As a writer in the niche-y little category of airsports, I'm often asked to write biographies. I love it. I've never been much of a small-talker, and bio-writing gives me the chance to ask deep questions almost immediately after the initial howdy-do.
That means that, more often than not, I'm afforded a peek into the deep bios of the friends and athletes around me without ever having to stand cow-eyed around a living room watching people act themselves out with drinks in their hands. It doesn't always mean that I end up with legitimate affection for my interviewee, but it does point to "good egg" or "bad egg" with remarkable swiftness, saving me some time and trouble.
Neil Amonson was one of the folks I met this way. When he was a GoPro Bomb Squad member, I wrote up his bio for the internet. I liked him instantly. In just a few minutes, it became evident that Neil is, definitively, a good egg.
Straightforward, humble, open-hearted and generous, he immediately puts the world around him at ease. As capably as he strides through the world, he never uses his impressive CV as a weapon. He just leads by example, inclusively and kindly, never insisting on the ever-growing screed of badassery that waves over him like a banner. The badassery speaks for itself. He doesn't have to point at it--and I doubt that it ever occurs to him to point at it, anyway.
It was a joy and an honor to share the sky in Utah with Neil for his charity project, Jump For Joy. I had done plenty of demo jumpin' with a BASE system, but having the opportunity to huck what was essentially a fun jump from a King Air and land in front of a field full of screaming, happy kids at an elementary school was a bucket-list item duly checked.
Utah, complete--Netterz, smiling like a doof for days.
It's my fond hope that at least one of those kids looks at the sky a little differently now...and I bet it's a hope fulfilled.