Skydiving: The summertime thriller

First-time jumper screams while taking the jump from the airplane. Airplanes open the doors to let jumpers out above 13,500 feet. (Skydive Utah)
First-time jumper screams while taking the jump from the airplane. Airplanes open the doors to let jumpers out above 13,500 feet. (Skydive Utah)

Skydiving already isn’t for the weak-of-heart, but it takes a daredevil to jump from an airplane soaring 13,500 feet above the ground.

Jack Gunthrie, owner of Skydive Utah, has skydived for more than 45 years. “I started in the army, but one of my first memories when I was 4 or 5 years old was seeing a parachute and wanting to use it,” Gunthrie said. “I have always been intrigued by the sport.”

Gunthrie’s target market includes young singles, especially students. Skydive Utah hosts more than 2,000 first-time tandem jumpers in a single summer season.

Recent BYU graduate Luke Salisbury, a one-time jumper at Skydive Ogden. “Skydiving has been a bucket list item of mine my entire life,” he said. “After a long winter of skiing, we needed a way to let our adrenaline out. Skydiving was the perfect outlet.”

Adrenaline isn’t the only noticeable feeling in a first-time jumper’s body. “I was really nervous on the drive to Ogden,” Salisbury said. “But once I made it into the plane, my fear was replaced with excitement.”

Prices range from $150 to $200 for a first-time jump. Once skydivers arrive at what’s called “the drop zone,” they fill out paperwork and watch a 20-minute orientation video. The skydivers then gear up with their instructor and board the airplane. After climbing to the optimum height and a final safety check, the tandem pair makes the jump.

Preston Fairborn, a student from Salt Lake City thought his experience was amazing. “People always think that you would get the feeling of falling on a roller coaster where you get that tingling feeling, but it’s not like that at all,” Fairborn said. “It’s a natural fall and not a forced fall like a roller coaster. All I felt was pure excitement.”

The free fall in most jumps is more than 60 seconds with about a five-minute parachute ride to follow. But free falling isn’t always satisfying enough to cross off the bucket list item. “I told my guide I wanted the craziest experience possible,” Salisbury said. “We backflipped out of the plane and spun like a propeller all the way down. By the end, I felt a little wheezy.”

Jumpers yearn to come back, Guthrie said. “It is absolutely addictive. We don’t know why we jump out of airplanes. All we can say is that we miss it when we don’t.”

The adrenaline is not worth the potential risk for some, but to others, jumping can be a symbol of affection toward someone or something they love dearly. “My grandfather wanted to skydive for the first time on his 80th birthday,” Salisbury said. “But they wouldn’t let him, because he had a previous injury. I felt it was my obligation to skydive for him.”

Whether it’s to cross off a bucket list item or to jump on behalf of someone else, skydiving is a great way to welcome in summer with a bang. “I would totally recommend it,” Fairborn said. “It was nothing but pure excitement for me. I would say it’s something that everyone should do once. If you’re looking for an awesome adrenaline rush, go skydiving!”



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