I thoroughly enjoy teaching instructors how to instruct skydiving. With my extensive military training background and years of instructional experience in both skydiving and the military, I have the experience needed to prepare candidates for success, regardless of the discipline they choose.

 

Michael Wadkins XO, founder Xcelskydiving

Behind every successful man is a good woman telling him what to do.

 

Mercedes WadkinseXecutive, author

I like to think of myself as being a student of learning and one who loves to share doctrine and techniques with others.

 

Noah WattseXaminer, Golden Knight

I started skydiving right after high school and immediately I was hooked.

 

Kazu OyamaeXaminer, master rigger

I never thought at that time that I would pursue a lifetime career in skydiving, but as life would have it I made my first civilian jump in 2002 and fell in love with skydiving all over again. I have always loved teaching.

 

Ron Bell eXaminer, retired Military

I take great pride in challenging myself, as well as everyone around me, to strive for improvement on every jump.

 

Justice PerkinseXaminer, business owner

I'm just addicted to the potential for efficiency.

 

Jen SharpeXaminer, plate spinner

Skydiving became an opportunity to travel and experience the world.

 

Lindsay RicheXaminer, world traveler

My passion for skydiving started when my first airplane ride was my first jump.

 

Ray LalloeXaminer, airline pilot

The sense of community on the dz is one of the many parallels that I use to combine my worlds; military, police and jumping. I wouldn't choose to live my life any other way!

 

Shauna FinleyeXaminer, bunny-officer

I am a perpetual student of life; continually curious, and seeking knowledge.

 

Adam Myers eXaminer, former "cave" man

Michael Wadkins

Michael has a profound passion for teaching within this sport and is enthusiastic and dedicated to maintaining a high standard in the AFF, Static Line, IAD, Tandem and Coach instructional programs. "I thoroughly enjoy teaching instructors how to instruct skydiving," he says poignantly. With hjis extensive military training background and years of instructional experience in both skydiving and the military, he has the experience needed to prepare candidates for success, regardless of the discipline they choose.
Michael has over 14,000 skydives with over 29 years of skydiving experience ranging from 4-ways, big ways, USPA instructional courses and in all realms of USPA student skydiving operations. He is a goal-oriented and focused professional with more than 20 years of experience building and leading integrated training and management operations for the U.S. Army MP Corps in the United States and abroad, as well as a certified US Army Master and Senior Instructor and skilled public facilitator. He possess comprehensive and successful management qualifications in professional instructor development training programs within the USPA instructional realm. His areas of USPA expertise and qualifications include the following:

  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice (Masters -Homeland Security pursuant)
  • U.S. Army Retired MSG/E-8 (20 Years)
  • U.S. Paratrooper (10 years)
  • U.S. Army Certified Master & Senior Military Instructor
  • U.S. Army Certified Training Courseware developer
  • Diversified certified military "Training Evaluator" with over 10 years of experience in valuating major comprehensive military training exercises as well as evaluating courseware, content, applicability and methods of instruction
  • Proven track record of success in project management and training & development in both the U.S. Army and the civilian USPA skydiving instructor sector. Well versed and comfortable in any training environment
  • Seasoned skydiving professional with more then 20-years of USPA membership and experience in student training, developing student programs and drop zone management
  • Seasoned DZ General Manager with over 5 years experience running a large turbine Drop Zone
  • Thousands of instructional student skydives (Static Line, IAD, AFF and Tandem)
  • Tandem Instructor since 1997: Rated Strong Enterprise Systems and UPT Relative Workshop
  • Conducted and participated in numerous USPA Instructional Rating Courses for over 15 years
  • USPA North Central Regional Director since 2014
  • USPA Static Line Instructor since 1995, PRO Rated since 1996
  • USPA AFF Instructor since 1996 and accumulated over 3,000 actual AFF instructional jumps
  • USPA Coach Course Director and Static Line Instructor Examiner since 2002
  • AFF Evaluator & AFF Designated Evaluator since 2004
  • USPA AFF, IAD, Static Line, Tandem, and Coach Course Instructor Examiner
  • USPA Strong Enterprises Instructor Examiner
  • USPA Tandem Instructor Examiner for Vector and Sigma System - United Parachute Technologies
  • USPA Safety & Training Advisor
  • Prior Drop Zone Owner – Skydive Door County, Sturgeon Bay, WI
  • Chair of the Safety & Training Committee as North Central Regional Director, USPA Board of Directors

