Jax N’ Lance here to tell a tale of the legendary Captain Benny Wilson. A skier with so much grace, sense of humor, talent, and positivity that you will want to hang out with him every day!
Upon meeting Benny, he will be the charming one in the top hat, scarf with skulls, epic tribal necklace, and smile from ear to ear. There is something familiar the legends that we have featured thus far (check Wild Bill here) and that is the never ending stoke to ski and live within the mountain culture day in and day out.
One of the first times I saw Benny was in 2013. He was sending it over some trees off of thunder bumps in a hot green outfit. The jump purposely placed in the path of the trees because as Benny claims “it is gaper day, and folks should get some major air.” And if not… end up in the trees.
As many know, Benny was the key part in founding the legendary Jackson Hole Air Force with the late Howie Henderson. The JH Air force is a group of avid skiers who embody the free skiing movement. Known as the “rope ducking, patrol-provoking alpine outlaws” they helped to revolutionize open boundaries at JHMR officially in 1998. Some may even call it skiing’s biggest underground ski/rebel fraternity. The group built their reputation on stealth and secrecy, often poaching info from patrol radios to live life to an epic extreme. Then chalking up the daily tales over beers at the Bear Claw after. They always ensured a level of safety with their pack and avalanche gear and made safe choices… all looking out for one another within snow conditions and abilities.
It all started one day when they decided to make a movie that would feature Jackson Hole at it’s finest. That being steep, deep and full of big air. Benny came up with Jackson Hole Air Force. Spending 3 years in the marines, he quickly took his own spin on a marine slogan of swift, silent, deadly, and created the tagline Swift, Silent, Deep.
Today there have been roughly 300 patches given to those talented enough to be invited to join the Air Force. A high honor for any skier when the invitation comes their way. Benny has many fond memories as they skied around the resort from the thunder bumps, wall of voodoo, croakie point, to building massive airs and having bbq’s in caves. If you are lucky, you may see them hanging out at their latest hangout on the “bench” in the Hobacks.
It is a fond memory for the early members of the JH Air force to think back to the Bear-Claw Café. And one for us to even enjoy today as the Gelande Quaffing competition has grown to a whole new level. One fine day when the crew was waiting for the mountain to open, the bar tender would send fresh beers sliding down to the customer that ordered it. One glass took an extra hyped glide and was on track to take air and create an epic catastrophe when out of nowhere it was caught and then pounded by the patron. Gelande Quaffing was born. From there it became a game of après ski competitions and served as epic entertainment for spectators. It subsided for some years but low and behold on Feb 24th, 2008 it returned bigger than ever when the Village Café hosted the Annual Gelande Quaffing World Championships. It is now known as one of the most awesome events of the season. There are training camps, training videos online and teams take it very seriously. Working year round on their skills throwing back flips, twists or jumps before they catch and pound the steins of PBR.