A national championship skydiving couple is heading to Germany very soon to participate in the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Cup. Brian and Amanda Festi live in DeLand, Florida. The two will take part in the artistic freestyle competition. The competition will take place on Tuesday, August 8 until Saturday, August 12 in Germany.
The name the couple uses when they perform their artistic freestyle acrobatics is Animare. Artistic freestyle is an event that involves one skydiver performing a routine while falling from the sky, while another skydiver films it. In this case, Brian is the cameraman and Amanda is the one performing the artistic maneuvers – often taking on a ballet-like form.
Each skydiving jump involves artistic maneuvers for approximately 45 seconds. The rates they fall at are close to 180 miles per hour, but speeds of up to 200 miles per hour are possible.
The couple trains at Florida Skydiving Center, which is located in Lake Wales. Brian is a skydiving instructor.
At the last World Cup, Brian and Amanda received a bronze medal for their performance. The couple has participated in the United States Parachute Association (USPA) National Skydiving Championship—they have won the championship a total of four times.
Amanda has been dancing since she was three years old; at one time she was a professional dancer. These past attributes help her in artistic skydiving. “All of the stuff I’m doing that looks really pretty, it’s going 200 miles per hour sometimes,” Amanda said.
While Amanda may be the “talent,” she appreciates what Brian does. “The flying that I’m doing is pretty difficult stuff, but his role in the team is definitely some of the most challenging work you can do in the sport,” Amanda said. The FAI’s website states, “The role of the camera flyer is to present the performer(s) as cleanly as possible.”
According to Amanda’s Parachutist online profile, “She won the 2013 USPA National Freestyle Championship by taking her graceful moves to the sky as the flyer for Animare.” In addition, Amanda is also a USPA AFF Instructor and a Federal Aviation Administration Senior Rigger.
Artistic skydives have two different types. One of them is freestyle and the other is freefly. According to the FAI website, “These events test the skill of parachutists’ body control in freefall, enabling them to create a gymnastic/balletic routine. This must conform to the technical requirements during their compulsory rounds and be a creative performance during the free rounds.” The difference between the two is that freefly has two people performing acrobatics with one camera man.
Competitions have seven rounds. Points are given each round and the team with the most points wins. “The technical aspect of the jump is judged on the degree of difficulty and technical execution of the moves chosen … A panel of five judges evaluates each jump independently and awards points between 0-10.”
Amanda shows appreciation for her husband and said that he is the most influential person on her skydiving. “I met Festi when I was a 100-jump wonder with a big dream of being on the U.S. Team. He has taught me so much and I continue to learn from his knowledge and experience every day,” Amanda said.