08/20 2010

Jump for Diabetes 2010- what a blast!



Well, I’ve finally recuperated from a long weekend at Skydive Pennsylvania for the 2nd Annual Jump for Diabetes – just in time for another weekend of skydiving :) .


Let’s start with the juicy details: between raffles, sponsored jumps and generous donations, we were able to raise nearly $10,000 for diabetes research – and donations are still rolling in, so we may even surpass that mark when all is said and done!


I’m thrilled with the amount of people who stepped up to support this cause, from the gear donations throughout the skydiving community, to the incredible team of pledge jumpers who came in from all over the country to donate their time to the cause, to the participants at Skydive Pennsylvania – none of this could have been accomplished without your support.


So a HUGE THANK YOU goes out to all who contributed.


As far as raffles go, we gave away more than $10,000 in donated and discounted skydiving gear, local jumper Scott Diesel was the lucky winner of the PD canopy raffle and there were three happy winners in the Grand Prize raffle.


And guess what – we’re going to do it all again next year! We’re planning the event for Aug 12-14 at Skydive Pennsylvania once again, and we’ve already got 4 manufactuers confirmed to be on site. We expect it to be bigger and better than this year – definitely not to be missed.


Okay, so now that that’s out of the way :) …let’s talk a little about the skydiving, shall we?


Friday after set up we did the first Mrs. Potato Head jump of the weekend. A group of us freeflyers took it to our bellies in an attempt to put her together in the sky. Best part, she was a diabetic, so Rick had a needle-less syringe to stick in her ear. It was far from a success, with us walking away with zero pieces in place, and one lost piece somewhere in the LZ, but I gotta tell you, it sure was FUN! Thanks to Heather for bringing this tradition to Jump for Diabetes!



We gave away our first piece of gear on Friday too, a freefly suit from EG. EG suits came in from Jersey to attend the event. Thanks again EG, you were a hit at Skydive PA!


Saturday started off bright and early with long spots and off landings. We had a fun 2-way freefly practice jump to start out the day before diving into a weekend of incredibly fun freefly zoo dives, like this one:



Both mine and Rick’s parents showed up for the day which was awesome! My dad even got some great shots of me landing and packing. I’m not used to being on the other side of the camera!


IMG_0952


The weather played nice until about 5 p.m., at which point our gear raffle picked up. This is where my dad’s height came in handy, as we were selling gear raffle tickets for $20 a body length, so a number of jumpers “borrowed” his 6’3″ frame to purchase their tickets.


Raffle(Grand Prize Raffle drawing, with Skylyn the ticket picker! *Photo by Suji Martens)


Saturday night 4 bands from around the Pittsburgh area showed up to play for us in the hangar…due to the rain. What an incredible party. The beer was flowing and we were even able to have a small fire with numerous smores consumed. Yum!


Sunday started slow because of rain and low clouds until about 3 p.m. This gave us ample time to finish out the raffles before completing the weekend with a couple more fun freefly jumps – starting with Justin’s 200th.



The last jump of the weekend was a 6-way freefly turned into a hybrid, rodeo, backfly, sitfly combo. Was one of the funnest jumps we all had that weekend…guess you had to be there!



I’m still working on a fun Jump for Diabetes video to show the highlights from the weekend, so stay tuned for that.


Thanks again to everyone who did their part to not only make this an incredibly successful weekend, but for making it a BLAST too!


Blue skies!


Ashley

06/14 2010

Officially a “home owner”



Well it’s official, Rick and I bought a home.

At the dropzone.

And for anyone who has spent any amount of time at a skydiving dropzone, you know what this means. We bought a trailer in Safety City!!

Oh, I mean, be bought a camper. :) It’s not a trailer, we’re staying far away from that terminology.

We’re the proud owners of a camper. Whoo!

camper(This is not ours, nor does it resemble ours, but it’s a cool picture)

This was our first full weekend staying in our new weekend home. And let me just tell you how fantastic it’s been. We no longer have to worry about hotels or bugging someone to stay with them. We can go out on days where the forecast doesn’t look super promising, knowing that at least we’ve got a place to crash after hanging out all day. And when those mid-day naps are calling, there is a bed awaiting my sleepy head.

