Free fall to forget all; skydiving offers vistas

By Gus Bode

Feeling the earth beneath your feet doesn’t have the same significance every day.

On May 16, I was part of a group of eight who went on a unique, adrenaline-rushed adventure at Archway Skydiving in Vandalia. Of the eight in the group, seven of us faced our first jump.

It may seem tantalizing to be 13,500 feet above the ground, and Leif Brockman, 24, of Peoria, said it is. The day before the jump, Brockman flew from Dallas to St. Louis, and during the takeoff and landing, he said he tried to estimate the point of elevation where he would willingly jump from the plane and put his life in the hands of his instructor and faith in his parachute.


“I could look out the window and see buildings down below, but I couldn’t really get an idea of how high we were,” Brockman said. “It was hard to imagine I was going to be jumping out and see something similar to what I was looking at then.”

Skydiving has been around for quite some time. According to the U.S. Parachute Association’s website, the first official recreational jump happened in the 18th century. While there are serious risks involved, skydiving has steadily become safer. In 2009, the sport saw the lowest number of deaths in its history. Out of 3 million jumpers, 16 died.

Sarah Crockett, 31, of East Alton, took part in her second skydiving adventure. She said it is the closest thing to flying she will probably ever get, and it is an experience unlike anything else she’s done.

She said some people don’t understand why others seek the thrill of skydiving, but she understands the danger that goes with the sport.

“Someone I work with asked if I was wanting to die, but I very much want to live,” Crockett said. “This is living.”

She said it can be scary, but the instructors do an excellent job to keep your mind busy and make you visualize the jump before you do it.

She recommends skydiving to whoever thinks he or she would be interested in the unique freedom it offers. She suggests people rely on word of mouth to select a location with experienced staff.


While the sport may not be for everyone, it is a way for thrill-seekers to get their fix. I’ve wanted to do it for a very long time, and I hope to do it again. There are many avenues the sport can take, and people are constantly finding new ways to keep it interesting.

Skydiving has continued to innovate with the addition of base jumping and wing-suits, and with more people than ever getting the itch to jump, the sport is bound to hover above the rest.