Linda Stewart, 30, spends much of her life high in the air or worrying about someone else who is. As this picture makes clear, she is a parachutist. She’s also a pilot, a flight instructor, a parachute rigger and—her real occupation—an air traffic controller.
An all-around athlete, Linda was born and raised in San Diego and made her first jump at 19. She joined the Army for three years and now works in Navy air traffic control as a first class petty officer.
She figures she has made 1,300 parachute jumps and is the only female member of the Navy’s crack Parachute Team West. “We do air shows,” explains Linda, “state fairs, big drag meets—things like that. Essentially we are a recruiting effort for the Navy.”
It can be dangerous work. Linda admits to “three or four mishaps where I broke an arm or separated a shoulder.” The jump shown here, at Lake Havasu City in Arizona, was her first in six months after shoulder surgery. The float through space had lost none of its allure for Linda. “It’s interesting,” she observes matter-of-factly. “It pumps you up pretty good.”