CAF stories: SkyHawks celebrate 45 years of entertaining Canadians with daring aerial acrobatics

Video / April 28, 2016


I had been terrified of heights beforehand, but it’s probably about the best shock therapy you can get. It gave me a bit of a love for parachuting. Captain Jake Porter, I’m presently the team captain of the SkyHawks, Canadian Armed Forces Parachute.

There’s many conflicting emotions: You have the anticipation and the buildup while you’re in the plane; the focus and the concentration on exactly what you need to do to be able to do your job properly; you’re thinking about what you need to do; then just the exhilaration of getting it done. It’s tiring, but it’s very rewarding, and that fuels us and drives us forward.

We jump very often. People think when you do it all the time, it’s not going to be scary or anything like that. One of the key tenets of the Canadian Armed Forces members and SkyHawks is courage. And courage is not the absence of fear, it’s having fear and doing something anyway, right, and that’s how I do it.

The crowd was just…we could hear them from 1000 feet. It was the first time I jumped over a city, and had buildings and rivers and power lines underneath me. And navigating to the soccer field with all the kids there, that was amazing, seeing their faces when we landed.

There’s really nothing bad about being a SkyHawk. Even if we can’t get a jump off, it’s always slightly disappointing to us because we love to jump. So even if it is raining, we'll go out to…an example is the Calgary Children’s Hospital last year. We still go to the hospital and visit with the kids and talk to them, sign autographs, show them how to pack a parachute. There’s always…it’s always a good day, some are just slightly less good than others.

My personal parachute's a 175 square foot Triathlon Ram-Air canopy. The rectangular canopy with seven cells, which makes it very stable. We actually grab onto each other’s parachutes and make the formations that we make in the sky; what we’re known for in our signature show.

Traveling is part of the job. I'd like to thank our families, and understand that the dedication that our families show to us and to the Canadian Armed Forces to allow us to do what we do, keeps every member of the Canadian Armed Forces in peak condition. They don’t have to worry about their family life. Their family's taking care of them at home and lets us do what we need to do.        

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