Amy Chmelecki is the only female skydiver in the universe rocking the Red Bull Air Force helmet!
As the first-and-only female member of the Red Bull Air Force team, Amy Chmelecki is leading the charge for women in skydiving. With over 14,000 jumps to her name, 11 World Records, 13 national titles and 7 world titles, she is also the most successful female skydiver on the planet! As a kid she dreamed of being a professional snowboarder. But at 18 when she got to finally try skydiving, she figured out that maybe it was something she could do all the time. She made every effort to ensure she chased that new dream and it’s a dream she is still living today.
“The thought of my actions inspiring other women, fuels me all the time.”
Her enthusiasm for the sport is infectious. At 38 she is still as fired up to keep learning, keep trying new things and inspiring more women to try skydiving. Increasing the ratio of women to men in the sport seems to be a focus for her. Boosting that same female ratio for all action sports is something that Still Stoked is focused on, so it was an absolute pleasure to get to chat with Amy and feed off her incredible energy, drive and love for life.
Amy, what does skydiving mean to you and what is it about the sport that really drives you?
“Skydiving means freedom.”
The feeling of flying my body and my canopy through the air is everything I dreamed about as a child. This is why I started. Competition is my drive to get better at this sport everyday. I have always loved competition and at the age of 38 I am happy to still be a competitive professional athlete. Since the day I started I realised that the community surrounding the sport of skydiving is a fantastic one, full of like-minded characters from all walks of life. While competition is my drive, it is the community makes it so comfortable every step of the way.
You’ve done thousands of jumps, does one really stands out in your mind?
I had a once in a lifetime opportunity to fly my wing suit down the Hudson river (NY) with Manhattan on my right and New Jersey on my left. I opened my parachute adjacent to the Freedom Tower and landed on a barge in the Hudson River. I was with 4 of my teammates from the Red Bull Air Force. Three of us grew up in lower New York. My entire family was there. It was BEAUTIFUL on so many levels. The New York Harbour Police cheered us on as me touch down. Check it out!
You must meet some incredible people on your travels, what’s it like as a woman in such a male dominated sport?
Being a professional competitive skydiver takes commitment, organisation, balance and a calm mind. Women are generally good at all these things. This sport is unique in the sense that in most skydiving disciplines, the male and female playing ground is level and I LOVE THAT!!!!! Standing on top of a podium feels incredible no matter if you are shaking down to a man or women. However it is the thought of my actions inspiring other women that fuels me all the time.
You are the first woman on the Red Bull Air Force professional team, what do you think this means for the future of women in skydiving?
To be honest, I don’t really know? I hope to see another women on my team one day soon. I also hope to see more companies invest in #ChicksThatRip and are #StillStoked.
What do you think prevents people from trying skydiving, do you think men and women have different reservations?
Skydiving is a different kind of sport. The female to male ratio for people doing their first skydive is actually higher, meaning statistically more women then men try skydiving. However as people become more and more into the sport the ratio changes dramatically. At the level I compete, the work and play the ratio is around 12 men to every 1 woman, (admittedly there is no science behind that statistic, it is just my best guess, from what I see and experience). I am not really sure why that is? Maybe it has to do with having children. A female skydiver would definitely have to take some time off during that process. I have seen many women slow down their jumping and/or quit all together after childbirth. It is a big and personal choice. I support what ever a women decides to do.
Skydiving is super high risk. How do you juggle your passion for progression versus wanting to settle down?
Ha ha ha, I just got into that in the above question. My family totally supports me. My mom checks my Facebook everyday! I do not currently have a partner, but my guess is when I find the right person, they will support me :-). I don’t want to have children. I would not mind adopting (kids) one day. If that ever happens, my guess is I will slow down, but more then likely as I get older I will slow down a bit anyways. I am very open to all of life’s possibilities and I am extremely lucky to be surrounded my open minded people.
Can you tell us a bit about Sisters in Skydiving?
SIS is a concept developed by the United States Parachute Association (USPA) to help encourage women to continue to skydive, (to get that ratio I was talking about above, a little more even). The idea is that more experienced women in the sport mentor newer female flyers. Skydiving is usually a few girls with a bunch of guys, check it out! I am not complaining about that, not at all – but it is nice to get all the girls together from time to time.
Amy Chmelecki & The Joy Riders XP: 63 way all-women skydive world record at 18,000ft (2013)
What would you say to any girl wanting to learn to skydive?
Try it! Just try it! Do a tandem skydive and fly in a wind tunnel, see if you like it! If you like it you will know and you will keep coming back. If it is not your thing, you will be so happy you tried it.
Women in skydiving: The Joy Riders XP – fun, fearless, free-flying females that want you to feel the freedom of skydiving too!
Can you share with us the best advice you have ever been given?
My Art History professor at the University of New Hampshire handed me a report I wrote without a grade on it. He said “You may have gotten away with this in high school, but do not even come to my class if you are going to produce this kind of work.” I was mortified and pissed off, scared and sad all at the same time. However without knowing it at the time, he set me on a path to try my hardest to do my best with all that I did. I woke up a little that day.
What do you wish you knew when you started out, that you know now?
That concept is to hard for me to understand, If I knew it then I would not be the person I am now and I am not sure if I want that – I am good with how it has all played out.
Skydiving – one word?
Thanks Amy, you are a massive inspiration to all women in sport. I am signing up to do my skydive licence in the new year. I can still remember my first tandem jump, it was in New Zealand, deep above the snowy mountains and lakes of Queenstown. IT WAS INCREDIBLE. Isn’t it funny how one action sport is often the gateway drug to another! I think we are all chasing that freedom- Alexa x
Amy Chmelecki on the feminine side of skydving as part of the Red Bull Air Force team:
Let’s get more women in skydiving!
Look up your local skydiving schools or jump zones and make sure you follow Amy Chmelecki on her travels, her jumps and world record attempts across her social media: