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A documentary is being filmed featuring the lives of three of Panama’s action sports dare-devils; skydiver Eloy Cruz, surfer Guy Saavedra and quad racer JanCarlo Salerno.
Having watched the filming of the skydiving episode on Isla Contadora, in Las Perlas, on December 1st, I was able to interview Eloy Cruz and ask him about how his life in skydiving began.
He said it all started when his father was introduced to skydiving by a group of skydiving American soldiers stationed in the Canal Zone in 1966. “One of the soldiers asked my dad if he wanted to jump, and he said yes, and the rest is history,” said Cruz.
My father was the first Panamanian skydiver and after many jumps he trained all the military parachuters in Panama,” said Cruz.
“When I was 25, I tried skydiving for the first time,” said Cruz. He is now 48 years old and, at the age of 40, he made the decision to make skydiving his profession. “I am following in my dad’s footsteps,” he said.
“I like to go fast. I like to fly what we call “lines” rather than landing in big open spaces. I try to fly on a line between houses or buildings, maybe landing between electric poles. It’s what we call ‘swooping’ . It’s not a ‘normal”’ way to skydive,” said Cruz.
Eloy’s illustrious career as a skydiving instructor for the military forces in several countries didn’t come easy, and it didn’t come without near death experiences.
Two years ago, Cruz was training military personnel in El Salvador. “After finishing instructing the skydivers, I asked the colonel, ‘Hey, can I make a jump for fun with the people from Costa Rica.’ They were flying the same “tracking dive” modality which I teach, where we fly about 180 mph.”
On that skydive, he suffered a near-fatal accident from which took him almost a year to recuperate. He says the accident was his fault. “It wasn’t the wind, it wasn’t the parachute, it wasn’t my approach that caused the accident, it was my overconfidence,” he admits.