We’ve even got a small refrigerator to house our necessities like juice and extra bottles of water.

There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done on it, like some roof repairs, but it’s in relatively good shape.

I’d say it’s pretty official that Skydive Pennsylvania has become our home dropzone, or at least as close to a home DZ as we’ll get, given the amount of time we spend traveling.

Hopefully we’ll get this thing road-ready one of these days so we can travel around to other dropzones with it! Now that would be convenient. :) We’ve got our work cut out for us, but I like a good challenge.

Looking forward to many more weekends spent in our DZ home.

Blue skies!

Ashley

04/23 2010

What kind of skydiver are you?


So we all know the obvious answer to this – if you’re a belly flyer or free flyer, swooper or camera flyer – but what I’m referring to here is more about your involvement in the sport.


Sure, the great majority of us would prefer to have the ability to make a skydive anytime the urge hits us – which, let’s be honest here, is practically every hour of every day :) – but due to things like careers, obligations or even just personal choice, we become a certain type of skydiver.


Based on my experiences at a number of different dropzones are the country, I came up with a list of categories. Of course, this is intended to be a fun list of very subjective classifications based on my observations as a fairly new skydiver, so please take it as such. I’m interested to see where people think they fall! :)


Some of these overlap a little, and there is a possibility to be in more than one category in some instances (in my case, I fall into two of these classifications). If there’s anything I’m overlooking or you have a category you’d like to add, please chime in with a comment! Now onto the list!


The Careerist – these are the DZOs, the tandem instructors, the full-time videographers and riggers of the world – the people who have made skydiving their career. I’ve seen this in a number of lights: some do it to make $ to jump more and then fun jumps become few and far between, others make it work for themselves and they still take time to fun jump with their pals and of course there are variations in between. But either way, most of your time is spent at the DZ, if you’re not living there :)


The Frequenter – these are the people who have the ability to carve out lots of time (and money) for skydiving. Whether they have unusual work schedules, own their own businesses, or they’re the type you always wonder exactly what it is they do, they’re always up for a jump, no matter when or where. These are the go-tos when it comes to organizing mid-week jumps – you can always count them in for a random day of skydiving.


The Organizer – these are the people who frequently organize the jumping days. There could be sub-categories here, like the travelers who are always organizing groups to go to a bigger DZ or boogies, the mid-week jumpers who are trying to fill loads so they can get up, or even the dirt dive kings of the world who decide exactly what point will be turned on the next skydive. Regardless of how, these people get things done, they get people to jump.


The Weekend Warrior - most often these are the people with day jobs who work pretty typical hours and are available to skydive on the weekends. This is me in a nutshell. I can get the occasional day or afternoon off to make a few jumps, but for the most part weekends are committed to skydiving so long as long as the weather plays nice. I’m also one of those people who doesn’t quite know what to do when it rains on a Saturday afternoon.


The Weekday Warrior – reverse of the Weekend Warrior, these are people who tend to work more on weekends and have random week days free. They’re also usually the organizers of the mid-week jumps.


The Traveler – the person who doesn’t necessarily have a “home” dropzone and spends lots of time traveling to other DZ, events and boogies. This also includes those jumpers who fly their personal aircraft into whatever DZ they feel like jumping at that weekend (oh to be a pilot, I’d love to take advantage of that!). I definitely consider myself a traveler, I love visiting new DZs, jumping new aircraft and meeting lots of great skydivers along the way.

freefly(Still from one of David Schwartz’s videos last weekend at Skydive Carolina – freefly with Rick and Justin)



The Occasionalist - from my experience, these are the people who busy day jobs, families and lots of personal obligations on the table. They are busy people, juggling lots of activities. They make it to the dropzone when they can, but it’s not the top priority. Someone with a life outside of skydiving…you’ve gotta respect that!


