The sky is the limit for local bartender

By Megan Matthews – 

For avid skydiver Ryan Young, the sky really is the limit. He only began “jumping” in January and has been more than 100 times since then. His favorite “drop zone,” or place to jump, is Texas Free Fall in Stephenville, Texas.

Although he was tricked into jumping out of an airplane at 14,000 feet by his friends for the first time, he never regrets doing it.

“If you can jump out of a plane, you can do anything,” Young said.

When Young isn’t skydiving he bartends at The Agave Bar and Grill in Stephenville. Since he began skydiving he maintains his job to pay for his expensive hobby.

“I’m more devoted to skydiving than I am my job,” Young said.

Friends of Young agree he is devoted to the sport, spending lots of time and money enjoying skydiving.

“He tried jumping out of a hot air balloon once, but the balloons didn’t reach a high enough altitude,” Garrett Monk said.

Young has spent more than $4,500 on his parachute and jumps in the past nine months. Jumping tandem averages from $170-$250 depending on the location of the skydiving facility. When jumping alone, the price drops to about $25 because the jumper doesn’t have to pay the instructor. Young jumps almost every weekend, multiple times a day, from Stephenville to Houston to San Marcos.

“It’s always a positive atmosphere, and everyone is always happy and smiling. After all, the wind forces you to smile,” Young said.

Young has been practicing new moves in the air and says it’s a feeling of accomplishment when he nails a move. Like many other skydivers who celebrate their 100th jump, Young pulled off a hybrid formation.  This maneuver is accomplished when three or more jumpers make a formation by holding hands. Each jumper dressed up in business clothes to make the jump different from ordinary jumps.

Young said his 100th jump is one of his favorite memories of skydiving because he nailed the maneuver down on the first try. Skydiving only lasts about 45 seconds free fallings and one-to-two minutes in the canopy, or parachute used to safely land. Within these few minutes, things can go wrong.

“Recently, I jumped at night with some goggles I hadn’t worn before. The goggles came off and I couldn’t see anything because the wind was forcing my eyes shut. After a few seconds I was able to get them on, but it was scary not being able to see,” Young said.

On another jump, he was on his back when the parachute accidently opened and gave him whiplash. These maneuvers can be very dangerous without proper training. When accidents like this occur, jumpers have enough time to use their reserve parachute.

“During training, I saw two people in canopies that collided and were killed. I ended up not jumping that day,” Young said.

According to dropzone.com, 12 skydiving fatalities in the United States have occurred in 2011; five of which were canopy collisions. These fatalities occur when two or more skydivers collide under fully-inflated parachutes.

“It is definitely scary at first, but then it’s over too quick,” Young said.

It takes about 30 minutes to pack the parachute, 30 minutes in the plane to reach high enough altitude, and hundreds of dollars for a three-minute jump. Skydiving is a risky, expensive, and time-consuming hobby for those adventurous enough to try it.

Skydiving Lingo

Jumping Slang for skydiving
Jumpmaster Someone who has all the privileges of an instructor, but cannot supervise first jump course
Drop zone (DZ) Skydiving center or facility
Canopy The parachute used to safely land
Hybrid formation Three or more jumpers hold hands and make a formation while free-falling
Tandem Two skydivers, usually an instructor and a student, share one parachute system
Spot The position of the aircraft when the jumpers exit

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