Come with me as I take a roll down skateboarding memory lane, ollieing the cracks as I go…
Santa Monica Airlines Jim Thiebaud
This classic deck dates back to the late 80’s, I picked it up in 1989 if I remember. At the time the Chester branch of Milletts, the camping and outdoors shop, were stocking skateboards for some reason or other. They had some pretty rad stuff, too.
When the time came to replace my worn out deck and get a new one, I saved up my pennies/swapped vinyl records and got myself this Santa Monica Airlines deck from Milletts.
At least I think that’s where it was from, I can’t remember. Either way, I didn’t support a skater owned shop on this occasion, to my shame.
SMA were really blowing up at the time, and Jim Thiebaud had been on my radar since I saw the (criminally minimal) footage of him in some of the Powell vids.
Thiebaud was – and is – a supremely cool skateboarder with a smooth, rad style. He was one of those original street pros that I really admired. Along with Gonz, Natas, Guerrero and Vallely, JT was a bona fide street skating pioneer and innovator.
The shape was perfect for me at the time, exactly how I wanted a skateboard to be. It’s still a classic shape now, I really like it. Nice size tail, comfy wide deck – but not too wide. Great street deck of the era.
This deck also had the cool comic book style superhero graphics which I loved. I’ve always been a big fan of superheroes.
However I wasn’t cool enough to get on this particular wave of popularity earlier. If I had, I might have picked up the previous variation on the graphic, which featured a bad guy designed to resemble the Joker. The Batman movie was out around that time, so I guess the whole theme was prominent back then.
So the Joker version had to be scrapped due to some issue with DC Comics, I believe the story goes, and I ended up with the purple suited thug instead.
No matter – cool graphic or not, this deck was to be skated. I transferred my Indy trucks and OJII wheels and was ready to go. Well, when I’d also added the Powell Rib Bones as well. Not to save the graphic, mind – in those days the received wisdom (at least amongst my friends and I) was that the rails helped you slide better.
This particular set up was particularly long serving and loyal. It was like a magic carpet that seemed to respond perfectly to my wishes. Honestly, I remember learning tons of tricks on this finely shaped beauty. Footplants and Boneless variations were (still are) major tricks in my arsenal and I learned several on this very set up.
Biggest of all though, was the kick flip. We called it an “ollie kick flip” back then, and it was a pretty desirable trick to own. I learned kick flips on this gorgeously wide beast and was unbelievably stoked. I still remember that first one.
It was well skated – in fact the tail is worn to a sharp and splintered point – but this set up is still skateable. It’s still around as it was replaced with thinner decks and trucks as shapes evolved; thus I never swapped it.
The SMA Thiebaud is still on the garage wall, still looks great, and still gets a roll every now and again. Classic.
Take a close look at the photos and you’ll notice some interesting features:
- Madrid Fly Paper grip tape (note the fly shapes cut out)
- Rad SMA top graphic
- Santa Cruz Cell Block riser pad
- A couple of cool stickers from back in the day still hanging in there
- The trucks are fitted with Grind King reversed kingpins, there’s even a sticker on the front hanger…
- You can see some of the bands I was into at the time from the grip tape art, which I did with Tip-Ex…