“It had to do with a family friend who was a little bit crazy – the good kind of crazy – who was the first skydiver I’d met as a kid and I think it somehow planted the seed for me to get into the sport,” says Alethia Ausitn, creator of the LSD [Level, Slot, Dock] events. “However it wasn’t until 2002 that I actually made my first jump and the rest they say, is history.” Alethia is a force to be reckoned with. She’s a savvy marketer, event organizer, and talented skydiver and coach who is also a Project 19 Regional Captain. We at CYPRES are proud to welcome her as one of our newest athletes and part of the team!
Alethia was born and raised in a tiny town in Southern Oregon. She grew up with two brothers and two sisters to a single mother who worked really hard to put food on the table for the family. She remembers being a really tight family because of that.
She also shared that southern Oregon was incredibly beautiful with mountains, rivers, and lakes. However, despite its beautiful terrain, “it was a town lacking in potential, saturated in heavy drugs, and a sense of hopelessness,” Alethia added. “I had a really detached feeling with the area from a very young age and somehow knew it wasn’t the place for me.”
When Alethia turned seventeen, and just a few days from graduating high school, she kissed her family goodbye and stepped out into what would become a life path spreading out over three countries. “I’m super grateful for growing up in nature and having that sort of heavy place as a springboard for desiring more for my life.”
Alethia ended up moving to Los Angeles in 2000 and, “felt all sorts of disoriented there. I had come from a tiny town, growing up super poor and didn’t understand how to relate to the seemingly polished, smart big world. Then I got the idea to go make a skydive.”
She did an internet search and chose Skydive California City (now closed) owned by Van and Alberta Pray. “I went by myself and did my first tandem with an instructor named Soko. I loved it so much, I immediately did a second one!” she exclaimed. “I didn’t feel any nerves on my first tandems. I was so calm, and peaceful, like I’d been waiting for that moment for a long time.”
Alethia wasted no time and started her AFF training. “When I went through my AFF course, that’s where my nerves kicked in. But those first tandems felt like entering into some sort of new dimension,” she recalled. “Skydiving gave me this exceptional insight into what was really happening inside of me, where I really stood in the confusing bustle of Los Angeles and offered me a way to take inventory on my life and soul as a person in the face of the fear of death.”
She continued, “I was able to let that fear of death force me to really look at myself and my actions and be sure all was in alignment with my values. It was a very personal experience for me. Doing it alone, driving two hours to the middle of the California desert every few weeks, windows down and music blasting, knowing I got to experience this unique thing with these people that were so completely eccentric and extraordinary compared to my small town experience and my Los Angeles experience. I melted into the dropzone world, this girl working in Hollywood, totally out of her element in that big city of red carpets and strange facades, driving to the middle of nowhere where people were completely relaxed, welcoming, inclusive and who strung together bonds with people immediately. Needless to say, I fell in love with not only the massive experience of leaving the airplane and what that meant for my life, but also with this wildly uncommon, extremely sincere community.”
Alethia’s connection with the sport propelled her to continue pursuing this newfound passion. She shared she’s had personal goals along the way with skydiving and she started helping Skydive Cal City. “Van and Alberta saw how many people I was bringing in just out of my own passion. After that, I helped with Worlds in Holland, and then started helping out and working at ToraTora events. Eventually, I created LSD and started coaching.”
“All of the things I’ve done have been sort of a natural transition into the next. It wasn’t until about 6 years ago that I realised I was progressively becoming more involved in the sport through offering free help here and there just because I loved it so much. At that point I started looking to maybe take it a little more seriously,” she added.
Her progression within the sport began with several hundred goofy-no-plan jumps with anyone who would jump with her. Just enjoying the act of jumping from the plane. She then started to attend boogies and skills camps that gave her a whole new realization of how far and wide you could go in the sport. “I started to take it pretty seriously, first wanting to learn how to fly on my back on angle jumps. I was so hyper-focused on that until I could join my friends in the top groups. After that I met a girl fresh off the last Women’s Record who talked to me in-depth about her experience at the event. I was in LOVE! I suddenly was desperate to become a solid head-down flyer with the main intention of knowing and flying with 100 women. Nothing sounded more exciting and up my alley than seeing so many sisters supporting each other in such a grand effort. So, everything else in skydiving took a back seat to my goals to become a part of the record. I created LSD Skills Camps as a way to get 30 people to my home dropzone in Spain so that I, personally, could train. Through my camps, I was able to progress my own skills, but also to be a part of such a cool experience watching people sting for their first time. A few years into running these camps, I was coaching at a Freefly event, when I got a phone call from Amy Chmelecki, who I have had the most ultimate fan crush on for years and years. Seriously, I adore that woman. Anyway, she called, so naturally, I freaked out for a second and then picked up the phone, playing it cool. She asked me if I would accept to be a Regional Captain for the Women’s World Record. That was definitely one of my prouder moments. Oh, and yes, yes I accepted. Since then I’ve created LSD *Small* Bigway camps to help up and coming girls as well, who aren’t quite ready for my 2 plane events. The process of helping girls who are where I was years ago has been so much fun. Sisterhood is strong in this sport, and I love it.”
Alethia’s drive and focus has led her to be an upcoming role model in the sport and when asked what her greatest accomplishments in the sport have been thus far, she responded, “I’d say being on the 6th year of the LSD Vertical and Angle camps gives me a swell of pride. Not in my doing, but in seeing them run successfully with real accomplishments from my participants. Then becoming a Regional Captain for the Women’s Vertical World Record is another accomplishment I’m proud of. And rebranding the Swallow dropzones, coaching in Egypt and Botswana, and giving a presentation to a school in India about the positive effects of having a dream, correlated to skydiving. Specifically for females to become empowered to choose their destiny.”
“Skydiving has helped me look at life through a different lens,” she shares while reflecting on the life lessons skydiving has given her. “One where small connections and moments can be lifelong memories. Where people passing remind us of our frailty as humans and in this sport. Where hard work, intention and energy are rewarded with lots of tiny wins along the way. Where no matter how different people are, we can always find a way to relate to each other and meet on middle grounds where labels are removed, trust is involved and no matter how different we are, we’re still just humans trying to enjoy this human experience.”
This year Alethia has launched tunnel retreats combining her love of skydiving with her passion and yoga teacher background. These retreats allow her to share her experience and passion for wellness, meditation, a holistic approach to body flight, and plant based foods. She adds, “The retreats blend all of these elements with an intense tunnel coaching experience with Jesse “Tex” Leos. I’m working on a sky version of these retreats, coming up soon. LSD camps are expanding to other parts of the world, and I’m working on a small project that should be a pretty neat release soon. Not much more to say about that until later,” she said smiling.