Dressing Up And Getting Down With Dana Wagner
You may recognize Dana Wagner’s megawatt smile from around the Charlotte area. She’s a local girl, after all: Born and raised in Concord, NC. Dana is a single mom with two kids, ages 8 and 11, but single-momming isn’t her only superpower. She’s a lady of steely mental toughness with a decidedly sparkly playful streak. Let’s put it this way: Anything you can do, she can do dressed as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Or in a bikini, with a grass skirt. Skydiving? No problem.
“My first jump was around nine years ago,” Dana explains, “But I was pregnant shortly after that, which distracted me from getting up there again for a while.”
A few years down the line, Dana got an engraved invitation back to the sky. Her stepmom was planning to make a jump to celebrate her 50th birthday, and her dad asked Dana if she wanted to come along.
“I was, like, what?! Are you serious? She’s afraid of everything. As it turns out, she’s not,” Dana giggles. “I didn’t really take it seriously, but I said yeah, sure thing, so my dad and I went in on a gift certificate for her out at Piedmont.”
“Well,” Dana grins, “She absolutely loved it. I went with her, and I loved it. It was exactly everything I remembered from nine years before.”
Dana couldn’t wait to go again. Not long after that jump, she called her best friend in on a promise.
“He always said, ‘Next time you jump, I want to go with you.’ So I got him up there,” Dana smiles, “And then I invited a girl I used to go to highschool with. We went in November, dressed for Christmas: I was Rudolph; she was Santa. Now I take someone new every time I go. It is like a little addiction for me.”
“In May, I went with another friend dressed up as luau girls,” she continues, “Grass skirts, bathing suits and leis...the whole deal. And I’m jumping at Piedmont again next week with a girl I train with. We’re doing an early celebration of her 21st birthday. That’ll be my seventh jump. We’re still figuring out what the costume is gonna be. She’s nervous, of course, but, at this point, I’m always just anxious to do it. I don’t get that nervous feeling anymore. I just want to be up there jumping.”
She’s not kidding. With seven skydives under her belt so far, Dana is pretty much a stone-cold pro at this. She has solid advice for newbies.
“Really just try your best to relax,” she counsels. “Especially if this is your first time. You are going to be nervous and scared, but just try to relax and enjoy it. Don’t think about the negatives that could happen. Enjoy what it is. It’s not a long experience, so don’t ruin it by getting worked up or nervous about stuff. Just go and let it happen.”
“And always bring a great costume!” Dana laughs, “I’m only half-joking. That actually really does help. Being dressed up distracts from any kind of nervousness that you might have.”
Another thing that helps? A great instructor.
“Derek is my favorite instructor up at Piedmont, because he is so much fun,” Dana enthuses. “He’s goofy and I’m goofy, so it works really well. I prefer to jump with somebody that’s more outgoing. He takes the edge off of jumping out of a plane. His sense of humor really takes the scare factor out of it.”
Now that the butterflies are behind her, Dana has her sights set squarely on the next goal: Solo jumping.
“I actually just signed up for my course to get my A license,” Dana grins. “My 11-year-old is dying to skydive, too. For her birthday in October, I’m going to take her up to Raeford and do the wind tunnel thing.”
We couldn’t be prouder to count this beautiful, powerful lady as part of our extended ‘sky family’ at Piedmont Skydiving. People like Dana are the heart of what makes North Carolina skydiving the best in the world! If you see her around, make sure to give her an extra high-five for us. She deserves it!