A burning desire to be and to do is the starting point from which the dreamer must take off.~ Napoleon Hill
List 3 random facts or habits about yourself that could be classified as weird, strange or different.
- I’ve lived in five countries,
- I was the Chico State Mascot “Willie the Wildcat” for two years.
- I’m an Eagle scout, friend of the community and wish I was an astronaut.
I initially contacted Miles Daisher in the winter of 2011 prior to him leaving on a BASE trip and had every intention of reconnecting with him at a later date. However, life gets in the way (on my part, not his) and I failed to do so until recent months.
In my four years of being mentored in the ways and means of BASE from a wide assortment of individuals who have taken BASE on as a life partner, I haven’t met anyone who exhibits the exuberance Miles does in promoting BASE jumping. He tells me he doesn’t consider Base jumping a job and on average he only does 20 to 30 sponsored jumps per year. There is little doubt that family is his first love and with BASE jumping being his second, “to me it’s my main hobby. I love it because it’s a hobby and a sport.” Perhaps it’s a residual effect of being “Willie the Wildcat”, or the longevity of his career, or with age comes wisdom that leads Miles to happily accept the mantle of BASE ambassador.
Although we conducted the Q & A via email and instant messenger exchanges, after viewing several of his interview videos, I found myself witnessing his enthusiasm for the sport radiating in his tone and body language. This man loves BASE jumping, this man loves talking about BASE jumping and this man loves cheering on his fellow BASE jumpers.
He is willing and ready to exclaim it to anyone who will listen from one end of the world to the other. No matter the media platforms. To borrow from the late great Roberto Clemente, one can easily conceive Miles proclaiming, “BASE has been very good to me”.
“Also I’ve been lucky enough to make a living at it so that I can pay the bills while continuing to jump. BASE jumping is my favorite thing to do. Especially flying squirrel suits down mountainsides.” Yes indeed, very good to him.
Anyone familiar with the sport of BASE and those who jump also must accept the reality that sometimes BASE is not so good to you.
CLG: Did you have a mentor? Did you attend a First Jump Course? If not, explain why not.
MD: “I learned to jump from Frank “The Gambler” Gambalie. I learned from Frank as he got me started in skydiving and freeflying as well. As my skydiving addiction grew stronger, I was amazed at the videos Frank made. Especially when he tracked for 26 second off the Troll Spire in Norway while wearing casual clothing. When I saw him fly his body, I was deeply intrigued. I helped him while he coached a bunch of people, then finally decided to jump into it.”
Shane McConkey and I filled in the blanks when Frank died. Now I’m so old I don’t listen to anyone. Ha-Ha. Frank started coaching me with longevity in mind. He hadn’t been injured in the sport and knock on wood, nor have I. Frank drown in the Merced River after jumping El Capitan’s west face when he was chased by park rangers and tried to elude them by crossing the river with the current flowing much more than usual.
Shane McConkey and I were beginning to learn to BASE jump from Frank Gambalie “The Gambler” when Frank died by drowning in the Merced river trying to elude the Yosemite park rangers. When Frank died, all the things he told me really hit home hard. He was a visionary who I think could see into the future. The biggest thing I learned from Frank was when he asked me if I loved my job. I said I really like landscape construction. You get to drive excavators and backhoes and such but love is a really strong word. Frank then said I need to quit doing that job and start to do what you love because you will be doing something for the rest of your life. You should love what you do so you can love your life. When Frank died I quit landscaping and moved to a tent by Skydive Lake Tahoe and started packing parachutes for jumps and food. A year later I had a tandem rating. It was the all night BASE missions that I continued to pursue the whole time that really helped shape my future. I was living in a tent for two and a half years busy as I could be, playing with parachutes. Making just enough money to jump as much as I could and eat a little too. Summers in Tahoe, winters I worked at Points North Heli Adventures in Cordova Alaska Heli Skiing, Tandem Skydiving and down day activities director for room and board. Life is an adventure. I stoked I figured out to retire early and enjoy my youth as much as I can. I have Frank to thank for that.
