As record breaking skydiver Cheryl Stearns approaches 21,000 jumps the sky really is the limit
THE BOLDER WOMAN TELLS THE STORIES OF WOMEN OVER 50 FROM AROUND THE WORLD WHO ARE COMPETITIVE IN A VARIETY OF SPORTS
Hosted by Chris Stafford
Podcast length: 54’42”
The name Cheryl Stearns is legendary in the sport of skydiving, her resume a catalogue of records that seem to extend far beyond what is possible in a single lifetime. Yet this affable aviator’s quest for perfection in accuracy is breathtaking. She currently has in excess of 22,000 hours of flying time and almost 21,000 jumps to her name. Since the age of 17, when she started flying, just three months after her first jump Cheryl’s focus has been relentless when it come to flying or jumping out of planes. And now as she approaches her 65th birthday her passion for perfection and the thrill of the free fall is still the air she breathes. She is without question the most successful competitive skydiver in the world. Cheryl has a total of 31 world records and once held four different world records simultaneously: a feat no other parachutist has matched. She is the two-time Overall World Champion, five-time World Military Champion and has been US National Champion 31 times. She holds the Guinness World Record for the most parachute jumps in 24 hours by a woman, a feat she achieved in 1995 when she jumped 352 times, hitting the five centimeter target a record 188 times, of which 84 were at night. Cheryl entered the Army in 1977 as the first female member of the Army’s elite parachuting team, the Golden Knights and served two three-year tours. After which she continued her service in Army Reserve and National Guard units, retiring as a Master Sergeant in 2005. Currently her day job is flying the Airbus for American Airlines out of Charlotte, North Carolina. And just for fun in her spare time when she’s not parachuting she enjoys flying her Cessna 185, which is just one of over 75 types of aircraft she has flown. As we will hear though, skydiving has changed over the years and now the challenge for Cheryl is finding the time for training and the funding for jumping since this is not an inexpensive sport.