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Skydiving team soars at first meeting

October 11, 2012

Paul Yeagley, Benjamin Ford and Madison Dunigan share their experiences with skydiving. - Photo by Deepanjan Mukhopodyay

 

RANEY JOHNSON
Staff Reporter

 

If you are a person who likes jumping out of planes at high altitudes, then there is only one sport for you — skydiving.

 

The skydiving team officially restarted two months ago after being gone for over 30 years, said team vice president Benjamin Ford, a senior architecture major. An interest meeting for Tech students who want to join the team was held last Tuesday.

 

Each weekend the team goes to Skydive Louisiana, a drop zone in Gilliam, to train for competitions with their coach Paul Yeagley, a bomber pilot for the U.S. Air Force.

 

Ford said the team met Yeagley at Skydive Louisiana where he was an instructor.

 

“We kind of designated him as our coach,” Ford said.

 

Yeagley has done 1,394 jumps and said he wants to teach members skills they needed to know to become good competitive skydivers.

 

“Your first jump is just come out and jump, and see if you like it,” Yeagley said. “Everything I’ve learned, everything I know, I’m willing to share with you guys,” Yeagley said.

 

Yeagley and the team leaders told interested members skydiving is like nothing else they could ever do.

 

“From fighter [jets] to bombers to skydiving, I can tell you hands down that it’s skydiving,” Yeagley said.

 

Madison Dunigan, a wildlife management major, is the president of the team, and she gave skydiving the same praise.

 

The skydiving team hosted their first meeting and assured everyone the sport is worth the cost. - Photo by Deepanjan Mukhopodyay

“There are no words for it, you just have to try it and, and if you like it, come back,” Dunigan said.

 

Dunigan recently earned her A license for skydiving. Skydivers get the license after they jump at least 25 times. The license allows them to skydive unsupervised.

 

Though Dunigan does not have as many jumps as her coach or the other team leaders, she and Yeagley assured the interested members the number of jumps was not important in skydiving.

 

“It is an incredible sport and it doesn’t matter if you have 20 jumps or 1,000 jumps, there is always something new to learn or master,” Dunigan said.

 

But before reaching the 25 jumps to get their A license, new members must start off with a few practice jumps.

 

“Your first jump is done as a tandem,” Yeagley said. “It’s a welcome to the world kind of thing.”

 

Tandem jumps are jumps done by new skydivers; they must be harnessed to a coach as they jump out. After the tandem jumps, the new members will do jumps not harnessed to a coach but two coaches will still be side by side of the jumper.

 

And though some at the meeting were worried about the price of skydiving, Yeagley assured them it was worth it.

 

“For any Tech team member, your tandem will be $180,” Yeagley said. “That’s $40 less than any other place in the country.”

 

Yeagley said the sport is not only worth it financially, but socially.

 

The first competition for the team will be on Dec. 29 and every weekend they can the team will be practicing for it and trying to get new members prepared.

 

“Skydiving is everything to me,” Dunigan said. “It has become a part of me, and I want more than anything to show other students and people how amazing it is and to pass everything I know down to them, just like my coaches and especially Paul Yeagley have done for me.”

 

Email comments to rcj008@latech.edu.

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One Response to Skydiving team soars at first meeting

  1. katfish Reply

    October 11, 2012 at 11:41 pm

    Wow! This sounds so awesome! So glad that this team has been started up again at La Tech! Go SkyDawgs!!!

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