by Indira Moosai & Cassie Gaudes
You are up in the sky surrounded by clouds. You are standing looking down out of the back of the plane. The ground is 13,500 feet below. Buildings look to be the size of ants. The instructor you’re strapped to asks if you’re ready. You say yes and the next thing you know, you jump.
On March 27, Skydive UT held their first meeting in Riverside 288 with approximately 130 people in attendance.
Club President Kyle Mackey, junior biology major, was inspired to start the organization after skydiving himself with no other UT students. Mackey has completed 42 jumps to date and plans on completing more with Skydive UT members at Skydive City Zephyrhills.
“I feel like starting a club for skydiving would be an awesome way to seek out friends for skydiving but also friends that do other things,” said Mackey.
Mackey has found that those interested in skydiving also have a shared interest in scuba diving, skateboarding and many other activities.
The meeting started with a presentation with facts and information about skydiving, in general. In 2018, that there were 13 deaths out of approximately 3.3 million jumps, according to the United States Parachute Association. This is a 0.0000039 percent fatality rate.
Mackey emphasized the safety aspects of skydiving while giving the presentation and offered to hold smaller group meetings dedicated to explaining rules.
“If people are really interested in the sport, we can have smaller meetings where I can go over how you take your parachute out, how you pack it and stuff like that,” said Mackey.
Co-secretary and co-treasurer Corey Knepshield, sophomore forensic science major,said that the clubs purpose is to have fun with others who share an interest in skydiving.
“I feel like you’re definitely going to make friends here,” said Knepshield.
During the presentation, Mackey explained how he struggled at first to make skydiving a hobby. He hopes having a club dedicated to it will allow others to get involved.
“That’s what the club is for,” Mackey said. “We’re going to get people out there. It doesn’t take much to get out there.”
To join UT Skydive and make a jump, no previous experience is required.
“I have always wanted to skydive and I love adrenaline,” said Francesca Macchio, junior elementary education major, who attended the meeting. “I would like to [go this semester]. I would be scared and excited so I hope it goes well.”
In addition to newcomers, the club encourages past jumpers to jump with Skydive UT.
Bryce Shepherd, junior finance major, has skydived before and said he will go with the club next semester.
“It was a fantastic experience and an experience that everyone should try at least once,” said Shepherd. “I am very excited to go skydiving again and have thought about getting a skydiving license.”
A tandem jump from 10,500 feet costs $179, and a jump from 13,500 feet costs $199, according to Skydive City Zephyrhills. UT Skydive’s cost is not finalized, due to pending funding from UT Student Government. The club estimates the cost to be around $150. There is a group discount, so the more people that go, the less it will cost.
In the future, the club would like to organize an overnight trip. Skydive City Zephyrhills features amenities such as a bonfire area, a bar and restaurant, wifi and showers, according to Mackey.
UT Skydive was partially inspired by UT’s Scuba Diving and Snorkeling Club, according to Knepshield and Mackey.
“If we can get 20-30 people there, we can rent a bus or van and that’d be really cool,” said Knepshield. “Sort of like how scuba club has a mega-dive where they all hang out. That’d be really cool if we can get a bunch of people to go camp and have jumps together.”
UT Skydive has a tentative first outing date on either April 27 or April 28. If you are interested in attending the outing or have any questions, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We’re here to meet new people,” Mackey said. “We’re happy to help everyone and anyone that wants to get up in the sky.”
Indira Moosai can be reached at email@example.com
Cassie Gaudes can be reaches at firstname.lastname@example.org