BROOKLYN — Theresa Rensimer looks out the plane window, watching the fields below grow smaller. She nudges Craig Ziegenhorn.
“Thank you for doing this,” she says.
On a recent Saturday, the couple was among nearly three dozen people crowded into the hangar at Skydive Iowa.
Some were there for the adrenaline rush or to conquer their fear of heights. Several were there to cross an item off their bucket list. All — like Ziegenhorn, Rensimer and this author — were about to jump out of a plane on a static skydive at Skydive Iowa.
“I’ve always wanted to skydive even though I’m terrified of heights,” Rensimer of Iowa City says. “I’m scared of the high dive at the swimming pool.”
A half-price deal on a solo sky diving experience was too great to pass up, though, so Rensimer bought one each for her and her boyfriend Ziegenhorn.
Tom Cline of Fairfax was one of the few students with experience jumping out of a plane.
“I went on a tandem jump when I first moved to Cedar Rapids and I loved it,” Cline says.
That was four years ago, but Cline has yet to forget the sensation of falling.
“I wanted to rush of doing it myself,” he says.
For Christine Morfit, the jump was something of a celebration.
“It’s my senior year in college, so I definitely wanted to do something crazy,” says the Cornell College senior.
Skydive Iowa Owner Bruce Kennedy has completed nearly 6,000 jumps. The first, he says, was a static jump in the 1970s.
During a jump with static line, the parachute is linked to the airplane. The jumper exits the plane under the supervision of a jump master, free-falling for only a few seconds before the parachute is pulled open by the static line.
“People think you can’t make your first jump solo,” Kennedy tells the students. “You’re going to prove them wrong.”
For nearly six hours, Kennedy prepares the students for their jump. The students practice exiting the plane in the arch position, counting off the seconds before the parachute is fully opened. A video explains what to do if the main parachute fails to open, emphasizing the multiple backups that will activate the secondary parachute if a student panics in the air.
Then there’s the landing. As Kennedy demonstrates landing positions, experienced skydivers land throughout the field — some with more grace than others.
Joe Hartman of Swisher is one of the “weekend jumpers.” He completed his first jump soon after his 16th birthday and continued the sport until he started a family. He started jumping again in 2010.
“When you exit the aircraft, it’s all adrenaline,” Hartman says.
Ziegenhorn and Rensimer agree.
“It was so peaceful — after the first 30 seconds,” Rensimer says with a laugh minutes after landing. “There’s nothing else like it.”
“I love how it’s super loud in the plane and then you get out and it’s super quiet,” Ziegenhorn adds.
Reporter crosses skydiving off bucket list