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Up Close & Personal

name: Michel Lemay

email: milemay@yahoo.com

age: 65

education: College, Commercial Pilot

family & marital staus: Married and divorced, both successfully. Three kids: Martin, Vincent, Benoit

number of jumps: 16,400

years in Sport: 45

teams: Osmose (1983), Vertical 8 (1997), Evolution (since 2003)

slot(s): Center Inside

favorite competition: World Meet 2010 in Menzelinsk, Russia

funniest moment in skydiving: Jumping as Santa Claus, landing in a shopping center parking lot and seeing a bunch a kids being unleashed after I touched ground. They all ran towards me and stepped on my brand new canopy with dirty boots :)

skydiving mentor(s): Many Airspeed members throughout time, with Craig Girard on top of the list for the amazing coaching job training the kids from an early age. Shannon Pilcher for great achievements in different disciplines...but mostly for who he is as a human being. B.J.

hobbies: Flying, Traveling, Biking

favorite book(s): I should read more

favorite music: Soft Music

favorite movie(s): Toy Story - Watched it over 100 times with the kids

favorite place: Asia

Where will you be ten years from now? Still skydiving - Still enjoying 4way - Still happy

best kept secret: I cannot believe I am getting paid to be a skydiving instructor and a tandem master

favorite quote:

"Find a solution to make it happen - as opposed to a reason not to..."

Michel Lemay Michel Lemay
Michel Lemay is one of the most humble Formation Skydiving competitors in the history of the sport. He has been competing for over 30 years and is still performing on the top level in the world. His team Evolution placed 5th at the World Meet 2010 in Menzelinsk, Russia, with a 24.0 average. He has created a unique 4way team that will most likely never be copied again: Evolution consits of him and his three sons, Martin, Vincent and Benoit. Despite his athletic excellence and achievements and his great success in running a professional skydiving operation in Canada it will be difficult to find him easily. He is the calm soul in the background.

Businessman at Nouvel Air Businessman at Nouvel Air
He made his first skydive in 1978 and was 19 years old at the time. Skydiving had been on his mind for quite some time:

"When I was a young kid, I was watching a TV Series called Flying Man. The show was about two heroes jumping out of C-182 geared with old military surplus, cheap canopies and front-mounted reserves completing various missions. Their skydiving skills was at the base of their success."

First jump in 1978 First jump in 1978
He survived his first 35 skydives with military surplus equipment and changed to his own "high performance round canopy", a Para-Commander. It was unthinkable in the late 70’s to jump a square: "It was out of the question until you had at least 100 jumps..." He remembers that eventually one of his instructors offered him to try his square canopy on a beautiful Sunday: "I was now to my 135th jump. One jump with it was enough to get me addicted more than ever to skydiving. I wanted a square canopy. In fact, I needed a square canopy, and I needed it at that moment..."

He went to buy a brand new equipment the very next day, a Cuisair square parachute. The following weekend he showed up at the DZ and surprised everybody there: "I was stoked. Right after landing, I wanted to jump again as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the DZ was flying one Cessna, and the loads were backed up for a few hours. I still could not afford to spend so much time on the ground. I convinced a pilot to rent a C-150 from the local club and take me up to 5000’..."

The endless ride to altitude gave him time to relax and actually discover his soon-to-become second passion: Flying. He registered next day to take flying lessons and became a pilot. A week after getting his private license Michel Lemay was on his way to Florida in a rented C-172, together with two friends and his new gear.

Passionate pilot: Here with son Vincent Passionate pilot: Here with son Vincent
This was the point in Michel Lemay's life where skydiving became a passion and he felt like he had to live around skydiving and flying. He averaged 300 jumps per year early in his career and eventually discovered Formation Skydiving competition.

He joined his first team in 1982, four years after his first jump. It was the Canadian national 8-way team that he committed to for a 2-year training program.

The training went well, and his first team won the national 4way and 8way gold medals shortly after he had joined. A year later, Canada's 8way team won the gold medals at the World Cup 1983 on home turf.

It was the alternate World Championship of Formation Skydiving since several teams boykotted the official World Meet 1983 in South Africa due to the apartheid policy there.

Team mates, friends, business partners since 1984: Daniel Paquette, Michel Lemay Team mates, friends, business partners since 1984: Daniel Paquette, Michel Lemay
His 4way team continued with this celebrity roster (Rob Laidlaw, Neal Houston and Daniel Paquette, Michel Lemay) and won the gold medals once again at the World Cup 1984 in LaPalisse, France.

Michel Lemay then decided that it was time to start a family: "I did very few skydives between 1984 and 1990. These years were incredible. My three sons Martin, Vincent and Benoit were respectively born in 1985, 1988 and 1991. I fantasized that one day I would do a 4way skydive along with my three sons..."

He worked as a carpenter for various companies between 1984 and 1990 and was ready for a career shift. He and former team mate and friend Daniel Paquette decided to open Parachutisme Nouvel Air together, located in the suburbs of Montreal, Québec. Nouvel Air rapidly became the largest and most recognized skydiving center in Canada.

