Interestingly Random 9-29-18

Let’s do this! Live each weekend like you have to go to work on Monday, and it’s going to be a full 5 day work week. And on Tuesday you have to do a birthday lunch for Carol, who you don’t like but can tolerate. Then on Wednesday someone’s going to call in sick and you’ll have to cover their work on top of your own. Thursday the coffee machine will break and Friday the sick person shows up sneezing and coughing all over the place and wants to have a 30 minute conversation at your desk. Anyway, enough reminiscing about future work week. Here’s Casey, Brandon, and Adam about to do some skydive stuff!

We had a beautiful view of the sky all weekend. You can always tell when the jump goes well because after landing Lukus plays air guitar for about 30 seconds. He pretty much does this after every jump and also randomly throughout the day. Weekends don’t get any better than this. Blue skies with wispy clouds over green fields make this an amazing place to skydive.

Pack it up and let’s jump again! Evidently my wife is the only one in this photo that likes to get things done. She’s half way through packing while three guys with unpacked parachutes argue about who has the longest swoop.

I don’t know what’s going on here but I’m guessing a lot of “I like your pants!” and “Thanks, I like your pants too!.” To be fair, those are pretty awesome! I think those leggings almost rival my fruit shorts. Casey, Renae, or Heather ever get the feeling that someone is watching you?

Enjoy your travel on Flight Providers Airlines! Other airlines not giving you enough seat space or leg room? We take out the seats completely to give you Extra leg room. Then we cram more people into the airplane to take up that extra leg room. Each person is allowed one carry-on bag at no additional charge. Enjoy cool air conditioning during your flight up to altitude. Any unruly passengers will be escorted to the nearest exit in accordance with our Passenger Management Plan. Have you ever seen anyone smile like this on any other passenger airline?

I don’t know what I did this time but looks like I’m in trouble again. That’s definitely the “You’re in trouble!” face. Or maybe she’s is a good mood, I can’t really tell.

When my wife does get mad at me she throws axes in a threatening show of force. Not just one axe mind you. The first axe thrown serves as a warning that the next axe could also go in a random direction. The potential damage radius expands significantly when she is angry. I prefer to think of the axe wall more as a constructive outlet for pent up aggression. And it’s also fun.

Just a few grown men playing jump rope with a cross-fit climbing rope. We were able to get 4 people jumping at the same time and tried for 5 but it didn’t work. Looking back it’s impressive that everyone walked away from this uninjured and still friends. Guess I don’t remember jump rope being as violent when I was a kid. In the middle of jumping @Lukus spontaneously turned into the Tasmanian Devil and starting spinning. Elbows and limbs went flying in all directions. (Casey, Phillip, Brandon, Adam, Nick, Lukus, Scot)

Stop!, Sonic Time! Ok, and now back to shenanigans.

Adam somehow gets stuck in the hanging harness and struggles to free himself. Casey and Heather find this to be pretty funny. I’ll have to check the Mouse trap this weekend but I’m guessing he was eventually able to escape. I’ll have to try harder next time.

Under that calm and collected exterior @Scot is taking it all in and making mental notes. They said that if you want to know what’s going on at a dropzone you need to talk to a packer. They are the eyes and ears of the industry. The keeper of records. The always vigilant. The eyes and ears… I already used that one. The orb of knowledge.

Typical swoopers, roll out of bed late, do nothing all morning, show up right when lunch is ready to grab a burger and leave again. They eventually came back later in the evening to do some jumps but didn’t have a good excuse for what they had been doing all day.

Well this is random. I would like to say that all of our skydives go according to plan… I don’t remember going over this during the dirt dive though.

The adventures of Woody! Woody has sat through numerous first jump courses helping other students by being physically manipulated into different positions. Even through all of that Woody picked up on knowledge, skills, and techniques. He eventually achieved his A-License! CONGRATS Woody! We’re all glad he was able “stick” around and get his license. (Jeff, Nick, Casey, Heather, Scot, Renae)

A-License stamp right on the forehead-ish! Go ahead Woody, sit on my wife. I don’t mind.

Woody enjoys the rope swing in between jumps. Sometimes the wind can be too high for student jumps. During those times we have enough other activities to keep people occupied.

After getting his A-License woody is able to go on group skydives with his friends! Awesome 4-way Relative Work (RW) jump. Woody is a little floaty though. Looks like he’s going straight to head down flying.

Smile for the camera!

Just another glimpse of our view from the sky. A sheet of clouds extended from the West and opened up just 3 miles from the airport. From this perspective the clouds provide an awesome backdrop during the jumps.