Ron Bell

Ron started his skydiving career in the military as a paratrooper in 1992. "I never thought at that time that I would pursue a lifetime career in skydiving," Ron recalls, "but as life would have it I made my first civilian jump in 2002 and fell in love with skydiving all over again." Ron has always loved teaching and in 2007, he combined teaching and skydiving when he received his first rating as an AFF-I. Shortly thereafter; he received his TI rating, sold off his company Bell Custom Builders and moved to Spaceland in Houston, Texas, to become a full time skydiver. Since then he has spent his time in the skydiving community trying to make the next generation of skydiver smarter and safer than the ones that have come before. He now has 20 years in the sport and over 12,750 jumps. He has worked extensively with AFF, STP, and AFP student programs and brings years of experience and knowledge to candidates. His areas of USPA expertise and qualifications include the following:

  • U.S. Army with one tour in Iraq (Sergeant)
  • U.S. Paratrooper (6 years)
  • U.S. Leadership and development course
  • U.S. Army Development SOP for 143rd long range surveillance, communications section
  • Owner/operator Bell Custom Builders (15 years)
  • Seasoned skydiving professional with 20 years USPA membership and experience in student training
  • Developed student training program for Westside Skydiver in Minneapolis MN 2011-2012
  • Thousands of instructional student skydives (AFF, STP, AFP and Tandem)
  • USPA AFF Instructor with 2,500+ student jumps
  • USPA AFF Evaluator and D/E since 2010
  • USPA Evaluator and Tandem Instructor for Vector and Sigma with 6,000+ student jumps
  • USPA AFF Examiner
  • USPA Tandem Examiner (UPT and Plexus)
  • USPA PRO Rating
  • USPA Coach Examiner
  • FAA Senor Rigger and Private Pilot
  • Director of Safety & Training for United States Parachute Association

Jen Sharp

As a successful businesswoman and entrepreneur, and one of the country's leading female skydivers, Jen Sharp is frequently invited to share the lessons and experience of skydiving and years in business, drawing analogies to the field and history of skydiving, in venues small and large, from summer children's program to municipal conferences to the state of Kansas Capitol building. Her expertise earned her the position of guest speaker multiple times for the National Dropzone Owner’s Conference as well as the International Parachute Industry Association Expo. She was also the keynote speaker for an audience of approximately 3,000 at the March 2015 Kansas Rural Water Association Conference. In addition, she often writes articles for skydiving and non-skydiving publications, regularly contributing to some, such as United States Parachute Association magazine Parachutist and the Kansas Rural Water Association magazine Lifeline. She also maintains a casual blog at jensharp.com.

Teaching is her passion. Since earning her degree in Education, She taught in public schools and at the University level and still teaching private drum lessons to ages 3 to 85. In October 1995, She opened Skydive Kansas, the longest running commercial dropzone in Kansas, located in Osage City, which is known nationally for its educational offerings. Her reputation and credentials as a skydiving instructor/examiner afford her opportunities to travel and teach seasoned instructors how to facilitate their own courses and perform duties of leadership in their own areas.

Jen explains, "People ask me what I do, who am I? I reply, I'm a Plate Spinner...Not literally. Figuratively. I'm a mom, a skydiver, a drummer, a teacher, a student, a runner, a programmer, a writer, a closet standup comedian, a short order breakfast cook... my eclectic activities enrich my life and keep me busy. Still, my time is valuable but not saturated. (What do they say... if you want something done, ask a busy person?) I'm just addicted to the potential for efficiency."

At 18 years old, she made her first jump November 11, 1989 and now has 5,000 skydives. From October 1995 to February 2017, she owned and operated Skydive Kansas, the longest running commercial dropzone in the state. She is an IERC Director since 2010, an Accelerated Freefall Instructor since 1997, Static line JM & I ratings since 1992 that are now expired, a Strong Tandem Instructor since 2004, Strong Tandem Examiner since 2009, USPA Coach Examiner since 2003, Safety & Training Advisor from 2003 - 2017; PRO rating since 1994; FAA Senior Rigger since 1995, Master Rigger since 2009. "In 2014, I had the humble pleasure of traveling to Nepal with the Everest Skydive Team as the first female tandem instructor to do tandems there," she recalls. In the non-skydiving scope, she holds a Bachelors in Education, an Associate in Computer Information Systems, and Masters in Business Administration. As she owned her own web programming company for 18 years, she's been able to work as a consultant in many arenas and industries. The unique combination of education, IT, and skydiving coupled with the necessity for safe efficiency as a DZO has honed her focus towards improving education in skydiving. Currently, she is employed by USPA as the Director of IT.

