AXIS Decennial at Skydive AZ!

November 2020 marks AXIS Flight School‘s 10 year anniversary at Skydive Arizona!


In celebration of our ‘tin anniversary‘, we reflect on some of our favorite highlights and exploits over the past decade and give thanks to our Students, Sponsors, Team Mates, and Skydive Arizona. Without you, we would not be living the dream.

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AXIS Flight School® Sponsors

We also want to give a special shout out to the various skydiving magazines who have spent many hours editing and publishing our work with the community.

Here is to the next 10 years of Awesomeness!

November 2010AXIS Flight School® sets up shop at Skydive Arizona.

April 2011 – AXIS published its first Foundations of Flight article in Parachutist Magazine.

July 2011 – Nik performs his first canopy burn for the music video 4 years by Kid Savant.

September 2011 – AXIS organizes at MOAB.

October 2011 – Nik makes an appearance in the ESPN Body issue with his team mates on Arizona Arsenal.

March 2012 – Nik wins the 10th Annual Freefly Money Meet.

April 2012 – AXIS coaches and organizes at the Skydive Expo in Deland Florida.

May 2012 – AXIS offers canopy flocking courses at Skydive Arizona.

August 2012 – AXIS coaches and organizes in Europe during the summer. Several more trips follow in the future.

June 2013 – AXIS trains the first Operation Enduring Warrior AFF student Todd Love. Many more wounded veterans join the program to receive their USPA A-License and go beyond.

July 2013 – AXIS releases its first version of a free online DrawGenerator for formation skydiving disciplines. More performance tools are added over the years.

September 2013 – AXIS Flight School’s swoop and slide footage airs on VH1’s 40 greatest viral videos.

September 2013 – Nik wins his first US National title in 4-way VFS while on Arizona Arsenal.

December 2013 – Nik is the primary videographer for the Women’s Vertical World Record 63-way over Skydive Arizona.

December 2013 – Nik performs “The Huckleberry”.

February 2014 – AXIS jumps with Cory Remsburg during the Tee it up for the Troops golf outing in Scottsdale, Arizona.

June 2014 – AXIS skydiving video is featured on the TV show Jeopardy.

September 2014 – Nik wins silver at the 21st FAI World Formation Skydiving Championships in 4-way VFS while on Arizona Arsenal.

September 2014 – Nik wins his second US National title in 4-way VFS while on Arizona Arsenal.

September 2014 Arizona X-FORCE competes at its first USPA Nationals at Skydive Chicago. The team went on to compete and medal (2 silver, 3 bronze) at five consecutive USPA Nationals, in addition to medaling at several indoor skydiving competitions (bronze at USIS). AZ X-FORCE participated in two FAI World Cups, earning bronze in 2019. Peak performances for outdoor included: 17.8 average, 24points single highest scoring round. Peak performances for indoor included: 26.1 average, 46points single highest scoring round.

March 2015 Brianne receives the Chesley H. Judy USPA Safety Award.

March 2015 – AXIS Swoop ‘N Slide video footage is featured on GoPro, and is featured on 60minutes.

March 2015 – AXIS releases YouTube video “A Case of the Mondays”.

July 2015 – Nik captures epic video footage with a RED camera for Rockhouse Motion.

September 2015 – Ben Lowe joins AXIS Flight School under the label X-Ratings to offer rating courses.

October 2015 – Arizona X-FORCE takes 3rd at the USPA Nationals.

November 2015 Brianne’s burning parachute jump video goes viral, reaching more than 1M views.

April 2016 PD’s the Dream of Flight campaign.

April 2016 First 3-way XRW night jump over Skydive Arizona.

May 2016 Performance Designs releases the one-year anniversary Valkyrie ad featuring Brianne swooping her canopy through a wall of fire.

August 2016 – Brianne receives the USPA Regional Achievement Award for her involvement in Operation Enduring Warrior.

October 2016 – Arizona X-FORCE takes 3rd at the USPA Nationals.

December 2016 – Skydive Mag publishes Nik’s Body-flight Theory paper in four installments.

February 2017 – Nik’s aerial photography is featured on FOX 10 News.

March 2017 – Nik receives the Chesley H. Judy USPA Safety Award.

April 2017 – AXIS installs a personal weather station as Skydive Arizona and broadcast info online for locals.

April 2017 – AXIS coaches placed 3rd with their player coach team X-Defy at the iFly Virginia Beach Indoor Nationals in 4-way Formation Skydiving.

August 2017 – Arizona X-FORCE takes 4th at the 21st FAI World Cup in Germany.

September 2017 – Arizona X-FORCE takes 2nd at the USPA Nationals.

September 2017 – Brianne sets World Female Performance Record, as well as North American Female Competition and Performance Records in Speed Skydiving.

February 2018 – Brianne and Nik receive their pilots license (ASEL).

March 2018 – AXIS collaborates with the IBA to produce video tutorials.

March 2018 – Nik receives his IBA Trainer Level 4 sign off.

September 2018 – Arizona X-FORCE takes 2nd at the USPA Nationals.

January 2019 – Arizona X-FORCE takes 3rd at the USIS Nationals.

July 2019 – AXIS published its 100th Foundations of Flight in Parachutist Magazine.

August 2019 – AXIS introduces its Merit System.

September 2019 – Arizona X-FORCE takes 2nd at the USPA Nationals.

October 2019 – Brianne is the first American to medal in FS and VFS at the same World level competition.

October 2019 – Arizona X-FORCE takes 3rd at the 22nd FAI World Cup in Eloy.

