What goes up must come down, and that’s why getting higher is an appealing part of free falling.
If this doesn’t sound normal to you, you’re probably not a “fun jumper” – a certified skydiver who is flying solo and loving it – but that doesn’t mean you can’t get in on the fun.
If you are a fun jumper, you’ve probably already heard about Skydive Moab’s new PAC 750XL plane that can now carry both certified and tandem skydivers 3,000 feet higher than before.
This 3,000 feet creates around 35 seconds more “free fall” – the time spent plummeting toward earth without a deployed parachute. And that is only part of the good news.
The PAC 750XL, with its turbine jet engine, is basically bigger and faster than Skydive Moab’s previously used Cessna 182, which ran off pistons, like a car. This changeover could be compared to an upgraded chairlift at a ski resort; it’s more comfortable, but most importantly, it gets you to the top faster and fits more of your friends on it.
“Everybody likes to go higher,” Skydive Moab employee and fun jumper Nick Reyes said. “It’s quicker and more fun with more people. Everybody’s stoked and feeding off of each other’s energy. It’s a party.”
When company owner Keith MacBeth leased the PAC 750XL in late March, he put Moab on the map for the skydiving community in a way that it has never been before.
“Between being (a seasonal business) and competing with a neighboring drop zone, (buying a bigger plane) wasn’t really affordable before,” MacBeth said. “Since we bought Skydive Canyonlands (next door), we can afford to be more than a tandem factory. We can be a legitimate drop zone for all experience levels and for tandems.”
But MacBeth said that he didn’t purchase the plane, which costs about $675 an hour to run, for financial reasons.
“I did it for the community and the sport, not the money,” he said.
MacBeth is a third-generation skydiver and one of three in his family to have owned a skydive center.
“I’ve traveled all over the world jumping, and I choose to live here,” he said. “At the end of the day, there’s so many other things to do, (we) don’t get burnt out. It keeps us excited to keep jumping and working.”
MacBeth said that Skydive Moab has been building a fun jumper community over the past six years. With the addition of the PAC 750XL, more fun jumpers are relocating to Moab.
Skydive Moab employee Stephanie Mosko said that in the last four months since the skydive center purchased the new plane, fun jumpers have come from all over the world.
“We never had that before,” she said.
Pilot “Bud” George Hains came all the way from Maine to get involved with Skydive Moab’s new plane. Hains, with more than 6,000 hours of flight time, came to train MacBeth on how to fly the new plane. He speaks highly of flying for the skydive community.
“It’s a big deal when people show up for their first skydive,” he said. “There’s not much money in it, but it’s more rewarding than flying around rich people like their bus driver.”
Hains is only jumps away from his “A” license, which will make him a certified solo skydiver as well.
“I still have yet to figure out how to fly the plane and skydive at the same time,” he joked. “I mean, I know if I get out it will come down, but…”
Hains has flown in different drop zones around the world, but notes that there are things that make Skydive Moab special.
“The crowd here is much younger. These kids get up at 4 in the morning and go BASE jumping before work,” he said. “And it’s gorgeous. I don’t ever get sick of seeing the La Sals or the green valley of Moab.”
Skydive Moab’s new plane soars 3,000 feet higher
“I’ve traveled all over the world jumping, and I choose to live here … At the end of the day, there’s so many other things to do, (we) don’t get burnt out. It keeps us excited to keep jumping and working.”
For more information, call 435-259-5867, or go to: skydivemoab.com