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O, The Oprah Magazine

WHERE ARE YOU GOING?

This is Amy! (ANDY FARRINGTON/RED BULL CONTENT POOL.)

AMY CHMELECKI, PROFESSIONAL SKYDIVER

Breaking a World Record over Sebastian, Florida

WHEN I WAS 14, I heard two women talking about having gone skydiving, and my ears instantly pricked up. I knew what it was, obviously, but hearing their conversation made it real—I imagined myself somersaulting through the air. And as soon as I conjured up the visual, I thought, Oh, I have to do that.

Right after I turned 18, the minimum age in the U.S., I did my first jump and absolutely loved it. After college, I moved to Arizona, near a large skydiving facility. I thought, I’ll treat myself: I’m going to goof off for a year, wait tables, skydive a ton, and figure out what to do next. But one year turned into two, then three. I was spending all my tip money on jumps, and eventually became a teacher and full-time skydiver. It was strange for my family at first. They said, “You’re going to do this full-time? When are you going to get a real job? When are you going to have kids?” And I was like, “Yeah, I’m not. I’m not doing any of that.”

Last year a partner at Red Bull and I organized an event called Fly Girls. We assembled more than two dozen female skydivers to try to set a record. To succeed in that kind of attempt, you probably need to have jumped hundreds of times. I’d estimate that the ratio of men to women at that skill level is about 10 to 1. To drive things home, we made sure the whole team—the production crew, the photographers, and even the pilot—were women.

That day 26 of us jumped, and we did break the world record for most vertical female skydivers linked in multiple formations in the air at one time. I wasn’t too surprised—we were completely in sync, in an unstoppable mindset—but I was pretty amazed that we did it in one try. It was so wonderful to watch everyone in free fall, diving and spinning, like a starburst of human beings. And I was so happy to achieve something brand-new alongside my friends—hand in hand, hurtling through the sky.

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