Summer Time 9-15-18

It’s a good day when you can skydive and then cruise around the lake with Steve, Chacy, Tabitha. When the sun hits the trees just right and casts an orange glow on the road I just think about how much fun I’ve already had this summer. And it’s only going to get better.

We got on the lake near sunset and just enjoyed the view. We’re excited that Tabitha has moved back to the area and came out to the dz. This turned into an interesting night. Keys locked in a vehicle, dinner on a floating restaurant, and general shenanigans.

Saturday morning started strong with several loads before noon. Several people getting parachutes packed up for the next jump! Everyone has their own preferred technique. If you ask 100 different people how to pack a parachute you’ll get 100 different answers. Scott takes a more personal approach to packing. He understands that a parachute is like a woman that must be respected. He lays alongside his parachute gently stowing the toggles. Packing is not something that should be rushed. If you take care of your parachute it will take care of you 999 times out of 1000. Of course for that one other time there is a reserve parachute just in case.

Selfie time, everyone smile! So many bright and smiling faces all together around the table enjoying each other’s company. Scot is smiling too but probably had an allergic reaction to a bee sting that numbed both sides of his face. If you look closely you can see the smile in his eyes. Although you have to look through the tinted sunglasses and imagine what smiling eyes look like.

Emma raids the refrigerator for cookie snacks while Heather stands watch. Lukus is distracted by a yellow finch that is singing to him from the bushes near the edge of the tarmac. He wants to reply to their calls but doesn’t speak bird so he responds silently in his head, “peace be the journey.” He is completely oblivious to the fact that his stash of cookies is getting devoured behind him. Brandon and Adam are too focused on packing to see what’s happening around them.

Part of the jump training includes simulating emergency procedures in a hanging harness. If you’re 6’5 it becomes a standing harness. This harness was specifically designed for comfort. It pretty much feels like sitting in a lazy boy recliner that’s floating through the air. Of course the leg straps eventually cut off all circulation to your legs and they go numb.

So you see Lukus, it’s the government that is trying to control our minds. You need to throw away your cell phone, live out of a van, and learn to garden underground during the winter season. In the near future crackers will become the only form of currency…

And after I put on my spaghetti bowl helmet the government isn’t able to see inside my brain because it blocks the microwaves. You can also use foil but I like spaghetti bowls because the tiny holes allow the helmet to breathe.

And the big news from the weekend. Big CONGRATS to Daniel for achieving his A-License! From Daniel’s very first jump I could tell that he was going to be a natural skydiver. After jump two I remembered that appearances can be deceiving.

Daniel stayed focused and continued progressing. He came out to the dropzone even on bad weather days and studied at home to pass the category quizzes. The West Tennessee Skydiving trip was also a great opportunity for him to get some training jumps at another dropzone. We always encourage people to visit other dropones to see how they operate, meet new people, and pick up different training techniques that they can bring back. Daniel worked hard and passed his A license!

It’s good to see everyone having fun! This photo makes me feel good. Our goal is to create an environment where people make new friends and have fun. Troy, Tabitha, Heather, Nicole

#Fabulousness!

When the sun goes down the party continues. Heather, Tabitha, Renae

On a warm summer’s evening with a cool breeze Scot sits reflecting about the summer as fall starts to whisper in our ears. Two drunk people walk down the sidewalk screaming at each other with slurred profanity. The scene brings a slight smile to one corner of Scots otherwise bored facial expression. I captured the moment from a distance not wanting to pull him down from Cloud 9. Eventually I pointed out that the table he selected will not work for a reservation of 8. I’ll never know if he selected a small table intentionally or if it was just an oversight.

On Sunday we had 8 loads and Casey fired up the grill. Everyone is looking to see when the food will be ready. Casey fends off the hungry onlookers with cooking tongs, knives, and by threatening to “add a few more hot dogs to the grill.” They kept their distance until the cooking was done.

Often Casey and I are running different tracks at the dropzone. We complement each other well but that usually means we aren’t at the same place at the same time. When I’m in the air she is coordinating things on the ground, teaching, or cooking food. When she is in the air work I’m cover thing activities on the ground and “looking busy”. Here is a photo where those activities overlap and we are in the photo together!

This photo sums up the weekend. We have a lot of things going on. We have different activities, some people packing, others just hanging out. The axe throwing wall was a big hit. It’s also been nice to start enjoying the lake this summer. We like to have fun even when we aren’t jumping. All of these things are really just a medium for friends to come together.

