Sky Surfing Pioneer Dies at Free Fall Show

From Associated Press

A California man who helped pioneer sky surfing fell to his death when his parachute failed to open properly during a skydiving convention.

Jerry Loftis, 29, of Modesto, known worldwide for his sky surfing exploits, was killed Friday while participating at the World Free Fall Convention at Baldwin Field, outside Quincy.

He was completing a sky surfing maneuver during a free fall from about 16,000 feet when his parachute failed to deploy, said Adams County Coroner Gary Hamilton.

Loftis did cut away the main parachute, but he was unable to get his reserve chute out in time. He landed on the airport’s runway, Hamilton said.

Approximately 3,000 skydivers are participating in the two-week convention in Quincy, a Mississippi River town.


Loftis, who reportedly had made about 3,000 jumps during his career, is the ninth skydiver to die while competing in the World Free Fall Convention over the last 13 years, Hamilton said.

Loftis was considered an expert sky surfer, a sport that involves jumping out of an airplane from an altitude of two miles and then doing flips and twists on a 5-pound, 55-inch sky-board.

Sky surfers use their board as a platform to manipulate wind currents, which allows them to perform aerial acrobatics while hurtling toward the ground.

Loftis, who began skydiving nine years ago in Lodi, appeared on national television shows such as “Regis and Kathy Lee,” and in commercials for Mountain Dew soft drink, Sun Tiger sunglasses and the HBO cable television network. He also appeared in the Aerosmith music video “Amazing.”

Loftis is survived by his wife, Quetta, and two daughters, Kristen, 6, and Sarah, 4, all of Modesto.