Nebraskan skydivers: ‘it’s the closest thing to flying’

Posted by: Abigail Wood

Hundreds of people flooded the tiny airstrip in Plattsmouth, Neb., Saturday morning, three days into a four-day skydiving shindig known as the Redemption Boogie.

The goal? To break the Nebraska skydiving record of 20 people in formation at a time.

"We will be exiting the aircraft at approximately 13,500 feet above the ground," said Scott Dvorak with Skydive Crete. "So we will probably have about 40–45 seconds to bring everyone together, complete the formation before skydivers start to have to turn and move away from the formation to deploy their parachutes safely."

It’s a tricky business, and Saturday’s attempt proved too difficult. Breaking the record meant more people in two planes instead of one. There wasn’t enough time for people in the second plane to catch up. But it’s okay: the skydivers weren’t there just to break a record. They’re already hooked on the adrenaline rush skydiving give.

"I don’t get the drop feeling," Dvorak said. "It’s just like I’m flying."

One of the coordinators of the event, Paul Fortier with the Lincoln Sport Parachute Club, says he loves being the only one responsible for the free fall, and the focus it takes.

"You are very in the moment," he said. "You don’t have a choice about being in the moment."

Only experienced skydivers tried the formation, instructors were also there to free fall with first timers. The tandem instructors at Skydive Crete in Crete, Neb., even gave me a chance to take the plunge. 

And they were right. Nothing prepares you for that first moment the door opens. You free fall less than a minute before you open the parachute, and then the canopy gives you a few minutes of flying before you coast to the ground.

One of the first things people are concerned about with regards to skydiving is whether it’s safe.

"It’s a growing sport," Fortier said. "It’s a dangerous sport that you can do safely, if you follow the rules and are smart about it."

Around 800 people were able to look beyond the risks to take a dive Saturday. 

Some of the proceeds from the event go to fund the American Cancer Society. They don’t have an exact number yet, but in previous years it’s always in the thousands.