The following Saturday Sept 22nd weather was forecast to rain all day. At 8am the rain and clouds formed a wall just 5 miles East of the Bolivar airport. This gave us a beautiful backdrop view all day. This was the best rainy day jumping we’ve had. Let this be a lesson to everyone. No matter what the weather forecast, how bad the radar looks, or how much it’s storming at the airport, you should always trust me when I say, “It’s nice and sunny.”

Colt and Terry also made it out for a few jumps. We started out with a couple RW jumps and then ended with a 159 mph hybrid. Colt and Terry took shoulder grips and I went into a stand below them hanging from their chest straps.

If you weren’t at the dropzone you definitely missed out on this view.

 

Team Committed 9-1-18

In sleep it sang to me, in dreams it came. That pond which calls to me and speaks my name. And do I swoop again? For now I find, the water of the pond is there, around my mind. (foreshadowing)

Several of the Flight Providers crew packed up for the weekend and headed down to West Tennessee Skydiving to jump the fastest climbing aircraft in the US. We headed out at different times and converged at the dropzone on Friday. We were able to get one jump in on Friday to get acclimated to the aircraft speed. This is how you start Labor Day weekend right. Brandon, Lukus, Daniel, Nick Adam, Evan

The Millennial part of me says I need to start taking more #Selfies and photos of food in order to go #Viral. The Gen X part of me says the Millennial part needs to shut up, get a job, and stop wanting something for nothing. So they get to carrying on, and then I hear a random person in the background yell, “JUST TAKE THE PHOTO!” Snap back to reality, oh there goes gravity and we are loading the plane again. Troy, Joe

Casey helps Layton pack his parachute. Layton uses the upside down packing technique. More importantly, his shirt matches his canopy. It’s an unspoken rule that when your shirt matches your parachute you won’t have a malfunction.

Daniel making progress toward his A-license. I think Daniel was able to make 6 jumps this weekend. He went through turns, docking, barrel rolls, flips, and prepared for the final check dive. So close to getting his A-license.

From the very beginning Daniel wanted to get his hands on everything. We want to learn how the parachute works, how they are designed, and how to pack. Once you learn how to pack you start getting more jumps. By visiting different dropzones, you’ll jump and learn about different types of equipment.

Jump, pack, nap, repeat. During a jump your adrenaline peaks. You effectively get an energy boost. Once you land your body starts to recover and then crashes. As you get more experience your body and mind get more accustomed to the jumps.

I’m not sure what’s going on here but something tells me that Troy is going to be the victim in this jump.

You don’t just walk in and instantly become a part of this crew. It takes time to build trust within the team. These guys have been jumping together for a while. They’ve seen each other progress in skydiving. Working their way up in ratings, licenses, and/or skill sets.

Time to relax and hangout. This is how dinner works. Brandon’s family fixed dinner for everyone Friday night. One of the regular jumpers at West Tennessee Skydiving returned the favor Saturday night and FlightProviders stepped up Sunday night. Skydiving is a close community.

Casey, Joe, and Layton jumped out of the biplane. This is an amazing specialty skydive. The airplane takes off with the wind in your face. The pilot rocks the wings when he is ready for the jumper to climb into position. You reach up against the wind and pull yourself up into a standing position on the seat. The pilot then barrel rolls the airplane upside and you swing out of the seat suspended from your arms. I could keep typing in an effort to explain but a photo is worth 3440 words. Although it is amazing to think about all the work, jumps, and training that goes into just this one photo. The jumper has to go through all 25 jumps and maneuvers to get an A-license. It then takes a total of 50 jumps to get your B-license which is recommended for specialty jumps. Not to mention all the flight hours and certificates held by the pilot.

After the biplane ride I was able to talk Joe and Layton into a ride on a roller coaster. I charged them a nominal fee of course. I call this ride the “Stay Here and Don’t Move for Three Hours.” After about 2 hours and 45 minutes they figured out that they were their own captors. After they escaped I found them wandering around the packing mat. I got them manifested for the next load. That bought me a few more minutes.

One great thing about visiting other drozpones is picking up on new techniques. Brandon is trying a couple different packing styles to improve the openings of his parachute. Troy is coordinating the next jump. Troy is always up for a fun jump. I have no idea what Lukus is doing. Judging by the photo I would guess he’s trying to identify the species of fire ants that have infested his pants.

As a team we spent some focused time discussing the meaning of commitment. We each took turns telling a story of a role model that exemplified commitment in our own lives. We formed a bond and “Team Committed” was born. A few motivational quotes come to mind; “If you don’t make the formation, don’t bother opening your parachute.”, “A low turn is better than not touching the pond at all.” and, “Pride is more important than not wearing a cast.”

