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Friday, August 24, 2012

Discover South Carolina Discovers Skydive Carolina!

Recently, we were fortunate to host writer Marie McAden for a tandem skydive. Marie is not exactly comfortable with heights, so this experience was definitely a step out of her comfort zone. She tells the tale below from the 'Outside' pages of

Take the big plunge at Skydive Carolina in Chester

Posted 8/24/2012 1:00:00 PM
Call me gutless, but I’ve never had the desire to jump out of a perfectly good airplane and hurl myself at the earth like a rock. Given my fear of heights, skydiving was not at the top of my bucket list.

But there I was, perched 14,000 feet over Chester, looking out the door of a single-engine turbine airplane traveling 100 miles per hour. On the count of three, I would step out into nothingness and plunge to the ground at twice the speed of a freight train.

What was I thinking?

Flashback two weeks earlier when I made the call to Skydive Carolina, one of the premier skydiving centers in the Southeast. For months, I had been prodded by friends to take the big leap. Skydiving, they promised, was unlike anything I had ever experienced. The biggest and baddest roller coaster ride couldn’t compare to the exhilaration of freefalling for 55 seconds.

For some unexplainable reason, I decided I wanted to do it. I took comfort knowing Skydive Carolina logs some 30,000 jumps a year from its full-service facility at the Chester Catawba Regional Airport. Every instructor in the 18-member tandem team has made more than a thousand jumps — some of them, several thousand.

But what was it going to feel like falling at a speed of 120 miles per hour? Was I going to experience that awful stomach-in-the-throat sensation you get on some amusement park rides?

Fortunately, gravity isn’t the only force having its way with you when you freefall, explained Skydive Carolina General Manager James La Barrie. During the drop, your body collides with air molecules, creating an upward force that is equal to the force of gravity. At this point, you will continue to fall at a constant speed known as terminal velocity.

“Because the airplane is moving at 100 miles per hour, the transition into terminal velocity happens very fast,” La Barrie said. “What you feel is a rush of air much like you’d feel if you stuck your head out the window of a car going 70 mph.”

Reassuring as that sounded, I was concerned my brain would not accept the science and I would freeze at the critical moment.

“When the door opens, everything in your being tells you this is crazy,” La Barrie conceded. “The fight-or-flight mechanism kicks in. But the moment you let go, you immediately feel wonderful. There’s nothing to compare it to.”

I was sold. I signed up for a tandem skydive on the spot before I could chicken out.

The morning of the jump, I nervously made my way to the registration desk to sign the requisite wavers. As I waited to be called in for training, I watched a half-dozen skydivers parachute through the air, dropping effortlessly onto a field beyond the air strip.

With every plane load that landed successfully, I became more and more excited about my pending flight. After watching a short video, I was outfitted in a jumpsuit, cap, goggles and harness. My instructor, Joey Freeman, showed me how to position my arms and legs during the freefall.

Before I knew it, I was making my way across the tarmac to the plane. Straddling a bench in front of my instructor, I looked out the window as we went airborne. It was a little unnerving at first riding with the door wide open, but I was soon preoccupied with the beautiful scenery below.

At about 10,000 feet, Joey began to tighten the harness straps that bound us together. Although it was somewhat constricting, I didn’t mind being so closely attached to Joey. After all, he was the one wearing the parachute.

It took no more than 15 minutes to reach skydiving altitude. And then things began to happen quickly. Joey scooted me along the bench to the doorway. I crouched as instructed and crossed my arms over my chest.

We rocked backwards and forwards three times, and that was it — we were out the door. No time to hesitate. No time to rethink my decision.

And just as La Barrie had professed, an instant of panic turned into sheer pleasure. It was an indescribable adrenaline rush. For nearly a minute, we raced toward the earth at breakneck speed. It was only later when I watched the video of the skydive that I realized I had an ear-to-ear smile on my face the whole way through it.

After a couple of fun spins, Joey pulled the ripcord and we went from freefall to floating. If it wasn’t for the increasing size of the objects below, I would never have known we were still descending. It was a slow, peaceful five-minute ride back to terra firma.

The landing was as smooth as the descent. Thanks to a mild headwind — and Joey’s mad skydiving skills, we padded to the ground on our feet.

I’ve watched the video a dozen times since I made the jump, reliving the thrill of those first few seconds when you realize you are totally free, falling unimpeded through space.

As adventures go, this one deserves a top spot on your bucket list. Go for it!

Skydive Carolina

What: Tandem and solo skydives
Where: Chester, located between Columbia and the Charlotte area
Cost: $190 to $220 for a tandem skydive, depending on the day and time you schedule your jump
Contact: (803) 581-JUMP or visit

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Great Summer of Skydiving

Not since the early X Games or Point Break has skydiving been so prominently featured in the public eye. Skydiving has been front and center this season and for those of us in the industry - it’s been awesome!!