The Groupie - at first this term sounds negative, but I promise it’s not. These are the people who really fit in at the dropzone, the people you look forward to seeing when you’re skydiving, but that may not jump that often, if at all, for one reason or another. These are the jumpers that make the after-hours bonfire ¬†just that much more fun! They get the sport, they’ve jumped, but they’re mostly there for the community and/or to support someone who falls into one of the above categories. It takes a very patient and understanding soul to be able to put up with all the type As at a dropzone :)


So, that’s what I’ve got. What’ve I missed? Any categories you’d like to add?


Taking words from my interview with Norman Kent, no matter which group(s) you fall into, embrace it!


As a pretty typical Weekend Warrior, I’ll be the first to admit that I had higher expectations for myself than is actually possible, but then again I’m the type of person who thinks she can do it all and punishes herself (and sometimes those around her) when she can’t.* I’d love to be able to set my own schedule and make jumps at my leisure, but of course, who wouldn’t? Sure, I envy those jumpers who can head out on a sunny day mid-week to make some jumps together, but then again, I’m blessed to have enough vacation time to travel to different dropzones and meet some great people along the way. And during the week, I do have a day job I enjoy, so really, how can I complain too much?


In the end, it balances out. That’s the take-away message here. Be proud of the type of skydiver you are! In the end, we’re all skydivers who enjoy the time we spend together in the air and on the ground, and that’s what really matters.


Blue skies!


Ashley

*this is my way of publicly apologizing for being a douche. Sometimes my words get the best of me – I’m only human.

04/13 2010

The small victories

(This is the one where I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m full of myself…take note, this post goes beyond just me, to my partner and fellow freeflyers. These past couple weeks have been incredible for everyone!)


blog_highfive


I’ve been saying it for months, and it’s so true – skydiving is all about the little victories. Some of the best jumps I’ve had are those where we come down talking about the small improvements we’re seeing.


The past couple weeks I’ve really seen improvement with me and my freefly partner. We’ve been lucky enough to jump with some incredible freeflyers on random skydives that were not only incredibly fun, but very helpful to the learning curve!


We’ve been working for months on our relativity and forward movement / side sliding in sit. Our last few skydives have shown incredible improvement in this. It’s like, all of a sudden, something clicked!

There’s something to be said for jumping in groups of 3, 4 and 5, where there’s always someone to dock on. You’re also forced to make it to the low man or you’re going to be watching that skydive from the outside. Now who wants that?!


(Fun three-way with Susie. I bailed out of the dock because I had too much forward speed.)



(This 5-way campfire turned into a couple of two-ways, but there was a lot of penetration going on up there! – Now would be a good time to remove your head from the gutter. Thanks :) ).


This weekend at Skydive PA I finally nailed a controlled stand to make it down to the group. What an incredible feeling! Standing had always been my weakness, but as a smaller jumper it’s a critical skill in freefly. So I’m pumped for this success.


Wishing I had the video to share from that 4-way freefly, but my camera died so you’ll just have to take my word for it ;) .


On top of that, you can’t forget about the head downs, transitions, forward and side movement that were accomplished in the sky this weekend. Not only does it feel great to have these successes yourself, but when you’re able to witness someone else’s victories, it’s just as rewarding!


(Rick showing us what it’s all about! We had some fun under canopy. I’m loving the Sabre 1)


This is one thing I truly love about the sport – there’s so much to learn and there are always new ways to improve. It’s the ultimate self-improvement activity! And in the end, you have plenty of reasons to celebrate around the bonfire with a cold beer.


What areas have you seen yourself progressing lately – in and out of skydiving?


Blue skies!


Ashley

03/16 2010

Wind+Sleet=Safety Day grounded

SD2

*Photo by Nancy Mellish


As you probably guessed by the title of today’s post, Safety Day this year was weathered out as far as actual skydiving was concerned, but we had a great turnout at Skydive PA!


This was Cecil’s first Safety Day as DZO, and he made it look easy! The day started with general refreshers like malfunctions, safety in freefall, on the ground preparations…you get the idea. Then we broke off into groups based on ability level. I sat with the group that discussed camera flying and what to do at the scene of an accident.


All very good stuff. Then there was the presenting of the Ches Judy Award, which went to one of the most helpful instructors I’ve ever met – John Ellison!