And now we will delve into the psychology of a pond swoop. Step one; Get Fully Committed. It’s not called “Team Committed” for nothing. In this photo you can see the committed/skilled swooper is center aligned on the pond. There is no doubt in his mind that everything is AWESOME, everything is cool when you’re part of a team. Everything is awesome, when you’re living out a dream.

With all of the awesomeness going perfectly it’s time to level up on commitment. A single foot touches the water and a rooster tail appears behind the swooper. Finesse, style, and confidence merging into a seamless glide across the glassy water.

The second foot barley kisses the water’s surface. The swooper glides effortlessly across the water like a skipping stone across a river.

For a second the jumper ponders, “I might have committed too hard.” But then quickly remembers there is no such thing.

Superman slide for the finale. Don’t worry, this was all planned during the Commitment phase.

A new sport is born NCP (Noodling Canopy Pilot).

Lukus stares back at the pond with a look in his eye that says, “You Just Try that again Pond!” In unspoken words the dissipating of ripples signal that the pond understands.

“Everyone once in a while you have to show the pond who’s boss. The pond is an untamed stallion that needs gentle guidance but also a firm lead.” – Lukus

Here’s another way to swoop. It’s amazing what can happen when two people are committed to the same goal.

Yeah this one looks pretty committed also.

I’ll close with this photo. This is an amazing life that we get to experience. This photo looks like a less busy Bob Ross painting, but instead of birds we have parachutes. We had great weather all weekend. The clouds presented an awesome background for jumping and photos. Looking forward to our next trip to West Tennessee Skydiving

