Brighton native and U.S. Air Force Academy Cadet Erin Brown has done it again.
Along with her team Air Force Paradigm, Brown, 21, won a gold medal in the the advanced 4-way formation skydiving competition at the 2012 U.S. Parachute Association (USPA) National Skydiving Championships Oct. 24 through Nov. 3. in Eloy, Arizona.
The medal is not Brown's first - not even her first this year. She won a gold medal and set national and state collegiate skydiving records in January in the 2011 USPA National Collegiate Parachuting Championships.
Brown said the competition was a lot different because they were competing against more than 500 skydivers from all over the country - not just collegiate teams.
"It was really exciting because the other Air Force team took second," she said. "It was the first year we competed in the advanced division and the first year the Air Force has ever competed in the advanced divison. It went the best possible way it could have with us taking first and second place."
The USPA competition centers on six skydiving disciplines: Formation Skydiving, Brown’s high-flying specialty, Freeflying, Freestyle, Canopy Formation, Freefall Style & Accuracy Landing, and Vertical Formation Skydiving.
In 4-way formation skydiving, the team leaps from an aircraft more than two miles above the ground and then races against the clock to form prescribed geometric formations in freefall before opening their parachutes.
Brown said when she was in the air, she was so focused, she sometimes lost track of time.
"It's kind of funny - we wear an audible altimeter, so it kind of beeps in your ear when you need to break away from your group so you can deploy your canopy," she said. "And there's a couple times in the competition where I was so focused that when it went off, it scared me a little. I was like 'oh my gosh, we're done'. Whereas in a non-competition jump or jumping for fun you get a sense that it's about time."
With more than 500 jumps under her belt, the 2009 Brighton High School graduate regularly defies gravity, but Brown said her biggest fear is and always will be jumping out of planes.
"I think it's a good thing to be a little nervous of it," she said. "I'll definitely always stay scared of jumping, but in a good way because it challenges me. I think that's why I love it so much."