  • Jumps 5,000 in 30 years in the sport
  • FAA Senior Rigger since 1995, Master Rigger since 2009
  • AFF Instructor since 1997
  • AFF Evaluator
  • USPA Instructor Examiner Rating Course Director since 2010
  • USPA Coach Course Director / Examiner  since 2003
  • USPA Strong Tandem Instructor since 2004
  • USPA Strong Tandem Examiner since 2009
  • USPA PRO Rating since 1997
  • Former Drop Zone Owner of 21 years – "Skydive Kansas"
  • Director of IT for United States Parachute Association

Ray Lallo

A native of the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York and Colorado, Ray says his passion for skydiving started "when my first airplane ride was my first jump."

A 21 year retired veteran of the US Army, Ray jumped from 1200 feet in Ft. Benning, GA in 1981 at the US Army Airborne School. After "Jump School" he continued his skydiving career in Girdwood, Alaska while being stationed at the Airborne Infantry Unit in Anchorage, Alaska. In 1983, he joined the US Army Special Forces and after graduating Special Forces was assigned to a Military Free Fall (HALO/HAHO) Team for 18 years. He continued to pursue his civilian skydiving career during his Military Service. He recalls, "My favorite Jump was a 32,000 foot High Altitude/High Opening (HAHO) over the countryside of Germany."

As a member of USPA for 30 years, he has accumulated over 14,000 jumps and earned many awards, wings and ratings. Over the years, he has competed on a 4 and 8 way team, a CRW team and the "Big Way" circuit but the most enjoyment he gets is from certifying new AFF, Tandem Instructors and Coaches. When time permits, he organizes "big ways" at boogies across the country.

  • Jumps 14,000+
  • Master in UW, GW and FID Studies, Pineland University
  • U.S. Army Special Forces (Retired) MSG/E-8 (21 years)
  • U.S. Army Certified Master Military Trainer
  • Graduate of the U.S. Army Special Forces Command Language School (Arabic)
  • AFF Instructor Examiner 4,000 combined AFF and AFF Evaluation jumps
  • Strong Tandem Instructor 3,500+ jumps
  • USPA Coach Examiner
  • USPA PRO Rating
  • Big Way Load Organizer and POPS Record Holder
  • USPA Regional Director (Mountain) and Secretary 2013 to 2016 and 2019 to present
  • Airline Transportation Pilot (ATP) Certification with 11,000 + Flight Hours
  • Instructor Pilot in the Citation XL and XLS Twin Jet
  • Certified in various Jump Aircraft such as the CASA 212, Twin Otter, Supervan and King Air
  • Mountain Regional Director and Secretary, USPA Board of Directors

Kazu Oyama

Kazu started skydiving in the summer of 1993 right after high school and, as he puts it, "immediately I was hooked." He trained with the tandem progression program that was offered at Lake Wales and quickly earned his A license. He has mainly jumped in Florida and spent most of his time in Pahokee, Clewiston, and Sebastian. After a few years, he began shooting video and pictures for fun jumpers to gain experience. In 2009, he transitioned from a corporate job to full-time skydiving and college. He earned his Coach, AFF and then Tandem shortly afterwards. He elaborates, "I realized a passion for teaching and thoroughly enjoy the academic environment that the IE rating has to offer as well as what we offer instructor candidates." He is presently an Evaluator for Coach, Tandem and AFF and is pursuing those I/E ratings. Kazu says, "I am looking forward to working with new candidates and eventually participating as an I/E."  He currently holds the following qualifications:

  • Jumps: 6,000+
  • FAA Master Rigger
  • USPA Coach Examiner
  • Chief AFF Instructor - Skydive Midwest
  • Tandem Examiner (UPT)
  • Videographer
  • Safety & Training Advisor
  • 500+ AFF student Jumps
  • 1,000+ Student Jumps
  • Tandems 2,000+
  • AFF Designated Evaluator

Lindsay Rich

Lindsay Rich began skydiving in 2005 with the University of Connecticut skydiving club. With 25 jumps she was competing in her first year at collegiate nationals in 2-way, and the following year on their 4-way team. With packing parachutes being an excellent summer job in college, she began her career at the dz in 2006. It doesn’t take long to realize the real fun is in the sky so Lindsay became a Tandem Instructor and an AFF instructor shortly after in 2008 and 2009 respectively. "Skydiving became an opportunity to travel and experience the world so I took off to Texas that winter, found myself working in Australia after that and then eventually Utah and Malaysia."