As Summer Progresses 8-18-18

At the beginning of the year I wasn’t sure what the summer would bring. We had some tough decisions to make and a number of hurdles to overcome. I’m sure every business goes through this phase. You can’t do everything at once so you have to decide where to focus your time and energy. Our first commitment was to focus on people, which meant building the right atmosphere. I figured that if we could achieve that we’d have a fun place to hangout with friends and the business would follow.
We’re now eight months into summer. Over the last eight years our three busiest days have happened this summer. I figure that’s a good sign of progress. We have a number of students working toward their license and a growing group of regulars. As word spreads we continue to grow skydiving near Springfield, MO.
During the previous weekend, Emma passed her A-License graduation drive. This final evaluation covers a broad range of skills. Not many people take that first leap. It takes a certain personality to come back and make a second jump and then go on to get your license which takes 25 jumps. After jumping off and on for awhile Emma got focused this summer to get her license. She came to the dropzone when she could, even if the forecast wasn’t great. She often made 3-4 jumps in one day and always asked for advice on ways to improve. A lot of dedication, work, and fun has paid off! Flight Providers’ newest A-Licensed skydiver, Congrats Emma!
Thanks to Russell for flying this weekend. Russell has a lot of experience flying skydivers and always makes it a good time. Not a bad weekend when you can come out, fly a few loads, enjoy some great food and still have time to hit the pool before the week starts again.
Scott has been helping out a lot with coach jump and ground instruction. It’s great to have people that are willing to jump in and help where they can.
Daniel is also making progress. When you start learning to skydive the main goal is stay stable enough to deploy the parachute in good position. If you are out of position on or side or upside down that can cause problems during deployment. It’s easier to be stable if you leave the airplane stable. At a certain point though you have to show that you can get stable from any position. If you dive out of the airplane and end up on your back can you get stable? Those are the jumps that Daniel passed this weekend. Barrel rolls and flips are designed to get jumpers into an unstable position so they can recover. We start drilling the arched body position from the first jump. This is the first step in recovering from an unstable position. Daniel completed both maneuvers, tracked away for separation, and then deployed his parachute.
And just when the fun gets started look who shows up. Always good to see Adam except for when he brings rain. Seems like that’s what happened the past couple times he came to the dropzone. But this ended up being a perfect day. Even after being gone a couple weekends Adam didn’t miss a beat.
And this is the fun you get to have when you have your license. We started the jump handsfree (I just coined the phrase “handsfree” for skydiving.) Scott leaves the airplane falling backwards because reasons. Heather is in the “Drop into action pose” as I like to call it. Whenever the superhero leaps off a building this is the pose they take. They got together in the air and made a three person circle.
Josh stopped in to check the place out. I think we’ll be seeing more of him. Adam leaves the airplane falling backwards because reasons. I need to come up with a name for this specific exit position. Maybe something like the “fetal release” or the “corpse drift” position. “Ok for the next jump I need two people on the step, one person in the door and Kevin, you take corpse drift.
And then after jumping… time to pack! Definitely not the most fun part of the skydive. Like I always tell my students, “You can skydive without a parachute, you just can’t skydive again.” Packing is somewhat of a necessary evil. Although once you’re done packing you can jump again! This photo of Adam, Josh, and Heather make me think it’s time to bring back blind-folded packing races. You have to be the first person to finish packing, jump the parachute, and not have a malfunction. You can learn a lot about different parachutes and containers from packing. Containers and parachutes are fairly similar but there are differences. If you start packing for other people you’ll learn about the differences.
It’s like our own episode of “Fixer Upper” or whatever one of those renovation shows is called. I should have taken a photo of the storage room before Steve and Chacy started renovations to convert it into a store. It was full of carpet tiles, folding chairs, a punching bag (which we still need to put up) and other miscellaneous things. Renovations are still underway, more updates to come.
Scot and Casey getting ready to go on a jump. Two of the more color coordinated individuals at the dropzone this weekend. (Only because Brandon wasn’t here.) Full face helmets are nice because because you can wear normal sunglasses under the visor, they keep the wind out of your face, and in the right light they can also make you look like a raccoon.
Pretty sure this is the photo we’re going to use for the cover of our next album. Judging by the pose of each person I’m guessing that Scot would be the singer, Casey would be the drummer, Scott would be the bass player and I would be on the tambourine.
Saturday was not looking good but everyone still showed up at 9am and Professor Scot got the class started. Radar was showing rain cells all around. All morning I was thinking that Adam and Lane would not get to jump. If we were able to get the ground school done that would still save us time later. Around noon it was still not looking great so we ordered pizza.
After the first jump course was over we decided to wait and see if the weather would clear up. Throwing axes and knives is not a bad way to kill an attacker or just a couple hours waiting for weather to clear. Apparently I was wrong, although not about the weather part. Overhearing the conversation Steve informed me that the first rule of a knife fight was to not let go of your knife. This made me very skeptical of Steve because his comment contradicted everything that I had learned from action movies. Any doubt I had about who would win between the two of us in a fight has been removed.
Near the end of the day we caught a break. The rain cleared enough for Adam and Lane to get in the air. Steve and Lance provided in-air support. Both did excellent in freefall and landing patterns were even better. Everyone is having a good time riding back to the hanger while Scot ponders about whether or not he left the microwave door open at his house.
Once that door opens on the airplane your mind goes into fight or flight mode. Your brain starts disregarding information that is not immediately critical to survival. On your every fist skydive your brain is telling you “This Isn’t Natural!” …and of course your brain is right. You have to learn to control your natural urge to tense up and brace yourself. On the first few jumps we don’t expect people to remember much. Memorizing what’s happening is definitely a lower priority when adrenaline kicks in. One of the first things we do on a debrief is to ask the students what they remember. The more they remember the more they’ll be able to build on that experience for next time. Instructors will us questioning techniques to help student recall their jump. Over the next couple jumps these students will start controlling their natural reaction and begin to make adjustments in the air. And then once the debrief over we play with dolls.
Saturday night we hit the lake, and we HIT IT HARD, literally. Thanks to Cacy and Steve for opening up their party boat! If there was a map showing our path around the lake it would probably look like 2 year old’s coloring book. Lots of indecision, changing our minds, and forgetting wallets guided our path. “I forgot my wallet” only works if at least one other person *didn’t* forget their wallet. Lance attempted to do some “Skurfer” boarding. There was a lot of noise, music, and conversations going on so it was difficult for Steve to hear the “GO” command from Lance. We decided to streamline the communication by relaying the message to Steve telephone style. Lance would yell “GO”, Chacy would then have to yell over the engine at Scot who would in turn yell at Casey. I was at the front of the boat so I would wait for Casey to throw something at me and I would then spill my drink on Steve and that would be the final “Punch It” signal. I’m not sure why that didn’t work. Lance probably just wasn’t that good at Skurfering. Needless to say we opened later than normal the next day but it was worth it.
After looking through the camera footage I found this clip of Russell landing the airplane. I just thought it was an interesting view of Silo Ridge Country Club. The clouds and shadows from the trees give the photo an interesting depth.

Scot’s 100th jump 8-11-18

Before we get to Scot’s dessert pie, I’ll cover a few other things that happened at the drop zone this weekend. Friday was beautiful all day until the tandems showed, and then it stormed. This is the second time these students have been rained out. I’m starting to think it’s them. I wish I could predict the weather. I guess “technically” anyone can predict the weather but I wish I could do it accurately.
Starting Saturday like a ROCKSTAR! Even in an airplane Lukus can’t escape the paparazzi. Bodyguards Nick and Steve running escort detail to an undisclosed altitude. From there Lukus disappears into the sky for a few moments away from his fans.

