• Let’s Get Personal With Wingsuit Wizard Luke Rogers

    Wednesday 19 December 2018, by Cookie

    A native of the East Coast of Australia, “muscle-bro” Luke Rogers quit his job in 2016 and moved to the USA to full-on pursue his passion of wingsuiting. By the time that year was over, he’d racked up more than a thousand jumps and leapt out into the wingsuit comp circuit. (Sure got our attention!) As well as podium-hopping wheresoever the big wingsuit medals are distributed, Luke currently spends his time traveling between the USA and Australia to train and compete. Not only is he a passionate athlete and teacher, he’s a charmer, with a smiling good nature that’s nearly as big as his biceps. (Which are huge.)

    Cookie: Where did you grow up? What was your childhood like?

    Luke: I grew up in Logan, a slightly renowned ghetto in Brisbane, Australia. My childhood was very active! We were always outside, playing in the yard or riding our pushies [translation: bicycles] in the streets or the BMX track. I remember we used to holiday a lot with a few other families with kids all the same age, so we had a pack of at least eight of us running absolutely amok for a week. It was like a crazy school camp where the teachers could flog ya if you messed up. Good times.

    C: When and how did you start skydiving?

    L: I started skydiving in January 2014. I was doing a lot of bodybuilding back then. My mate, who was also a fellow bodybuilder at the time, started skydiving. I remember seeing his pictures of him jumping out of a plane and wishing it was me. So I contacted him and he put me onto Skydive Ramblers, our local skydiving club, and here I am now.

    Luke Rogers wingsuit photo by John CotneyC: When did you decide you were going to dedicate your life to the sport?

    L: That was in 2016. I quit my job, bought an unlimited jump package at Skydive Spaceland that lasted from January to December, packed up my gear and flew to the USA on a year-long holiday. I lived out of a canvas teepee. All I did for the year was wake up, eat breakfast, skydive, eat dinner and sleep. It was an absolute pleasure. I really think it is going to be hard to ever beat that year, but I am going to try.

    C: What sets you apart as a skydiver?

    L: My background in bodybuilding gave me the chance to learn great discipline, both physically and mentally. I feel that gives me an advantage over less disciplined people when it comes to training and handling the pressures of skydiving competition.

    C: What other work do you do? Do you enjoy it?

    L: My work varies depending on what contracts are available in-between competitions. I either work as a senior geotechnician, a rookie rope access technician, a pipe fitter and -- more recently -- a wingsuit coach (which, by far, I enjoy the most). By late 2018, I hope to make the transition to full-time wingsuit coach.

    C: Aside from kicking ass in a wingsuit, what different things do you do/have you done in skydiving?

    L: I did the traditional progression -- from belly -- and got all my foundations solid before moving into tracking and eventually into wingsuiting. In 2016, just before I hit Spaceland for that unlimited package, I did six hours of tunnel in Utah, and it changed everything for me. It impressed on me the importance of becoming a well-rounded flyer, as freefly converts well to wingsuiting and every other discipline, too. So -- if you’re reading this and you can afford to get some tunnel time, do it!

    C: What's the best jump you've ever been on?

    L: I don't have a "best jump.” That said, I do love getting on peoples’ big celebratory jumps -- 100, 200, 500, 6,000 -- 

    because the stoke is so high. What I enjoy most is the people that I meet and the friendships that I make. Without them, even the best technical jumps would be boring.

    C: What's the worst jump you've ever been on?

    L: I had a chop on a wingsuit jump and lost everything in an alligator-infested swamp at Spaceland Houston. I think the canopy had 50 jumps on it. I just watched it float away in the sky, never to be seen again.

    C: What's the last major goal you accomplished in skydiving? What did it feel like to get it done?

    L: The last major goal I accomplished was securing the Australian national title for Wingsuit Performance for the second year in a row. I hope to make that three in a row next year! It felt amazing, but I was at the same time aware of how hard I need to still keep working. My mate (and current Wingsuit Performance World Champion) Chris Geiler was competing as a guest and set the standard yet again, with me nipping at his heels.

    C: What are your goals for the next couple of seasons?

    L: Ideally, I want to stay on top here in Australia and continue to be the top Australian wingsuit performance pilot. I also want to get on the podium for the World Championships -- and the World Cup -- and in between all that, do coaching and training full-time, sharing my knowledge and increasing the skill levels of other wingsuit pilots while chasing the summers between Australia and the USA. 

    LUKE'S COOKIE:

    1. Cookie Model? G3!

    2. Color? BLACK!

    3. Best sticker on the helmet? It's actually a #holdhandsflyfast sticker that's placed upside-down on the visor of my G3. My mate made a bunch of them in 2016 and it reminds me of the epic year we shared together on that jump package!

    4. Best jump the helmet has been on? A bunch of us did some head-down sequentials together in Spaceland. It was the most technical flying I have done to date with some of my best friends.

    5. Special logo on the aluminum side plate? A team "Elevon" logo I created for an artistic wingsuit team that never fully eventuated.

    6. Time you were happy that you were wearing your helmet? When I was coming in hot, downwind, at the Wingsuit World Cup in Vegas at Skydive Fyrosity. At the time it was a gravel landing area, and I pretty much came in sliding on my face. Thanks for the G3, Cookie!

    Photo credit (from top to bottom): Luke Rogers, John Cotney, Luke Rogers