All photos courtesy of Braden Dean and Suz Graham

EDGEtv Influencers, Braden Dean and Suz Graham, launched their first EDGEtv series this week, WINGING IT, which follows them on a wingsuit odyssey from their home in Canada to California training grounds, to the fjords of Norway and the fabled peaks of the Swiss and Italian Alps. Check it out on edgetv.com, Roku, AmazonFireTV, and AppleTV.

We caught up with the leapin’ lovebirds for a He Said/She Said Behind-the-Scenes Interview.

Braden

Suz

What do you hope to achieve with this series?
First of all I wanted to share what I do with my friends and family. Wingsuit BASE jumping is such a different sport (to me) than how it is usually portrayed on the internet, and I don’t think most people I know are aware of what I really do when I’m out doing my sport. The training, the travel, the people, how I assess risks and the reasons I choose to fly. I wanted to be able to share all of that.
I also wanted a creative outlet and this project has been a great educational experience for me to be able to learn about film making and story telling. I really feel like I grew my skill set through this experience and I’m looking forward to producing more content in the future.
I hope that by watching this series that people will be inspired to go explore the world, and step outside their comfort zone to try something new.
What do you hope to achieve with this series?
Winging It gave me a chance to flex my creative muscle by producing this series start-to-finish. It was a huge learning experience for Braden and I, and we were elated to have the opportunity to not only get to fly our wingsuits in these amazing places and have all these great experiences, but we also got to tell our story. I hope to give a little bit more perspective to the viewers into what is involved in doing the kinds of things we do, and the type of people we are. In a sport like ours (BASE jumping,) there is a certain stigma that’s attached to us that isn’t necessarily the case. I want people to see my side of it and at least get a little bit of understanding why I do what I do.
What has your dedication to wingsuit/adventure sports taught you about life?
Snowboarding, flying wingsuits and BASE jumping have taught me a lot about setting goals. I learned a lot about setting small, achievable goals that, when combined, allow you to reach a goal that is initially very intimidating. For example, when I first set the goal to fly a wingsuit off a cliff, I set about a dozen less intimidating, more attainable goals that I had to achieve on the way there. This made it a lot easier to see the path I had to take to make it happen. Achieving some of the goals I set for myself with wing suiting over the last few years has definitely made me more confident and less intimidated to set big goals in other areas of my life!
My journey has also taught me a lot about community and how important it is to really enjoy the moments you get to spend with people along the way. We have lost a lot of good friends over the years and enjoying the time you get to spend with people is very important.
What has your dedication to wingsuit/adventure sports taught you about life?
Wow, so many things. One of the biggest things I’ve learned is that I’m capable of anything. When I first discovered BASE jumping it seemed like something only superheroes did; it seemed completely out of reach for someone like myself. It had a huge appeal to me, but I had absolutely no idea how to get into it, what was involved, or anybody who did it. Still, something inside me kept looking, and through lots of research, tons and tons of baby steps, I got there and surpassed everything I could have even imagined for myself.
The biggest take away for me is that anything is possible if you break it down into small enough steps. For example: nobody starts BASE jumping by just one day going and jumping a wingsuit off a cliff. It’s a series of baby steps that takes years and years. When done properly, there should never be a single point where you don’t feel totally prepared and confident about what you are about to do next. It’s a perfect analogy for life. When something seems overwhelming, even if it’s the weekends’ to-do list, breaking it down into small pieces makes it much more manageable.
Any “hangry” moments on your journey?  Any advice for other adventurers out there on the road?
Haha! Guilty! I am not good about reminding myself to eat until it’s too late! Suz is pretty much in charge of making sure I eat enough when we travel. I get really excited and in the zone and don’t like taking breaks from hiking, jumping and packing and I start to get irritable. I try to carry a mix of portable high protein snacks now to keep going. Mostly Devour beef jerky and granola bars! Apparently the trick is to snack before you feel hungry.
Any “hangry” moments on your journey?  Any advice for other adventurers out there on the road?
Oooooh yeah. We sure get it done, but sometimes it’s not  exactly the smoothest, or the prettiest. We should almost have a separate reality TV series on just “the making of.” Braden and I both have our own kryptonite. His is going too long without food, and mine is not getting enough sleep. If we can keep both of those in check, we work great, but if one goes awry (heaven forbid, both,) we’re screwed.
The one that comes to mind for me specifically is when we arrived in Stavanger after a long couple days of travel – my sleep-meter was running really low. We get to the ferry station the night before to get our tickets for the ferry in the morning to get to Lysebotn (where we will be setting up camp for a couple weeks) and I realize that I had the schedule wrong and there actually isn’t one that day at all- and the options were looking grim for getting there on time at all. I was so tired and getting so frustrated, everything compounded and felt too overwhelming to deal with, I broke out into tears in the middle of the cold Norwegian ferry station and just started sobbing. Looking back, it wasn’t really that big of a problem. Sure, it took some figuring out, but nothing I can’t handle.

