By Julie Murdock
Elvis isn”t the only professional to include a white jumpsuit as part of his get-up. The King and owner of Skydive Utah near Salt Lake City, Jeff Guthrie, has worn the attire during most of the 8,500 jumps he has made as a professional skydiver.
“I”ve been doing this for 33 years and I still don”t know why I do it,” Guthrie said. “Nobody can tell you that-all we can tell you is we miss it when we can”t do it.”
There may be no logical explanation for jumping from a perfectly good airplane at 10,000 feet, but Bradley Spatz, who maintains the Web site Skydive! Archive, www.afn.org, believes he knows part of the answer. “If riding in an airplane is flying, then riding in a boat is swimming. If you want to experience the element, get out of the vehicle.”
Boyd Newsome, 25, a senior from Nashville, Tenn. majoring in accounting, is going skydiving this May as a graduation gift to himself.
“Free-falling in a Six Flags ride is a lot of fun for me and I think free-falling in the air would be such an adrenaline blast,” he said. “I can”t wait to do it.”
But an adrenaline rush isn”t the only reason people are plunging from the sky.
“I was going on my mission and I wanted to do something crazy before I left,” said Ryan Ainge, a graduate student studying accounting from Burbank, Calif. “I knew I wouldn”t be doing anything crazy for a couple of years.”
Ainge said he would recommend skydiving to anyone. “It was awesome. You can”t really describe it until you have done it yourself.”
Before dropping $150 to $200 for a jump, there are a few things beginners should know.
Although every company has its own policy and procedures, there are certain restrictions for jumpers, such as weight and age limits.
Guthrie said the entire industry began to encourage tandem jumps about two years ago.
“We have had zero injuries with students since then, none, not even sprained toes,” he said.
There are two ways to learn how to skydive: the static line and the free fall.
The static line method involves a jump from 3,500 feet. The student lets go of the airplane and a static line opens their parachute.
“Static line is really being retired,” Guthrie said. “The public just doesn”t demand it anymore.”
In a free fall, the student goes up to 12,000 feet and performs a jump between two jumpmasters. Guthrie said after five free-fall jumps, a person is allowed to “get out of the airplane on their own.”
Guthrie said both methods go a lot better if the student has done tandem training first.
Anyone who skydives feels that the risks are well within their control, he said.
“Is skydiving risky? It”s probably more risky than sitting at your desk,” he said. “Is it more rewarding than sitting at your desk? Absolutely.”