Derek Thomas Abernathy

Derek Thomas Abernathy

The first thing you notice about Derek when you meet him is that he is hilarious. It’s hard for his students to stay nervous about their jump when they’re laughing so hard! He’s a musician, too--and he has a tiny furry wingsuit coach as a pet.

1. Age:


2. Birthplace:

Pueblo, Colorado

3. Occupation:

Gravity Research Specialist (a.k.a. Skydiver)

4. Total Number of Jumps:


5. Skydiving Philosophy:

What goes up must come down!

6. USPA Licenses and Ratings:

D license Coach Rating and Tandem Instruction Rating

7. How (and where) did you start skydiving?

I made my first skydive on my 18th birthday in Colorado at Skydive Colorado, and was instantly hooked. Two days after my tandem, I was in class learning how to do it on my own. Ever since I started skydiving, the sport has taken over my life--and I wouldn't want to be doing anything else.

8. Of all of your skydives, is there one that stands out most?

On one (non-tandem!) fun jump, I stuffed my parachute into a trash bag and chucked it away from me after I exited the plane. It opened just fine. It taught me that parachutes really like to open!

9. What's the most amazing thing you can do in the air?

Well...I think that would come down to clearing out my sinuses or eating breakfast on the way down. I can do both.

10. What kind of skydiving student were you?

I was a very eager student who wanted to be in the air as much as possible. I was always very nervous at first, but that was the best part of being a student for me--because I would always have the biggest adrenaline rush once I hit the ground, and that rush would make me want to get right back into the plane.

11. Do you have any suggestions for students?

Don't screw it up.

Haha, just kidding! ;)

I would say to just stay relaxed and have a great time! Your first skydive is one you will never forget, and we’ll take great care of you.

12. What makes a great skydiver?

A great skydiver is someone who can always continue to grow and to learn and take advice from more experienced skydivers. It is also important to learn your personal limits and not to try to rush into something you aren't ready for. Stay current, never stop learning and keep at it. Over time, your skills will improve.

13. Pet Peeves:

Landing in airplanes! (It freaks me out when I have to land in the plane.) Also: underwear that rides up. Wedgies are the worst. I also don't like when people drive too slow in the left lane.

14. Hobbies:

I love music. I play drums and guitar and I like to record my own songs. I also like anything outdoors, --including skydiving, of course. I love to mountain bike, go camping, go disc golfing, and play with my pet flying squirrel, Peanut.

Peanut is a southern flying squirrel. He is 3 years old. He likes to sleep in my sweatshirt and hide nuts all around the house. Sometimes he even likes to give me tips on flying wing suits when he glides from the top shelf on to me from the other side of the room.

Request him when you call us to book your tandem skydive at Piedmont.

Best experience of my life! Had an amazing time and couldn't ask for a better staff. Can't wait to get back to Piedmont Skydiving and jump again! Instructor Scott made the experience even better with his enthusiasm and sense of humor! I would recommend the Piedmont Skydiving team to anyone willing to jump out of a functioning airplane!

» Sean Molloy