Carmen Villamil | D-30297
By Brian Giboney
Carmen Villamil, D-30297, began jumping in her native Puerto Rico but now makes her home at Skydive Arizona in Eloy. She is involved in many aspects of the sport—instructing, videography, rigging and competing—and has excelled at each. As a member of freestyle team It’s So Hilarious, she has attended three USPA Nationals and the 2019 Féderátion Aéronautique Internationale World Cup. She’s always a positive presence at boogies and competitions, and the pure joy she experiences in the sport of skydiving is contagious.
Birthplace: Bayamon, Puerto Rico
Marital Status: In a very loving and hilarious relationship
Occupation: AFF instructor, videographer, rigger, freestyle competitor
Pet Peeves: Slow left-lane drivers, people wasting my time, people who don’t sit still in the plane
Pre-Jump Superstitions: Soooo many gear checks!
Life Philosophy: Don’t waste energy on dumb stuff. Enjoy life, this is not a dress rehearsal.
Jump Philosophy: Have fun, be safe, stay humble. (There’s always someone better than you.)
Team Name: It’s So Hilarious
Sponsor: Performance Designs
Container: United Parachute Technologies Vector
Main Canopy: Performance Designs Valkyrie 79
Reserve Canopy: Performance Designs Optimum 113
AAD: Airtec CYPRES
Disciplines: Mostly freestyle and freefly these days, but I also love canopy piloting and enjoy formation skydiving
Home Drop Zone: Skydive Arizona [in Eloy], although I started at Xtreme Divers in Puerto Rico
First Jump: Tandem in 2004
Licenses and Ratings: A-49521, C-36332, D-30297; AFF Instructor and Coach; Federal Aviation Administration Master Rigger
Records: Six state records: an Arizona women’s 27-way FS record, four New Jersey FS records (one as video) and one New Jersey women’s head-up record.
Total Number of Jumps: 6,920
Camera: 4,400 FS: 1,570 Freefly: 900 Wingsuit: 25 Tandems: 16 Demos: Five Balloon: Four Helicopter: One BASE: No thanks
Largest Completed Formation: 52-way FS (big-way camp in Perris in 2009)
Total Number of Cutaways: Two for real, one Skyhook demo
Most people don’t know this about me:
Probably everything in this profile. Oh! And I don’t need a green card; Puerto Rico is a territory of the USA.
Does one jump stand out most?
I’ll never forget jumping with my parents and my brother or flying next to a pretty big U.S. flag, but the internet makes sure to remind me—like, twice a year—about this one AFF jump I did at Start Skydiving [in Middletown, Ohio] in 2013. That picture has been in GoPro ads and drop zones’ websites, published in Austria, hanging in the bar at [Skydive] DeLand [in Florida], and is a face-in-the-hole sign at some DZ in the Midwest … you name it! [It is also the Featured Training Photo in this month’s issue of Parachutist.]
How long do you plan on skydiving?
I hope forever, but my body is trying to quit, so we’ll see.
What do you like most about the sport?
The friends, the laughs, the places.
What do you like least about the sport?
The know-it-alls and complacency.
Who has been your skydiving mentor?
I try to learn something from everyone, including students. However, I’ve learned a lot about the sport in general from John Campbell, especially when I was becoming an instructor and videographer. Also, in the last three years, Jason Peters. I’ve learned tons from him while training and competing in freestyle. Jason helped me get confidence back after a tunnel accident in 2016. I like to call him Yoda.
What safety item is most important?
How did you become interested in skydiving?
Saw it on TV! Pre-paid for my skydive and made my mom drive me. (I was very scared of driving at the time.) I told her I couldn’t get a refund. LOL!
Do you have any suggestions for students?
1) Breathe! 2) Don’t be so hard on yourself! We weren’t born running. You have to start somewhere, and we were all there. 3) Get proper canopy coaching before you get bad habits. And don’t rush your downsize.
If you could do a fantasy 2-way with anybody, whom would it be with and where would it take place?
I would like to turn all the points with Eliana Rodriguez anywhere with nice weather.
What has been your most embarrassing moment at a drop zone?
That one day I made poor choices and landed in a grove of trees in Puerto Rico two weeks after getting my AFF Instructor rating.
Is there one jump you would like to make again?
Remember that tree landing? Yeah, I would like to go back in time and stay on the ground like I originally planned.
The toughest thing to do in the sport of skydiving is:
To hold a fart until you are out of the plane. I’m a near master at this skill.
What do you consider your most significant life achievement?
Every time someone airs out my reserve pack job.
Do you have any suggestions for USPA?
Look for more opportunities to financially support U.S. Teams at the world-level meets.
What was your best skydiving moment?
My first World Cup. I could write an article about how amazing it was. I hope I get to represent the U.S. again at the world level. I’ll do my best to not disappoint.
What was your worst?
Being a first responder.
What’s your greatest competition moment?
At the 2018 USPA Nationals on the one round we got to perform, we had camera issues and landed in the plane. We got back up, and it was such a great jump!
What was your weirdest skydiving moment?
Being at the Parachute Industry Association Conference and asking, “What’s your name again?” to the one-and-only John LeBlanc. Awkward. He smiled, though.
What drives your competitive spirit?
I’m my own worst critic, so I always feel like I can do better. “Not good enough, do it again.”
What is your secret sauce to being a high-quality AFF instructor?
Giving my students the time they deserve. They paid a lot of money to learn something from me.
How did you become interested in the discipline of freestyle?
When I was a 100-jump wonder, I got home from the drop zone and my dad called me into his office to show me a bunch of pictures of Dale Stuart. He thought of me because I used to dance.
What are your future skydiving goals?
Be better than yesterday. Hopefully, I’ll win a medal in freestyle in the near future.