SD14*Photo by Nancy Mellish


The rest of the evening was spent mingling, chatting with staff, and getting reacquainted with the local skydiving community. I really enjoyed the time I spent with the freeflyers and soaking up knowledge from the rigger on staff. Good stuff!


It just so happens that while discussing some things with one of the students, she seemed very interested when I’d mentioned selling off my triathlon to downsize. Further discussion led to her trying on my entire rig, which she instantly fell in love with.


So what does this mean? Well, looks like I’m in the market for some new gear!


I’m already planning to order a custom Infinity rig from Velocity Sports – what can I say, I fell in love, there’s no turning back now!


I’m also in the market for an AAD and a used 150 until I order a custom 135…I’m a slow downsizer. Know of any 150s that need a temporary home?


So how was your Safety Day?


Blue skies!

-Ashley

02/8 2010

Everglades Boogie 2010


Being back in the cold and snowy weather of the Midwest has me pining for the sun, warmth and blue skies of Florida. I can’t help but day dream of the times spent in Ft. Myers, DeLand, Sebastian, Zephyrhills, and Clewiston.


CIMG2143


Which is where I will begin my journey – the Everglades Boogie at Skydive AirAdventures.


This was the main event for us: the reason we chose Florida this time of the year as opposed to Arizona or Puerto Rico where other jump buddies were traveling this winter.


The Everglades Boogie caught our eye for a number of reasons: the high altitude jump, the skyvan, the Pitts biplane, and of course, the affordability of traveling to this state.


We kept our budget low by stocking groceries in a cooler and sleeping in our car most nights. Luckily our “midsize” rental ended up being a Dodge Journey.


09-dodge-journey-2


Fold the back seats down and you’ve got the perfect sleeping arrangements… well, close to perfect, anyhow.


After spending our first day in Ft. Myers, walking along the beach, eating some mediocre seafood and watching the sunset over the Gulf, we headed to Clewiston for our first night around the bonfire.


CIMG2182(Sunset over Ft. Myers Beach)



To our surprise there was only one other group camping out that night – a couple guys who are regulars at Skydive AirAdventures. The following few nights were spent around the bonfire with these fellas.


Here’s video evidence that the times spent around the fire were quite entertaining:



Thanks to Rick and Lisa for the 8 kegs provided after hours. Oh the things free beer will entice you to do…


Anyway, back to the skydiving.


There are a lot of individual stories to tell from this event, but I’ll give you the basic rundown before we go into any specifics.


The first two days were beautiful, a little breezy, but nothing to worry about. The LZ was large enough where I didn’t have to worry too much about off landings. In fact, I only landed off once – into the packing area on the last jump of day 2. This made me think that it’s time to seriously start considering downsizing my canopy. With an exit weight of 135, it gets difficult to make it back to the dropzone on breezy days under my Triathlon 160. But that’s a topic for another day.


Thursday was the first day of the boogie and it was a little slower than anticipated, but by the end of the day the Super Otter was turning loads. To my surprise though, I couldn’t for the life of me get anyone other than Rick to jump on the sunset load. So I ended the day with four. Here’s a video compilation of these jumps.


I edited in a little commentary and music (Angels & Airwaves, one of my favorites!) for your enjoyment as this one is a little lengthy.



As you can see, we’re really working as a team to stay close and relative in our sit. Needless to say this trip gave us a great chance to practice … by the time we got to Zhills we were seeing incredible improvement!


Friday was another beautiful day. The skyvan showed up from DeLand too so our last three jumps were from a tailgate. It’s pretty fun to watch a huge plane poop out people like that.


The GoPro didn’t want to cooperate on Friday, but here are a couple of our skyvan jumps that day: another 2-way sit and a 4-way horny gorilla exit that looks pretty cool. Rick also had a close call with a swooper as you’ll notice at the end of the video. But it’s all good and everyone is okay.



Saturday was our last day at Skydive AirAdventures and the day we took part in a high altitude jump – and my first chop. Both of these will be discussed in greater detail later.