In discussing the strained relationship between National Park Rangers and BASE jumpers, Frank Gambalie’s story of his tragic end is often repeated as the leading example. Rick Harrison laid it on the line for readers back in 2010 in an interview:
There have been many, many instances of overzealous enforcement against B.A.S.E. jumpers. Some people, when placed in positions of authority can tend to abuse it. Much of the overzealous treatment of BASE jumpers can be more closely linked with the simple fact that we are defying the Ranger’s authority rather than having any serious impact on the land or their resources.~Rick Harrison BASE 24
Unlike other sports or hobbies reaching the age requirement to apply for your AARP card doesn’t offer the induction into a Hall of Fame or a parade down Main Street for still active BASE jumpers. As in Miles career of 15 active years and counting, it does however leave you reminiscing and heartsick over friends whom left far too early.
In the case of Shane McConkey, Miles lost his best friend and his BASE partner of 16 years.
“Shane learned some things from Frank. I learned others. We got together and shared what we learned then figured the rest out for ourselves. We never forced each other to do anything but we did motivate the crap out of each other. Especially early in the morning for the 4AM Red Bull to get our hike or drive on to get to a nice exit point. Shane and I met in 1994 and started jumping together in 95. By 97 we really started charging all over the place jumping Basefari missions.”
CLG: Which one of Shane’s traits would you most liked to inherit?
MD: If I could have one trait that Shane had it would have to be the ability to be incredibly great looking. Oh wait, never mind, haha I must have picked that up from him already. Maybe to have Shane’s ability to have a tremendous lack of Humbility. It’s overrated we would say together. Shane was the funniest, nicest, most down to earth guy who was also really aware of his surroundings and able to maneuver his body magically with fantastic athleticism. I have Shane to thank for being on the Red Bull team as he pushed to get me to Baffin Island with the team that kick started my professional BASE jumping career.
In filling in the blank Miles summed Shane up as:
“Shane had everyone’s back and always took care of everyone he could. He is the original DudeManBro!”
When I asked Miles if his children have a grasp on what their dad does for a living and fun? He offered an example of just how much they understand.
“Dorothy is eight. At first she wanted a pink princess parachute. After I lost my best friend Shane (McConkey) she is more concerned for me and she doesn’t really want that parachute anymore.”
In reconciling the risks of BASE and personal responsibilities to his family, he had this to share “I’m not the crazy gung ho kid I once was. I’m more meticulous and picky about things now. I don’t try to let myself get in over my head. In the good old days over your head meant you have to learn fast or feel pain. Now it would really inflict pain on my loved ones more so and I’m doing a bit more calculating with my risks.
My wife is smarter than me and could get me to stop (jumping), but she loves me too much to do this to me.”
In most occupations retirement is an end goal to a successful career, but to the majority of BASE jumpers it’s a dirty word, the unthinkable. Miles isn’t cut from the same cloth as the majority however and after quipping “yea right”, he responded “well seriously as hard as it is to say I’ll have to admit it and say yes. I’m not sure what will fill the adrenaline need, but when my hands aren’t as steady and if I ever get bored with it…not happening anytime soon…I’m sure I could make a more serious commitment to my golf game.” In other words, Red Bull team hopefuls need not apply yet; there are no available U.S. team openings.
Speaking of Red Bull, the company and their sponsorship of Mr. Daisher’s hobbies, I asked him to reveal what came to mind the moment he discovered he was now a Red Bull sponsored athlete.
“YES! You mean I get to go jump out of paragliders and do cool tricks and pull low? Red Bull is gonna send me on free trips? I was living in a tent at the drop zone when I started being able to travel and jump in different places throughout the world. Things I had been dreaming about started actually happening.