Traveling has broadened Lindsay's perspective of the sport and student training and she uses that perspective to inspire the effectiveness and efficiency of her student training programs which has brought her to be the director of the AFF program at her now home dz, Skydive Utah. "I look forward to seeing the future of skydiving and to help being a part of the creation of that future. To create well informed and proficient skydivers."

  • 5,000+ Jumps
  • Tandem Instructor
  • AFF Instructor
  • USPA Coach Examiner
  • USPA Tandem Examiner (UPT)

Noah Watts

After graduating high school from St. Peters, Missouri, Noah enlisted in the Marine Corps where he served for 11 ½ years. His last duty station was Ft. Benning, GA where he became an Airborne School instructor. While working at Airborne School, he was the second Marine in history to be a part of the Fort Benning Command Expedition Parachute Team, The Silver Wings. This is where he started his career as a demonstration parachutist.

In 2007, he tried out for the U.S. Army Parachute Team, the Golden Knights. After passing their selection program as a Marine, he left the Marines and joined the Army and reported to the team on December 29, 2007 as a demonstrator for the Gold Team. During his GK career, he has been on both the Black and Gold Demonstration teams and is currently the Assistant Team Leader for the GK Tandem Section. As the head Examiner and Safety and Training Advisor for the team, Noah says, "I like to think of myself as being a student of learning and one who loves to share doctrine and techniques with others."

His extensive and memorable demo jump experience includes venues such as the New York Yankee’s Stadium, St. Louis’s Bush Stadium, flying through the Gateway Arch, and landing onto the North Shore Beach of Chicago, Illinois. He has landed on a floating trampoline, and as Noah recalls, "the privilege of landing on the U.S.S. Battan, which so happened to be the ship I deployed on after 9/11." His most memorable tandem experiences have been in Nepal as part of the High Altitude Tandems for Everest Skydive, going with the U.S. Ambassador to France, Charles Rivkin during an anniversary of D-Day in Sainte-Mere- Eglise, France, and of course, "the excitement of taking my mom on a tandem." He has also taken TV personalities such as Kelly Pickler and Good Morning America’s Ginger Zee on tandems that aired on network television shows.

Noah's specialties include Tandem Instruction, Pro Rating and Canopy (accuracy) Control, Advanced Teaching Techniques, and Transitioning from Military Rating to a USPA equivalency.

  • USPA AFF Instructor Examiner
  • USPA Coach Examiner
  • USPA Tandem Examiner (UPT)
  • USPA PRO Rating
  • USPA Instructor Examiner Rating Course Director
  • USPA Safety & Training Advisor
  • FAA Senior Rigger
  • FAA Commercial, IFR Pilot
  • Jump Pilot (C182, C206U)
  • Demonstration Jump Pilot (C182, C206U)
  • Videographer
  • Military Static Line Jumpmaster
  • Military Free-Fall Jumpmaster
  • Military Combatant Diver (nice for water training)

Adam Myers

Adam is an accomplished skydive instructor, who began his skydiving career in February 2009. He had spent much of the previous decade working in corporate/technology middle management, and owning/operating the music recording studio business he had built for his love of music and the production process. Throughout his youth, Adam participated in many sports activities such as surfing, skateboarding, snowboarding, and mountain biking.

Feeling the need for adventure and the desire to get "out of the cave" and back to an active lifestyle, Adam wrote down a list of activities he wanted to experience. Coming in at number one on that list was to experience freefall skydiving. So, Adam signed up for an AFF first jump course. Having an amazing first jump experience, Adam proceeded to finish AFF and earn his USPA A-license.

