town, a girl was dying of leukemia and everybody was doing different charity stunts to raise money for the little hospital to buy a CAT scanner.
Shaving their hair, laying in a bath of beans for hours, the usual charity stuff. I had heard that it was possible to do a parachute jump for charity. It was something that I’ve been in my consciousness for quite awhile. This was 1990 before the Internet. I went into the Yellow Pages and found closest parachute centre. After a phone call they sent out the sponsorship forms and the rest is history.
List your canopy progression from jump 1 through present day:
- Army surplus round parachute
- First square I jumped was a Manta
- First canopy I bought was a Firelight, seven cell 170
- Then a new Sabre 135
- Jonathan 120
- Hurricane 120
- Katana 107
- Katana 97
- Pilot 97
- Zulu 102
- Sabre 2 107
What’s the most memorable skydive you’ve ever made?
Blue hole jump. Without a doubt.
What’s the most common error or mistake you most often see with skydivers today?
Lack of knowledge of weather conditions. Not been able to read if the conditions are stable improving or deteriorating.
What’s your skydiving pet peeve?
- People claiming to be free flyers without belly skills. In my book that’s a restricted flyer, not free at all!
- Leaning in the wrong direction in a Twin Otter and on the climb to altitude. As in leaning down towards the door pushing everybody else down the bench.
What discipline of skydiving would you love to learn that you’re not currently doing and what about it fascinates you?
Tunnel. Being able to use the tunnel properly.
Of all the skydiving destinations you’ve been to, which one would you most like to return?
Maybe Tilstock, my first drop is the one that set me on this path.
You recently made your 9,000th jump (congratulations) and completed your 27th year of skydiving. What tips can you share to jumpers to prevent boredom and increase longevity in the sport?
Remember why you started and how it changed your experience of life. Be careful of not falling into the trap of chasing jump numbers. Some of my most rewarding skydives were as a student. Constantly be amazed how getting into an airplane with all the strangers that share something in common is a privilege that most people don’t have a life.
Also, try not to give yourself a hard time about your skill level. There will always be somebody with more experience than you and always be somebody with less. Enjoy the moments where you are right now.
What’s the closest call (scariest situation) you’ve had happen in your skydiving career and what did you learn from it?
A toggle came off in my hand during landing. Also, make a good check of your equipment when it’s open and when it’s closed.
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?
I have saved this answer to last. Every time I look at it, I just don’t feel the vibe. What I really enjoy more than anything else is jumping with people that I have not jumped with before. Seeing how they are in freefall. That’s such a gift. Particular people? No, just new people to me.
Favorite skydiving movie?
Has to be Point Break.
Favorite sports outside of skydiving?
To Watch: Athletics (track and field)
To Commentate: Gas balloon Racing
To Play: Cricket
So many, but the one that I have read more times than any other is Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C Clark
Favorite Board Game?
Cluedo (think it’s called Clue in the States)
“For me, it is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.
– Carl Sagan
Place You’d Most Like to Visit?
Space. To look back and see us all on this crazy rock speeding around the sun.
Favorite DZ(s) and why?
I think my fondest memories are of Black Knights Parachute Centre in Northwest England.
Long summer afternoons learning how to fly my body, lying on the blue tarp packing mat outside in the sunshine. People laughing music on the radio. The distant sound of the Cessna185 climbing to 10000feet.
Most embarrassing skydive you’ve ever made?
I’ve embarrassed myself loads of times!
- When organising, manifesting a group and forgetting to add myself
- Once fell out of the plane while lining up a 12 way :-)
- Totally forgetting the second point on my own organise Jump. Done that many times.