What I do want to take time to mention is how incredible the experience was at Skydive AirAdventures. The Everglades Boogie was run very smoothly, and though I’m sure it seemed like a madhouse to DOZs Rick and Lisa, they pulled it off successfully. There were a number of vendors there doing demos and selling their stuff including Performance Designs, EG Suits, Aerodyne, and more. I was incredibly impressed with the reps at PD…that’s all I’ll say on that for now.


CIMG2195


Aside from the boogie, the atmosphere at this DZ is incredible. The regulars were welcoming and Rick and Lisa made us feel right at home. After my cut away Rick was quick to take me aside and make sure I was okay. Thomas is an incredible rigger who took the time to thoroughly check out my rig and repack my reserve as well.


This is definitely a DZ I’ll be visiting again in the near future.


The last evening there was spent around the bonfire, watching Jeff carve a block of ice into a closing pin shot luge. Not only is this guy an incredible wing suiter, he’s also an ice sculptor. Talents abound in the skydiving world!


CIMG2248

CIMG2278(The finished product, ready for ice cold shots!)


We also met some fellow mid-westerners out of Missouri who we’re hoping to connect with again soon. If you’re reading, great meeting you Susan!


Thanks to everyone for making this an incredible boogie weekend. I was able to meet fellow skydivers and make some new friends. Can’t wait to get back in the air with y’all again soon.


If you’re ever in South Florida, I highly recommend heading over to Clewiston for a jump or two at Skydive AirAdventures. The staff will take good care of you.


I’ll leave you with a few pictures from the first few days of our trip – in Ft. Myers and around the Everglades Boogie. (All photos below by Ashley Mead)


CIMG2149(Looking out over the Gulf in Ft. Myers)


CIMG2168(Attempting to feed the Heron – notice the shirt!)


CIMG2162(This little guy kept dive bombing for food)


CIMG2179(Sharing a sunset at Ft. Myers Beach)


CIMG2197(The PD tent during the boogie)


CIMG2198(Jet rides were available)


CIMG2205(Last night at the bonfire)


Blue skies!


Ashley

12/28 2009

Post-Christmas Skydive


There’s nothing quite like a sunset jump on Dec. 26th to make your holiday spirits even brighter!


sunset12


As I mentioned last week, one of the weekend’s goals was to head out to the DZ to share in some beers and laughs with the crew. Well, lucky for us, the skies were blue and the winds on the ground were tame enough to allow a jump!


We were surprised to find out that there were only two sport jumpers packed and ready to go – Rick and me. But, the DZO was feeling the Christmas spirit and took us up anyhow. You rock, Cecil!


The winds aloft were moving at a good clip, and we were prepared to get out above the water tower – about a mile past the DZ.


Well, on this sunset load, we were having a rather difficult time spotting. Needless to say, we got out a mile from the DZ – but a mile in the wrong direction.


The skydive was a simple belly fly with one point and some fun spins before we attempted to link back up. My Dytter went off early so, you’ll notice, I waved before we could link back up.



As I tracked away I realized the dropzone was no where in sight. So I stopped tracking and pulled.


Turns out we were incredibly far north. When I turned into the wind I wasn’t penetrating well. I did my best to follow Rick down, but ended up landing in a field 1/4 mile or so down the road. If you look carefully in the video, you can see the square field I landed in as Rick is doing a 360 to lose some altitude.


Thankfully, I was close to the road and the first passerby put on his brakes and backed up to give me a lift back to my home base. From there I jumped in a car with the pilot and drove around in attempt to find Rick. Little did I know that he’d hitchhiked back as well and was driving around in search of me.


Needless to say we found our way back and had a beer in hand in no time.


There’s something quite invigorating about winter jumps. It clears your head in more ways than one. Aside from not being able to feel my hands, and the subsequent pain when the feeling returned, it was a great jump.


New lesson learned: in the winter, when winds are squirly at altitude, jump with a cell phone!


Blue skies!



Ashley

11/2 2009

Gatorz and Bunnies and Balloons, oh my!

balloon

Wait, that’s not right.


But it does accurately describe my Halloween weekend.