After the time of his first jump, Adam knew he had found a new love in his life. With his team leadership background and desire to share his passion for skydiving, Adam also knew that he would pursue earning his instructional ratings. Adam has completed upwards of 5,000 free fall skydives, has earned multiple instructional ratings, and has served as the Safety & Training Advisor to a busy dropzone.

Adam's love for the sport of skydiving is apparent, and to share it with others is his passion. From teaching the first time AFF or tandem student, to the experienced skydiver looking to earn their instructional rating, Adam gives his all through his instruction to those looking for knowledge and experience in this amazing sport.

Adam remarks, "I am a perpetual student of life; continually curious, and seeking knowledge. My students can be some of my best teachers."

His current expertise and qualifications include the following:

  • 5,000+ Jumps
  • USPA AFF Instructor
  • USPA Coach
  • USPA Tandem Instructor
  • USPA PRO Rating
  • USPA Tandem Examiner (UPT)
  • USPA AFF and Coach Evaluator
  • Videographer
  • Canopy Coaching
  • FAA Senior Rigger

Shauna Finley

With a voracious appetite for knowledge and experience, Shauna Finley has taken on unimaginable opportunities since her first jump in 2013, proving to be Xcelskydiving's own version of Judy Hopps.

Shauna is well known and loved in her area, representing the Eastern region as their Regional Director on the USPA Board of Directors for her second term. She stays very active with the Safety & Training Committee during their biannual meetings as well as during the interim. On weekly basis, she enjoys flying video and instructing at Skydive Sussex and Skydive Shenandoah, two drop zones that she helps manage.

While she enjoys diving into many aspects of the industry, Shauna's passion for the sport is with teaching, from first jump courses to coach courses and everything else in between. She goes beyond her responsibilities as an FAA Master Rigger, whether it be familiarizing a newer jumper transitioning from student gear, or explaining nuances to experienced jumpers of their own gear.

In her life prior to Skydiving, Shauna spent 11 years in the United States Marine Corps Reserve and 3 years on active duty. In 2005 she became a NJ State Trooper and has risen to the rank of Sergeant with the State Police helping run and maintain one of the busiest 911 centers in the Northeast. Currently working as a Trooper and as a Skydiving Instructor keeps Shauna very busy, but she still finds time to regularly run the trails near her home with her dog Claire, training for ultra-marathons.

Shauna is excited to join the team, remarking, "I love having our rigging loft entryway jammed with jumpers at the end of the day, hanging out and asking questions while others reminisce nearby at the fire pit about the days shenanigans. The sense of community on the dz is one of the many parallels that I use to combine my worlds; military, police and jumping. I wouldn't choose to live my life any other way!"

Her current expertise and qualifications include the following:

  • 2,000+ Jumps
  • USPA AFF Instructor
  • USPA Coach
  • USPA Tandem Instructor
  • USPA PRO Rating
  • USPA Coach Examiner
  • USPA AFF Evaluator
  • Videographer
  • Private Pilot
  • FAA Master Rigger
  • Eastern Regional Director, USPA Board of Directors

Steve Kanat

Steve's first jump was a tandem in Hawaii in 2001. He was hooked, and a year and a half later, he completed his static line course at Skydive Tecumseh. Spending time in different disciplines (formation and free flying) he realized he wanted to share what he knew with new jumpers and be a part of their experience as well as his own. This started his journey to be a coach and then an AFF instructor where he realized his passion is teaching. Steve currently has 1,500 student jumps and still loves every minute of it. Becoming an IE seemed to be the next step that would allow him to expand his passion to a higher level and share it with a much larger group of people.

  • Co-owner of a computer company - Qualitech
  • Student program coordinator
  • AFF-I
  • S&TA
  • Coach Examiner
  • D/E (almost an AFF-IE)

Mercedes Wadkins

Mercedes is the lovely woman, whom candidates talk to in regards to coordinating fees, registering, scheduling and answering questions, and more. She is the driving force behind the scenes handling critical aspects of our business management. 

As she says about her husband Michael, "Behind every successful man is a good woman telling him what to do...." Her qualifications include the following:

  • Graduated from Methodist College: Business degree
  • 7 years management experience in business Retail and Management
  • Manager of 2 national notable jewelry stores: White Hall Jewelers and Littman's Jewelers
  • A Licensed Skydiver
  • Former Owner Operator of Skydive Door County, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin
  • Co-Owner Xcelskydiving