• originalbirdman

Blue Skies, Black Death 

Updated: Oct 30


Carl ’Charlie’ Laurin   1935 - 2020, one of the pioneering birdmen, slept away peacefully last Sunday 25.10.2020 in his own home.  I  bet it came to him as a huge surprise that he left this world his shoes off, but I will never know. 

Carl & Jari @ Skydive DeLand around 2001.



Carl was not just any pioneering birdman but one of those caterpillar guys from the barnstorming days.  He was also an author of a book D.B. Cooper and Me and my ’American father’ as I liked to call him since he was about the same age my father would had been if he was alive.  I got to meet Carl back in 2001 in DeLand Florida where he lived.



Me with Carl in Helsinki, Finland 2007.



We were introduced by a journalist Michael Abrams, who at the time was writing my story to Forbes magazine. I had just introduced the first commercially available wingsuit in the world couple of years earlier and Michael wanted to tie that story with those guys who experimented with wingsuits before me.  We had amazing four days with Michael and Carl and the result was not only the article in Forbes but also Michaels book which followed a few years later called ”Birdmen, Batmen and Skyflyers”, plus a life long friendship. 



Walter Reca a.k.a. D.B. Cooper inspecting Carls batwing sometime in 1950's.

Through Carl I met his old parachuting team from Michigan. They were the wild punch from early days of air circus and they had lived the life I was living in those days so we understood eachother like brothers despite our generational age difference. One of those guys I styed in touch with until the end was alleged D.P. Cooper a.k.a. Walter Reca, a big guy with huge heart and the story, which Carl wrote down with Walts permission and published it after his passing. That was the deal. 




Carl was a skydiver, birdman, pilot, builder, husband and father. He was one of the very few people who helped me in times of great trouble and stood by what is right.  To act what's right is an extremely rare quality in men and I hail Carl for not loosing that quality over time. I do believe that very quality actually helped him live such a full, long and interesting life.  

When someone dies in skydiver community we use a saying "Blue Skies, Black Death ”.  I do not know the origin of that proverb but to me it’s a farewell or a transit to Wallhalla, from blue to black. 

My condolences and thoughts are with Carl’s family & friends.  

Fly free my friend, 


Jari 




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