Interview Rich Cotton – June 2015

Monday, June 1, 2015

Rich Cotton has to be one of the friendliest load organising scientists you could ever hope to meet. Skydiving only since 2009, he was quickly made the journey from beginner, to full-time profession in the world of skydiving. Read his story here:

When did you start jumping and why?

I did my Static line ground school in November 2009 with York University, as a “lets try something new” kind of thing. Bad weather meant I didn’t do my first jump until February, but by that time I was already a regular in the bar and I vividly remember telling my friends I loved skydiving, even before having jumped. Later that year, I got the chance to switch to AFF and did my level 1 with Noel (Chief Instructor) and Sally (AFF instructor) that summer.

I now have 800 jumps and been lucky enough to jump all over the UK and Europe meeting some amazing people along the way.

What made you decide to follow the Formation Skydiving route as opposed to Artistics?

It’s all about the people. Formation Skydiving gets you jumping with your friends sooner that any other discipline and that was always the big draw for me. I remember my first 8 way looking through a formation with all of my mates in the sky with me, amazing. I’ve tried Freefly and Wingsuiting too and would love to do more of both in the future.

When did you become an FS coach and why do you like it?

I started coaching two years ago after a really good year of 4 way with my team TR4CK. I love introducing people to the world of skydiving with other people and they can be really fun, if not always easy, jumps as well.

I’ve been really lucky to have had some great coaches during my jumping career so far – especially Stu Ferguson, Simon Catherine and Milko. I hope to be able to teach as well as they do some time in the future.

Before you started working for Skydive Hibaldstow, what did you used to do and how did you become involved full-time?

After leaving university with 200 jumps and a degree in Physics, definitely in that order, I started work as a secondary school teacher. My teacher training year was pretty hectic anyway and added to this I was training hard with TR4CK including our first oversees training camp. We won the nationals that year, and I just about passed teacher training. I did a second year as a teacher before deciding I needed to focus on one area or another and skydiving won.

I’d been working at Hibaldstow on and off while at univeristy as a packer, barman or bus driver, whatever was needed; so it felt like going home when I asked James for a full time role.

What are your hopes and aspirations in your new job?

When I made the choice to “cut away”, I knew I wanted to do more in than just a little bit of coaching at the weekends. At the moment I am coaching and organizing midweek, and can often be heard on the tanoy manifesting too.

I completed my instructor course for Static line last month and will be doing tandems from June hopefully too. I’d like to start doing AFF soon and really want to be a multi-rated instructor next year whilst at the same time continuing to compete, coach and organise FS. I don’t want much!


When you are not load organising or coaching, you are?

This is the first year I haven’t done some serious 4 way training and it is killing me! I can’t wait to do some more 4-way and 8-way, especially looking forward to getting into AAA next year. I’ve been really lucky to start coaching and flying more with the Hibaldstow tunnel camps with Rob Spour (our Chief Instructor), and any days off left after that are normally spent out in the hills when I can.

Lastly, do you have any funny stories to tell?

Over the years I’ve done a few things, in and out of the bar, which I’d rather were left to the history books. My favorite story to date still has to be when I was on the plane to altitude on my level 1. When asked if I was ready to skydive by my instructors, somebody who shall remain nameless had suggested I asked them if they were ******* ready, to which I got a resounding no.

The rest of my bloopers can be seen at Hibaldstow on any rainy weekend when videos of my skydiving exploits always seem to come round again and again. 

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