Skydiving! The Ultimate Life Experience!
Many say skydiving is a life changing experience...let me be your Life Change Agent...Here is what skydiving is like with me at my dropzone.
Summary:Introduction and why I (Kenyon Salo) skydive... Certifications and qualifications... What will my first tandem skydive experience be like?
Introduction and why I (Kenyon Salo) skydive...
I skydive because it fulfills the six basic human needs for me and my soul. I ultimately do it because I am passionate about it, the people, my job and the overall experience I get to deliver time and time again to each and every person I come in contact with.
'Who would want to jump out of a perfectly good airplane?' - Response - 'Have you seen some of the airplanes we fly?'
'Just remember I am the best jump-master in your price range!' - Kenyon Salo
Humor goes a long way in combating the fear that one may feel at times especially when faced with something as scary as jumping out of an airplane whether the plane is air worthy or not. As a jump-master I have a short amount of time for introduction, gear up, training, flight to altitude, skydive, canopy, landing and high fives for all involved.
While that whole process as listed above will last about 45-60 minutes that is a very short amount of time. Considering that soon enough the student and I are strapped tightly together, (closer than most people are comfortable with in most other situations...) falling at 120mph and hurtling towards earth. All this with a pre-conceived notion that you, as their tandem-master, will make all things that appear to be certain death end up with a happy ending.
Certification and Qualifications...
I have been skydiving for ten years and have over 2000 skydives. While that may seem like a lot to the Average Joe it is not nearly as many as some jumpers, I know, that are approaching 10,000+. Does that mean that they are more experienced? Not necessarily, but it does mean that they have been around the sport long enough to see all the aspects from all sides and may or may not have some useful information to add.
I can take tandem passengers for their first skydive or wear a video camera and stills camera to shoot video/stills of their skydive and for those that would like to continue in the sport I enjoy being an AFF Instructor and teaching them through their seven levels of skydive training.
Read more about skydiving, instruction, etc at USPA.ORG
BASE Jumping has been apart of my skill set and I enjoy that also, although it is much different from skydiving. Feel free to ask me about it at the Dropzone (DZ).
Kenyon initiating a gainer at the Royal Gorge Go Fast Games!
For those ten years I have spent nine of them at Mile Hi Skydiving in Longmont, Colorado. The one year removed was when I spent a year in Perth Australia and jumped at Skydive Express. Mile Hi Skydiving is the premier DZ in all of Colorado and in my opinion one of the top DZ's in the country. It is famous for its thin, crisp, clean air that is all around you, while you freefall past the beautiful rocky mountains. Views of Longs Peak are just off in the distance and on a clear day you can see Pikes Peak under canopy. Boulder Colorado is right around the corner and the open plains are just off to the east.
Weather is very conducive for year around jumping although I prefer the summer months because of the large amounts of activity and energy that the DZ provides during the warmer months. Other notables are the current gear, great staff and wonderful aircraft that is meticulously cared for by the DZ owner, Frank Casares. The immesely large 'swoop pond' also makes this a place for world class swoopers to practice and compete in their canopy skills all summer long.
Canopy swooping the pond at Mile Hi Skydiving...photo by Chris Bazil
This entire package that Mile Hi offers has enabled me to excel at all three levels of instruction at this DZ. It truly is a wonderful place for me to enjoy skydiving with friends and gives me the opportunity to meet new skydivers starting from their very first jump.
What will my first tandem skydive experience be like?
Sign in and request Kenyon Salo as your tandem master, videographer or AFF Instructor...
By requesting me, upon sign in, for tandem master, videographer or AFF Instructor your journey will begin on the right step. All instructors are qualified to take you on a safe skydive, but not all instructors are created equally on a 'personable set of skills' level. I have spent years training, learning and educating my own being about people, leadership, management, body language, fear, people skills, communication, teaching, customer service, life coaching and many other skill sets that make this more than just a skydive, but an experience that you will remember forever. One that you will not forget either the skydive nor your instructor...me...Kenyon Salo!
Getting paired up with a tandem master...
After signing in and waiting until your slot opens up in the plane you are then paired with an instructor...if you have requested me then of course you will be paired with me...if I am available. This is exactly where the fun and the experience really begins. I tailor my attitude, jokes, training and compassion for each student to their own individual needs. After asking you a few questions I read into who you are and how to best relate to you for the overall experience that you are looking for...whether you know what you are looking for that or not.
'What is with these funny looking suits?'
Yes, the jumpsuit makes your butt look big and no, you cannot wear it to the bar afterwards. We suit you up in these wonderful, purple, black and yellow suits with these cool grippers that we can help haul you around the plane in case you become too petrified to fall out of the plane. Each suit is sized to fit over you, not fit you. It keeps your clothes clean, allows us to keep track of you and of course makes you look like a million bucks in the photos. See for yourself!
'Is my harness too loose?'
