Mak­ing the Leap

Inc. (USA) - - CONTENTS - —BILL SAPORITO

“I sold my rig, my har­ness, ev­ery­thing. I bought a car and a sewing ma­chine, rented a house, and started mak­ing jump­suits.” —Tony Ura­gallo, founder of TonySuits, which makes jump­suits, track­ing suits, and wing­suits for sky­divers and BASE jumpers

One jump as a British Army re­servist made him fall in love with sky­div­ing. And Eng­land’s dank weather made Tony Ura­gallo move to Ze­phyrhills, Florida, where he set up TonySuits af­ter win­ning a team sky­div­ing event there in late 1979. Ura­gallo got started in Lon­don, where he sewed his first jump­suit on his mother’s ma­chine. When sky­div­ing friends de­manded copies, the for­mer brickie turned it into a busi­ness. In the 1990s, he fo­cused on de­sign­ing wing­suits. To­day, TonySuits sell for $1,000 to $2,000 each.

Fly­boy­ant Ura­gallo, 64, be­came a top wing­suit com­peti­tor wear­ing out­fits he cre­ated. The R&D? Sew. Try on. Exit plane. Head back to the sewing ta­ble for ad­just­ments. “You have an air­plane that you are wear­ing,” he says. “And I loved that to­tally. To this day, I still make pro­to­types. You jump and test it and see how it feels.”

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