Published: June 27, 2017
1. What attracted you to the sport of skydiving?
I have always wanted to fly. I dreamt of it as a kid but I thought the closest thing to it would to be a pilot. Then I discovered skydiving and realized I could actually fly!
2. What influenced you to actually make the phone call to make your first skydive?
I was a cosmetologist and constantly talked about wanting to do a tandem with my clients so my boss and some of my coworkers bought me a gift certificate for a tandem for my 21st birthday. I went and did it, begged the instructors to take me back up but they said they were gonna "fun jump" now. I had no idea what that meant at the time but I knew they were done with me. They never told me they could teach me how to be a skydiver. So 8 years went by before I met a tandem instructor through work who told me to come to Finger Lakes Skydivers. (it was called that before Justin Baker bought the DZ.) I showed up and the rest is history. I had an instant family here and I finally had a passion, something to look forward to on the weekends, which I did not have before. It changed my life!
3. Was there anything from your childhood that would have indicated you'd become a professional skydiver?
Yes and no. I wanted to be Wonder Woman! I climbed walls and on roofs and stuff but I was always a little afraid. My mother once threatened to ground me if I didn't get on this small roller coaster, which I waited years to be tall enough to go on, but when the time came I couldn't make myself do it. Finally with the threat of being grounded, I went, and of course loved it, and continued to ride it the rest of the day! My Grandfather had to throw dollar bills into the pool to get me to jump off of the diving board!
4. What's the most memorable skydive you've ever been on?
So many stick out to me for so many different reasons! But, the first one is the one that changed my life.
5. What's the most rewarding tandem skydive you've been on?
The most memorable tandem was when I took my Mom. We talked about it for years and I knew she wanted to but I wasn't sure she would ever do it. So, for my 40th birthday, that's what I told her I wanted. She did it! We did it around sunset, we have the most spectacular view of all of the Finger Lakes here, so we watched the sun starting to set over the lakes under canopy and were greeted on the field by a bunch of my sky family and my Mom's husband, my second Dad, (not my step dad, he is more to me than that) with champagne. I was soooo proud of her, she was very afraid, but she loved it!
6. Who / What inspires you?
So many people inspire me. I have great friends and family who have often seen more in me than I have. My boyfriend AJ has changed my life. He has encouraged me to be more than I thought I could be. I used to think that you had to choose, either make a living and be miserable or enjoy your work and be broke. He helped me see that it was possible to love what you do and that I am not sacrificing my integrity by making a living.
7. Of the places you have visited - what is your favorite place and why?
Italy! I lived there for almost 2 years. The food was amazing, but that goes without saying! The culture is so defined, and the architecture is so beautiful and old, very different coming from America. But, Stromboli, Sicily was my favorite place there. I climbed an active volcano at midnight, (with a guide, of course, I m not that crazy)! At night you could see the lava swirl around and shoot out and roll down the side. It was spectacular! At dusk we walked down a huge hill of black sand, you had to zig zag or you would wipe out! Of course, I ran down and did wipe out! We ended up on the beach where we were picked up by boat.
8. What other interests do you have outside of skydiving?
I love to kayak! In the winter, I live near the Gulf of Mexico. I sew and make jewelry, repurpose random things I find in junk shops. I love to create. Also, I am a pretty bad ass cook!
9. What is something about you that few people know about?
People know everything about me because I am an open book! But some people may find it interesting that I am kind of afraid of heights! Skydivers get that this is not the same thing. Also, I am shy, most people do not see that side of me because at the DZ and in front of people all the time!
10. If you could meet anyone in the world for a coffee and a chat who would you wish to meet with?
It is a toss up! Possibly Adele because I love her and want to be her best friend! Ha! she seems really cool and fun to me. Or, the Dalai Lama (I bet he doesn't drink coffee though). I just imagine that it would feel so peaceful and inspiring to be in his presence.
11. What do you do for work and what are your future goals?
I am finally a professional skydiver! I dreamt of it for a long time before I knew what it meant. I am the newly appointed skydiving operations manager, a tandem instructor, and coach, senior rigger, and was given the endorsement to be an S&TA and am working on the course now.
My goals are to remain in skydiving as a career. I love to mentor new jumpers. I have a desire to help improve the safety and training on a broader scale outside of my home dz. I also am currently working on a woman's courage seminar series with my good friend Erica Dawson. I have seen many women shy away from their desires, especially when those desires are dominated by men, simply because they are shy or nervous or listened to someone say they can't. I want to change that. (also, working with you guys wouldn't be so bad!)
I loved everything about the experience!
» Chalene F.