Above: Photo by Norman Kent.
I started my military service in the Israeli Defense Forces at the age of 18. I began in the infantry, and after a year, moved to the military skydiving school unit as a combat medic. I finished my active duty and am still serving in the reserves as commander of a medical platoon. During my active duty, I discovered the world of skydiving, and jumped for the first time myself in 2019. That’s when I began AFF.
I started working at the drop zone right away, beginning as a packer and continuing that for two and a half years. During that time, I learned about rigging with one of the master riggers in Israel, eventually taking a rigging course at Parachute Labs in DeLand, Florida and becoming a senior rigger. I worked hard on my flying skills, as well, in order to fly video for tandems. I helped start the first female league for indoor skydiving in Israel, and won first place in the belly category at the very first Israeli Nationals in 2019.
When I came to the United States in order to expand my skills and knowledge, I traveled to Skydive Chicago, Perris, Elsinore, Zephyrhills and DeLand, and got to know a few of the key people in the sport, which gave me more motivation and inspiration to become an expert and a leader. And when I took that knowledge back to Israel, I was the only female AFF instructor and the first female rigger. Our community there is a small one, and we don’t have a lot of females in the sport. But I never stopped training and working on my skills. I started teaching the first-jump courses and jumping with every AFF student at the DZ.
Skydiving taught me how to look at situations in a different way, and understand that there is nothing to stop us from achieving our goals. You can only be limited by your own self. If you can dream it, you can do it—it just takes working hard enough to get it. It sounds like a cliché but I have found out that it’s true. I’ve heard “you can’t do it” so many times during my skydiving career, but stayed determined enough that it didn’t matter. I learned how to trust and believe in myself, staying confident and aware.
About a year ago, I added a tandem instructor rating, as well as completing my Instructor Examiner Rating Course. I’m now assisting in training new coaches and AFF instructors as an evaluator, and recently organized two training weekends, as well as an all-female Florida FS Sequential Record Attempts Weekend, with the goal of keeping our women’s community strong and introducing some of the strong female role models in the sport to newer jumpers. I hope that I’m inspiring some of those young women, by communicating with students and others in various stages of their skydiving journeys and putting myself out there as a jumper and instructor.
My future goals are to break records, work on my own skills as an instructor and flyer and to continue meeting amazing people. I feel grateful to the ones who have inspired me to keep going, even when it was hard.
I am also grateful for being a part of this sport that makes me want to get better every day, and thankful for its amazing community. I can’t wait to give it all back.
Lotem Ragwan | D-40646