Of all the extra curricular activities Kansas State has to offer, nothing gets the heart pounding quite like jumping from a plane 3,000 feet in the air with nothing but a parachute to break your fall.
“You have the side of your mind that’s seeking self preservation, but then you can also reason that the parachute was packed by an expert and that you have two of them, so it will probably be okay,” said Kevin Dice, president of the K-State Parachute Club. “After I got out of the plane and the parachute was flying, it was really calm. I kept thinking, ‘Wow, I’m flying.’”
The Parachute Club is a non-profit, self-sustaining organization founded in 1964. The club owns its own airplane, which club members have operated out of Abilene Municipal Airport since 2012.
Originally, club members would jump individually from a small four-passenger plane, but they expanded to offer tandem skydives in the 1980s when the club became popular. Dice, a senior in mathematics and computer science, joined the club during the second semester of his freshman year.
“Growing up, I saw videos of people doing really cool things like jumping out of planes,” Dice said. “But this isn’t something you can just watch other people do — you can do this too, which was really cool to me.”
In his time with the Parachute Club, Dice has become one of its most experienced members.
“I made my first jump on May 31, 2015,” Dice said. “Now, I have made almost 600 jumps and I’m an instructor for solo students.”
Fear plays a major role in preventing people from taking the leap of faith necessary to start skydiving, but Dice said the sport is much safer than it was when the Parachute Club was first established.
“We cover emergency procedures in the 1-in-1,000 chance that your main parachute isn’t entirely functional,” Dice said. “All jumpers have two parachutes on their back, and the backup is packed by a certified parachuter. It’s safer than most people think. There’s been a long evolution of safety in the sport to the point that it isn’t that dangerous anymore.”
The Parachute Club will offer first jump courses to new members every other weekend starting Feb. 16.
Would-be skydivers will attend a six-hour training course split over two days to prepare them for their first flight. The evening portion of the first jump course is from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
“We cover things like aircraft safety, how to fly your parachute, how to land your parachute and how to understand your gear,” Dice said. “In the morning, you show up to the drop zone for two hours and walk the landing area, drill parachute landing falls and jump around noon.”
While the technical knowledge that training provides is important, the jumper’s mindset is an equally large part of the skydiving experience, which is good for first-time jumpers to remember.
“The key to success in the sport is to relax, which is easier to say than to do,” Dice said. “Get to a point where you are confident in the gear and your training and then just find a place of mental calmness, and it’ll be fine.”