Taya Weiss’s multidisciplinary status in skydiving is legendary–as is the unusually wide scope of her impact on both the sport and the planet under the skies she plies. Since Taya first jumped in 2001, she has logged more than six thousand jumps as a
wingsuit flyer, BASE jumper, demonstration skydiver, jumpmaster and lead record organizer of three quite enormous wingsuit formations. (She even helped to invent the discipline of XRW.) Beyond that, Taya founded Raise the Sky, a non-profit that uses skydiving to magnetize and engage charitable work, combining Taya’s professional skydiving with her deep background in community organization in one powerful package.
But it’s not just about saving the world and constantly leveling up the sport-at-large of skydiving, is it? It’s also about eating spicy food. Here are Taya’s answers to the ten questions we always ask–delivered in true polymathic style.
Q: What’s your desert island food?
Taya: Chips and salsa, or hummus and Thai chilis. Crunchy and spicy all the way!
Q: What would your superhero costume be?
Taya: Other than the flying cape and magic nylon backpack I already wear? Invisibility cloak!
Q: What was your favorite toy as a child?
Taya: My bike. I used to sneak off on unauthorized adventures from as early as I can remember, and having wheels helped me get further, faster. (Some things never change.)
Q: What’s your spirit animal?
Taya: Miles Daisher!
Q: What’s your favorite record?
Taya: For go time: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Blood Sugar Sex Magik. For bath time: Miles Davis, Kind of Blue
Q: How would your best friend describe you? Your worst enemy?
Taya: The main difference between the two would be in interpretation of context and intention. My self-appointed worst enemies seem to think my drive comes from a selfish place, whereas my friends see the whole picture of vulnerability, dedication, and a desire to create opportunities for others.
Q: Describe your ideal day.
Taya: A day in which none of my friends die.
Q: What’s the very best mistake you’ve ever made?
Taya: Impulsively quitting my first job out of college. I had no Plan B, no other opportunities lined up, and no way to pay the rent, but I knew I wasn’t on the right path. Getting through that experience taught me that I could follow my instincts and although it’s not always easy, it leads to thriving.
Q: What do you think nobody should ever worry about? And why?
Taya: When faced with tough decisions, the first thing to take out of the equation is our fear of what people (quote-unquote, vaguely defined) will think. This doesn’t mean doing whatever we want and discounting the advice of trusted peers, mentors, and friends. It means naming our own demons and putting them to rest. Most of the time when we fear some kind of public reprisal or judgment, it’s really self-doubt coming from inside ourselves. Once we get past that, we can make better decisions and set bigger, clearer goals.
Q: How long does it take you to finish a bucket of popcorn in the theater?
Taya: I’m done by the end of the previews, because life is short and I love popcorn!
Q: …What’s next for you?
Taya: In every way, I am excited and ready for what’s coming!
I’ve spent a wonderful and, for me, unusual amount of time in the last year giving my personal life the same attention I would to a big skydiving project. It has felt revolutionary in this phase of my skydiving life to cultivate stability, a sense of home, and the kind of love that gives me a solid platform from which to love and support others.
Lightning Flight, the wingsuit school at Skydive Perris that I run with my team of 12 coaches, is opening a new campus at Skydive Elsinore soon. This is a great opportunity for us to bring the best wingsuit education to more people and spread the love in Southern California. One of the things I love the most about Lightning Flight is that all of our coaches are dedicated not only to teaching, but also to constantly improving our own skills and jumping together.
I’m excited to be a founding member of the recently-launched Next Level, which perfectly complements Lightning Flight. Next Level is a worldwide network of instructors with shared values, working from common curriculums, dedicated to helping jumpers work safely towards their biggest goals in both skydiving and BASE.
Together, Lightning Flight and Next Level are working to do for wingsuit flying what Flight-1 first did for canopy piloting. In the coming years, we will see improved and constantly evolving education, training, mentoring, and structure for our fast growing discipline.
Last but not least, I’m writing a book. I love telling stories as much as I love to fly, but I have learned that these two pursuits require different kinds of focus. I’ve learned a lot about my working style and I am lucky to have found the accountability and support I need to commit to a deadline in 2018. So, watch this space!
CYPRES is proud to support Taya in the full scope of her boundlessly positive works. To connect with Taya for coaching or appearances, reach out to her through her website: tayaweiss.com.
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