Aspen woman takes giant step to promote business
June 25, 2010
ASPEN – Cynthia Ferrara of Aspen took a dramatic step earlier this month – out of an airplane flying at 29,840 feet.
Ferrara completed a high altitude low opening, or HALO, jump on June 12 to set what she has been told is a world record in that type of jump for a civilian woman.
She jumped in tandem with a Gulf War veteran working with a company called HALOJumper, which offers civilians the chance to make the jumps used by military special forces to avoid detection.
They made their jump about one hour out of Memphis, Tenn. It was minus 20 degrees when they departed the airplane but 97 on the ground. They started above the cloud level, free-falling for nearly 2 minutes and hitting a top speed of 134 mph, according to Ferrara. They were wearing oxygen masks.
Once they burst through the cloud layer, the temperature soared. She believes her guide popped the chute about 6,000 feet above the ground, abruptly slowing their speed to about 5 mph. She recalled loud noise of their suits slapping against their bodies as they were free-falling, then the sound of silence after their chute opened. They landed perfectly. (A video of her experience is posted on YouTube. Search using her name.)
Ferrara said she never let herself think about the danger of plummeting from a plane at such a high altitude.
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“I didn’t want to have so much adrenaline pumping that I missed the whole damn thing,” she said with a laugh.
She never got psyched out by the experience, even though she was dangling out of the airplane as her jump master, strapped behind her, prepared to jump. It would have been more frightening for her to be teetering on the edge of a cliff, she said.
“At 30,000 feet, your brain doesn’t really register” the distance up, she said. “It’s surreal. A United jet could go whizzing by you at any moment.”
She arranged to make the jump through Maverick Business Adventures, a networking organization for entrepreneurs that she belongs to. She had gone sky-driving once in her mid-20s and enjoyed the experience, but moved to Aspen 23 years ago and had not done it since. Once she organized the jump, she decided to go for the record for a civilian woman.
“I figured if I’m going up there, I might as well set a record,” she said.
The owner of HALOJumper told her she was only the 82nd civilian in the world to make such a jump and only the second female from the U.S.
She isn’t typically a daredevil. Ferrara said her favorite activity is intense gardening at her home.
The HALO jump wasn’t just for kicks. Ferrara took the dramatic step to draw attention to a new company she founded, DramaticLash. She and a partner have assembled a team that is working on a healthy and safe serum that creates the appearance of thicker and longer eyelashes. They are avoiding substances typically used in eyelash enhancement. DramaticLash is set to launch in August or September, she said.
Ferrara said she turned 50 in April and decided to “redesign” her life. Her two kids are in high school and will be leaving home soon. She put family first, as many women do, and found it “liberating” to place her focus elsewhere with the support of her husband, Frank Goldsmith.
She said she realized it’s a myth that women must sacrifice pursuing a dream for the sake of family. She is spreading the message through her company as well as her record-breaking jump. The DramaticLash.com website encourages women to share their dreams, and encourage and support one another to achieve them. The company motto is, “Make it Dramatic.”
Ferrara is putting her company’s money where her heart is. All profits from DramaticLash’s first month in business will be donated to Women for Women International, she said. Thereafter, 10 percent of profits will be donated to the organization every month.
Women to Women International is devoted to helping women in war-torn regions throughout the world with the financial, emotional and educational support they need to rebuild their lives.