Two travelers. Fifty states. Every single sky in America.
In 2018, two airsports athletes--an American woman and a British man--are going to visit all fifty states in America over the course of one, unbroken journey. They'll skydive in each one. When they make that fiftieth jump, the event will mark the first time the feat has ever been accomplished in one fell swoop.
For all but Alaska and Hawaii, the pair will be making the journey in a motorhome.
The journey isn't just about jumping. It's about finding common ground, first-person, in a fractured world--and an especially fractured America--in every corner of the nation. As the pair travel, jump and fly, they'll dig in to the hidden stories of the places they visit; uproot the complexities reduced to black-and-white by the media. They'll help illustrate how diverse micro-communities like that of skydiving can foster the inclusiveness, mutual respect and healthy discourse that will help our world beat radical isolationism. They'll show how opposing perspectives use tight-knit community networks like skydiving to take a chance on each other, and how the communities surrounding them benefit from that sacred space.
Meeting in the middle is a risk. And there's no more beautiful metaphor for that than jumping out of a plane.
For each state visited, the project's goal is to raise $1,000 for Operation Enduring Warrior: a veteran-founded non‐profit 501(c)(3) whose mission is to honor, empower, and motivate our nation's wounded veterans through a physical, mental and emotional rehabilitation.
OEW Skydive is one of OEW's several training and adventure programs designed to honor, empower, and motivate our nation’s wounded veterans. The mission of OEW Skydive is to facilitate skydiving for wounded veterans, from initial training through to the achievement of their USPA A-license certification. Skydiving for wounded veterans offers an unparalleled sense of freedom of flight and offers endless mental, physical, and emotional rehabilitative solutions in what can feel like a completely new dimension in their lives. The training takes place in a wind tunnel and often becomes a lifelong hobby.
OEW is a completely volunteer run organization. Donations go directly towards operational support of the organization and its different programs.
Annette O'Neil is, in her words, an "adventurer who writes." She was raised in the US Air Force, spending much of her childhood hopping from base to base as her father's medical career took him from clinical nephrologist to Hospital Commander. After matriculating from active duty, her father moved into a career with the Veteran's Administration, giving Annette a firsthand peek at the uphill battle our returning troops face.
During her nine years as a skydiver, she has seen the power of skydiving to make a difference in veterans' lives, so she co-imagined Down For 50 as her way to contribute to the efforts on their behalf.
Joel Strickland began skydiving in 2006 while backpacking in Australia and New Zealand. Upon returning home to his native Great Britain a few years later he pursued a career in the indoor skydiving industry as an instructor, trainer, and coach.
Between 2010 and 2016 Joel competed in artistic skydiving, earning three national titles along the way and representing Great Britain several times on the world stage. More recently he has become an FAI judge and has been a member of the panel at several world-level events over the last few years.
Joel now works as a freelance skydiving instructor and airsports journalist. Across almost a decade as an industry professional he has trained military veterans form many nations and finds teaching among the most rewarding elements of sport parachuting.
For Joel, Down For 50 represents a collection of skills given to a worthwhile purpose. A way to share some of the many wonders and benefits that skydiving allows us access to.
THE ROUTE ★ 2018
Skydive Alabama ★ Vinemont
Alaska Floats & Skis ★ Talkeetna
Skydive Arizona ★ Eloy
Skydive Skyranch ★ Siloam Springs
Certification Unlimited @ Skydive San Diego ★ Jamul
Ultimate Skydiving Adventures ★ Delta
Conneticut Parachutists, Inc. ★ Ellington
Skydive Delmarva ★ Laurel
Skydive Spaceland Miami ★ Clewiston
Skydive Spaceland Atlanta ★ Rockmart
DZONE Skydiving Boise ★ Boise
Skydive Chicago ★ Ottawa
Skydive Windy City ★ Michigan City
Skydive Iowa ★ Brooklyn
Air Capital Drop Zone ★ Derby
Special Mission ★ WV Skydivers ★ Huntington, WV
Gold Coast Skydivers ★ Abita Springs
Skydive New England ★ Lebanon
Skydive OC ★ Ocean City
Jumptown ★ Orange
Skydive Tecumseh ★ Jackson
Skydive Adventures ★ Luverne
Fred Poole, Balloon Pilot ★ Meridian
Ozarks Skydiving Center ★ Miller
DZONE Skydive ★ Bozeman
Lincoln Sport Parachute Club ★ Weeping Water
Skydive Fyrosity★ Las Vegas
Skyventure New Hampshire ★ Nashua
Skydive Cross Keys ★ Williamstown
Skydive New Mexico ★ Belen
The Blue Sky Ranch ★ Gardiner
Paraclete XP ★ Raeford
Skydive Fargo ★ Fargo
Start Skydiving ★ Middletown
Oklahoma Skydiving Center ★ Cushing
Skydive Awesome! ★ Madras
Skydive Pennsylvania ★ Mercer
Skydive Newport ★ Middletown
Skydive Carolina ★ Chester
Special Mission ★ Skydive Adventures ★ Luverne
Skydive Tennessee ★ Tullahoma
Skydive Spaceland Houston ★ Houston
Skydive the Wasatch ★ Nephi
Vermont Skydiving Adventures ★ Addison
Skydive Orange ★ Orange
Skydive Toledo ★ Toledo
WV Skydivers ★ Huntington
Wisconsin Skydiving Center ★ Jefferson
Melvin's Brewing ★ Alpine, WY
This is a list constantly in progress. If you'd like to see your dropzone here, reach out to us!
News & Updates
For Our Partner Dropzones
This undertaking is a collaborative effort, and we're so grateful to have you on our side!
What We'll Need In Order To Prep
- As much paperwork completed ahead of time as possible. This is vital. We know that you'll need to do a gear check and verify the two scanned repack cards we send you, but we need to complete all the rest of the material (waivers, etc.) well ahead of time to keep the schedule moving.
- Detailed directions for RV parking (in case we have to arrive after hours)
- Any potential issues or closures during our visit
- Your OK in writing for local news crews to visit alongside us (and any considerations that might go along with that)
- Our two comped jumps (one each) entered in the system and ready-to-go.
What We'll Ask For On-Site
- An interview with the best dropzone representative(s) to talk about what makes this particular dropzone unique.
- An interview with at least one local veteran in the community (owner, staff, fun jumper...no rules here) to talk about their experience of skydiving and the skydiving community as a veteran. We'd love to be connected with this person/persons two weeks ahead-of-time to make arrangements.
- A location for these interviews that highlights the dropzone's best/awesomest/most unique features (so we can prepare any additional equipment that might be necessary)
- A dropzone sticker for the time-lapse we're doing on the back of the RV
To help you keep tabs on our movements in your direction (and going forward), we've posted the exact route of our journey.
Contribute Directly to Operation Enduring Warrior
First, let's get this out of the way: We co-adventurers are self-funding this journey and encourage direct donations to Operation Enduring Warrior. OEW is a 501(c)(3), and all donations to the organization are tax-deductible.
Got a lil' more? We'd love help fueling this effort
OEW is rad, and they put every dollar they get to great use. That said: if you have a little more to spare, heck yeah, we would love some help with the fuel. Driving around the country is thirsty work for our valiant old motorhome, and any contribution you can make will be received with ecstatic joy. Thank you!