The start of 2018 has been amazing for Flight Providers skydiving. I wanted to recap everything that our team has accomplished. We’re now the fastest growing center for skydiving in Springfield MO area. If you come skydive with us you’ll jump out of an airplane and also make new friends. We have a close team and you become part of that team. Of all the years that we have been open this has been the busiest by far. We’re training more students, eating more food and having more fun!
Yes, in the past we’ve had an identity/branding crisis. We’ve changed the name from 417 Skydive to The Airplex, and then to Flight Providers. In the middle of that we closed last year to support another skydiving opportunity. During that year we learned a lot of things that will help us continue growing in Bolivar, MO. Primarily we learned that we have a unique social atmosphere. Skydiving is more than jumping out of an airplane. It’s a environment to relax with friends. We eat together, travel together, skydive together and form lifetime friendships. This has made us more focused on building a “Team Atmosphere” in conjunction with the aviation center. We’ve made some long term investments to keep a good thing growing.
We started the 2018 season earlier in the year than most centers for skydiving in Missouri. January and February were freezing cold but a few people toughed it out to get jumps in. That takes dedication. March was a little cold also.
On March 11th 2018 we conducted our annual Safety Day training event. This is the “official” start of the skydiving season. Speakers give presentations on new industry information and lessons learned from across all dropzones. All jumpers review emergency procedures in the hanging harness before getting back into the air. This is also a perfect time to fire up the grill, eat, and have a good time. In this photo Evan is competing in the gear check challenge with Terry, Casey, and Seamless Rigging. The three jumpers wearing gear have something wrong with their rigs. A chest strap could be misrouted, someone might have forgotten their altimeter, a handle could have been dislodged, etc. The goal is to find as many errors as possible by visually scanning the other jumpers. We do gear checks before boarding the airplane but it’s always good to watch over each other.
Nick fires up the grill for the Safety Day feeding. We had hamburgers, brats, sides, chips, salsa, and more. Never pass up an opportunity to server others. Thank you to everyone who has donated to the food fund. I can’t even list out all of the people who have helped me along the way at the drozpone. I remember driving to skydiving events without planning ahead. Skydivers who I had never met brought extra food, planning ahead to share with others. This is our chance to share with others and help young skydivers see what this is all about.
After the presentations, games, challenges, and food we were able to get a few jumps in. As more students get their skydiving license our team gets bigger. Safety Day continues to grow each year. Troy Lukus Brandon Scot Chris Matt Ty Don Troy
We created a new skydiving sport called “Speed Flags”. It’s basically like flag football but there is no ball and we are skydiving instead of running. So really nothing like flag football except that there are flags. Maybe it’s more like “Capture the Flag” except that flags are on people. Anyway, at first we tried this as a one-on-one sport. The two opponents ended up just circling each other in the air. Then we formed two person teams. The object is to capture as many flags as possible from the other team.
On March 21st we made an EXCITING announcement. After skydiving together Lukus surprised Sarah by proposing. I don’t think she had any idea this was coming. It was all planned out before the jump. Once they took off in the airplane we spread out the “Will You Marry Me” sign. As she was floating down under parachute she was able to see the sign and screamed “YEEESSSSS!!!!” from the air. Also thank you to Seamless Rigging for taking Sarah on the tandem.
One of the big events so far was the Xcelskydiving Rating course that we had in April. Jumpers came from Missouri, Iowa, Arkansas, and Kansas. Several of our own jumpers worked hard to become skydiving instructors. They’re excited to start growing the sport as the number of students continue to increase. We offered instructor training courses in Accelerated Free Fall, Tandem, Static-Line, Instructor Assisted Deployment, and Coach ratings. David, Evan, Michael, Joe, Ian, Troy, Renae, Holly, Mac, Divakar
There are several significant milestones in skydiving that are worth celebrating. And by “celebrating” we mean “pie-ing”. Congrats to Evan who reached 100 jumps! This is a photo from the congratulatory “Pie-ing”. When you get 100 jumps at our dropzone expect something similar to happen to you. It’s also a right of passage. Only people with more jumps than you can participate in the pie-ing. Several people did the honors; Casey, Seamless Rigging, Joe, Karen, Jessi, Don, Terry, Chris, and Nick.
I just had to share this photo one more time. On the way to altitude Air-Traffic Control was giving updates on the distance of the storm. This created a dynamic backdrop for a perfect photo. We timed the jumped pretty well because shortly after we landed it started raining.
The night jumps on May 26th were a big success. We did 5 loads of night jumps going until 1:00 a.m. We had a full moon that illuminated the sky. Skydiving under the moon gives a very different perspective. This photo was submitted by someone who captured a jumper perfectly in front of the moon. Night jumps require a “B” license which is the second level after the “A” license. In order to get the B license you need to have 50 jumps, water training, canopy course, and completed specific maneuvers in the air. The local USPA Safety and Training Advisor (S&TA) Nick, conducts a safety briefing before the night jumps take place. The next night jumps are scheduled for Saturday, July 28th.
Another great view from the edge of living. Brandon works with Kendra on timing the exit point across the ground. Prior to taking off we look at winds aloft charts to determine what point over the ground we need to exit the aircraft. Calculating for wind drift gives us the best chance of landing back at the airport. Sometimes it’s more of an “Art” than a “Science”, which is why we land off airport sometimes.
I just had to repost this photo of one of our tandem students skydiving with Steve. If I was going to pick one photo that summarized skydiving I think this would be it. The perspective of the land, sky, and excitement all in one photo. One of the best things about skydiving is the unique view that you can get from the air. Not many people can enjoy this perspective. Even from the inside of the airplane you miss out on the wind in your face and the feeling of being the the open air. You have to leave the airplane to truly feel what it’s like to fly.
At the beginning of the year we invested heavily in our student program. We pushed out a lot of information to get more people excited about working toward their license. Some of our regulars introduced their friends to the solo static-line skydive program to get them hooked. Others completed the rating course in order to become skydiving instructors. To summarize what it takes to get an A license you have to have 25 jumps, pack your own parachute, complete free fall and canopy maneuvers, take a written test, pass a graduation dive exam, and more. The A license takes take the most time to achieve. One limiting factor for students is the winds have to be less than 14mph. Once you get your A license there are no wind limitations other than good judgement. It takes some time to get used to the adrenaline rush. This can be physically and mentally draining. Most people in the student program can do 1-3 jumps in a day at first. After a while that can go up to 4-5 jumps. It’s definitely work but very rewarding. Each jump is one step closer to the A license and it only gets better from there. We have several people in the student program that plan to have their A license by the end of the year. Cody, Ivan, Jack, Kendra, Mark, Sarah, Yuriy, Matt and Daniel.
This has already been one of the best summer’s of my life. One of the tandem students said it best. After walking back to the hanger he looked at me and said, “You have an amazing life.” I want to do the best I can to share that with others.