One Hundred and ONE Things to do with a Helicopter

  • Jul 1, 2015 7:38pm GMT

This video ranks up at the top of my list of "Most Awesome Things I've Ever Seen."

For the uninitiated, Bob Burnquist is a professional skateboarder from Brazil currently living in America. He is an X Games (basically the Olympics for extreme sports) Skateboarding Champion consistently winning medals (usually golds) almost every year dating back to 1997. He is a revolutionary, bringing skateboarding together with aviation in what is unquestionably another facet of extreme sports. From the early days of the Zephyr skateboards "Z-Boys" in the 1970's, to Powell Peralta's "Bones Brigade" (Tony Hawk) in the 1980s, and Danny Way's use of a Bell 206 for the ‘first-ever' helicopter-drop-in to a halfpipe in 1997, skateboarders like Burnquist having been pushing the edge of their sports' envelope for over forty years.

Clearly skateboarding has been a successful pursuit for Bob as the “Dreamland: A Backyard Progression” video takes place at his extreme sports complex (aka. “home”) in Southern California. Depending on how you count them, two to four massive skateboarding ramps are arrayed across his sprawling, multi-acre property in San Diego's North County. Interwoven with his skateboarding career, Bob has also managed to raise a family, and start an organic farm. He has also been a general aviation pilot since the early 2000s, and frequently beats SoCal traffic by taking his helicopter between home and commitments in Los Angeles. As demonstrated in the video, Bob is also an experienced skydiver and is probably the only parachute enthusiast that boards his jump aircraft after it’s airborne. (Technique only)

The entire video is fantastic as, even before the helicopters appear it’s evident that Bob, who is part gymnast, mutant-acrobat, bird of prey, and all around badass does his best work hurtling through the air, and the transitions between skating and flight - backing up the truism, “it’s not the fall that kills you, it’s the sudden stop at the bottom.” Watching him land an aerial trick over the gap of the mega ramp, you can see how he probably makes a very good pilot, from the perspective of landings. He does more fine adjustments with his feet positioning on the board, modifying his center of gravity immediately prior to and just after his wheels make contact that it seems time might just slow down for him. He touches down so lightly that even when the skateboard hasn’t completed the necessary rotation he can compensate the ‘short’ by absorbing the landing impact in his ankles and knees, and sliding his wheels around as a follow-through before the skateboard bears his full weight. Crabbing through crosswind, sensing the ground effect, and knowing when and how much to flair (the airplane) seems like a cake walk compared to touching down after jumping the gap and setting up for the monster 20-plus foot quarter pipe. Is it alright to say that I am personally envious of Bob Burnquist’s vestibular system and coordination? I bet he has a magnificent set of otolithic organs!