Okanagan Skydive celebrated Canada Day in style with the fifth-annual Great Canadian Freefall Festival. (Okanagan Skydive image)

Skydivers pack the ‘skyvan’ at annual Vernon event

Skydivers flocked to Vernon last weekend to take part in the Great Canadian Freefall Festival.

Skydivers flocked to Vernon last weekend to take part in the fifth-annual Great Canadian Freefall Festival.

The big draw this year was a big plane called a skyvan, which was brought in special for the event. Skyvans carry up to 20 skydivers at a time, bringing jumpers to an altitude of 12,500 feet at 120 mph, 54 metres per second. The van then opens from the back and divers take their leap.

“The skyvan allow us to do larger formations and that factor brings in a lot of people from outside the Okanagan,” said Bret Chalmers, drop zone operations officer of Okanagan Skydive. “A lot come from B.C. and Western Canada but quite a few from further out. We’ve got a couple from Toronto, we’ve got a couple from Seattle — people from all over the place.”

Related: At Random: Flying high again

Related: Skydivers perform for Canada

Though weather conditions affected the number of jumps able to take place, people didn’t seem phased. There was plenty to do.

“People camp out here and it’s a big social event in the evening with dinners, parties and all that good stuff,” added Chalmers.

The event included several professional wing-suiters, various formation skydives, tandem jumps and scenic flights. Divers can be heard joking about the adrenaline rush you get from jumping out of a plane — some liken the feeling of freefalling to a drug, the impulse and rush that keeps them coming back again and again. Some just look at it like any other sport.

Ian Underwood, 27, is a skydiving enthusiast who participated in this year’s festival. He said he did a tandem jump for the first time in 2009 and earned his solo license in 2013.

“I like the challenge of it,” said Underwood. “A lot of people like to say its an adrenaline sport but the adrenaline wears off after a bit and it just becomes a sport like anything else where you challenge yourself and look for something new to do.”

Most of the skydivers are experts with hundreds of jumps behind them, but some were completely new to the sport, jumping out of a plane for the first time. Newcomers typically do a tandem skydive, which means they are tethered to an expert who makes sure they jump, steer the parachute and land properly and safely.

Related: Skydiving granny takes her leap

Related: Skydive noise not an issue

Related: Tom Harris memorial fundraiser supports kids camps

The skyvan took off every 40 minutes during the festival, at full capacity for every run. With that many divers in the sky at once, they end up trying different formations. Some dive off the deck, others jump in circles and some even do backflips.

“Every year seems to be getting bigger and bigger,” said Chalmers. “We put out close to 1,000 skydivers over the course of the event.”

This annual four-day event takes place Canada Day weekend each year. If you missed it, no problem. Skydiving is offered throughout the summer at Okanagan Skydive.

“If anybody wants to try skydiving they should definitely not hold back,” Chalmers says finally. “It’s amazing and it’s something everyone needs to do at least once if not multiple times.”

To report a typo, email:
newstips@vernonmorningstar.com
.

>


@BrieChar
brieanna.charlebois@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

No one in Revelstoke should face dementia alone

More than 66,000 people struggle with Alzheimer’s and dementia in B.C.

B.C. Legions in need of young members to continue aiding veterans into the future

Lest we forget what thousands of men and women did to fight for Canada’s freedoms – but without new membership, many Legion chapters face dwindling numbers

Bike relay around the world stops in Revelstoke

Bike Jamboree is a Polish project that aims to bike 35,000 km and through 21 different countries

Seeking Shelter: Landlord takes over living area in rental whenever visiting town

Revelstoke renter says everyone pretends to be ‘perfect’ to find accommodation

VIDEO: Marvel Comics’ Stan Lee dies

Marvel co-creator was well-known for making cameo appearances in superhero movies

Most fatal overdose victims did not have recent police contact: Stats Canada

11 per cent of those who fatally overdosed in B.C. had four or more contacts with the police

Calgarians head to the polls to declare ‘yea’ or ‘nay’ on Winter Games

The question “are you for or are you against hosting the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games?” was to be posed to them Tuesday in a plebiscite to help determine whether the city should move ahead with a bid.

Heir’s big birthday: 70 candles lined up for Prince Charles

Prince Charles turns 70 Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018, still serving in the heir to the throne role he has filled since he was a young child.

Trudeau lays down challenge to companies in bid to boost trade with Asia

“Building the relationships, building the connections, building the facility and also changing mindsets — getting Canadian companies to see the opportunities we have around the world to partner and invest.”

CNN sues Trump, demanding return of Acosta to White House

CNN is asking for an immediate restraining order to return Acosta to the White House.

Amazon to split second HQ between New York, Virginia

Official decision expected later Tuesday to end competition between North American cities to win bid and its promise of 50,000 jobs

US trial to tell epic tale of Mexican drug lord “El Chapo”

Guzman’s long-awaited U.S. trial begins Tuesday in New York

Northern California wildfire is deadliest in state history

Holding out slim hope as crews search for more fire dead; 42 already killed in blaze

Most Read