Most people have sky-diving on their bucket list, but for senior Alex Wieting-Lukowski, it’s a hobby and possibly a future career.
Wieting-Lukowski frequents Union City’s iFLY, an indoor sky-diving arena, to practice and hone her skills.
“You’re in a vertical wind tunnel, and it’s about forty feet high total,” she explains. “It’s the exact same thing as sky-diving, minus the risk factor and possibility of death.”
About two years ago, a friend introduced Wieting-Lukowski to iFLY for a birthday party, and the fun experience developed into a passion and possible future.
“At first I went just for fun,” she remembers, “but about my fourth trip, I started taking it more seriously and actually developing skills in the wind tunnel.”
She compares training for sky-diving to practicing for a sport like tennis; there are skills and maneuvers which take time, practice and dedication to master.
“All the rest of us were stuck in there with an instructor to show you the ropes and guide you,” explains senior Noah Liebmiller, who went to iFLY with Wieting-Lukowski for her 18th birthday. “She didn’t need that at all. She was very composed and proficient. [She] knew exactly what she was doing.”
Wieting-Lukowski hopes to turn her passion for sky-diving into a career by being a camera flyer, the professional who shoots pictures and videos of a client’s dive while simultaneously soaring through empty air.
The senior has been interested in film since she was a kid, but, she explains, “For camera flying, you don’t need to be a professional videographer or photographer, because you’re not holding the camera with your hands. It’s on a camera mount on your helmet, so you have to know exactly what position to be in…to get the shots that you need to get.”
“I know if you’re good at it, they’ll hire you immediately,” Wieting-Lukowski notes, “but in order to do that, first you have to get your sky-diving license.”
Not only is a sky-diving license required, but an aspiring camera flyer also needs a camera flyer license and something called a wing-suiting license, which requires at least 200 sky-diving jumps.
“There’s a bunch of different forms and tests and certificates you need to get,” Wieting-Lukowski admits, then adds with determination, “but I’m willing to do it.”
Alex’s mother Susan Lukowski admits, “When your child decides she wants to become a skydiving camera flyer, you know you’ve entered new territory as a parent.” Lukowski is not sure about her daughter’s potentially risky career aspirations, but she supports her continued training, and she is proud of Wieting-Lukowski’s plans for higher education.
Even though a college degree isn’t necessary for a camera flyer, Wieting-Lukowski emphasizes the importance of education to her: “I’m more focused on my education and college. I look at my skydiving career as something to do after.”
Though she has spent a lot of time in iFLY’s wind tunnel, Wieting-Lukowski has yet to actually go sky-diving outdoors.
“I’m going to try to go this summer, and if I can’t, I still have plenty of time to do it,” Wieting-Lukowski says. “It’s not something that I’m rushing.”
Wieting-Lukowski plans to major in communications, with a minor in Chinese. So far, she has been accepted to San Francisco State, Cal State Los Angeles, Long Beach State, University of Redlands and Woodbury University.
“In terms of my goals in life, my education comes first,” Wieting-Lukowski says. “Being a sky diver is a very expensive career. I’d rather have an established career and do skydiving after.”
Alex Wieting-Lukowski’s blend of practicality and determination to pursue her passion will likely serve her well as she strives to reach the goals she has set for herself. As the saying goes, the sky’s the limit.