Kara Gutormson

Kara Gutormson

Among the various student clubs at SDSU, one club caters to those interested in the extreme: the SDSU Skydiving Club.

This club is for those who want the thrill of jumping out of an airplane, freefalling and surfing the clouds while parachuting. The club’s adviser is SDSU faculty member Warren Hovland, who has made 1,750 jumps.

“There was a skydiving club back in the 70s, but eventually it just faded away,” Hovland said. “It was resurrected about 7 years ago.”

All jumps take place at Skydive Adventures in Luverne, Minn. Skydive Adventures is a member of the United States Parachute Association and is a non-profit organization that is geared toward promoting the sport of skydiving.

The drop zone for each jump is on the Quentin Aanenson Airfield.

Kevin Kracht works for Skydive Adventures as a static line instructor, tandem instructor, senior rigger and coach. Kracht has made 775 jumps and has only had to use his reserve parachute twice. “Everybody should try it at least once,” he said.

On Oct. 13, SDSU students participated in the first jump of the 2007 semester. SDSU senior Scott Larson was one of the 12 students who jumped. Larson is dual majoring in agricultural business and animal science. According to Larson, the main motivation for him was that skydiving is on his list of things to do in his lifetime. After jumping, Larson said the best part of the experience was “definitely the rush during freefall.”

Mikala Merxbauer also jumped for the first time. Merxbauer is a freshmen pre-med student here at SDSU. She said that the best part of the experience was “the rush, and actually fulfilling the dream of skydiving.”

Before jumping, students must take a class featuring lecture and practical instruction, which lasts about six hours. For the first four jumps, students perform a static line jump, in which the parachute is opened automatically from an altitude of 3,500 feet. By the end of their first four jumps, the students have learned how to pack their own parachute, as well as how to pull the ripcord. At this point, students are allowed to progress to freefall jumping, in which they must pull the ripcord themselves.

Skydive Adventures offers skydiving experience at an affordable price. The first static line jump is $150, which includes the class, as well as equipment rental. The next three jumps are $50 each, but once a student progresses to freefall, jumps only cost $30 each.

Most of the SDSU students who jumped on Oct. 13 say they want to do it again. SDSU freshman Cortney Livingston is among those who can’t wait to jump again. She is majoring in athletic training and is in the pre-physical therapy program. According to Livingston, “It’s just a matter of getting up the guts to do it.”

For more information about the club, contact Warren Hovland via email at [email protected], or join the group SDSU Skydiving Club on Facebook for pictures, club officer information and upcoming jump dates.