BlogThe Meaning Behind Freedom Fest: Get to Know the All Veteran Group Parachutists
Parachuter pulling an American flag behind him

The Meaning Behind Freedom Fest: Get to Know the All Veteran Group Parachutists

Michael Saam, Director of Adventure & Experiences

The Meaning Behind Freedom Fest: Getting To Know The All Veteran Group Parachutists

Fall in love with what you do…literally. All Veteran Group (AVG) is an organization with highly experienced parachutists who represent the courage and freedom of being an American. They can be seen parachuting into many events around the US like NFL games, NASCAR and our very own 4th of July celebration, Freedom Fest, at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess. Our 12th Annual Freedom Fest is Scottsdale's premiere place for Independence Day festivities and we are honored to have welcomed AVG as an integral part of our celebrations for more than 10 years.

We sat down with Sunnydale Hyde (Sunny for short) a passionate jumper and the purposeful Executive Operations Officer of AVG, to learn more about this important Veterans' group and his personal love for all they do. He even explains how he is afraid of heights, still to this day! So, how does he continually find the courage to jump out of a plane 14,000 feet above the Earth's soil? Find out in our exclusive interview!

Q: Tell Us More About Your Background And How You Came To Join The All Veteran Group?

A: "I spent many proud years in the military, serving my country. Once I became a little bit older, I recognized it was time to try something new. I had a fear of heights but faced that fear when I went on a tandem jump. After the initial jump my fear quickly turned into exhilaration and when I landed, I knew I wanted to do this for the rest of my life. Having served in the military for years, AVG took me under their wing and gave me the chance to jump full time with them. I love what they stand for. They believe the world is OUR place and they make every effort to make it better for everyone."

Q: How Does Your Organization Help Active And Retired Veterans?

A: "We raise millions of dollars for charities that help veterans with mental issues such as PTSD and get them into affordable housing. We'll even take it one step further by flying in the house keys into Hero Home 25 for the Veterans Corps and personally deliver them to an honored veteran who sacrificed so much for us and needs a home."

Q: How Old Were You When You First Jumped Out Of A Plane?

A: "I was 37 years old, although with the proper training you can be as young as 18 years old to fly out of a plane by yourself."

Q: What Are Some Of Your Most Memorable Flights?

A: "Parachuting at the Princess is actually one of my favorite flights to do. Every year I can count on the roar of the crowd as they cheer and wave their flags. It's great because I can see their excitement once I'm at 2,000 feet then begin to hear them at 1,000 feet, they can actually hear me too! It's such an incredible feeling. Another memorable flight was recently with Armed Forces, it was at night and involved flying with pyros and jumping into a screaming crowd."

Q: You Mentioned Being Able To See The Excitement On Everyone's Face At 2,000 Feet, How Are You Feeling In This Moment?

A: "If you've ever been to a concert, you probably seen an artist do their grand entrance. At first they can't see anyone as they're below the stage then they rise up to a massive sea of people who are there for them. That's how I feel once I see the crowd below. "

Q: What Advice Would You Give To Younger Generations Wanting To Follow In Your Footsteps, Jump Out Of Airplanes And Be A Part Of The Organization?

A: "Love people. We all need each other and have the ability to follow our dreams while helping others to follow theirs too. You need to have passion with what you're doing as well. It's not just jumping out of planes, it's helping others, connecting with people, and understanding that what you do is meaningful. Also, make sure to stay in shape. Parachuting requires a lot of core strength and it's likewise important to keep your back and knees strong too."

Q: You Mentioned Still Being Scared Of Heights, How Is This Different? How Do You Help Others Who Share That Same Fear?

A: "I tell them I'm scared of heights too but you need to have courage. Courage is taking the fear and doing something to overcome it. It's okay to be afraid, you can still be brave at the same time. Most people believe that the fall will feel like the drop you experience on roller coaster but that's not the case at all. It is actually quite peaceful, at first all you feel is the wind hitting your face then suddenly when the parachute deploys you feel like you're floating. Plus the adrenaline helps many people out of situations they feel stuck in. It releases tension and gets them to move forward in their life."

Q: Is There Anything Else You Want To Make Sure We Know?

A: "I encourage everyone to take pictures/videos and share them with us. We love seeing the experience from your point of view. We also will repost some of them to our page as well. We are mainly active on Facebook but have a YouTube channel  and TikTok as well. Make sure to follow us!"

On behalf of the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, we are delighted to welcome back AVG for this year's 4th of July Freedom Fest. Other festivities include four nights of spectacular fireworks, three nights of epic concerts, dive-in movies, delectable dining and more. On 4th of July day, make sure to shift your eyes to the sky to experience 54 military aircrafts that flew in World War II soaring across the Princess and AVG parachuting down from the planes while the American flag proudly trails behind. This is a weekend, you do not want to miss.