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SEAN SYLVESTER

1) What made you decide to start skydiving?

A friend of mine from a motorcycle group that I was a part of told me that he had done a tandem. I decided that I wanted to do one too. That was May 2012. Some skinny Black chick (Danielle Williams) even helped catch me when I landed! Two months later I did my next tandem. They were busy and it was a Cessna drop-zone so I just had to wait. We had to do three total tandems and then complete a one instructor AFF. My instructors were Jim Horak and Slim.

2) How long have you been a skydiver?

6.5 years

3) How many jumps do you have?

1,100

4) What are your ratings? What do you like most about being an instructor?

I have a D license and an AFF instructor rating. I enjoy seeing the students who really have a passion for it and watching them progress. It’s exciting to see a new skydiver land for the first time or watch them smiles when I release them for the first time in freefall. It’s fun to watch the ones that really have a heart for it and to see how much effort and practice they put into it. 

5) What container and parachute are you currently jumping?
I’m jumping a Mirage container with a Katana 170.

6) Have you had any cutaways? How many?

Four! I had two of them three weeks apart back in July 2018. That’s when my wife stopped packing for me [Editor’s note: insert off color marital joke here]. The worst part of the cutaway, when you have reliable gear, is extracting your main canopy out of a tree 50 ft. up. There are countless acres of pine trees around our drop-zone. It’s a rural area and a lot of people have pine tree farms.

 Sean Sylvester is a skydiving instructor at a drop-zone in Florida. He enjoys instructing students, traveling to RW camps and skydiving with his wife of 28 years.  Photo credit: Jackie Sylvester

Sean Sylvester is a skydiving instructor at a drop-zone in Florida. He enjoys instructing students, traveling to RW camps and skydiving with his wife of 28 years. Photo credit: Jackie Sylvester

7) What type of skydiving do you enjoy?

Instructing; I stay pretty busy with AFF. It’s nice because skydiving pays for itself. When I’m not instructing, I also enjoy relative work. I went to Zephyr Hills recently to do some 8 way with organizer Scott Latinis.

I would love to do big-way more but it involves traveling for camps and I’m busy with work and teaching. My teaching load has been pretty heavy recently. I can’t always be on the road; have to grade exams after all!

8) What types of outdoor activities did you enjoy growing up?

I grew up in Brooklyn. By law it’s mandated that if you’re Black in New York you have to play basketball. So I did that but it wasn’t for me. When I was younger I enjoyed football as well as horseback riding in the Catskills and in Connecticut. I’d go to summer camp for weeks at a time. I particularly enjoyed “ranch camp” which was nothing but riding every day and camping with horses. My mother had a law degree and my grandma was the first Black manager ever for the Brooklyn Union Gas Company. There are a lot of stereotypes about what Black people do or don’t do; we were fortunate to have the means to do what we enjoyed.

9) What does your family think about your decision to start skydiving?

When I did a tandem in May 2012, my wife wasn’t initially interested. She now has over 400 jumps. In 2012, I was going to the drop-zone every weekend. Around the time I got my license, she started coming out as well. She would come with me to other drop-zones. I showed her how to pack and she would come to boogies and pack for me and for other people. At the two year mark, she went up for a ride-along in the plane. Not long after that she signed up for a tandem and she was hooked. She got her license in the summer of 2014. We’ve been married for 28 years!

 Sean Sylvester (3rd from the bottom) along with the other five founding members of Team Blackstar skydivers during the 1st Annual Team Blackstar Record Jump in Fitzgerald, Georgia.  Photo credit: Dennis Trisch

Sean Sylvester (3rd from the bottom) along with the other five founding members of Team Blackstar skydivers during the 1st Annual Team Blackstar Record Jump in Fitzgerald, Georgia. Photo credit: Dennis Trisch


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