The Story of the Jackson Hole Air Force

Swift. Silent. Deep.

February 3, 2010 Culture By

swift-silent-and-deep-gear-patrolWhat started with a group of hard charging, adrenaline chasing ski bums would ultimately change the face of extreme skiing forever. Swift. Silent. Deep. is the story of a band of renegades who pioneered what we know today as backcountry skiing.  Except, in their case, it was considered out of bounds and unlawful.

Originally, starting in the late 70s as a group who sought big air, The Jackson Hole Air Force followed their addiction in search for the purest powder on the mountain.  The problem was that it was off limits.  Founded by “Captain” Benny Wilson and Howard “Hollywood’ Henderson, the JHAF quickly became the who’s who of extreme skiers.  A group that was accessible by invitation only, the invitations went out only to the best.  Did I mention the Fight Club-fierce secrecy pact?  The JHAF would quickly come to represent a counter-culture not only against the cultural norms of their time but also against what was considered appropriate skiing.

Hit the jump for more on these outlaw powder hounds.

From the deep, unblemished powder off the beaten path, to voyages to the dark side (literally) of Gant Canyon, the JHAF pushed the bounds of what was considered possible. The group would go on to dominate the early Extreme Skiing competitions and later found some of the most amazing and insane heli-skiing operations in Alaska. 

The group’s exploits helped shape both the ski photography and videography industries. Far before social media took hold, the JHAF chronicled their adventures, but shared very little of the true details. That is, until now. Anyone who has ever skied in the woods, been chased by the ski patrol, or watched the X-games, owes it to the sport to learn where it all started.

See the trailer here.

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