Use code ‘ZACHi79’ for a free copy of this issue when you subscribe or renew (print version only).
Buy a reprint of this issue.
The Photo Interview series went on a road trip to DeLand to get to know some of the badasses in Florida; this is the first of six interviews from that trip*. While the location was different, the intent of the series remains the same: to introduce you to some of the amazing people who share our love of the sky, while focusing more on who they are as people and less on their skydiving histories and resumes. This time around you will meet a rocket surgeon who, along with his equally brilliant wife JaNette, traded in their day jobs to train in 4-way FS and become full-time skydivers. He is an amazing coach, and one of the happiest and most positive people I have had the pleasure of getting to know. Ladies and gents—Mr. Steve Lefkowitz.
Zach: Walk us through your geography; where did you start off in this world, and where have you called home over the course of your life?
Steve: I grew up in New York in the suburbs outside of the city in the town of White Plains. From high school I went to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for college and studied chemical engineering. In senior year I decided I didn’t want to be a chemical engineer. I did some interviewing with consulting companies and did that for four or five years. One of the companies had offices all over the country, and one of them was in Chicago where JaNette was. About a month before I was scheduled to settle in Chicago, they called me in to let me know they were closing that office. They gave me the option to choose a variety of other cities. I chose my own alternative and quit. I ended up joining the company where JaNette was working. I did that for a while and ultimately with skydiving we both quit and moved to a trailer in Chicago and bought a home in Florida so we could train over the winter in Sebastian.
What is the best way to really piss you off?
It is pretty hard to piss me off. Generally, if you are going to piss me off I will just not be around you. I figure if you piss me off too much that is my own fault. I consider it my shortcoming to get too pissed off at somebody.
Outside of skydiving and the tunnel, what do you do for fun?
I like going to the beach and traveling when we can. I like being with JaNette. I like to work out but I’m not sure if that is for fun or just to feel good and for the sport (skydiving). I like to go on walks or bike rides and do adventure stuff and I like to visit friends and family. I try to do that as much as I can but I feel like it is never enough.
Talk to us about your day job; how do you pay the bills?
Skydiving. Skydiving is it. Probably the biggest thing is tunnel camps and player-coach teams.
Did you always want to work in the skydiving industry?
No. I didn’t even want to skydive. I started skydiving in 2005, and JaNette jumped about three years before I did and I had no interest whatsoever. Then she got me in the wind tunnel and I really liked that. I had no interest in skydiving and no interest in making a living at it. What happened was we started getting better and better and taking more and more of our time from work. We realized that if we wanted to get better we needed more time and that meant quitting work. We are both analytical people and [do] not fly by the seat of our pants. We talked through it and figured out how we could support ourselves through the sport. It wasn’t as much the idea of wanting to get paid to skydive; it was more that I really needed to quit work so I could skydive more, and that required finding some other way to keep supporting myself. I’m driven by the challenge of getting better and competing in just about anything, and skydiving is such a fun and rewarding thing to compete in. If there’s a race, I want to win. If it’s not a race, I still want to win.
* Special thanks to Maxine Tate for letting me turn her garage into a photo studio, and for putting me up!
>> Read the rest of the interview in the issue #79 (July 2016) of Blue Skies Magazine. <<
Use coupon code ‘ZACHi79’ for a free copy of the July 2016 issue, with Zach’s photo interview of Steve Lefkowitz, when you subscribe or renew (print version only).
Like this article?
Get more just like it every month, delivered straight to your mailbox. Subscribe today!