Take the plunge

John Hult

John Hult

SDSU has welcomed a new member to its list of extracurricular organizations this month that makes it easier for students to take the plunge.


The SDSU Skydiving Club began in earnest March 1 and 2 with its first instructional course and skydives. The club, open to anyone, plans to offer the course and jump nearly every week from now on.

The club was organized by SDSU students Chris Sorensen and Jesse Wolfe as a way to get more students involved in the extreme sport. The three-hour courses are taught by instructors from Skydive Adventures, a non-profit organization out of Luverne, Minn.

“Both Chris and I have done 32 dives and become certified members of Skydive Adventures,” Wolfe said. “We’re not in it to make money?we just like it and wanted to give more people the chance to get involved.”

Wolfe, who acts as president of the new club, said involvement can be tricky for newcomers because many are unsure how and where to go.

“Instead of calling people and having to call up Luverne and set it up and figure out where it’s at and what they’ll need to know or do, we just thought it would be more convenient to set up this club as an outgrowth of Skydive Adventures,” Wolfe said.

Newcomers to the skydiving are required to perform five “static line” jumps at 3,200 feet before they are allowed to free fall. A static line jump is one for which the ripcord on a diver’s parachute is connected to the plane.

The chute opens automatically right after the jump. These dives allow about three seconds of free fall.

Secretary/Treasurer Chris Sorensen explained the necessity of the static line jumps.

“The first time you go up, you’re on such a sensory overload that the last thing you’re worried about is grabbing a ripcord,” Sorensen said.

As in any sport, skydiving can be dangerous. The United States Parachute Association reported 30 deaths in 2000. But any group who adheres to USPA standards?as Skydive Adventures does?stresses safety above all else, Sorensen said.

“Anything that could happen, we go over it on the ground before we go up,” he said. “Once we’re up there, the jumpmaster takes care of all the signaling to make sure everything goes right.”

Wolfe agrees.

“The class you take is about three hours, and we try to set it up with a Friday night class and a Saturday morning jump,” he said.

“If we can’t do it that way, we at least make sure that no one waits more than three days between the classes and the jumps. It needs to be fresh in your head when you go up, because the rush is so intense that you can forget a lot of things.”

After skydivers-in-training make five static line jumps, they can move up to free falling, which allows them to jump from gradually increasing altitudes and control their own ripcord. After they complete 25 free falls and complete a series of tests like 360 turns and barrel rolling to fill their proficiency card, they will become a certified skydiver.

The closer a diver gets to certification, the longer the free falls get.

Sorensen and Wolfe, having both completed 32 dives, jump from 10,000 to 11,000 feet.

“We can freefall for about a minute at 130 mph. It’s an unbelievable rush,” Wolfe said.

The fees for the jumps are as follows: $185 for the course and the first static line jump, $40 for the next four static line jumps and $20 per student jump afterwards.

Vice President Katrina Lentz is living proof that courage is all it takes to get involved.

“I have no previous experience whatsoever,” Lentz explained. “I had a few classes with the president and I went with them to check out the jumping. It was a rush. They jumped over me and stuff, but I hadn’t taken the classes yet so I couldn’t go.”

The club plans to make jumps each week, so interested students can muster the courage at their own pace. Although Lentz won’t be jumping until next month, the prospect is still frightening.

“I had a few dreams after we went up, and I woke up the next morning thinking, ‘Are you nuts?’ but I’m sure I’ll be even more scared when I actually jump,” Lentz said.

Anyone interested in learning more about the club, the courses, or skydiving in general can contact Sorensen at 690-9029 or Wolfe at 321-0901.

Information about Skydive Adventures is available online at www.skydiveadventures.net.