Most people think of skydiving as a bucket list item – that once-in-a-lifetime experience. Very few people go on to earn their skydiving license and go on to pursue skydiving as a career. But did you know that many long-time skydivers are the sons and daughters of skydivers?! Believe it or not, there are many 2nd, a handful of 3rd, and now emerging 4th generation skydivers! Let’s meet some of these legacy skydivers!
Right here in our own backyard, we are lucky to have several second-generation skydivers who make up this crew – Atom Mota, Monica Noncheva, and David Cherry!
Atom made his first jump in 2008 and now boasts over 4100 jumps, is a senior rigger, coach, tandem instructor, a pro-rated skydiver (meaning he can do demonstration jumps), AND if that weren’t enough, he’s also Skydive Orange’s member liaison on the board of directors.
“At first I wasn’t sure if I wanted to skydive or not because I didn’t fully understand it,” he shares. “My parents brought me out to the dropzone when I was around 8 or 9 years old, and it took me a year or two to fully embrace that I was destined to become a skydiver and follow in my parents’ footsteps.”
Atom has so many memories of growing up on the dropzone and he recalls having many incredible friends and experiences he fondly remembers. “I wouldn’t say that one specific memory stands out, but I remember the mindset and being in awe at the badass freeflyers and swoopers and knowing that I wanted to have that experience as well.”
“Being a second-generation skydiver has absolutely laid the foundation for my long-term development in the sport,” he said. “My dad was the voice of reason that guided me in my early development, and I still refer to his advice to this day.”
His favorite thing about the sport at this time in his career is giving back experiences and knowledge to those who are new and passionate about skydiving. “Giving back to anything always feels great.”
“I think that being a 2nd generation skydiver has helped pave almost the entire path of my skydiving career. Since my aunt was the Dropzone Manager at Skydive Orange for several years, she was close with a lot of the staff members there. So throughout my progression, those same staff members would talk to me about me getting up to speed to work in the sport. I thought it would be really cool for everything to come full circle and have the opportunity to work alongside the instructors that taught me.”
Monica began her career in skydiving by working manifest (which is the main office). Then she merged into getting her license and now has over seven years in the sport actively jumping. She has accumulated over 3,000 jumps, earned her coach and AFF rating, is the lead videographer, as well as an FAA certified senior rigger, and is on the Skydive Orange’s Board of Directors. What’s impressive about Monica is she’s not only a professional skydiver, she also graduated from George Mason University in May 2020 with a Bachelors in Information Technology!
Monica’s favorite memory? “I had the opportunity to do my 100th skydive with the two instructors that took me on my first couple of tandems, my category A skydive, and my check-dive! That was the first moment I felt that things had kind of come full circle and that I could really begin thinking about working alongside them in the sport.”
David Cherry’s Story
David Cherry started his skydiving career at a young age even though he didn’t make his first jumps until 2011 at Skydive Orange. Although there were many incredible memories of childhood, his favorite memory of growing up in a skydiving family was being the ring bearer at his parent’s wedding as they jumped into the ceremony on a beach in Hawaii.
“I had never really thought about skydiving while growing up,” he began. “My parents had stopped jumping when I was younger and never really pushed it. I was focused on finishing my education and starting a career. Then one day while looking for jobs I found an available graphic design position at USPA, not far from where I am from in Virginia. Luckily, I got the job and started my student progression soon after.”
David continued to share, “Being a second-generation skydiver is awesome! My family is very supportive, they helped me buy my first gear, and my mom still puts a jump on my account at Orange every time she visits the dropzone. I like to think my parents get to relive their jumping days a little when they come to watch me jump or when I nerd out on gear and cool jumps. Their support has been paramount to my success, especially when I decided to leave USPA and pursue skydiving and freelancing full-time. They understood why I wanted to and what it would take to achieve a sustainable livelihood in skydiving. I am very thankful for them and proud of their own accomplishments within the sport.”
Cherry now has over 4200 skydives, is an FAA-certified rigger, and USPA Coach, Load Organizer at Skydive Arizona, and one heck of a freelance graphic designer/photographer/videographer. He also fondly remembers his days as a videographer at Skydive Orange and being a Senior Club Member. “From time to time, I support their graphic design and help modernize their visual branding,” he added.
What do these three second-gen skydivers agree on?
Monica adds, “Definitely the community! The skydiving family is a phenomenon that I wish everyone could experience. Just like any family, there are ups and downs, but the love that I have for my skydiving family and the love that I feel from them is an incredible feeling.”
David echos, “The community. Anyone that sticks around the sport long enough knows it’s the people and lasting friendships you make along the way that makes skydiving so great.
Atom concludes, “To anyone who shares this sport with their families – grab your parent/child and take another picture at the dropzone – with your gear on together, in front of your dropzone’s sign, do a jump together with outside video. My favorite memories are alive in the people that are still around and in the photos/videos I have left, but I still wish I had more photos!”
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