So I got on the Red Bull program, so that I could do what I love more and more. It’s not the rich lifestyle but its a rich lifestyle. I pitch ideas that I’d love to do. Red Bull puts em in an event so I can show off what I do. I get paid to travel the world and show my skills to many many people. Now I’m a private contractor that’s pumping up the jam on what I do as well as kick starting some opening ceremonies to motorsports, and super fun events. Supporting my family while traveling the world meeting super cool and interesting people. Almost a million miler on Delta. Living the Dream, Falling . . . . . . . . .
As a professional jumper people may think that different corporations pressure myself and others into doing crazy and dangerous things for a nickel. Fact is it’s a lot of work to get the corporations to green light and support parachuting events. I’m constantly training and proving myself to get permission slips for the next project. You are only as good as your last jump. So stick them ALL!
I have been pressured by a camera guy or two in the early stages of the game to do stuff. When I took my rig off and handed it to the camera guy he looked confused at me. I told him to show we what he wanted me to do. After that we started communicating better to team up and capture great images of some safe jumps. Sometimes the crazy persona on camera may paint the picture of a lunatic with a parachute. I can assure you that I’m pretty geeky and put a lot of time into safety into every jump. My day is an airplane pilot. ”Always leave yourself an out.” he would say. I always have a margin for error on every jump. Because there will be a time that you will need to use that extra margin and it will save your ass.”
I would venture to guess that 98% of those who actively BASE jump would not turn down a sponsorship in general and most certainly wouldn’t pass on a coveted Red Bull sponsorship. Obviously you are pleased to be a Red Bull sponsored athlete, in your opinion has Red Bull’s sponsorship of athletes and events enhanced or harmed BASE jumping?
“Red Bull has helped us do things (events) we pitch to them, so we are living the dream while promoting the sport of single system parachute jumping in a big way. I view the Red Bull Corporation as promoting BASE jumpers in a positive way. There is a Red Bull way to do things. What I do and my lifestyle rolls perfectly with the big picture I see in the World of Red Bull. I feel super lucky to be associated with my favorite energy drink. I do believe that we have a win-win-win situation for Red Bull, me personally and the sports of BASE jumping and skydiving which I participate.”
For those familiar with BASE jumping forums, you have no doubt come across multiple posts slamming the Red Bull guys. In the world of forum BASE jumping, “Red Bull” is just above kicking puppies and right below corporate corruption. Those who express opinions on these open forums, no doubt have never met you personally, does it concern you that there are those that paint Red Bull BASE jumpers in such a negative light? If so, have you ever tried to convince them otherwise?
“Yeah the haters are gonna hate. The forums you speak of crack me up. A few moderators who, one in particular, started the whole thing about Red Bull being bad and still does add fuel to the fire; I say whatever. Let them talk because that’s all he and those like him are doing. Yakkity, yakkity, yak.
I feel it all started when I didn’t listen to a rule he decided to make up and I’m still not now. I hate that hating crap. Sometimes people come up to me hating me because they read about me and then after we talk for five minutes they are like, ‘You aren’t as bad as I thought. You are actually a nice guy.’ So don’t believe everything you read in those forums. I don’t have time to suck up to forum moderators. I am out in the world doing real stuff instead. Not backstabbing…oooooooh you struck a nerve with this question. I should have respectfully declined to comment or even give thought to those forums.
Oh, I don’t mind the Blinc magazine forum. The crazy psychopath isn’t moderating or controlling that one. Blinc can be fun to read, even though I haven’t read anything in quite a while.”
Everyone doesn’t have to like everyone else in the world, but there is no reason to spread hate appears to be a guidepost for Miles both in life and BASE. I may indeed have struck a nerve with Miles, which is to be expected as he is so deeply passionate about maintaining a positive energy around it.
For all the effort, time and money put forth to maintain a high profile BASE career, what has BASE jumping contributed to your personal development? How is the traveling aspect shaping your perception of the planet as a whole?
“Wow, I have been super fortunate to be able to travel extensively and meet all kinds of people from all walks of life. Including some super intelligent folks who have shaped many things about our world. I have learned so much from the school of life and strive to continue to learn and grow. I am constantly evolving as a person and as a professional parachutist.”
