Jumping for Joy

Skydive West Coast flies to new heights with expert skydiver Tanya Spencer.

Tanya Spencer has shown herself to be a role model of bravery and steadfast determination, but she didn’t always see herself that way. Like anyone, she had her low points in life and was lifted up by women who made her feel that anything was possible when you believe in yourself.

Tanya was born in Germany with a brother 18 months older than her and her twin sister. When Tanya was just four years old, her mother, Doreen, moved the family back to England from Germany with her three young children on an airplane unassisted. “That was when I realized how powerful my mother really was,” says Tanya. She learned the power of reinvention by seeing her mother undertake a mid-life career change from a hospice nurse to an investment banker, and at age 40 decided to learn to swim. Doreen Hannington, who still talks to her daughter nearly every day from the UK, reminds Tanya: “where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

Then Tanya met a Welsh lady named Dilys Price at a skydiving center, who would become her close friend for 30 years. “She was such a bright and friendly lady,” said Tanya. “We instantly bonded and maintained a great friendship.” Dilys did her first jump at age 58 and went on to set records and win competitions well into her senior years. Although Dilys passed away last year, she became a well-known Welsh educator and an OBE, Order of the British Empire, and set a record as the oldest female solo parachute jumper at the age of 80.

“With so few words, she had an amazing impact. Dilys taught me to look in the mirror every day and tell myself how beautiful I was and that I was capable of doing anything I so wished,” recalls Tanya. “I really didn't believe in myself very much back then, and Dilys taught me to do just that.”

Lately, Tanya is working towards her pilot’s license. Last year, her husband Robbie showed his support and encouragement by finding the right plane for her, a little C-150, to resume taking flight lessons. “I’m pretty accomplished in the world of skydiving as an instructor, examiner, a safety and training advisor, and senior rigger. My 5-year goal is to get my commercial license and my tailwheel endorsement so I can try my hand at bush flying in Africa!” Call 951 567-1848. Visit https://www.skydivewestcoast.com

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