Athletics test the limits of the human body, and there is no greater example than Amber Forte. Amber is a world record holding skydiver and the current #1 ranked women’s wingsuit flyer in the world. Born in Torquay, England, in 1991, she left home at eighteen years old on a mission to build a life of meaning and purpose. She has battled through many adversities, including a broken spine and thigh bone suffered during a skydiving accident in August of 2019. Since recovering, Amber is training towards the world championships in acrobatic wingsuit flying with the Norweigan national team.
Amber also holds motivational speeches where she shares the many experiences that make up her incredible life. She hopes to inspire and encourage others through the lessons learnt along her journey. This is a project that Amber holds very close to her heart, as she truly embraces human connection.
An active BASE jumper and skilled photographer, Amber is able to combine nature and extreme sport to create amazing photos and videos. She often creates media with her life partner, Espen Fadnes who is the top ranked wingsuit flyer by the International Airsport Federation.
Face The Current connected with Amber to discover more about the incredible person behind her amazing accomplishments.
Ty Johnson: You are currently ranked as the top female wingsuit flyer in the world. Are you more motivated by the competition aspect of flying or do other goals and team activities take priority?
Amber Forte: I would say that overall it is really just the flying that keeps me motivated. I really love the feeling of flying my body, whether it be in a wind tunnel, from an airplane, in my clothes or in a wingsuit, being in the moment and focusing on my body movements puts me mentally in a place of peace and focus.
As a child, I was raised to train and compete in BMX racing, so it is in my blood to strive towards winning. I think this is why I have ended up using a lot of energy and resources in my adult life towards competition. It feels meaningful to me to train towards a goal, progress and challenge myself outside of my comfort zone.
I am very proud to be part of the Norwegian national team, but I do not feel that I have achieved what I want to in competition yet. It’s cool to be the fastest female and all that, but in a male dominated sport, what would really mean something would be to be the fastest “person”.
I am like a fish caught on a hook that’s not quite ready to give up the fight yet.
Over the past few years, I have learnt how important it is to balance the desire to win and succeed with the pure enjoyment of the activity. In the past I have degraded my experiences due to such a strong desire to excel and become the best. Nowadays I focus a lot on having a healthy balance between these two things. I believe that this will keep me motivated and happy in the long term doing my sport.
For me the most important thing is that I wake up each day looking forward to the day ahead and go to bed feeling satisfied with the day that was (give and take a little).
TJ: With the world record for fastest woman in a wingsuit, you have experienced speeds up to 283.7 km/h!! How can you describe that feeling to the rest of us?
AF: When I set this record, I was very new to performance wingsuit competition and agreed to join in to gain experience. I never imagined that I would set a world record! When I landed after my first speed run, someone came to me and congratulated me on my world record… I was so surprised as I thought I did a really bad jump! The feeling of mastery excited me and motivated me to continue on learning.
It is hard to explain what it feels like to fly 283km/h. It takes a lot of focus not to get speed wobbles and lose control. It is very important to be both strong and relaxed in the body, but at the same time focus on the competition, so it’s pretty hectic to be honest. I remember the sensation that my face was out of control with the wind hitting it so aggressively, that was the only “normal” sign that I was going seriously fast.
TJ: Norway is globally known for its amazing mountains and scenery. Did the local region or environment have any influence on your desire to take up diving?
AF: When I first set my heart on moving to Norway, it was primarily because of the wind tunnel in Voss, Norway. I was already a skydiver, but had a dream of becoming a wind tunnel instructor. In 2014 I met Dave Reader, he was at the time living in Voss and working at the wind tunnel as an instructor. Dave welcomed me to Voss for a holiday in 2015 and showed me around, explaining what was possible and introducing me to the local people. I fell completely in love with Norway and decided that I was going to make it home. Six months later I boarded a one way flight to Norway and jumped into my new life. Quite literally.
Not long after I had moved, I started to realise truly how special Norway was for extreme sport and decided to take my flying skills to the mountains. At this point I met my boyfriend Espen Fadnes who had been working as a professional BASE jumper since 2012. We made the perfect team. I would teach him what I knew about bodyflying and he would guide me into the world of wingsuiting and BASE jumping. That’s when things really started to kick off!
TJ: With such amazing locations for the sport, it is no wonder that Norway’s national wingsuit team is so stacked with talent. How does it feel to be the first woman to represent your country on the national wingsuit team?
AF: As an English person having migrated to Norway, it feels very special to have been accepted as a member of the Norwegian national team. Espen and I dreamt of being part of an acrobatic wingsuit team for many years, so we were very happy to finally be doing it! We have been a team now for three years, but due to me getting injured and Covid-19 shutting everything down, we have still not managed to compete together. We hope that soon we will get the chance to compete, but in the meantime we will continue training and preparing ourselves for when it finally happens.
I do not think too much about the fact that I am a woman, but I do hope that I can inspire more women to follow their dreams, even if they are within a male dominated field.
TJ: You performed in a wide variety of films and commercials, including the movie Race 3. Do you have any exciting plans for the upcoming year that you would like to share with the fans?
AF: Over the next year I will be focusing a lot on training with the national team, coaching skydiving events over Norway and as much as possible running away into the mountains with my wingsuit.
But, the biggest project that I am working on now is something very personal and close to my heart. I have recently started to hold motivational speeches and dream of doing this much more. I hope to share my story with the world and aim to support and encourage people who have encountered similar life challenges as myself.
My speech/presentation is a very honest and personal story, starting all the way back during my childhood in England. I look deeply into how this childhood has shaped me into the person I am today, in both positive and negative ways. The story leads all the way up to a large trauma which I suffered in 2019 and continues on to share the lessons that I have learnt from this. I hope that I can teach my viewers these lessons without them having to make the mistakes that I had to make.
TJ: You and your partner, Espen Fadnes, are both members of Team One Call. How amazing is it to share your travels and experiences with someone that you love?
AF: I feel very lucky to have found a life partner like Espen, he is just a wonderful human being and our life together is such an adventure! But, like any relationship, there are ups and downs and it is constant working progress to support and love each other in the ways we need. Sharing our job and main hobby together is very special, but we try to make time for other activities too, otherwise it can get a bit intense. Many people tell me that they couldn’t live like us with their partner, but personally, I couldn’t imagine a relationship working any other way.
TJ: With all of the tremendous forces of nature and physics facing you during your time in the air, how do you prepare your body to handle what you put it through?
AF: I have always had a large focus on fitness and physical training, minus a little lazy period in my teens… I find great joy in challenging my body physically and finding flow in activities such as yoga and dance. When I started skydiving I started to focus a lot more on strength and endurance to keep up with the boys.
In 2019, I had a bad accident skydiving where I broke my thigh bone, and dislocated and shattered the lower section of my spine. The year following this injury for me was 100% focused on rehabilitation, working to regain strength and ability so that I could continue with my sport and work.
Today, I am back jumping and flying, but I feel in many ways like a different person. I place a lot of focus on physical training and focus heavily on my mentality around what I do, and my life in general. I am learning to live with my mistake and slowly accepting my body as it is now.
I will continue to prioritise physical and mental wellbeing for the rest of my life.
TJ: In order to be as good as you are a lot of time and effort must be spent honing and perfecting your craft as a wingsuit flyer. Do you have any other main hobbies or interests that are equally important to you?
AF: Flying is my biggest passion for sure. But, I do enjoy doing a variety of other activities such as hiking big mountains, paddle boarding, fishing, climbing, biking, baking bread and taking care of my houseplants.
But, a lot of the activities that I do outside of flying are done in a way that I believe will make me a better skydiver and BASE jumper.