Featured Interview with Atom Fischer

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Section I: Personal Questions  

Photo by Lambert Photography

Give us the skinny. How old are you, where are you from?

I’m a Virginia native (originally from Chesapeake), I got into skydiving at Skydive Suffolk, and currently work at Skydive Orange full-time as a tandem instructor, videographer, packer, and rigger! 

What were you like as a kid and do you have any siblings? 

I’m the youngest of three. I like to think that I was pretty awesome. My sister was nice to me and my brother made sure I grew up with lots of character.

What did your family think of you getting into skydiving? 

My parents were both skydivers and got into the sport when I was about 9 years old. I learned how to pack not too long after that, so I was only destined to become a skydiver. My siblings think that I’m nuts, as they’ve only done tandems. 

What are you looking forward to this year?

This year I’m trying to catch up on a lot of things that I’ve neglected over the years! I’ve worked on my tandem instruction jump numbers, am looking to get my PRO rating, and lots of swooping! 

Section II – Skydiving Questions 

As the Brits would say, tell us about your kit. What canopy do you choose to fly, container you choose to sit in and all the rest? Insert your sponsor shoutouts! 

Sponsors! Hah! 

Main Canopy: Comp Velocity 71

Photo by Brian Stoots

Reserve: PD Reserve 113

Container: Javelin Odyssey 

AAD: Speed Cypres

Altimeter: Alti-2 Atlas

Jumpsuit: Camo shorts and jersey!

Helmet: Cookie G3, Vapor Narrow

Shoes: Walmart specials!

Tell us about your first jump and what kind of student were you?

My first jump was a long time coming! My AFF instructors had known me for years, my dad shot outside video, as well as Billy, another lifelong friend. Even after spending years around the sport and it being my entire life, I was not prepared for the first few moments after leaving the airplane. I even had about an hour of tunnel time before my first jump. I did pretty well on my first jump, and even stuck the landing in the peas. I think I had a couple hiccups but did pretty well throughout AFF. A couple times I pushed the limits and got my slice of humble pie!

What inspired you to become an instructor in the sport? 

While growing up, I looked up to a lot of instructors that made skydiving look fun and easy. These guys seemed to genuinely enjoy taking people on their first skydives, so I had to check it out. Plus, it seems like most of the truly professional skydivers are also instructors and I want to be all that I can in this sport.

Most memorable jump you’ve ever made that brings a smile to your face when you think about it?

Oh boy! So many. One stands out in particular! I had just gotten this sweet Oxygn helmet and it was my first full-faced helmet. My dad had it airbrushed with a big atom on it and I was so excited to have a face shield. Dad gives me this long lesson about how to use it and how to be careful with it. Later that day, I did a 4-way jump with a couple other guys and my dad. Sometimes on exit or early in the jump, my dad’s visor blows open, and I watched him side slide over, reach up with both hands, and rip the visor out of the helmet. I thought he was being ridiculous and trying to teach me a lesson in an over-the-top way, but I found out on the ground that the visor blew open, half of it ripped off, and he was just trying to get the rest of it off instead of flapping around at 120mph. We laughed about it because it was literally just after we talked about having a face shield. Ahh, good old Oxygn helmets. 

Photos by Eric Fischer and Ron Lavoie

What is your favorite thing being an instructor?

While I love taking anybody on their first jumps, it really hits home when one of my students comes back and gets their license. Having previously worked at a dropzone with tandem progression (two mandatory leveled tandems before going with your own parachute), I got to be the students’ first exposure to skydiving and really draw them into the sport.

What kind of fun jumps do you like to do and why?

My passion is in canopy flight! I love spending as much time as possible flying canopies fast. When I’m under a fun parachute, I cannot possibly be distracted with anything else in the world. Something about the screaming air, the wind hitting my body, and being pointed straight down towards the earth under a diving parachute… I feel like it’s just me, the canopy, and the world.

What keeps you motivated to be so passionate in the sport? 

Several things keep me motivated, but the most important one is genuinely loving what I do. I’ve tried to quit skydiving (at least as a living) but I keep getting drawn back into it. When I’m in the sky or at the dropzone, I’m genuinely happy, and I think that fuels my passion. Also, I’m constantly trying to do things better, whether it’s swooping my canopy, instructing students, or flying my body better. Progression and self-improvement is something that I always look for in life.  

Section III – Fast Facts

Favorite Cuisine? Chinese!

Favorite junk food? Cheez-It’s are definitely my go-to Netflix snack!

Favorite food that you enjoy that most people would consider disgusting? 

I don’t think I like anything that other people consider disgusting… On occasion, I’ll eat fast food, and I consider it pretty gross!

Favorite place you’ve visited: 

Favorites are tough…. But I really enjoyed the Bahamas for a scuba trip! 

Place you want to visit that you haven’t been to yet? 

Australia! It looks gorgeous and the people seem super nice!

Pet peeve: Complacency. I hate “first world problems” and when people forget about all of the awesome friends and things they have in life. This also relates to safety complacency in skydiving. Our well-being is the most important thing we have! 

What you said as a kid: “When I grow up I want to be a skydiver! Duh!” 

Something about you that few people know about and would be surprised to learn? 

I’m a big computer gaming nerd. It’s been a loooong time since I’ve really played anything as I’ve been so busy skydiving, but I have thousands of hours logged in computer games such as the Counterstrike series, Quake series, World of Warcraft, and even a text-based MMORPG called Dragonrealms. Boom! Surprised!? 

Best book you’ve ever read? 

I read a lot of books as a child. A couple books that really impacted me are The Giver by Lois Lowry, and Night by Elie Wiesel. In college, I gathered a lot from some of the business novels by Eliyahu Goldratt.

If you were to write a book, what would be the title? 

“Skydiving: Surviving the Dream”

Most used app on your smartphone?

Safari (I make wide use of having the most powerful resource at my fingertips) and Instagram deserves an honorable mention!

Jack Harding Skydive Orange AFF Student

Jack Harding – Fredericksburg, VA

Fredericksburg, VA

I can't imagine learning how to skydive at any other drop zone.

The largest tandem skydiving center near Northern Virginia, Washington D.C. and Maryland.

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