Braden

Suz

How is your experience as a couple different from other, solo, wingsuit professionals?
Having a team mate with you who is looking out for you is a huge support in such a high risk activity. Suz knows exactly how I fly, and what my strengths and weaknesses are and vice versa. Suz can tell when I’m too nervous to perform at 100% or when my head isn’t totally in the game and I can do the same for her. This lets us have a lot of conversations about assessing the risks involved with each jump that we do. I think having a jumping partner that I am so close with makes us both safer jumpers.
Also, travel is a lot less tiring when you’re not alone. Both of us can focus on solving different problems that come tend to come up when you’re traveling on such a loose schedule and following the weather!
How is your experience as a couple different from other, solo, wingsuit professionals?
Having a partner out there with you means you always have someone looking out for you, someone to bounce ideas off of, someone to put you back in line if you need it, and someone to give you emotional support and guidance when you need it. There’s a reason why this community is so close-knit, not only are there not very many of us, but we can relate to each other in ways that most people just can’t. Having a partner that also understands what can be a very complex, and emotional, sport, is important to me.
It comes with it’s own set of problems though, having a partner do these same things comes with extra worry and stress, and someone else to be constantly looking out for instead of just yourself. But it’s all worth it, being able to share these very significant life experiences with a partner though is something I cherish deeply.
How was your experience with flyers from other countries? Common language?
Meeting new people and learning from their experiences is one of the things I like most about BASE jumping. The sport is growing fast, but it’s still very small compared to snowboarding and other adventure/action sports. This means that it isn’t very cliquey and when you meet another jumper you always say hi, and usually end up sharing a hike or a flight with them!
Although we don’t always speak the same language as other jumpers, we share a very strong passion for something unique and sometimes you feel like you have had a pretty in-depth conversation with someone after sharing a couple nervous smiles at the top and a high five at the bottom!
How was your experience with flyers from other countries? Common language?
Another amazing thing about our sport is the community we have all around the world. I have good friends from so many different places, in so many different walks of life, because of BASE jumping that I would never normally get to meet. The diversity in this sport is crazy, and when you share a BASE jump with someone you instantly have a bond with that person that surpasses any kind of language barrier or otherwise.
What’s next for the dynamic duo!?
Lots is on the horizon! We touch on it briefly at the end of Episode 5 (so check it out), but you’ll have to stay tuned and follow us on our social media…
What’s next for the dynamic duo!?
We’re both in full-on ski/snowboard season at the moment where we’ve been doing a bit of filming for a ski/snowboard film by Whistler Blackcomb, and working on some other projects we have on the go. So when we aren’t riding, we are scheming for our next adventure in this crazy thing we call life!

Love is in the Air

About The Author
- Jeff McElroy is a Ventura and Mammoth Lakes-based writer. His surf/coast-inspired short story collections, CALIFORNIOS and CALIFORNIOS 2 have received awards and accolades within the boardsport and literary communities. He writes about adventure athletes and the wild places for EDGEtv Network. When he's not writing, he's surfing, backpacking, snowboarding, and trail-running with his wife and Jack Russell Terrier.

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