Our team does what it takes to get the job done. Chacy drove late into the night and arrived at 3am to get the exit shot of our first tandems Saturday morning. Videographers perform a dance in the air with their tandem partner. Less than 3 feet away traveling at 120mph there is a fine line between eloquent dance and a dangerous situation. Chacy and Steve have been doing this dance for a while and they know the music. They make it look easy while high-lighting the jumper’s experience. Capturing the experience on video allows you to re-live the experience over and over. More to come later on what Chacy and Steve are bringing to the drop zone.

Daniel was able to get a couple jumps in on Saturday with Troy and Joe. He’s making good progress towards his A-License. I can already tell that as soon as he does the graduation dive he’ll start working toward the B-License. I just love this strut cam!

With the backdrop finished we are one step closing to finishing the axe throwing board. Axes have been ordered and should be here before the weekend. Might as well buy some knives and some of those throwing starfish also. “I like things like this and I want more of them.” – Nick

Scot and Casey getting ready for some air time, and maybe that’s Steve’s hand back there.

This is one of our favorite jumps, the Ring Pass. Heather starts with the ring as Lukus, Brandon and Joe leave the airplane. The ring will get passed around to different jumpers as many times as possible. This is also a good skill building jump as you get swoop down to the jumper and get into position to grab the ring.

If you remember, Nicole sat at the drop zone all day a couple weeks ago and wasn’t able to jump because of the winds. She made up for it on Sunday making three jumps and did her practice pilot chute throw perfectly. A couple more practice pulls and then she’ll be deploying her own parachute. After that we start getting some free fall time.

And now, for Scot’s 100th jump pie. Everything started out innocent enough. Just a few friends sharing the sky with Scot as he makes his 100th jump. I’m glad I was able to fly this load. Scot has come a long way from his first jump. He used to be temperamental, negatively sarcastic, pessimistic… and now he also has 100 jumps.

Not many people make that first jump. Even fewer go on to get their A-license. So reaching 100 jumps is a major milestone is skydiving. Scot has been working hard on learning to pack and teaching first jump course. It’s nice just to have a relaxing jump. The wind in your face, sky to your back, and friends around you. You can see the calm look on Scot’s face as he reminisces on how far he has come.

And after you land from your 100th jump it’s time to celebrate with some pie.. and powdered sugar… and molasses… and grass… Congrats Scot!!!

This photo fully captures the essence of how this summer is going. You see people packing, resting, talking, hanging out, watching videos, etc… Everyone is having a good time. A full mix of students, instructors, sport jumpers, and friends.

Another day at the office 8-4-18

The shenanigans started early. Lukus felt the need to swing underneath of the airplane and hung from the tire. I knew if I had asked “Why?” he would just say, “Because it was Fun!” That’s a good enough reason for me. Lukus is the type of guy that is always smiling. Whenever he is at the dropzone the excitement level bumps up a couple notches.

The excitement of going to TommyHawks Axe House carried over to this weekend. Unfortunately, Steve had missed out on all of the axe throwing, decided he wanted to be a part of the fun and threw an axe through the wall. Steve acted alone and was not egged on or encouraged by anyone else. Something told me that Casey would not be amused so I thought quickly and fixed the hole by covering it with the dart board. Good as new, even better in fact! The dart board is back up..

Saturday started slowly and the winds were too high for students so we grilled lunch. Everyone pretty much takes turns grilling. When one person steps away to finish packing or to work with students, someone else flips the burgers. There’s enough food for everyone. I can’t count the number of times that I showed up at the drop zone or boogie completely unprepared. I was so excited to get there that I would grab my rig and sleeping bag, then drive 7 hours to a boogie. I packed parachutes for a lot of people at those events and they seemed to appreciate it. I appreciated the people who had brought extra burgers, brats, and steaks for the grill. I feel like this is my opportunity to give back to the sport in the same way that others have helped me.

Smile for the camera! I’m glad Reid finally came out but it seems like he showed up just in time for lunch. Reid’s on his own time schedule for sure. Glad he came out to see the place to make a jump.

It was just HOT all day. Pretty sure we exhausted our popsicle supply in a matter of hours. I think Brandon brought the first bag of popsicles, now we buy them by the case. I was able to get through a couple skydiving ground courses with Jack and Nicole. I give them credit for being out there all day. At 6pm the winds were still high so we called it a day and headed over to Houlihan’s (Springfield North, MO) This is definitely our go-to place in Springfield. They recognize us when we walk in. The food is great and we spend a couple hours just talking about the day, skydiving, and how much fun we’re going to have tomorrow.