How often do you BASE jump, of those jumps how many are for work and how many for pleasure?
“I only jump when I get paid. Ha-ha. No most of my jumps are for fun. Training for a job to do is fun. I’ll do 20 to 50 jumps to get ready for a big building demonstration. I really only do about 10 work jumps out of the 300 a year. Most of the cool footage I get is when I’m out there having a ball with my friends.”
CLG: What was the attraction to BASE and what keep you continuing in the sport besides the adrenaline rush?
MD: “Flying your body. I have jumped the Troll Spire with Shane McConkey once and I conquered my initial goal when I began BASE jumping. It was watching Frank Gambaline fly his body off the Troll wall that got me hooked. It was a magical moment when it really happened for me. Now I’m loving flying parachutes and celebrating time in sub terminal air. The weightlessness, jumping into calm air is a really, really fun thing and I’ll continue doing it until I’m used to it. The experience is really cool, a magical thing to have done.”
CLG: How many skydives did you have on the books prior to entering into BASE? Do you have a BASE number and if so, how many jumps did it take before you obtained it?
MD: “86. I’m BASE 779. Shane (McConkey) made me get it as I was never into needing a BASE number. We jumped a building together just before I moved to Chicago when I had roughly 360 jumps.”
CLG: You mentioned that Shane and yourself filled in the blanks left by Frank’s passing. How many years have you been instructing in BASE and do you do any personal mentoring?
MD: “I started Miles D’s BASE Camp in 2004, 7 years ago at the Perrine Bridge in Idaho. I try to give everyone a bit of something to help on an individual level when asked or I note something that could help a fellow jumper. I am not going to stalk people and follow up on everyone, but if I am hanging with someone I try to give as good advise as I can under the circumstances.”
CLG: What is the most important piece of advice you give to your students?
MD: “Take your time. Watch and learn more than jumping blindly into it. Learn from the mistakes of others cause you won’t live long enough to make them all yourself. Take baby steps to get to the big jumps and lastly, hire me to teach you how to do it safely.
CLG: In your many years of experience, what are the most critical errors new jumpers are likely to commit?
MD: “Bad flight patterns and landings. Or bad decisions to place themselves into a bad situation. Lately I am watching people lose toggles and crash in. Over flaring with rear risers and collapsing their wing at flair time. If my Miles D. Campers ever lose a brake line and don’t land in the river while trying to flare their rear risers I’ll threaten to break them (brake lines) myself. You will dry faster than you heal.”
CLG: Word has it that a established jumper warned you about the lack of skill and understanding of a student camper and you ignored the warning and allowed him to take your course. Recently he was nabbed by police and made an ass out of himself with his interaction with police and the media. Do you feel at all responsible for aiding that person? What is your vetting procedure regarding jump course campers?
MD: “I have taught someone who has gotten in trouble with the law and I’m not super proud of it. I don’t teach breaking rules. My emphasis is on safety. I did learn from Frank not to run from the law if safety is an issue. I don’t do illegal jumps. You don’t need to if you are smart. Smart people do better in the game of life by being nice and playing fair. Try not to get lured into the dark side. It’s easy to get peer pressured into dangerous situations. Your real friends will watch your back and not temp you into hurting yourself or others. You can’t save everyone but you can try to keep em safe.”
CLG: Removing Frank and Shane from the list, is there a BASE jumper you admire and what is it that you admire about them?
MD: “There are quite a few jumpers I admire for all types of reasons. My rigger Pete for his master skills with nylon and life. Sean Chuma’s inter-demented ariel radness and overall coolness. Andy Farrington “The Kapowsin Kid” belongs in the air and is so damn smooth all the time. I could go on for a long time on this one, but my favorite guy is in the mirror. I love me. Mostly because my radness just cannot be quantified.”
All you Sheldon Cooper, Big Bang Theory fans will see that last sentence for the sarcastic remark it is intended. A mix of good natured teasing with a heaping of self-confidence. **cue the music** He’s Miles D and he knows it.
