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I Believe I Can Fly

Christian Fletcher. Photo: John Callahan
Davey Smith. Photo: Greg Huglin
Matt Kechele, 1983. Photo: Tom Dugan
Kevin Reed, 1983. Photo: Fred Swegels
Archbold (left) and Slater, 1990. Photo: Brewer

Aerial surfing—any move performed in the airspace just above the wave—was introduced in the late 1970s as a low-altitude imitation of what was being done by skateboarders in empty pools and halfpipes. Much of the pioneering work was done by Kevin Reed and Davey Smith of California, Matt Kechele of Florida, Martin Potter of South Africa and aging Hawaiian pro Larry Bertlemann. At first, there wasn’t a whole lot of air involved. In one early aerial photo, Smith puts about six inches between his...

A few years earlier Christian Fletcher had been a quiet Leif Garrett-like pretty boy. Now he was tattooed, pierced, and mohawked, with a quiver of boards covered in pentagrams, skulls, and daggers—although never in such a way as to obscure his sponsor logos.