Friday was spent running around getting all the pieces for my costume and enjoying the seasonably warm weather. Though windy, I do love an evening of 70+ degrees at the end of October!


Saturday started with an unexpected morning call from Rick, asking me to come over before the DZ party. Since he couldn’t go until late, a pre-party lunch was in order.


Before we headed to get some grub, he surprised me with a “just because” gift: a pair of Gatorz! He actually purchased two pairs, one for him and one for me. I ended up with the Radiators, brushed metal frames and photochromic grey lenses. His pair are very similar, brushed metal with grey lenses, though slightly bigger to fit his face.


Rad_BshGry_777F1L1_lg


Talk about a great gift! I was actually considering getting myself a pair – he knows me so well. :) I can’t wait to get a strap for them and give ‘em a spin in freefall.


Saturday night was spent at Skydive Pennsylvania with a bunch of our close friends. There were some great costumes that night: everything from fat strippers to Reagan (a la Point Break) to the woman who came as the Skyventure Wind Tunnel. I donned some bunny ears and rubbed dryer lint all over myself so I could be a dust bunny. Clever, eh?


Sunday the weather in PA didn’t start out like we’d imagined. The plan was to get in a bunch of freefly jumps, but upon waking, we were informed that the weather in Ohio was beautiful and that the balloon would be flying. So we un-manifested and headed over to the balloon launch.


Balloon1*Photo by Robyn Miller


Rick and I were last out of the balloon, doing a two- way with him falling backwards in an attempt to capture my entire jump on video. Unfortunately, his GoPro failed (again) and we didn’t capture the jump.


You’ll have to take my word for it, if you haven’t done one, that it’s the most tranquil experience ever. Falling, silently through the blue sky. There’s just nothing like it.


Balloon2*Photo by Robyn Miller


I can’t wait to have the opportunity to do one of these again. Let’s just hope for some more good weather before the snow starts to fall.


How did you spend your Halloween weekend?


Blue skies!


Ashley

10/30 2009

SkydiveChick updates


A few updates in the life of a Skydive Chick (and no, I have no idea why I’m using bullets here):

  • The balloon jump didn’t happen again yesterday. I think I’ve jinxed it by announcing it on Twitter and Facebook. So we’re trying to reschedule, but this time I’m keeping the wheres and whens to myself. You’ll know it’s happened when I post the video.

  • We tried calling around to all the local DZs and no one was jumping. With a ceiling of 1900 ft and a possible clearing by 5 p.m., that didn’t leave us much time to skydive, and it was still a big IF that the clouds might clear.

  • So instead I spent part of yesterday evening at North Coast Body Mod in Mentor-on-the-Lake, OH, having Donny draw up the second half of my skydiving tattoo. The closing pin on my wrist was just a little too simple for me, so I decided to have phase 2 drawn up. Donny was able to take the concept in my head and make it come to life. Flipping through his portfolio I knew the tattoo would turn out amazing as his detail work was incredible! I didn’t anticipate actually having the ink done yesterday, but I needed some form of adrenaline rush without jumping. Here’s what it looks like the day after.



DSC00841

(Still a little goopy from the A&D, but you get the idea. What an incredible original piece. I’m so proud to wear this. Thanks, Donny!)


Another great skydiving tattoo that came out of North Coast Body Mod is this one that’s on Rick’s shoulder.

rick tattoo(Actual colors of Rick’s Sabre canopy, absolutely incredible!)


This is a cover up piece done by Brian. I’ve yet to see a reaction other than pure amazement when he shows this off. Needless to say I’m now a huge advocate for North Coast Body Mod. I’ll definitely be tapping their talent the next time I decide to get inked.


Okay, enough about this skydive chick’s life – on to some weekend happenings you actually care about.


Given that this weekend is Halloween, I’m sure there will be a lot of spooktacular boogies going on at most DZs. However, in case you’re unaware, I’ve listed a few that you might want to consider attending if you’re in the area.


