Melissa Lowe is one of the five Lead Organizers for Project 19 and is a CYPRES athlete. During COVID-19 she takes time to interview her Project 19 teammates.
Sara Curits has become a legend in the sport in her own right. Standing a whopping 5’2” tall and weighing in at 110 pounds – she’s a force to be reckoned with! Sara has a wall of 3 World Titles & 11 National titles in VFS, has 17 World Records, and is one of the lead organizers for Project 19. She’s a fair, very thoughtful, and down-to-earth person that makes her a valuable teammate, organizer, and person. So grab a seat and join us as we discover more about Sara Curtis!
hence her very faint accent. She moved to Toronto when she was just fourteen and stayed there until she was 30. Although she hadn’t dreamed of skydiving at the time, she randomly made her first jump after meeting a skydiver at the bar. Skydiving was much more than she expected and fell in love after the first jump. Sara recalls with a smile, “After that first jump, I had to try it again and again.. And again… well, the rest is history!”
In her earliest skydiving days, Sara remembers not having any specific career goals from about 1997-2004. She was simply just enjoying and discovering the sport. With time, her skills improved and she became an accomplished skydiver and respectable canopy pilot. She says, “Eventually when I moved to Eloy, I experimented with working in skydiving and quickly found it rewarding and enjoyable, but I hadn’t originally seen myself as a career skydiver.”
And she didn’t stop. She racked up jump numbers, got on a professional team and with a bit of grit and hard work, began to excel at all she did in the sport. But we don’t do it alone. She reminisced about a few of her mentors when she moved to Eloy: “When I moved to Arizona in 2005 my main influences as role models were my husband Steve, Amy Chmelecki, all of Arizona Airspeed, Omar Alhegelan, Jason Peters and Ty Losey who most would eventually make up the rest of my team Arizona Arsenal.”
about these mentors was their continuous drive for excellence in skydiving. She said they all seemed much more like “naturals” but she realized that it was the total immersion into the sport and constant drive and enjoyment of learning that made them all, “badass!” she explained.
Sara has travelled around the world to work and play in skydiving. But there’s one that sticks out to her the most that has had a great impact on her career and continuing the direction she does in the sport. “The 108-way, Vertical World Record in 2009 set the stage for me,” she says. “It was the first time I remember really feeling the energy of all 108 people flying as one!” When a world record forms and builds, a lot of people explain a feeling of an ‘electric current’ moving through the formation, which could really be everyone’s excitement, but pure focus to continue flying the skydive. “I experienced this feeling again in other world records, but the first time is really special.”
Then there are other skydives that are memorable to her, but sometimes those jumps aren’t meant to be shared with others, but to hold near to your heart. “The second jump I’m thinking of… well… if I told you I’d have to kill you!” she joked.
Sara has been in the sport for some time and many of us consider her balanced as she never expresses her burnout. So we asked what her secret was to keep that cool, ninja calm: “Definitely trying new things all the time. When I moved from VFS camera to flying to an inside position, it was so incredibly challenging and rewarding! Since then I have constantly made an effort to try new disciplines to allow myself to ‘be a student” all over again, which essentially helps me be better at what I’m most passionate about when I fly.” She continues, “I highly recommend as you get older in the sport, to engage in learning from people younger than you with expertise in something you don’t have expertise in.”
awards and achievements, we wanted to know what her greatest accomplishment has been in the sport. In her very humble way she said, “Teaching people to skydive (beginner or experienced) that I really respect and seeing the impact it has on their lives and goals.” Teaching is incredibly rewarding when your students stay in the sport and progress to reach their goals. We know it encourages confidence and a sense of accomplishment in their own lives. Sometimes they turn out to be the next leaders in the sport.
Sara is one of the lead organizers for the Women’s Vertical World Record. This year her, co-organizers and team have decided to honor this event by creating a 100-Way Vertical Formation Skydive to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment. Sara expressed her feelings of gratitude to be a part of this event in the capacity that she is. “I have always felt strongly about women’s equality and I have always felt strongly about what history can teach us. Also I have always felt strongly about women or any people that were once devalued as a group taking their place in the future as leaders alongside traditional leaders. I love how the goals of Project 19 parallel those concepts.”
we know as skydivers that a 100-Way is not an easy record to achieve. Not to mention with everyone sitting and waiting out the coronavirus quarantines. But the team has decided to postpone the event a few months to allow for more training before conquering their goal. Sara shared, “I think the challenges of this new world situation are just going to make all the women and men involved more hungry for success. Amy, myself and our amazing team are dreaming up and executing plans non-stop to keep us all in the game and I think these things will make the record journey even stronger.”
It brings us a smile when she said she’s happiest when she’s on a fun angle dive, or the moment when a new world record is achieved, or when a really difficult goal is reached. Because she’s walked that path from the simple things, to those things that take time and hard work to achieve. It’s incredible to watch the sport continue to grow and evolve with such great leaders such as Sara Curtis.
And we are rooting for Sara, a CYPRES athlete, and her entire team in this mission.