Let’s start with the viral video and news piece that went viral around the world! If you haven’t seen it yet - then check it out below.

The jumper’s name is Gary Connery and he accomplished the absolute unthinkable. He jumped out of a helicopter in a wingsuit and never deployed his parachute. He landed in a huge pile of boxes and walked away completely unscathed. He wasn’t limping...he wasn’t faking that he wasn’t was as if he just walked in from the field with his parachute over his back having just enjoyed a great skydive....but his parachute was still packed!!! For those of  us in the industry, we were certain he was as good as dead. He certainly proved us wrong!! At the end of the jump, the media swarmed him in total disbelief. One of the BBC reporters asked him what was next. He said (and I’m paraphrasing) “lots of big things!” The reporters wanted to know more, but Gary wouldn’t say a word. Turns out it was big alright. Gary has now made the most famous skydive in the world - on primetime in front of a global audience of a billion people! Gary was the man who pretended to be Queen Elizabeth jumping out of a helicopter with James Bond into the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympic Games. If you were one of those billion humans who watched the opening ceremony then here it is:

To say Gary has had an incredible summer would be an understatement. This Englishman, from a country where skydiving is not a huge pastime due to the weather, has brought more attention to the sport than many have done over decades. We’re thankful that nothing went wrong! Thanks Gary! We’ll comp a jump for you if you come and jump with us! ;-)

World Record - 138-Way
Last week was a big week as well with the setting of a new world record. 138 skydivers, linked together flying on their heads. The technical difficult of this is astounding and is why it took more than a dozen attempts to get it done. What occurred last week received media attention around the world and is truly amazing. Have a look:

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Red Bull Stratos. If you haven’t heard of this then you will. Right now test jumps are in progress for Felix Baumgartner who is the ‘lucky’ guy who gets to make the highest jump ever made. So far he’s jumped from 96,000 feet. When the time comes for the actual jump from 120,000 feet, Red Bull’s marketing team will have full smiles as every piece of news coverage in the world will report on this and say the magic words ‘RED BULL.’ Of course, it’s brilliant marketing and one heck of an adventure!  Here’s a video to the build up!

So skydiving is in the limelight and we’re loving it. Lastly, we’d love to share a great video that recently came out called ‘Why We Skydive.’ The feeling of skydiving is very difficult to explain and the general public typically thinks of all of us as crazy....throwing ourselves out of planes and all. But I think this video explains it pretty well.

Why We Jump from on Vimeo.

If you’ve never jumped with us and you’re checking out our website for the first time, we look forward to sharing in the jumping experience with you!

Blue skies,


Monday, April 23, 2012

Skydive Carolina Featured on Carolina Camera

Many thanks to our instructors Steve Vaughn and Chuck Hammond for representing Skydive Carolina so well! We were thrilled to be featured on this excellent program.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Amazing English Jon

In less than two months, CarolinaFest will be coming to Skydive Carolina for it's fourth edition and we're proud to announce the presence of Jonathan Pears to the mix. Jonathan, commonly known as 'English Jon' will bring his amazing videography and editing skills to the event to document and highlight the amazing jumps to be made.

Have a look at some of his work on vimeo!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Pink Skies the Movie

This movie has recently been released and we think everyone should see it and not just for it's amazing skydiving content!

Pink Skies is an inspirational documentary about the empowerment of women. It's about overcoming obstacles as athletes and as human beings.

The film covers an extraordinary event "Jump For the Cause." JFTC brought together 181 women from 31 countries. They jumped out of nine planes to create a World Record all Women's Skydiving Formation! They also raised nearly $1 million dollars for breast cancer research! Along with phenomenal skydives, the film features breast cancer survivors, cutting edge researchers, doctors and healers. It reveals breakthroughs that have not been widely publicized, explores what's working, what needs to be changed and the seismic shift towards prevention.

See for further information and upcoming screening dates.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Prepping for the 2012 Season!

So here we are - March 2012...the eve of our skydiving season! Each year our skydiving season kicks off around the beginning of April, but with an inordinately mild winter, the season is already starting to warm up. Skydivers will be attending Skydive Carolina's annual Safety Day scheduled for March 24th. Shortly thereafter, the inaugural 'Canopy Week' kicks in followed by CarolinaFest 2012! It should be a great start to the season! However, before we get too far ahead of ourselves, we take one last look at the great year Skydive Carolina had in 2011. Enjoy the videos below and stay tuned for more great action at Skydive Carolina in 2012!

Below: Skydive Carolina's 2011 Year in Review

Below: Skydive Carolina's Competition Teams