December 2019 – AXIS collaborates with Good Goblin Games to produce the AXIS Skydiving App.

September 2020 – AXIS hosts its first Crucible Indoor Tournament.

October 2020 – AXIS builds a home studio to produce high quality educational videos.

November 2020 – AXIS continues to support the OEW Skydiving project.

AXIS Flight School – Dream of Flight

Reposted from the PD Blog

When you meet Nik Daniel and Brianne Thompson, the first thing you notice is their energy, passion, and boundless enthusiasm for the sport of skydiving.  These two founding members of AXIS Flight School seem like they are perpetually running between coaching, competing, tunnel flying, training, and fun jumping at their home dropzone Skydive Arizona.

AXIS-SEPIA But no matter how busy they are, Nik and Brianne can always be found with big smiles and high fives all around. They love what they do and they’re good at it – just two of the many reasons we featured AXIS Flight School in this month’s Dream of Flight ad.

Nik and Brianne both started skydiving early in life, a time when they had – like many of us when we first started jumping – big dreams and small bank accounts. Brianne spent her high school graduation money on AFF, while Nik took months to get through AFF due to financial constraints. But each was persistent, putting every spare minute and dollar into jumping and tunnel flying.

Brianne started developing her 4-way FS skills early on in her jumping career, joining her first team in 2001 at just 75 jumps. Nik, on the other hand, caught his break when he discovered tunnel flying in 2005. “Right after I graduated AFF, I won a five minute gift certificate for the wind tunnel,” he said. “After that, I would go there every day, sit in front of the glass, and stare at people fly. It came to the point where I realized ‘This place makes me happy.’” Just a couple of weeks later, he applied for an instructor position and started his career in skydiving.

Brianne met Nik while she was coaching a student in the Perris tunnel. “[Nik] was supposed to be driving and paying attention to the student, but he was staring at me the whole time.” They immediately became friends and soon after that Nik was invited to shoot video for Brianne’s FS team NIK-PARACHUTIST-COVERSpaceland Blue, a team that went on to medal in both the 2008 and 2010 World Championships.

Though they loved competition, Nik and Brianne felt that something was missing from the skydiving community. They would often chat about the rift in the sport between jumpers in different disciplines. “We didn’t like that people didn’t like tunnel instructors, belly flyers didn’t like freeflyers, and freeflyers didn’t like belly flyers,” said Brianne. “But really, it’s all the same! It’s just pushing air around!” They wanted to see a fundamental shift in the community where skydivers could come together instead of drawing lines in the sand between disciplines and skill level. And with that, the idea of AXIS Flight School was born.

“AXIS Flight School is meant to be an appreciation of all body flight,” says Nik. “We want our students to be well-rounded skydivers with all axes of flight – whether it’s body flight or canopy flight. Above all, we want jumpers to have respect for other disciplines in the sport.”

Since its founding, AXIS Flight School has continued to grow. What started out of the trunk of a car in 2010 is now the official coaching entity at Skydive Arizona, one of the largest dropzones in the world. And their success hasn’t stopped there. Even if you have never met them, you might recognize Nik and Brianne from the Foundations of Flight section of Parachutist or from their various features in skydiving magazines all over the world. But no matter where their dedication and talent take them, they are never “too good” to talk to the new jumper at their dropzone – in fact, that actively fight against what some might call the “elitist” culture in skydiving.

“I’ve seen jumpers and coaches that won’t waste their time on you unless you already have a certain skill set,” says Nik. “But you can’t get to that skill set unless someone teaches you! Just because you have 60 jumps doesn’t mean you’re garbage.”

While AXIS Flight School mostly focus on the “after A-license, what’s next?” demographic, their inclusive attitude towards coaching has led them to work with an amazingly diverse group of jumpers.  From coaching a student that took over 40 jumps to get through AFF, to working with Todd Love and Operation Enduring Warrior, Nik and Brianne are always finding ways to adapt their coaching to individual students’ needs. “We refuse to give anyone the bowling speech,” Brianne says. “There is a big difference between inexperience and inability. The next person walking through our door could be a future world champion, and that’s really cool! We learned a long time ago that we are not capable of judging someone else’s potential.” BRIANNE-MERVEHAT

We learned a long time ago that we are not capable of judging someone else’s potential.

While coaching remains their focus, Nik and Brianne are always pushing themselves to learn and grow within the sport. In 2013-2014 Nik competed as an inside flyer for Arizona Arsenal, placing first at two US Nationals, and placing 2nd at the world championships in Prosteyov, Czech Republic. Nowadays, they both compete on the VFS team Arizona X-Force as well as the 2-way MFS team Machete Squad. They also regularly compete as player coaches at USPA Nationals as part of AXIS X-pansion Project. “We are still trying to expand on our own knowledge and skills,” says Nik. “We still get coaching ourselves. We’re trying to get people excited about the learning process as we are trying to learn as well.”

In the last year AXIS Flight School has also expanded to offer USPA rating courses as part of its X-Ratings program. Ben Lowe was brought on to to be the head I/E who works with jumpers wanting to become instructors in the sport. It seems like this is just the beginning of a very successful journey for AXIS Flight School.

We are very excited for everyone to see Nik and Brianne’s Dream of Flight (hint: this ad is on fire!). In the meantime, if you want to learn more about AXIS Flight School, be sure to check out their website, which has tons of great resources including access to the Foundations of Flight articles and a great Draw Generator for a range of disciplines.