  • 10/31 – Target Skysports. UK. Frostbite Friendly 10-way speed competition and Halloween party. Check out the details at Dropzone.com.
  • 10/31 – Skydive Tecumseh. End of year party. This is an event that may be better suited for regulars as they’re having an end of year film competition with footage from around the DZ this season, but it’ll likely be worth the trip as they’re having helicopter jumps as well as a super otter. Don’t forget about what’s likely to be a hilarious Halloween costume contest.
  • 10/31-11/1. Skydive Pennsylvania. Grove City, PA. This is where you’ll find me this year. There’s a Halloween party going on Saturday evening and the weather is supposed to be clear for lots of jumping on Sunday.


Where ever you end up this Halloween…


Blue Skies!


Ashley

10/14 2009

Oh the memories


So I had every intention of speaking in greater detail today about some of the freefly jumps that were completed this weekend – with video and everything.


But, the video isn’t cooperating, which is a sign that it’s just not meant to be today.


Instead, I’d like to document some of my favorite memories from this season. There have been so many, and with the colder weather coming in (up here in the North, that is), what a better time to reflect on the season and document the best memories in permanent fashion – here on the interwebs.


Let’s go back in time, shall we, and dig up those events, photos, quotes, and times spent around the bonfire that made this season so great.


-Getting to be Bob’s last AFF student at Cleveland Parachute. What an amazing skydiver – and a great friend!

Picture 4*Photo by Dan Mathie


-Working demos for Danger at Nelson Ledges.

Demo*Photo by Ashley Mead


-Making the move to Canton Air Sports as my home DZ and meeting so many great people in such as short amount of time.


-Completing water training in a pond with 5 men on one of the coldest mornings of the summer.


-Using my on-the-ground photography skills to help out Lonnie during the busy times at Canton Air Sports.

Lonnie*Photo by Lonnie Kirk (one of my first mentors and an incredible photographer)


-Howling with pure excitement under canopy when I finally got my track down.


-The nervousness and pure thrill of jumping my first pack job on my new rig.

IMG_4710

(Not my first jump on the rig, but a recent photo of an approach)


-Passing my A-license check dive with Tom, my first instructor, and the ensuing hugs and celebrating with all my DZ friends.


-Getting a skydiving tattoo: closing pin on my right wrist.

tat1


-Jumping from a helicopter at the Work Stinks Boogie. Pure tranquility from 4,500 feet.

Heli3*Photo by Norman Kent


-Meeting and having photo/video taken by Norman Kent (see above).


-Sitting up on my first attempt at a sitfly, and realizing just how much I love freeflying.


-Getting invited to jump with Team Magnuson and work on my RW skills during the Jump for Diabetes.


-Notable quotes:

  • Are those your legs, or are you riding a chicken?
  • HIM. HIM. F#@& HIM.
  • I like to chase my dad sometimes too!
  • Don’t over-think it. Just jump.
  • I’m calling that one the ‘reverse cowgirl!’
  • BEANS!


-The day I completed a 15 minute pack job and thought to myself “you know, I really don’t dread packing anymore.” And I haven’t minded it since.


-Meeting my freefly partner and planning some of the most exciting jumps of the season.

IMG_4263We even match!


-Celebrating the life of Dan Mathie with fellow skydivers who loved him.

Head Stand


-Attending my first boogie: Work Stinks at Start Skydiving in Lebanon, OH, and mingling with some of the most incredible jumpers.


-Getting to spend quality time with Danger and soaking up all the knowledge I could. You’ll continue to be an inspiration, Dan.

Demo Landing*Photo by Ashley Mead


-Bonding over beers, bonfires and shared experiences with the people who have become my dearest friends.


Looking back, skydiving has completely changed my life – for the better. Honestly, I can say that skydiving has saved my life. This sport has helped me become more self-aware and self confident than I ever dreamed imaginable.


It’s hard to believe how much has been accomplished in a few short months. Finishing out the season as a B-licensed skydiver, with more than 60 skydives under my belt, and a passion like I’ve never experienced before, I’m more than thrilled with how this season unfolded.


I can’t wait to see what the upcoming seasons bring.


What are some of your favorite memories of this skydiving season?


Blue skies!



Ashley