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Catching up with Melanie Curtis: Explosion of Enthusiasm

Melanie Curtis — by Friend
Melanie Curtis — by Friend

If you jump at Skydive Elsinore and ask the staff at that dropzone if they know Melanie, most likely you'll be met with a smile and some happy recall of her bubbly personality, solid flying or contagious energy. When I was barely off of my A license, I thought Melanie was the cool chick at Skydive Elsinore. She knew everyone, she put together awesome jumps for people that looked like they knew what they were doing, she was the life of the raging parties and she always had a smile on my face.

Plus, she remained without an ego and to me, that seemed pretty amazing.
I was excited to catch up with her recently and hear about how much awesome she's continuing to spread throughout her days.

You've had quite the career in skydiving. Last time we were in touch, you were organizing Chicks Rock boogies in Elsinore. That must have been 8 years ago. What are you up to these days?

Wow, has it been that long?? Happy to reconnect! My years at Elsinore and with Chicks Rock are some of the proudest and most fun years of my career for sure. Still have so much love for that place and all the great people there, give Karl Gulledge and Andy Malchiodi a big hug from me next time you go! As for what’s up with me now, I moved back to the northeast after going on a World Tour! I am from upstate New York, went to college in Vermont.. LOVE this part of the world and the people who live here. Super stoked to be home.

I have also shifted my professional life to my life coaching business, transitioning my skydiving coaching career to a value-added educational YouTube presence and membership group called, The VSC.. aka The Virtual Skydiving Center. Basically a place for people to get coaching from me, in live video chats, in the private FB group, or just asking me to address a question, concern, situation in one of my next videos. I am SO fired up about this.. I can already see how much value is possible for everyone as a result… the true win-win is always what inspires and motivates me the most.

My plan with it is to download as much as I can from the 20 years of info that currently resides between my ears, and also tap my network of epic people to share that much more value for everyone, cross promote these other excellent coaches, add richness to the content sharing their voices and perspectives.. ultimately creating a library of high-value, easily consumable digital content for skydivers all over the world. In the process, we’re all connecting, meeting new people, and having some internet fun on the days between jumping. Anyone with any questions, please feel free to email me directly anytime, mel-at-melaniecurtis.com.

Exit glory over Skydive Chicago — by Patrick Collins
Exit glory over Skydive Chicago — by Patrick Collins

How did you get started in skydiving?

My Dad actually owns a small drop zone in upstate New York, so I was exposed to skydiving at a young age. I sat in on the first jump course MANY times as s kid. I could’ve jumped when I was 16, but I was scared. One day when I was 18, after I graduated high school, I just decided, ok, I’m doing it tomorrow. I did, and the rest is history.

What keeps you pumped about our sport?

The incredible people that I’ve been lucky enough to have come into my life, and that continue to make my life so rich. For them I am so deeply grateful. Hard to put words to it my people mean that much to me, ya know? I also love how much we all can do and learn over time such that we can participate in our sport safely at whatever level we choose. Some enjoy pushing the limits, whereas I’ve always been driven by the simple fun of flying with my people, no matter what the discipline. This is what drove me to become a multi-disciplined skydiver… I always wanted to be able to play with my friends no matter what they were doing.
As much as I can help others enjoy the sport safely and each other authentically (often comically hahaha #ridiculous), I do. That brings me joy too. Lastly, for the people still wanting to jump hard, I say… GOALS. Set a goal for yourself inside your skydiving… there is SO MUCH we can do and so much value in doing the work to achieve the next level of whatever part of skydiving you individually like the most. Better skills equals more fun, simple as that.

Do you have any pre-jump rituals, mantras or habits?

Other than personalized handshakes with pretty much everyone on the plane, I don’t have a mantra or anything like that. I certainly have pre-jump habits of checking my gear, going through my emergency procedures, visualizing the skydive, breathing deeply, exhaling any tension I feel in my body that may be coming up around fear, performance anxiety, or whatever else. Translating that mental control and peace into my physical body, I’d say is the biggest thing I do that both keeps me safe and flying well. Actually, funny that I didn’t write this automatically, because for me it seems to really happen automatically… is that I smile. When I feel clear on the skydiving and continue to breathe out tension as it wants to come up, I smile at what it is we’re actually doing, how f*cking cool it really is, and how lucky I am to be right there, right where I am, about to do what we’re going to do. I mean, we are about to jump out of an airplane… together… WHAT???!

It seems like you have a great balance between skydiving, your profession and an overall good quality of life. What are the ingredients to keeping everything balanced in a life of travel?

First of all, thank you! I appreciate that feedback… honestly, my skydiving career began with anything but balance. I went at it with every f*cking thing I had, truly joyful in every moment, but anything but balanced. I loved skydiving that much and was willing to forego so many other life opportunities to go fully, intensely, and courageously after my dream.

Honestly, I barely thought about it. There was no decision or alternative really.. it was just what I was doing. Period. When my career transitioned to more traveling for skydiving and events, while also life coaching in between weekend travel and jumping, I honestly must say that there didn’t feel like much balance in that period either. I have always brought an intensity to what I do, whether it’s skydiving, life coaching, my relationships, any goal… so the “balance” that comes with that shows up in the longer sine wave of life, if that makes sense. In the most intense years,
it was full-on until the end of the year, post-season, when a bigger break could happen. Like now, I have intensely pursued skydiving and my goals, such that now I’m able to take a bigger life break, recalibrate, and decide what awesomeness comes next.

Mel over Dubai — by Juan Mayer
Mel over Dubai — by Juan Mayer

What advice would you give to women entering into our sport?

This has been a pearl of wisdom I’ve given to the ladies of our sport for a long time… keep your focus in skydiving ON the skydiving, and you’ll be in the sport a long time. (A quick read speaking more to the underlying point here)

What can we expect from Melanie in the coming year?

You can expect my story to continue to unfold in Blue Skies Magazine as I continue to write
my monthly column for them, something I’ve been doing for over 6 years now! I can barely believe it’s been that long. As I type this I am working to collect all my columns into my first book. My goal is to include everything I have written up to this point, and write the sections to round out my entire skydiving story from beginning to this next phase. The VSC as part of this next phase and I am excited to help promote the new skydiving museum called The Skydive Experience being built in Florida. I think our sport and community deserves a place to commemorate our history and support our growing future. I for one couldn’t be more grateful for our amazing sport and skydiving family.

Life coaching… working with skydivers looking to access more happiness in their lives both through and beyond the sport of skydiving… that is some of my most rewarding and cherished work. So much more I could say there, but I’ll leave it at that for now to save your readers the mega novel. More about that here if you're interested.

Lastly, my brand new Javelin by Sun Path and beautiful Stiletto by PD hitting the air at Jumptown!!! #shamelessplugs

Any more shameless plugs Mel?

A big shoutout to all my fabulous sponsors: Cypres, Liquid Sky, Cookie, L&B, Hypoxic, Blue Skies Magazine, PD, Sun Path and melaniecurtis.com!

Final thought for our readers?

The coolest thing you could ever do is be safe. Ask about the things you don’t understand. Trust your gut when it tells you not to go. Shit gets real real fast in our sport. As such it’s up to us to give the biggest shit about keeping ourselves and everyone around us as safe as we possibly can. In that environment, an EPIC level of fun, love, and family is possible.

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