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Flying high: Local skydiving enthusiasts share bird's-eye view of sport

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Posted at 2:18 PM, Mar 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-14 22:26:59-04

SUFFOLK, Va. - As the sun rose over the Suffolk Executive Airport and while planes weren’t landing or taking off, the folks at Skydive Suffolk – based at the airport – were getting ready for another day of enthusiasts ready to go skydiving.

"Skydiving is something that is extremely exciting if you're into thrills,” David Rosas, one of the instructors, said. “If you're into trying new things, pushing the envelope, this is the sport for you."

It's a sport that crew there say will have your adrenaline rushing.

"It's so extremely amazing to see someone that's extremely nervous, extremely scared or terrified, and once we cross that threshold of leaving that airplane, everything goes away," Rosas said.

And it's getting more popular.

"It has to do with people finding out about it and becoming popular,” Blaine Theriot, another of the instructors, said. “Some of it has to do with it getting safer and safer as the years go by."

There were over 3.3 million skydive jumps in 2018, going up by about 100,000 since 2016.

"One thing to know is that's not as scary as people make it out to be,” Theriot said. “It's a lot safer than they think."

Jumpers get acquainted with the equipment on board on of Skydive Suffolk’s planes. They'll put on their gear by themselves, but they won't be alone - first-timers and non-certified skydivers will have an instructor attached to them on the jump, 14,000 feet in the air.

"We've got two parachutes in here. If one of them doesn't work, we can get rid of it and use the backup,” Rosas said. "I've only had to use my backup twice in about 5,700 jumps."

Skydiving Oklahona Center reported on its website that there is only one death out of every 500,000 jumps. It added a skydiver has a greater chance of being killed by lightning or from a bee sting.

Those deaths, the website said, are because of "experienced skydivers pushing the limits and increasing the risk envelope."

For most, they go for the experience and to cross off a bucket list item.

"Some people it's relief, some people it's, 'Oh man, that was amazing. I'm super glad to be back on the ground,'” Theriot said. “Some people, they're like, 'I want to go back in the air right away.'"