The Sky’s the limit at Nebraska Skydiving School
Nowadays, most everyone has a bucket list — you know, that catalog of things you want to get done before you kick the bucket. While every list is unique, I would be willing to bet that “Go skydiving” is on a good many of them. If it’s on yours, you can check it off right now, because the Nebraska Skydiving School in Holdrege, Nebraska, has everything you need!
I’ll be honest with you. The idea of jumping out of an airplane terrifies me. However, as I waited for the owner of the school to arrive, I was mesmerized by the sight of a tandem parachute (novice attached to an expert) floating in the sky. It was a gorgeous day, not a cloud in sight. The pair circled lazily above me before beginning their descent. As they neared the landing strip, my grip tightened on my notebook. This was the part I feared most. Images of crash landings and broken legs flashed through my mind. But I needn’t have worried. The pair sailed in smoothly, landing soft as a whisper. Whoops of joy erupted from the novice, a young man in his early 20’s. I waited for him to shed his gear before asking, “How was it?”
“Freakin’ fantastic! Totally relaxing!” he laughed.
Freefalling from 10,000 feet is relaxing? I had to find out more.
Holdrege by way of Hawaii
Interviewing owner Sean Tillery was a walk and talk affair. The guy is busy! With a staff of twelve to oversee and a business that has exploded in popularity, he is fully engaged in the pursuit he loves most. We talked a bit about his start. A native of Kearney, Nebraska, Sean began skydiving 23 years ago. With over 11,000 jumps under his belt, he is certified at the highest levels of the industry. His early passion for jumping led him to Hawaii where he worked long and hard for Skydive Hawaii. When he’d saved enough money, he bought his own plane, recruited staff, and set up shop at Brewster Airfield in Holdrege. Even though I love rural Nebraska, I couldn’t help but ask, “How could you leave Hawaii? I mean, it’s HAWAII!”
“Simple,” he answered. “This is where I grew up. My family’s here. More importantly, we can make a living here. Hawaii is very expensive. The staff likes Nebraska. They can work hard spring through fall, then spend their winters wherever else they want.”
Earlier, I’d met and talked with some of the staff, who like Sean, are all certified at the highest levels of their particular jobs. One staff member told me that people often have visions of parachute jumps from old movies. “We are not using parachutes from World War II,” he said. “Today’s equipment is really sophisticated. It’s all computerized, checked and double-checked. Safety is our number one priority.” Thank God.
Skydiving for dummies
So who can jump? Basically anyone who’s not a child. The would-be parachuter must complete a 45-minute training class before making a tandem jump with a professional. Jumps are by appointment, but that shouldn’t be a problem. Sean and his staff work seven days a week, weather permitting. He’ll even take his business on the road for companies or towns that want parachuting at their events. If your location has an airstrip, you can book Sean and his staff.
Now I asked the really fun question: “So who have you taken up?” The answers were not what I expected. Thrill seeking is apparently not limited to males in their 20’s. “We’ve taken up couples, friends on a Girls’ Day Out, numerous senior citizens (the oldest was a 90-year-old from Grand Island). We even had a customer jump with his girlfriend and propose to her once they were on the ground.” Now THAT’S romantic!
Exit through the gift shop
Sean is all about the details and the post-jump experience is just as important to him. At the conclusion of their dive, clients can view and purchase photos/videos of their experience, as well as buy souvenir t-shirts and hats. Need a gift for that hard- to-buy-for person? Sean does gift certificates as well.
So at the end of all this, did I add skydiving to my bucket list? Well, let’s just say it’s penciled in. Maybe when I’m 90…