CLG: Do you feel anything in particular makes you unique as a jumper that you bring to BASE jumping?
MD: “The balance of a bird and the reflexes of a jungle car. I think that fixed object parachuting takes a certain level of athleticism or at least it helps a lot. I have been as athletic as I possibly can my entire life. When you are super fit and in prime shape, things happen easier and I find my thinking is clearer as well. My wife, Nikki, would say my goofy ass nature is a good asset too, although I don’t know of what it is she is referring too.
Prior to asking Mrs. Nikki Daisher to shed some light on their relationship and her references to her husband’s “goofy ass nature” here’s a Milesism on living in Chicago, stalking Nikki and the Cubs all wrapped up into one paragraph as only Miles can do.
“I did live in Chicago for 7 months to chase down my girlfriend. Nikki took a job there to further her occupational therapist career and I even left Tahoe to stay with her. Now we are married with 3 children. It was quite the experience from my quiet small town lifestyle but I made the adjustment and did support the Cubs as I lived four red line stops away from Wrigley field. My home team now is the Giants again as they are the closest team to Twin Falls Idaho. Gotta love the Home team right?”
Nikki Daisher: The Women Behind The Man
Nikki Daisher isn’t a skydiver, nor is she a BASE jumper, she probably wouldn’t qualify as a Super Fan of parachute sports either. She is however, wife and best friend to one of Skydiving/BASE jumping’s more interesting high profile personalities. Nikki has managed to combine her husband’s unusual career with a solid family life of raising 3 children. While Miles is off being Miles, she manages to maintain a stay the course routine at home.
How long have you been married? At the time of your marriage had Miles begun his career in BASE and did you have any apprehensions about marrying him due to BASE? Or if he began BASE after your marriage, how did you reconcile the risk involved and did you have concerns about starting a family?
Married 7 years. Miles had been a BASE jumper long before I knew him. I remember when we first starting dating, I worried every time he was off skydiving or BASE jumping…but over time it just became normal. So by the time we were married and having children, I really did not “worry” per say. I trust him, his judgment and his skills. I’m not naive to the dangers, but risks lies everywhere and I believe that Miles is one of the most inspiring persons I know because he is so passionate about life and is living his dream. I love that he brings this passion to our table, that the kids have a dad that lives his dreams and has been able to make a career of it.
Miles noted the most romantic gesture he has displayed is ‘dishes and laundry and brought three wonderful lives into the world with my wife’. He also mentioned that you feel it’s his ‘goofy ass nature’ that is an asset to his skills in BASE. Besides the obvious enthusiasm for BASE and enjoyment of life that he displays, what are the qualities you see in your husband that the public may not see past the goofy ass nature of the jumper?
Miles likes to keep things light and carefree, yet he is very calculated and intense. So, what shows up is his fun and goofy ass nature that makes every jump fun, but he has always processed every scenario several times in his head before he even arrives to a jump. Big events can occupy his mind for weeks before the jump.
Do you get BASE or is it that you get your husband? What makes you a good BASE wife? What advice do you have for spouses, family members who are first learning of their loved ones desire to BASE jump?
I don’t get BASE jumping, seems like a crazy sport to me; but I do get that my husband lives for it and it keeps him young at heart and passionate about life. My only advice (for the families) would be to make sure they go through the steps, learn from someone who knows, not just a buddy with an extra rig.
How do you keep sane with Miles traveling for Red Bull events and raising three children? What is your release, your stress buster?
Sane, haha…you think I can keep sane
The kids and I have our routine, I never plan on something I can’t handle without Miles. Camping, traveling, weekly schedules are all planned knowing I will make them happen and when Miles is home and can help…awesome! I am thankful for the work, so it’s a bittersweet…I love having him here, but I am thankful he has a job and one that he loves.
Do you attend Miles jumps? Do you enjoy watching him jump?
Not often, I would rather see it and hear about it after.