We started with breakfast and coffee on Sunday morning to get everyone kicked started. After bacon, eggs and pancakes we were up and running. Winds were perfect for student jumps in the morning. Around noon they got a little high but came down in the afternoon.
The Speed Flags tournament continues… Adam and Lukus went one-on-one in the singles match. Each jumper is trying to capture flags off the other person. We’re still working some of the finer aspects of game play. When we tried one-on-one before it didn’t work out well. The flags were attached to each opponent at the ankles and they just ended up circling each other the whole time. We decided to attach flags on wrists and ankles. This made it more of a head to head match.
Lukus is down by one point with 8 seconds left before they reach break off altitude of 4,000 feet. Adam has captured one flag from Lukus’ right arm, and that’s when Lukus got Cereal. You and can see the look of SHEER determination and unwaivering focus that Lukus has on his face. He’s focused like a hawk! I’m sure Adam felt a sense of terror as those hawk eyes bore down on him as though he was a tiny mouse in a wheat field. But skydiving is no fairytale and we don’t give out participation trophies. Unless the goal is to have fun and make new friends then yes everyone wins! I should make a trophy that says “I had fun and made friends.” That’s a good tag like for a shirt also. Anyway,… as both jumpers landed we could see that Adam had captured a second flag from Lukus. This one off his left arm. Adam wins this round but there are 37 more rounds to go. To be continued next weekend. Starting to think I need to get in on this action.
With perfect winds and being fully rested, Jack make a lot of progress on Sunday. His first jump of the day was turns. Jack had to complete 90°, 180°, and 360° turns in freefall, stop on heading, and not lose track of altitude. On the second jump Jack completed two barrel rolls. Jumpers are taught how to get off their back during freefall. When you’re still learning to skydive your adrenaline peaks during the jump and crashes shortly after landing. This up and down adrenaline rush can wear you out, but Jack pushed through. One his third jump he completed front flips and back flips.
Troy is one of our Skydiving coaches and worked with Jack on Sunday. One jump at a time Troy laid out the objectives, taught the maneuvers, evaluated the jump, and gave a thorough debrief. Troy shows Jack how it’s done by landing in the center of the target. You can see the outline of a mowed circle in the grass. I was standing on the edge of the circle ready to take this photo because I knew Troy was going to land on target.
The sky was beautify at the end of the day. We walked out into the field to watch the last group land, enjoy the view and reflect on the weekend. If you look closely you can see Lance, a single canopy between the clouds. This is the sunset jump that everyone dreams about. The clouds create a silhouette in the sky as sun rays extend from the edges.
Lance, Casey, Scot and Troy were on the last load of the day. This is us walking in from the field. Good looking group of people. Casey got distracted by an odd shaped limb on a tree in the next field. When she puts her mind on something its hard to pull her away. We packed everything up and say goodbye until next weekend.
Nick and Casey enjoying the summer. This has been one of the best summers that we have had. Good times with good friends.

Night of Axes 7-28-18

Friday night the weekend was upon us. The crew assembled at Buffalo Wild Wings to plan out the weekend. Saturday was fully booked with tandems, solo students, and fun jumpers. The weather was also forecasted to be a little thunderstorm-ish. The pressure was on to make the weekend last as long as possible. A lot of food had already been prepared for Saturday and Sunday. We still needed to make plans for a special Desert… Photo time, EVERYONE SMILE!

All of this weekend planning, worrying about the weather and being married can be stressful. Like the ole’ saying goes, “If I had 4 hours to cut down a tree, I’d throw an axe at it for 3 hours.” That made sense to all of us so we headed over to TommyHawks Axe House (www.tommyhawks.net). I wish I could tell you that Andy fought the good fight and that everyone got a participation trophy. I wish I could tell you that – but axe throwing is no fairy-tale world. It was definitely a competition. It look a little while to get everyone to direct their axes toward the boards instead of at each other. Once the axes started flying through the air the competition was on! On another note, looks like we may need to go over the safety briefing one more time.

Kacey was one of our instructors teaching us how wield an axe. While the instruction was excellent, my application of the instruction was not. Although Casey seemed to pick it up quite naturally. I on the other hand, might as well have been throwing a roofers claw hammer or a frozen banana. (Which that actually gives me an idea…to be continued) Anyway, we pretty much had the place to ourselves. Which that worked out well, skydivers don’t always mix well with general public. Also Thanks to Seamless Rigging for organizing the event.

Adam sights down the barrel of the axe to align the sharp end with the target down the lane in an attempt over-think the throw.