Of course it is and of course we will tighten it before falling out of the plane. On the ground you are properly fitted with the latest and greatest technology. 'The Tandem Harness!' This harness allows you to feel safe and most importantly be safe. All straps are adjustable and unlike the cool purple suit you are wearing over your clothes, this harness is adjusted to be a perfect fit for you and your body type. It also allows us to be hooked up to you before exiting the plane. I assume that is OK with you?
The hay ride to the over glorified flying bus...
This whole time I get to interact with you and get to know briefly who you are and why you are skydiving. There are 1000s of people with amazing lives and and numerous reasons for skydiving. I want to know about this...especially if you have plans to make this the last thing on earth you ever do. Who knows maybe you just broke up with your girlfriend and thought skydiving was a good way to go. No, really on a serious note skydiving is not for everyone, but if you are there with me then you believe that it is for you. My job is to show you that it can be done, can be achieved and you can have the best experience ever for your $200.
It is like going to a restaurant. The servers that give you more than just your food always get the biggest gratuities. They also do it because they love the customer first, their job second and because of this the gratuities end up being a byproduct of their success.
Oh yeah, the heading above...we take a brief trailer ride around the runway to the other side where we load the aircraft in proper order for exit. The main thing is that I use this time to be with you and enjoy your skydive from start to finish.
Wheels up...point of no return...no refunds!
I love Mile Hi Skydiving aircraft. The purple, yellow and white Super Otter is a plane that many DZs have, but equally as many wish they could have. This amazing aircraft can hold two pilots, 23 jumpers and get us all to altitude in less than 15 minutes. It is a smooth comfortable ride and always the best part.
You...the student...start to really get a sense of what you got yourself into. Your hands start to sweat, your eyes get big, your mouth becomes dry and who knows what else. I have seen too many tandems to count on the plane over the years and I have seen all the expressions, heard all the phrases and wondered all the thoughts about the people I have been around. This is one of my favorite parts because the anticipation of seeing the door open, the jumpers in front of you file out into nothingness and the belief that you are going to do the same is awesome. This truly is where you get to know who your student really is. At about 9,000 feet above the ground we get real comfortable, you sit on my lap and soon we are closer than most people have been in their marraiges in a long time. Closeness equals safety and I find many students prefer the harness to be as tight as possible.
Not all jump-masters are created equal...would you want this guy (on the right) on your back. In all seriousness Joe is a phenominal jump master and I would recommend him anyday...
'I cannot believe I am going to do thissssssssssssssssssssssss.....ahhhhhhhhhhh!'
Your time has come, your turn is now and you are in the door looking 12,000 feet straight down to the earth. Millions of years of DNA are telling your body that if you leave that plane then you are certainly dead. Sure you are! Until, I pull the handle which releases the parachute, but until then there is a skydive to be enjoyed.
Ready, set...go! We exit the plane and screams can be heard across the front range. You are not falling like in a roller coaster, but flying like a bird, floating like a rock! Not sure if that makes sense...anyway you are having the time of your life and you are doing that with me. I get to experience your very first skydive and know that I was an integral part of making that happen. The 120mph of wind is loud, but not deafening. The overload on your senses is amazing and some say they have an 'air-gasm' in freefall. Falling for 45 seconds is like nothing I can explain here...instead, to simply say...'you have to try it to understand'. All skydivers will tell you just that.
Perfect exit from the Super Otter! Nice work Nate!
Skydive for Peace! - A student taking it all in...
No that is not what happens after the skydive when you are walking towards the light. Instead that is what happens for that split second between freefall and your canopy ride. There is a time that passes when I deploy the parachute and the 120mph of wind suddenly stops and you take it all in. This silence is usually broken by a sudden scream of joy, sometimes with an expletive, from my students. I have heard some amazing lines, phrases and words during that moment and they are always definitions of awe, amazement and splendor.
Deploying the canopy...silence begins, screams then ensue!
Gliding towards the earth...
We spend the next four to five minutes gliding back towards earth under our great 370 square foot parachute/canopy. You can ask to steer the canopy or your tandem master do all the work. Spins, stalls, turns, site seeing and lots of fun can be had all the way to the ground. The skydive may end at 5000 feet when the parachute opens, but the experience is not over.
The DZ and landing area from the air...Longmont Airport.
High fives, giggling, hugs, memories...
A smooth landing awaits the end of the skydive, but the experience is just beginning. Sharing your experience with your friends, family and thoughts to yourself are all apart of the package. You cannot believe what you have just done. Some say that they will only do it once, but they are pumped that they can check it off their 'Bucket List.' Others are instantly hooked. I have taken many students for their very first skydive, that are now great friends of mine and have a 1000 jumps of their own. It is wonderful to be apart of something that is a life changing experience in so many ways for so many people.
Later that night you will close your eyes to fall asleep, smile slightly and take a calming breath as you relive the skydive over and over again in your head. Your subconscious will bring forth memories of parts of the skydive you did not see the first time. It will be like watching a movie over and over again, except you tilt your head in amazement because you live things you did not live the first time.
Congratulations on your skydive, thank you for requesting me as your jump-master, videographer or AFF instructor.
I look forward to seeing you out at the DZ and being apart of your new life experience.