Evolution without youngest son Benoit in 2005 Evolution without youngest son Benoit in 2005
Finally, Michel Lemay also came back to Formation Skydiving competition. Skydive University’s Rob Laidlaw put together an 8way project, Vertical 8, in 1996. The team consisted of Paul McGreevy, Bruce Robertson, Doug Forth, Mollie Mercer, Rob Laidlaw, Daniel Paquette, Gilles Leboeuf and Michel Lemay, Normand Presse was filming the team. Vertical 8 made over 500 training jumps, won the Canadian Nationals and finished 6th with an 11.7 average at the World Meet 1997 in Turkey.

In the meantime, his three sons were growing up spending hours and hours at the DZ. Michel Lemay remembers that they all showed tremendous interest in skydiving: "I took Martin for his first skydive when he was 7, and I took Vincent the same day for his birthday. Vince was 4 years old at that time. Benoit was also 4 years old when I took him on his first skydive."

His kids were all amazed and wanted more. Martin started jumping when he turned 15 and developed great interest in 4way competition. He was recruited by the DZ’s top local team and started training. Father Michel joined the team a few months later, and winning the Canadian Nationals became the goal.

Craig Girard at SkyVenture Orlando in 2004 Craig Girard at SkyVenture Orlando in 2004
Michel Lemay still had his dream of doing a 4way skydive with his three sons one day and wanted more and more 4way himself. His ultimate goal became to win the national championships with his family, father and three sons. There was a problem though, as Benoit (10) and Vincent (13) were still too young to jump by themselves. Michel would have to wait six more years before he could fulfill the dream. He did not have enough patience, as he remembers:

"It was out of the question that I would waste six precious years. From then on, we made our yearly men’s vacation with a minivan trip to SkyVenture Orlando. Our vacation was comprised of tunnel training... No word is strong enough to describe their enthusiasm and excitement regarding these yearly vacations."

He hired the best of the best to train his two younger boys. Craig Girard took Vincent and Benoit under his wings and taught them how to fly, while Michel Lemay's former Canadian 4way team mate Neal Houston coached the 4way team that consisted of Michel and Martin Lemay, François Pigeon, Richard Bisson. He still appreciates Craig Girard's work with his two sons:

"Craig did an amazing job camp after camp, and when the time finally came, both Vincent and Benoit had the necessary flying abilities and dive pool knowledge to join the team one at a time, Vincent in 2004 and Ben in 2006."

Evolution without Benoit at the World Meet 2006 Evolution without Benoit at the World Meet 2006
It was Michel Lemay's 10,000th skydive when he accomplished one of his dreams: "For the first time in my life, I was jumping with my three sons. I took Benoit on tandem and Vince and Martin came to join us. What a great and emotional moment it was for me."

He met Shannon Pilcher at the World Meet 2006 in Germany. They discussed the project Michel Lemay had in mind for his family team. The fresh 4way world champion with DeLand Fire did not hesitate to commit as the Evolution coach, and it worked well. Shannon Pilcher has been a part of the Evolution team project since Day 1 and is now almost like a family member. Evolution became a complete family affair in 2006, and all members saw enough potential in the skills to start training together as a 4way team.

Evolution soon won the Canadian Nationals 2007 with an 18.9 average after only 150 training jumps. Then the boys took a sabbatical year from school in 2007 and 2008 and committed to a full year of training in DeLand, Florida. Michel Lemay remembers that this was the time when things changed for the new team:

Complete Lemay family team at the Shamrock Showdown 2008 Complete Lemay family team at the Shamrock Showdown 2008
"We completed over 600 trainings jumps and competed at the Valentine’s Meet 2008 and the Shamrock Showdown 2008. The team started to develope a reputation for two reasons. First, the team’s unique roster, but also for the high scores we were posting on the scoreboards. We averaged 21.9 at the Shamrock Showdown 2008."

Evolution represented Canada at the World Championship 2008 in France and finished 6th, then again at the World Games 2009 in Taiwan (5th) and also at the Dubai Championship 2010 (4th) with meet averages above 20 points.

Michel Lemay also extended his business at the same time, together with long-time partner Daniel Paquette. He partnered with a group of investors early in 2009 and opened the first windtunnel in Canada, SkyVenture Montréal, with a 14-foot recirculated flying chamber. It is located in the team’s hometown, Laval.

Complete Lemay family team at the Shamrock Showdown 2010 Complete Lemay family team at the Shamrock Showdown 2010
From then on, training took a new dimension for the team. Evolution again won the Canadian Nationals 2009 and represented Canada at the World Championship 2010 in Russia. Not only training took a new dimension. The LeMay family also brought the Canadian scoring level up to a 24.0 average in Menzelinsk.

Michel Lemay is now the co-owner of two of Canada’s biggest skydiving centers, Parachutisme Nouvel Air and Parachute Montréal, and of the SkyVenture Montréal windtunnel. He has accomplished much more than his original dream of doing 4way with his three boys. His complete family attended its second World Championship of Formation Skydiving in 2010 and will add another one in Dubai 2012. This will probably be the last one with his three boys and his own 6th attendance. It would conclude an incredible and unique competition career, and Michel Lemay can look back with incredible memories:

"On top of all, I am a proud father of three sons and a team member of Team Evolution, a team which will stay with me forever. For me it is a dream team!!!"

Not only for him...