Leading Ladies

March 07, 2017

In celebration of International Womens Day, we are featuring two IBA Instructors from opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean. These girls are amazing at what they do and we are proud to call them one of our own.

Meet Aimee, a skydive Instructor turned tunnel Instructor and Rachael, a black belt Judo player turned tunnel Instructor. Their passion for challenge led them to where they are now... hear their stories below...

By Aimee Southwell, IBA Instructor 

Courtesy of iFLY UK 

My name is Aimee and I have been skydiving and working in the industry since 2010. Prior to working as a tunnel Instructor, I worked full time at numerous skydiving drop zones as a Tandem Instructor and camera-woman filming the tandems. I thoroughly enjoyed this, but wanted to improve my personal flying, so I applied for a position as a tunnel instructor at iFLY Milton Keynes, formerly known as Airkix Indoor Skydiving.

When I was accepted for the position I was ecstatic, yet knew that there was still the challenging Flight Instructor Training Progamme (FITP) to pass first! The course is designed to make you aware of all situations that may occur during your classes. This includes not only the art form of being a coach, but the vitally important education on how to prevent injuries from occurring in the first place.

The course is incredibly demanding on your body as it involves catching students who fall or roll over; essentially being a human cushion to avoid people obtaining bumps and bruises. For myself, I was at the gym nonstop for a month with a Personal Trainer to get myself ready. Even then some training days were exhausting. Throughout the 4 weeks we became incredibly fit through endless drills and nonstop running around the tunnel in circles. I’m not joking!

But this helps to explain why, when you finally pass, it’s one of the most incredible feelings you will ever know. You are so proud of yourself! I have been a full-time tunnel Instructor now for just under a year and it has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. Meeting so many amazing new people, experiencing new environments, and enjoying incredible progression in my own personal flying and skydiving.

I can honestly say that I thoroughly enjoy teaching people in this industry. Each new flyer is another addition to the skydiving family. I am hoping that over the next couple of years I will improve my coaching and flying ability to a level where I can become a freelance coach, both in the tunnel and in the sky. If all goes well, I may even get to enjoy the added bonus of travelling the world!

 

Interview with Rachael Roosa, IBA Instructor

What drew you to become an Instructor? 

It found me. A friend of mine I know from Judo introduced me to Veronica Guzik, the Sales Manager of iFLY Austin. I had just moved to Texas from New York and was looking for work so I applied to be a Customer Service Representative. When I came to iFLY Austin for an interview, I realized I knew the Lead Instructor, Daniel Lovett, also from Judo (small world story: her sister used to live with him!). With my background in Judo, he knew the Instructor    would be a better fit for me so on the day of my CSR interview he brought me in the tunnel. I ended up getting the Instructor job and 2 weeks later I started FITP.

How did you prepare for FITP?

I didn’t. It sprung on me so I didn’t have time to prepare. Of course, years of playing Judo and maintaining an overall fit physique helped!

How was your experience in FITP?

It was great. I was by myself, so it was intense, just me and my Trainer Daniel Cordido.

My competitive nature made FITP difficult because I didn’t pick things up right away and I would be hard on myself. Over time I have grown to appreciate the challenge. I am improving every day and am happy I could get the basics under my belt. It went by fast.

Danny always wanted me to have questions for him and would ask that I go home and mull things over before the next session.

What were the challenges you faced?

Time management, because I was working another full-time job at the same time.

The physical endurance I needed to make it through a long night of FITP. Thank goodness it was Daniel Cordido training me and not Daniel Lovett! That’s a 50lb difference!

Did anything come easily?

I have a customer service background, working in the restaurant industry. But with zero skydiving background and never having even been in a wind tunnel before interviewing, everything has been a complete learning experience.

What is your favorite part of your job now?

I love the challenge. I enjoy the physicality. Learning the physics of flying has been interesting for me.

And of course my team at iFLY Austin. They are the most incredible, intelligent, loving people I could ever ask to work with. Being new to Texas, they have become my family.

Anything else to add?

Doing Judo in the tunnel. It’s cool getting to merge my old passion with my new passion.

During FITP Danny would challenge me to wrestle in the tunnel to mix things up and make our sessions interesting and fun. I didn’t know how to use the wind so I would get really tired really fast. But now that I’ve gotten more comfortable with the airflow, I can use it to my advantage and throw him, which I couldn’t do before.

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Feeling inspired? Read past interviews with other female Instructors, Nikki Blakeslee and Cat Adam (the first female Trainer level 4).

Ready to become an Instructor? You can contact us for more information on enrolling FITP at info@tunnelflight.com.

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