Tanya Spencer, a globally recognized, award-winning skydiver and skydive trainer, is owner and operator of Skydive West Coast with her husband, Robbie. Thirty years ago, when fewer women participated in what may be considered extreme sports, Tanya was living in England preparing to entirely change her life. She took a leap of faith to raise money for cancer research that would lead to a financially crucial sponsorship and to complete her first skydiving jump. Along the way, Tanya and Robbie fell in love with the thrill and joy of skydiving, and with each other, and they haven’t looked back since.
The sport of skydiving has taken Tanya across the world and back again many times, earned by packing parachutes for skydiving teams and eventually joining the first all-female sponsored British skydiving team. Among her many accomplishments that make her an expert in her sport, she completed two work-record night skydives and organized a Women’s Night Record Skydive in Tampa, FL. She became an FAA Senior Rigger, an Accelerated Freefall Instructor with only 418 jumps, and was the first female to build and jump in her own wingsuit.
After skydiving for nearly thirty years, having drawn several women in the sport to their team, Tanya is a role model for women who want to try skydiving with a highly experienced Master Instructor, Tandem Instructor, Coach Examiner, and Ambassador.
Tanya and Robbie Spencer are the face of flight for Skydive West Coast, but they couldn’t do it without two other essential team members every skydiving outfit must have. Skydive West Coast’s power trio of safety and reliability includes pilot Priscilla Marapodi, and plane mechanic Samantha Guerrero. As an all-female team in a male-dominated sport, Tanya, Priscilla, and Samantha have faced certain challenges. “Being a young and female aviator in a male dominated environment is not easy,” Priscilla explained. “I always get looks from people from both genders doubting my ability as a pilot, but I use every negativity and obstacle as fuel to continue striving for success.”
Samantha recognizes the potential discrimination and sexism that women can feel in her field. Some individuals might regard females in the skydiving industry “as fragile-minded, not knowing as much as a guy would, or not being physically strong enough for certain jobs.” Samantha has asserted her personal power in academic and professional settings as a mechanic to even well-intentioned colleagues, some who even tried to complete work on her behalf, something she knew would detract from her learning experiences.
Working as a female in this industry isn’t always plagued with gender-fueled discomfort for the women of Skydive West Coast. “Some people think this is a ‘mans’ sport and women don't have the strength for tandem [jumps],” Tanya said. “But we have the respect from our peers,” she says, speaking the truth for all three of them. “Experienced skydivers know this sport isn't all about brute strength. It is the only sport where men and women can and do compete equally in competitions, nationally and internationally.”
The thrill of skydiving has helped these women develop self-confidence, self-esteem, and confidence that is utterly contagious for their guests and clients. Tanya says, “I have the power to do anything I believe I can do, and after that first leap, my clients know that is true.”
Skydive West Coast is located in the San Gorgonio Pass, between Big Bear and San Jacinto. To schedule your tandem skydive, call Skydive West Coast at (951)-567-1848, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.