Featured Friday - James Carlson

October 14, 2016

Skydive Arizona is a big drop zone with many extraordinary people! The Featured Friday series is aimed at getting to know the people that make Skydive Arizona work and rock!

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What do you do for a living/career?

I’m a child welfare social worker. I spend my time saving children and keeping families together. As much as I love it, it’s incredibly stressful and skydiving allows me to just worry about myself, relax, and have fun. For 60 seconds I can fly. Lots of things matter, but the small insignificant problems fade away and you can live in the moment.

What/who inspired you to make your first jump?

My best friend. We sat next to each other for years at work just talking about doing it. My friend is incredibly bold and finally said let’s just do it. I pulled out my credit card and never looked back!

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When was the moment you decided that you wanted to earn your A-license?

The moment I got on the ground after my first tandem. I had John the Rigger as my first tandem instructor and the feeling of that first freefall I will never forget. I went home, looked up AFF prices, fainted, then picked up a second job to save up. Fast forward a year, I kept talking myself out of it. Own day I was watching a video and Kristi came over and told me not to shut up and just do it. My response “I don’t” and she cut me off and said “you’ll never know if you don’t jump.” … Yeah, there’s a reason she’s my best friend.

What was the hardest part going through the student program?

Oh God. I worked full time through Grad School and I would still say that was easier for me than the student program. Fear. Fear of success. Fear of Failure. Fear of Heights. Fear of death. As cliché as it might sound, learning to trust and believe in myself. I was terrified of every jump until my first Hop and Pop, and then it was finally fun. There I was, on top of the world, and completely free.

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What kind of student do you think you were?

Hmmm. I think Bob has a few gray hairs and Roberto went deaf from all the thinking out loud I did. Ha. Every time Roberto would walk by during gear he’d he’d tell me in his think accent “Stop thinking I can hear you over here,” in response to the fear that was written all over my face. That advice transfers to almost every aspect of life. Just relax and do the best you can.

There are several skydiving centers to choose from, what made you choose Adventures in Skydiving here at Skydive Arizona?

It’s one the biggest, the reviews are phenomenal, and the coaches are top notch. I remember someone posting in some review that Skydive AZ doesn’t need your money and if you act unsafe they’ll ground you. I haven’t necessary seen anything crazy like that but everyone here is incredibly safety cautious and it makes me feel very comfortable. Everyone is helpful and eager to help. If you don’t something, ask.

What are your future skydiving goals?

To be the best skydiver I can be and to relax and have fun. I Eventually I’d like to get into CRW and be a part time AFF instructor or coach. I enjoy teaching and I’d love to try and help others progress through the natural hurdles that come with the sport. If flying were easy, everyone would do it.

What’s the best resource you’ve found as a newbie?

Asking questions. Reading the articles on Dropzone.com, but also talking to the coaches. Articles and books are great resources, but really leaning on my coaches and consulting people who know me was the greatest resource. I recently bought my first rig and was on the phone with one of my mentors prior to every step and actually had him talk to the seller directly just in case I was forgetting something.

If you’re reading this, and you haven’t jumped and you’re thinking about it. The best advice I can give is just take the class. Talk with the coaches. Come out to the dropzone and have lunch on the lawn. A wise person once told me, you’ll never know if you don’t jump.

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