Have you ever found yourself defending Miles career/hobby choice to either family members, friends, or associates? I am imagining a conversation in which one of your children is telling a teacher or playmates parent how their dad can fly off mountains, to which the person thinks “sure he can sweetie”. Is it odd for you to explain to people your husband’s job?
I defend Miles’ career on a regular basis. First question “How do you handle that…aren’t you scared all the time?” My answer over time has shortened up from a long drawn out explanation of death comes from car crashes and cancer even when you are playing by the “social” rules, my husband LIVES everyday to the fullest. To now I mostly answer that questions with a “nope” and smile.
Miles mentioned that he wants to put 42″ tires on the truck, but you just don’t get it. What is the most outlandish thing he has done that has left you tossing your arms to the air and thinking, ‘yep that’s my husband’?
Hahaha, what doesn’t Miles do that leaves my tossing my arms up thinking “yep that’s my husband!”
BASE jumpers are notorious for their large egos. Do you ever find yourself needing to bring Miles back to earth and what is it that you can say or do that does that?
Welcome home, please scoop the poop and mow the lawn.
Ah, the glamorous life. No doubt Miles considers the poop scooping and lawn mowing a challenge and clocks himself to set personal best records. His best moment on any given day, “When I accomplish something and feel good about it. IE., a new trick, fastest garage leaning in the world, make a sweet bar-b-que dinner. Mostly the best moment is when the day is done, I like to relax and soak in the goodness that happened.”
Miles greatest strength as a jumper, “Quick reaction time coupled with serious mental training of identifying and reacting quickly to changing circumstances and situations. Also I’d have to say that I’ve seen a lot, by experience and watching game footage of others, so I’m good at identifying things as they begin to go bad and correct them quickly to stay on track and have the perfect landing or at least a nice one almost every time.”
CLG: What do you believe you have contributed to the sport of BASE?
MD: Well, I can’t say that I’ve contributed to the sport as a whole, but I’ve been trying my best to help give fixed object parachuters a good name. Trying to show the athleticism and training that goes into our jumps as well as the good judgment that helps provide good outcomes on jumps. I’ve had many opportunities to represent our “sport” in major media outlets. I really don’t like the attitude of “I’m a BASE bandit outlaw crazy guy” that some jumpers like to present, there is much more to who we are as individuals.”
His most bone headed BASE move? “Cut away from Shane’s rope I was swinging on to open up and immediately crash into a 100 foot tree by the river at Bridge Day”.
Whether Dorothy changes her mind about that pink princess parachute or not, one day she and her siblings are going to have wonderful stories to share about their Dad who flew off mountains, jumped out of planes, did back flips off bridges and loved every minute of his life to the fullest; even those times he was the ambassador of scooping the poop and mowing the lawn.
Name: Miles Daisher
Marital Status: Married to Nikki
Education: BA in Physical Education at Chico State University
Hometown: Twin Falls, Idaho
Year of First Skydive: 1995
Number of Skydives: 3947
Year of First BASE jump: 1997
Number of BASE jumps: 2872
Container: Infinity, BASER
Canopy: Spectre 120, Seven 240
BASE Number: 779
Nickname: Miles D
Five Quick and Quirky Questions
1. Is there anything you wouldn’t try in life?
I’m not into harming my body so I’ll have to say no tattoos or piercings for me.
2. What do you consider the ultimate “guy thing” to do?
Jack your truck up and put 42” inch tires on it. I want to do this so bad, but my wife doesn’t get it.
3. What is your greatest fear?
Being seriously injured where I couldn’t move ever again is my fear. That and I’m afraid of widths.
4. Do you have a hobby outside of sports?
Hmm, my hobbies are all athletic I think. Swimming, Camping, Gold, Biking, Skiing, Flying many different kinds of wings. I love to relax watching comedy movies. I also love stargazing and dreaming of flying. Bar-b-queing with my family and friends is always really fun too.
5. What will your epitaph read?
He lived his dream.