First Jump: November 6th, 1978, at West Point, Virginia
First Rig: Paracommander (Black Widow color pattern) in a Mini
with a chest mount reserve. 100 round jumps before I got to jump
first square, a Strato Cloud (old style).
First Square: Paramount
Current gear: Stiletto 107. Talon. MicroRaven 120. Cypres
Total Jumps to date: 4,500
Current drop zone: Perris, California
Skydiving and other sports provide me with complete freedom to
be as good as I can be. I love to know that there are "no
limits". The best are always getting better, and that means
I can always learn and improve. Besides skydiving, I participate
in running, kayaking, fishing (this is a sport?), hiking/camping
and boating. I am going to do my first marathon this year!
Skydiving ,especially, has given me the self confidence to tackle
the rest of the world. I definitely would not be the woman I am
today without my sport. I just do not get intimidated, and I look
around and see people allowing themselves to be intimidated every
My most unusual jump occurred when filming the movie DROP ZONE.
We did a lot of unusual and different jumps. I made about 30 relative
work jumps at night with a drogueless tandem. For those of you
who haven't tried this, they fall FAST! The landing areas were
in downtown Miami by the bay, dressed as cops.
I also landed on a building at night during the filming of the
movie. Jumping a PD 235 7-cell, Bob Hallet, Guy Manos and I landed
in a 3 second spread on a VERY cluttered roof of a building in
Northridge (LA) California. The landing area, a helipad, had large
metal satellite dish antenas scattered over it so the landings
wouldn't look to "easy".
My scariest jump was when I dislocated my shoulder on a 60-way
in October 1994. I ended up docking on the formation anyway because
I didn't want to pull high and deal with the shoulder for 10,000
ft under canopy! I had a shoulder reconstruction in 1995 and everything
is as good as new now!
The funniest jump was doing the record attempts in Slovakia in
1994 as part of the World Team. I worked as BJ Worth's assistant
for the records and got to interact with jumpers from, I think,
15 countries. I was in the base 20 for those dives, a big change
from the outside waves I am accustomed to and it was great! I
was the only woman in (I think) the front 100. Of course I had
to wear 25 pounds of weights to do it, but that is the price you
pay! It was a great experience and I can't wait to duplicate it
during the 300-ways to be held in Russia this year.
Doing the 200 way (current world record) was also a fantastic
experience. I worked as Guy Manos' second in command on those
dives and really enjoyed the complete experience.
I have, with my husband Tony, organized two 100+ formations in
Southern California. I also started the 20-way Thanksgiving meet
in Perris that just completed its 10th meet. I have organized
with Roger Ponce de Leon at the World FreeFall Convention in Quincy
for several years, concentrating on large sequential skydives
with jumpers from around the world.
As the main "front person" for Square One. I interact
with many people world-wide every day. I still answer the phone
as one of the sales persons simply because I love talking to skydivers
so much! I also love selling Skydiving gear and I enjoy helping
women especially with starting into the sport the right way.
I find that too often women have been recommended the completely
wrong gear, often by a more experienced boyfriend. The idea is
to not get hurt. First and foremost, and just because someone
weighs 120 pounds, it does not automatically qualify them to jump
a Stiletto 97 or equivalent canopy. This is something that we
come across every day at Square One and educating people as to
the proper gear selection is a major part of our business. I firmly
feel that if you cannot stand up your canopy in any conditions,
98 times out of 100, then you are on the wrong canopy and way
too many people settle for a 50% (or worse) stand up ratio. I
hate seeing that because injured jumpers hurt the sport.
Recommendations for women who want to succeed in the sport. Do
not get hung up on the sex thing. Just go out there and practice
and succeed! Women get a bad rap because, well, they skydive like
girls! They complain too much, they float because they haven't
planned properly for the skydive, and the allow physical strength
to become an issue. Work out, wear weights if you have too, and
don't whine. This is a simple recipe for succeeding in a mixed
sex sport. Try things, like front floating, and become good at
them. Do all the positions on a 4-way, and give a good count.
Learn how to dive and float, and learn how to fall a good base.
Organize the next dive you are on. Swoop the pond, and stand up.
Do a demo and volunteer to jump the smoke! Buy a case of beer
(or soda) if you make an error that deserves it. Instigate the
next kiss pass you do. And most importantly, enjoy yourself--it
is not the destination that is the goal, but the trip itself!
I feel that women have come a long way in the 18 years I have
been jumping. When I started I was very lucky to be at a drop
zone, West Point, Virginia, where there were an inordinate number
of experienced and respected women. Carolyn Clay was the "queen"
of the drop zone even then, and it wasn't until I started traveling
up and down the eastern seaboard that I realized exactly how few
women were in this sport. I think a lot of it had to do with the
physical requirements of the sport back then. The gear was heavy
and landings were often hard. I didn't stand up a canopy until
I had over 20 jumps--it was a round though, a 28".
With the introduction of AFF and squares for students, the sport
became a lot more accessible to smaller people. I now see lots
of women entering the sport. I feel that this sport is a small
persons sport. We might need to wear weights to jump with the
big guys, but a small person with weights can move easier than
a great big guy any day!
I have a little ritual whenever a world record is complete, I
count the number of women and I have been very pleased to see
the number increasing by leaps and bounds every time. I look forward
to seeing how many women are on the 300 way later this year. It
should be between 50 and 100.
The best thing, of course, about being a woman in this wonderful
sport is getting to jump with the guys! What other sport can you
play and compete with men on a regular basis? I love being "one
of the boys" And I wouldn't trade it for anything. I have
worked long and hard to bring my freefall skills up to a level
where I am considered an equal when jumping--whether on a fun
jump at Perris or on a world record attempt in Slovakia. No it
isn't easy and no that trust doesn't come quickly--but it is great
when it comes.
I pretty much took 1995 off because of a major shoulder injury
and ensuing surgery. I started jumping hard again in December
and Wow! It was fun! I am enjoying the sport as much as I did
when I started 18 years ago, although in a different way. I do
not anticipate ever giving it up. I just don't get bored. I sometimes
go out to the DZ and just get on a load and jump with whomever--it
is a gas (especially when they ask to see your logbook!)
Athletic and Sports Accomplishments:
Total Jumps to date: 4,500
Silver medal 20-way 1993.
Silver medal 10 way 1984
placed as high as 5th place open 4-way in US Nationals.
Cal Cup 6-way meet (Perris) 4 different times.
Coached gold medal collegiate team 1985
Current World record holder (200-way). Also 144-way, 120-way,
100-way and women's 60-way.
Captain on 200-way. Second in command on World Team '94 to BJ
Captain for World Team '96 300 way attempts.
Captain and quadrant leader
for Roger Nelsons 222 way attempts 1994.
Organizer of first 100-way in California.
Started Perris 20-way competition (now in its 10th year).
Headline organizer at Quincy with Roger Ponce de Leon several
years. World Cup Gold Medal in 20-way December '95.
Sierra Club, Smithsonian, First Class Girl Scout and Honor Club
business owner and manager
Bachelor of Science in Geology from the College of William and
Mary in Virginia.
©Copyright 1996 by Jan Meyer.