(Editor’s Note: This guest post is by indoor skydiver Cat Adam. If you’ve ever dreamed of flying, read on to learn more about this amazing young woman and her unconventional career path.)
I knew I wanted to claim my own piece of the sky early in my life. My dream of flight was born in Inverness, Scotland, where the Golden Lions (the Scottish Military Skydiving team) landed gracefully in a field near my childhood home. That dream led me to a career in the sport of indoor skydiving. I’ve trained first-time women fliers in Dubai; flown in Manchester, England; worked on a cruise ship with the very first seaborne indoor skydiving tunnel; and led a team at iFLY Seattle, where I’ve become the first woman in the world to attain Level Four Trainer status with the International Bodyflight Association. I love the sport, and I love being part of a field that welcomes amazing female athletes every day.
Indoor Skydiving as a Sport
The first wind tunnel built specifically for human flight was erected in 1978; since then, indoor skydiving has grown from a novelty to a sport. It’s now exploding in popularity. I was first introduced to the tunnels after graduating from Glasgow University, where I was captain of the school’s skydiving team. I was intrigued when a friend of mine won a Skydiving World Championship, though he had a similar number of skydiving jumps as I. He explained that he’d been perfecting his skills at an indoor skydiving tunnel. I was fascinated by the freedom the tunnel offered: no weather dictating when I could jump, no need for a plane every time I wanted to practice, and a new career opportunity as an instructor.
I spent the next few years helping first-time fliers earn their wings at tunnels in Dubai and Manchester and pursuing ever higher IBA certification for myself. I jumped at the chance to move to the United States and progress even further at iFLY Seattle. iFLY is currently the leader in the industry and operates 37 tunnels across the US, Europe, Canada, and Asia. In Seattle, I completed rigorous training and became the first woman to advance all the way to Level Four Trainer.
Although my time is now focused more on steering the helm at iFLY and making sure my instructors are succeeding, I still teach a handful of classes for first-time guests. Guiding them and keeping them steady in the tunnel is a great workout in itself..
Indoor skydiving also requires a generous amount of flexibility, so I work yoga sessions into my schedule to stay in shape and avoid shoulder injuries. Women, myself included, often feel like they have to work harder to “prove themselves” in the sport. But I’ve discovered that my fellow female athletes often take to indoor skydiving quickly – we’re naturals at the stamina, grace, and flexibility needed to excel in the tunnel.
Where Indoor Skydiving is Headed Next
As the sport continues to grow, I hope to see more of my “sisters in skydiving” pursue the Level Four Trainer status with the IBA. With each day, more women are trying out a tunnel or taking their first skydiving jump, and I am looking forward to seeing more of them get hooked and make the sport their career. I think indoor skydiving is a prime contender for a new Olympic sport – athletes can fly in summer or winter, and the competitions are great fun for spectators as well.
For me, the options are still as limitless as the sky. My next goal is to become the first female Examiner with the IBA. I want to create a path for other female indoor skydivers to reach these same levels, and see them continue to lead the sport for years to come.
Catriona Adam Bio
Raised in the city of Inverness, Catriona Adam witnessed the Golden Lions (the Scottish Military Parachute Team) gracefully diving into a field near her home and was immediately hooked. Her goal to focus her life on skydiving led her to Glasgow University, where she led the school’s skydiving team as captain. A star athlete in traditional skydiving, she became interested in working with vertical wind tunnels after her dream propelled her to find new ways grow and push her limits after graduation. After becoming a Level 1 Instructor at an iFLY owned Airkix wind tunnel near London, she was off to instruct in Dubai. Hired to instruct mostly women first-time flyers in the United Arab Emirates, she taught the Crown Prince’s daughters and their friends the basics of flying before moving to an Airkix tunnel in Manchester. An opportunity to pursue the path to Level 4 certification opened at the iFLY tunnel in Seattle, and Adam jumped at the chance to set the bar higher.
Today, Adam trains new groups of IBA instructors at iFLY Seattle. Her dedication to iFLY’s mission to bring the dream of flight to anyone in a safe environment is passed on to the classes she now educates. Adam refuses to be confined by the limits the world tries to set, and lives a life that proves any young woman can clear any hurdle with a mix of passion, dedication, and belief in herself.