Featured Friday - Jay Stewart

June 24, 2016

Skydive Arizona is a big drop zone with many extraordinary people from local to visiting jumpers, staff, pilots, instructors, ground crew, maintenance, manifest to teams, event organizers and load organizers!!! The Featured Friday series is aimed at getting to know the people that make Skydive Arizona work and rock

Today, meet an airline pilot who got into skydiving with a friend's encouragement. He's seen the Hale Bopp comet from 39,000' & has a great sense of humor - meet, Jay Stewart!

Head shot

What/who inspired you to make your first jump and why?
My friend Kirby Chambliss introduced me to this sport. He thought it would be cool to have someone that lived close by to go jump with. I think he was more like a Skydive pusher and I the potential junkie. What can I say…one is not enough.

slydive AZ

Where & when did you learn and what kind of student were you?
I learned here at SDAZ. My training began in September of 2013. I was a serious student and studied a lot. I have always had a fear of heights and leaning out the door with the intent to jump from 13000 feet did not come naturally.

You’re an airline pilot, too. Who inspired you to learn to fly and what was the journey like in becoming an airline pilot?
My Dad taught me to fly. My earliest memories are of flying with him on our Champ. I was probably around 2 or 3. He flew for Eastern Airlines so all the people I was around growing up worked for one airline or another. He was also a WWII veteran and had seen a lot. He always told me that my timing would be perfect for the expected pilot shortage and there would be a place for me in Aviation. He was correct. I have worked for a total of 6 Airlines. What a ride.

Day at the office

What’s your craziest flying story?
Everyone wants a scary story but my best memories are of practical jokes. Sending the new Flight Attendant to operations to get the keys to the plane or sending the new Baggage Handler to get a Bin Expander when there were to many bags to fit in the hold. Those were the funny ones. A few cool ones were seeing the Hale Bopp comet lighting up the night sky from 39000 feet. Seeing the International space station with the Shuttle docked streaking overhead in a star light sky. The most humbling and profound experience was bringing our troops home after the end of Desert Storm. Parking our 747 in front the military hangar with its huge yellow ribbon painted on its side; the band playing; then seeing the family members run past the fence to meet their loved ones…I still get emotional thinking about it. It was a once in a lifetime experience.

What are your future goals in skydiving?
First, and always, is to have fun. Second, is to continue working on improving skills. Or lack thereof… Since obtaining my license I have mainly focused on Vertical fight but I really want to start working on Belly too. Then there is Canopy skills… So much to learn so little time.

Vertical

How did SDAZ end up being your home DZ?
That’s easy. I live 20 minutes away. How lucky is that? Why did it take 23 years after moving to Arizona to start skydiving? That is the question…

Anything else you’d like to add?
It would be great to see skydiving become an Olympic sport. There are so many talented athletes and they should be able to showcase their skills. True, it requires an aircraft but almost every event requires some type of motorized device in some way. It may sound crazy now, but who ever though basketball would be Olympic?

One last thing…if you see me, please ask me to jump with you…jumping with friends is so much more fun!

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