Pete Swan zips up his fabric suit and swings his long pony tail over his parachute. He walks toward the plane that will take him up 14,000 feet, where he will jump out and spread his wings. Quite literally.
Swan is a leader in a growing field of skydiving enthusiasts who are taking it up a notch by strapping on wingsuits.
When Swan and other adrenaline-junkies jumped out of a plane at Lodi Parachute Center on Thursday, the wingsuits slowed down their freefall and allowed them to float for 1 minute and 45 seconds.
Even Hollywood is beginning to notice the growing trend.
Last summer, J.T. Holmes, a world-renowned wingsuit flyer, stopped by Swan's shop at the Lodi Airport off Highway 99, where he has a business inspecting, repairing and designing parachutes and wingsuits.
"J.T. came into my shop and said he had a really big project, but he wouldn't tell me until I agreed to do it," Swan said.
The 49-year-old was amazed to find out he would be the lead supervising parachute packer for "Transformers: Dark of the Moon." The task? Get five wingsuit flyers from the tallest buildings in Chicago safely to the ground.
Film director Michael Bay was intrigued with the idea of wingsuits after watching Holmes leap off jagged cliffs and glide through Norway's Romsdal Valley with his friend, Julian Boulle, on "60 Minutes." Bay contacted producer Steven Spielberg, and they both agreed that wingsuits needed to be in the third "Transformers" movie.
"That was one of those phone calls where you get off the phone and all you can say is, 'Yes.' You don't typically get access to a skyscraper's roof," Swan said.
Holmes, Boulle and three members of the Red Bull Air Force headed to Chicago to film for 17 days, but only five of those were spent jumping because they could only shut down bustling city streets on the weekends.
Swan spent seven days supervising pack jobs, modifying any equipment and inspecting the parachutes.
But before stepping foot on the movie set, Swan, Holmes and the rest of their group went to Switzerland for 70 jumps in 10 days to practice.
"Within six hours of landing in the country, I was standing on a 2,000-foot cliff," he said.
Swan, who had never been out of the country, said he and another guy continuously were packing parachutes for the five jumpers. They all did 5,000-foot jumps off the Eiger in the Bernese Alps.
"It was a super-happy fun ride. I was glad to be out with fun guys doing fun stuff," Swan said.
In Chicago, he supervised five other packers and worked non-stop.
"Every second that movie set isn't getting film, it's losing money," he said.
The movie was the first time anyone had flown a wingsuit in a downtown environment. Even though they jump off mountains, Holmes said jumping off a building requires an even higher skill level.
"What it means for a guy like me is a beautiful experience to jump off skyscrapers. That's a once in a life-time experience," Swan said.
As a professional skier and general sports enthusiast, Holmes said he appreciates that Bay wanted to use experts for the stunts.
"I can tell what's real and what's fake, so I'm much more impressed with the real stuff," he said.
Since 2002, Holmes has been jumping out of airplanes with a parachute. But then he found another outlet with wingsuits.
"A lot of people believe it is unattainable and for experts only, or they'd have to dedicate their lives to it, but really you only have to dedicate your weekends," he said.
Wingsuits were first introduced in the 1930s, but after multiple deaths most drop zones refused to allow them.
In 1999, the first commercial wingsuit came onto the market and the sport has grown ever since.
Swan found his passion for skydiving while growing up next to an airport in Davis where skydivers were frequently jumping out of planes. He started to wander over to the air field and did his first jump when he was 16.
Since then, he has done close to 5,000 jumps and opened his rigging shop 14 years ago. Skydivers search him out to do repairs on their equipment or to see what new prototypes he is working on.
Swan now does wingsuit flying almost exclusively because the ride down is slower. The suits can reduce the downward velocity of a jump from 120 to 40 miles per hour.
Also, with traditional skydiving, a parachuter moves forward a foot for every foot they fall. With the wingsuit, they move three feet for every one foot of freefall, which gives the feeling of flying.
Holmes selected Swan to come help on the "Transformers" set because of his skill level at maintaining and repairing equipment. Swan is probably the only person in the world who has hand-stitched a harness, parachute and wingsuit and then actually used it on a jump, Holmes said.
On Thursday, Swan and Holmes went up in a plane with Ed Pawlowski, who teaches private parachute and wingsuit lessons, and jump in a stacked line as "Good Day Sacramento's" Mark S. Allen did a tandem jump.
As they listened to the plan beforehand, a helmet rested on the bench with an "I'd rather be skydiving in Lodi" sticker.
As they landed, Allen spoke excitedly into the camera as the rest of the group high-fived each other with huge grins on their faces.
"That was awesome. Let's do it again," Holmes said.
Within half an hour, Swan and Holmes had already re-packed their equipment and walked toward the plane.