Weld County gets its own skydiving club
April 13, 2017
What: Rocky Mountain Skydive/Colorado Skydive Club
Where: Easton Valley View Airport, 23482 County Rd 48 in LaSalle
To book: Call (303) 304-8882
Cost: Tandem skydives cost $198, to get a license costs $180, to solo jump with a license costs $15.
Ron Ross' father was a flight instructor during World War II.
His brother was a pilot. Ross remembers flying from all around Colorado and Nebraska with his father and brother.
Neither of them wanted to jump out of a plane. Ross always kind of did.
Now he's 73, and his wife died a little more than a year ago. When Darren Sharp, a friend from work, invited Ross to go skydiving with him for his daughter's 18th birthday, Ross agreed. Ross, who lives in Loveland and works in Greeley, and he and his wife spent seven years as missionaries in Africa. He wasn't afraid of a little adventure.
"I decided it's time to try," Ross said.
He woke up with butterflies in his stomach the morning of the jump.
When Sharp, of LaSalle, was looking online for places to go, he found the Rocky Mountain/Colorado Skydive Club based at Easton Valley View Airport, 23482 Weld County Road 48 in LaSalle. They made it just in time for opening weekend.
"It's a great add-on for Weld County," Sharp said.
The skydive club opened up April 1 after moving from Boulder County.
Tom Morrow runs the new operation. After he got out of the military, he started jumping out of planes for fun.
"I'd been doing it so long, I thought I'd turn it into a job," Morrow said.
There are two options for jumping, Morrow said, tandem and solo.
In a tandem jump, divers are attached to an employee who is charged with opening the parachute and sticking the landing. In a solo jump, divers jump alone. Pilots take divers up to 14,000 feet above sea level. After jumping, divers free fall, eventually hitting terminal velocity, which is 120 miles per hour. They fall for about 40 seconds. Then the parachute opens.
Morrow knows the sport isn't for everyone. It can be scary and a little dangerous.
"If there was no dangerous element, it would have no appeal," Morrow said. "But we've managed to make it safe."
Ankle injuries are one of the most common skydiving injuries. They often happen when tandem divers put their feet down too soon.
Kylie Sharp, 18, watched as instructors tightened the straps on Ross' harness. She'd been the driving force behind the trip. She'd wanted to skydive for a long time. The adrenaline of it all intrigued her, she said, but she was a little nervous, too.
Instructors made sure Ross' harness was a snug fit before leading him out to the plane. Ross and his instructor crawled inside through the plane's small door. The propeller revved up and the plane took off.
It took about ten minutes for the aircraft to reach the proper altitude and circle back to the drop site. When he jumped, Ross was just a dot in the sky hurtling fast toward earth. The chute unfurled and caught the weight of the two jumpers. Like a leaf, they floated back down.
With bright eyes and disheveled hair, Ross touched back down without a hitch. His legs were weak and shaky. He couldn't remember much other than he had a good time.
Getting out of the plane was the hardest part, he said, but it was worth it. He won't do it again, he said, but he thinks other folks would have fun with it too.
"It's quite a thing to do," Ross said.
— Kelly Ragan writes features and covers health for The Greeley Tribune. Have a tip? Want to share your story? Call (970) 392-4424, email firstname.lastname@example.org or connect on Twitter @kelly_raygun.