Of course there has to be a winner. Troy (seen below holding the trophy) is the overall points leader. Brandon wins in the category of “How hard can I throw the axe Happy Gilmore style.” This was a great way to get the weekend started right.

Tandems and solo jump students started showing up at 9am. Even with a couple walk-ins we were able to get everything done. We kept an eye on the thunderstorms that were in the area all day. Special Thanks to Divakar and Joe for coming up this weekend to help with the Static-line(IAD) and coach students. A lot of other people pitched in to get parachutes packed and work with students.

Emma made some great progress towards getting her license. Three jumps in one day is pretty good. Sunday was a slow day due to weather and Emma was able to start working on packing.

Around noon Troy fired up the grill and threw on some marinaded chicken, brat burgers, cheesy burgers, and hot dogs. There was plenty of food for everyone. And next, time for Desert!

After lunch we finished with some Desert! Chris was a little greedy and kept all the pie for himself.

When you reach 100 jumps, “You get all the pie that you want, in none of the places that you want it.”

I’m not going to use the word “hazing.” We prefer the term “endearing acceptance.”

Casey brought out Chelsea to experience the skydiving community.

The game is call Speed Flags. Each team of 2, tries to capture as many opposing flags as possible. In this photo the 2 teams are being cordial but then split up to strategize.
Team Lukus and Ronnie strategizing and working on their Smiles before the next round of speed flags.

Team Heather and Adam appear to be focused and ready to capture some blue flags. Turns out that both teams were too focused on having fun because they came down empty handed

Shortly after sunset we took a break to give everyone time to eat and prepare for night jumps. The safety briefing started at 9:30pm and the plan started turning loads at 10pm. We did 6 night loads with the last jumper landing at 2:45AM.

Just mentioning “night jumps” the glow sticks come out. For a second I wasn’t sure if Joe, Brandon, Lukus and Adam were getting ready for night jumps or going to a RAVE. We changed the music to techno so they could at least dance while waiting for the next load.

During the day the view is amazing. At night it’s a whole nother perspective. When you’re standing on the step of an airplane at 10,000 feet at night you start looking around at all the city lights. Then Michael turns on the suit and I’m hit with some massive number of LED lights. The entire side of the airplane lights up and I was blinded for a few seconds. It would have been an interesting view from the ground. I can’t image what anyone would have thought if they had seen it from the ground.

That wraps up another amazing weekend. We’re always trying to figure out how to make the next weekend even better.

HOT Weekend 7-1-18

This has to be the best photo from the weekend with Troy and Heather. We opened at 9am last Friday and ran loads all weekend. This photo was taken later in the day on Friday. Wind had shifted a little and jumpers had to adjust their landing pattern. Skydivers try their best to land into the wind. This slows their speed across the ground. When the wind changes jumpers may need to adjust their landing pattern in the air.

Definitely glad that David and Troy are able to help with students. Troy was able to get some Coach jumps with Emma and David threw a Static-Line/IAD student. With Static-Line/IAD training the jumper hangs from the strut of the airplane. Once they let go the instructor deploys their parachute as they leave the airplane. Or as we say, “throw a student” (out of the airplane.) This is a great way to learning skydiving near Springfield, MO. And apparently it looks like we are trying to cool the hanger by leaving the refrigerator open.

Scot is getting a tandem parachute packed up after a jump. He also does all of the video editing and creates the weekend review photo albums, tandem videos, and collage videos. He’s already starting to think about attending the next Xcelskydiving course to become an instructor. You learn a lot about different types of parachutes by packing them. Like cars there are different makes and models. Beginner parachutes are designed to be more stable and reliable. High performance parachutes are less stable but more maneuverable. They fly faster, turn faster, and dive faster.

This is the Walk of Confidence from one of the tandem students as they are about to board the airplane. Steve walks to the airplane smiling ready for another skydive. This was a fun and diverse group of students. One person from Russia, two from Ukraine, and two from U.S. They were a lot of fun. They asked a lot of questions and genuinely seemed interested in the the entire process. The more questions you ask the more you learn. Mean while Heather and Brandon practice their ballroom dancing in the background.

All of the jumpers are appreciative of Phillip, one of our new pilots, for getting them up to altitude safely before we pushed them out. He definitely has some bad golfing habits but we’ll see what we can do about that.

Yuriy, Mark, and Ivan came back to make their second Static-Line/IAD jumps. All three progressed well and seemed to have a lot of fun. Scot helps to gear up the students. Casey, Nick, and David take turns throwing them out of the airplane.

Exciting start to 2018

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.

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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.