Cheryl A. Stearns
Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame
Cheryl A. Stearns was born July 14, 1955 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her family moved to Scottsdale, Arizona 2 years later. An interest in aviation led her to skydiving and her pilot’s license in her teen years. Cheryl made her first parachute jump at the age of 17. In 1975, after graduating from Scottsdale Community College, she moved to North Carolina to continue her competition parachute training. Her skills grew quickly and in 1977 she won her first U.S. National Championship. That same year she joined the United States Army and became the first female member of the Army’s “Golden Knights” parachute jump team.
In 1979 she became the first woman to participate in an international military parachuting competition. Not only did Cheryl compete, but she won the accuracy competition. She continues to participate in and win parachuting competitions, and has won 65 national and world women’s competitions. Additionally, she has held the most parachute jumps in a 24-hour period by a woman; 352, or on average 1 every 4 minutes. In addition to her parachuting career, Cheryl is a pilot for U.S. Airways. She flies as a First Officer in the Boeing 757 and 767. Cheryl has received numerous awards and honors during her aviation career. These include: Skydiver of the Year for 1995, Citizen of the Year, 1995 from the Raeford, NC Kiwanis Club, and the highest award in aerosports, the Diplome Leonardo da Vinci in 1990. The U.S. Army has awarded her the Meritorious Service Medal 4 times, the Army Commendation Medal 6 times and the Army Achievement Medal 2 times.