Arizona Airspeed began in 1994 when Jack Jefferies, Mark Kirkby, Kirk Verner, Dan BC and John Lemming (video) joined forces with Larry and Lil Hill of Skydive Arizona to start a new professional 4-way skydiving team. The team went on to dominate the 4-way event in every National and World skydiving competition for 5 years in a row.
What Airspeed started in 1994 has now become an ever evolving skydiving project, changing members from year to year but continuing the foundation of training and competing techniques developed by the original team. Airspeed is not only a competition team but it also works hard to share what it has learned over thousands of jumps with the rest of the skydiving community.
In 1996, Airspeed teamed up with Arizona Vortex and expanded it's focus to attempt what no other team had ever accomplished; winning both the 4-way and 8-way events at a World Meet. After losing the 8-way U.S. Team slot to the Golden Knights by 2 points in 1996, only the 4-way would go on to compete and win at the 1997 World Meet. Once again Airspeed would train for both the 4-way and 8-way event in hopes of competing in both at the 1999 World Meet, this time Airspeed beat the Golden Knights by 9 points in 8-way winning both the 4-way and 8-way U.S. Team slot for the 1999 World Meet. After a long battle Airspeed won the 8-way event and took second in 4-way. The team would try again at the 2001 World Meet having won both events at the 2000 Nationals, this time winning the 4-way and taking second in 8-way.
During the 2002 US Nationals in Ottawa, IL, Airspeed came in second in the 4-way event losing to the Golden Knights, but winning the 8-way event. This win named Airspeed as the US 8-way team who would compete in the 2003 World Meet in Gap, France. During this competition, Russia and the US battled through the meet, ending up being tied after 11 rounds. In the end, Russia won this meet since they scored the most points in a single round.
The 8-way competition at the 2004 World Meet in Rejika, Croatia was another great battle. The meet would only go for 9 rounds due to the weather and the competition with the Russians and French was close. But the meet was called after 9 rounds and Airspeed won the 8-way event. Once again the Ottley Sword comes home!
In 2006, Arizona Airspeed went to Gera, Germany to defend its 8-way title at the World Meet. The competition was plagued by weather and only 6 of the scheduled 10 rounds were completed. In the end, the French edged Airspeed by 4 points to take the title.
As a replacement for Brian Johnson, Mark Kirkby returned to the Airspeed project beginning with the 2007 season. Along with Eliana Rodriguez, Craig Girard, Andy Delk, and Steve Nowak flying video, the team then turned its focus to the 4-way event once more. Airspeed embarked on its unprecedented winning streak of 22 victories, that spanned more than three years, which included its 2008 4-way World Championship. The streak broken only in the wind tunnel in the Spring of 2010. The final competition for 2010 marked a high point of elite competition for the 4-way World Championships, France prevailed in a dramatic battle, ending with Airspeed attaining its record average of 27.4 points.
Beginning in 2011, 5 new members joined Mark Kirkby to carry on the Airspeed tradition of winning...Thomas Hughes, Josh Hall, Niklas Hemlin and Bill Schmitz flying camera with Nick Grillet training as an alternate. This team posted more impressive wins culminating in winning the World Championship in Dubai in December 2012. After a very closely contested 4-way open meet that came down to the last second of the final round, the U.S. team edged out Belgium and France to claim the top spot and bring home the coveted William Ottley Sword.
Airspeed is once again focusing on the 4-way event. Beginning in 2015, Airspeed consists of Niklas Hemlin, Thomas Hughes, Chris Farina and Thiago Gomes with Justin Price flying camera.