San Diego skydiver Bryan Buffaloe became a member of the U.S. Parachute Association the day he was born, so his gold medal finish at the 2019 U.S. National Parachuting Championships earlier in September seemed almost like fate.
“After my first jump, I was hooked,” Buffaloe said.
Buffaloe’s lifelong membership to the USPA traces back to his fellow skydiving uncle, who made Buffaloe a member at birth. But Buffaloe’s first skydiving jump didn’t happen until May 2014, at Skydive San Diego in Otay Mesa.
Five years and over 1,900 jumps later, Buffaloe, now 34, has finished first in advanced canopy piloting at the National Parachuting Championships in Raeford, North Carolina.
In canopy piloting, often called “swooping,” skydivers fly high-performance parachutes that can generate high horizontal and vertical speeds. By maneuvering their parachute correctly, advanced skydivers like Buffaloe can glide inches above the ground for hundreds of yards at speeds approaching 90 miles per hour.
The parachuting championships held at Skydive Paraclete XP from Sept. 1 to 9 included competitions in speed, distance, and accuracy. Buffaloe won the overall advanced gold medal as well as gold in the advanced speed event.
Buffaloe, an alum of Patrick Henry High and The California State University Maritime Academy in Vallejo, described the win itself as bittersweet.
“A big part of skydiving is the community of people,” he explained. “I am competing against my good friends, and while we are rooting for each other to win, we all really want that gold.”
The National Parachuting Championships don’t offer any prize money but Buffaloe said that doesn’t bother him.
“Competing, for me at least, is about testing my skills, getting to jump with my friends, and the struggles and joy that come with defeat and victory,” he said.