How Skydiving Changed My Life - Nancy Fichtelberg


by Nancy Fichtelberg | USPA #247308 | North Brunswick, New Jersey

All of my life I have been afraid of so much: roller coasters, heights and even flying in airplanes! If I was a passenger in a car, I would tell the driver to slow down. I was not much of a daredevil, to say the least. I never had a hobby or had anything that I loved doing. I was the mom of four daughters who meant the world to me, but they were grown and had their lives to live. My husband and I had a home that was becoming empty.

Around this time, my husband had heart bypass surgery and was in a coma for several weeks. He recovered, but we were never the same financially. I worked (and still do) at a preschool, but we were not able to make ends meet, and we lost our home. It was a rough few years. This was when I knew I needed something more in my life. I just did not know what it was. I was depressed and I thought that this was as happy as I was going to be for the rest of my life.

Then one day I was at a park with my dog and noticed a plane flying in the sky. I wondered what it would be like to jump from one. I thought I might be too old to try, but I really wanted to anyway. My husband and I were trying to get back on our feet financially, so it took some time for me to save enough money. But two years ago, at 51 years old, I made my first tandem jump. As soon as I was in freefall, I knew I wanted more. We landed and the first words out of my mouth were, “I need to do this again and again and again.” I made another tandem two weeks later, falling even more in love.

After making several tandem jumps, I knew without a doubt I never wanted to stop jumping. I worked hard to pay for my jumps and to help with our bills such as rent and food. I took an AFF class but realized that I could not skydive alone; my mind was just not focused enough. But I did not want to stop jumping … ever. Jumping meant so much to me; it brought something into my life that I never had. I had such a passion and love for this sport and the sky. So I took another AFF class, but it was more than I could handle, and I decided that if tandem was the only way that I could jump from a plane, then I would do tandems until the day that I died.

Making tandems is very expensive, so I am very thankful to the owner of my drop zone, who gives me a discounted rate. I am not buying Manolo Blahnik shoes—I go to Payless; I am not buying Louis Vuitton purses, and my clothes are not from Macy’s, Lord & Taylor or Nordstrom—I go to Walmart. That is not what is important to me. What is important to me is the blue skies, freefall and seeing the world and its beauty from the sky.

I have recently made my 50th tandem jump and my first sunset jump. It was a jump that will be in my heart forever! I will always be thankful to everyone at the drop zone who made it as perfect as it was. Everyone at the drop zone has been wonderful to me; they are a second family. The support I have gotten from them is incredible.

I have given up so much to jump. I work long, hard hours, and when I am not working, I am babysitting to help with the cost of skydiving. For the first time in my life, I found something I love, something to look forward to. My daughters keep telling me that they wish I would stop jumping. They love me, and they are afraid. I try to explain how much it means to me, but they just do not understand.

I am the happiest I have ever been. I look forward to Saturdays, when I can jump. I have something in my life that I love. When I look up to the sky, a peace fills me. During the week, I do my job to the best of my ability, but I know that my heart is in the sky and that I will be back there again soon. I will jump for the rest of my life if I can. With everything I have gone through, I believe that skydiving has saved my life in many ways. It is a blessing to me and a gift that I will appreciate, always.


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Fri, 11/02/2012 - 23:17

Inspiring story. I know that you really had a hard time going through the pains in your life and I'm so glad for you that you were somehow able to fins a way to stand back up. Your kids wanted you to stop jumping not because they are afraid but I guess it is because they want to spend more time with you, their amazing mom. :)

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