At eight she started having a recurring dream in which she would step out a window and float into the night. It stopped nine years later when she took up skydiving. Soon she was betting men a dollar a jump on who could land closest to the center of a 10-cm target. "I couldn't lose," she says. "I didn't have a dollar to pay them."
Now 51 and pilot for U.S. Airways, Stearns has won two world titles and set 30 world records. Up next: parachuting 110,000 feet to break the 46-year-old mark for longest jump. Stearns hopes her experience will help refine bailout procedures for astronauts, but there's a simpler reason. "That record's too old," she says.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: July 19, 1976
SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ. > Parachuting
Stearns, 20, a graduate of Scottsdale Community College, took first place in the women's overall competition at the national parachuting championships held in Tahlequah, Okla. She set a world record in women's accuracy by scoring 19 consecutive dead centers.