Taking the plunge Tech's skydiving team's first try at Nationals produces outstanding third place finish
By Katie Neal Sports Editor ATLANTA January 24, 2003
The most experienced skydiver can reach from 180 MPH to even 200 MPH. The highest recorded speed ever for a freefall is 321 MPH.
In February of 2002, the members of the Georgia Tech Skydiving Club held a meeting to consider putting together a four-way team for the Collegiate Tournament that was to be held in December. The meeting resulted in the intiation of a team of four participants who were devoted to the sport of skydiving.
"We walked away from the meeting with four members who were dedicated to the team and to each other," said Brian Timberlake, one of the competition team members.
At the end of December, the team of skydivers tested their skills in front of a national audience at the US Collegiate National competition in Eloy, Arizona.
The GT team walked away with a third-place finish, losing only to the two senior teams from the Air Force Academy, who had been the competition's biggest contenders and had been the Tech team's main rivals for the season.
The rivalry between the Air Force Academy and the GT team was a continuous one that has lasted the past two years. Tech's team competed head-to-head with the Air Force Academy at the US Nationals and at both the Skyleague semifinals and finals, where the Air Force team competed at one class level above the Tech team.
Rob Ice, a member of the Air Force team, was named as the National Collegiate Champion at Nationals. With this award, Ice received a scholarship, which, as per tradition, if awarded to a member of the military, is usually passed on to a civilian competitor.
Ice passed the award on to the entire GT Skydiving team and commented that it had been a pleasure to compete against the team all year.
The Tech team also has competed in the "A" Class of National Skyleague, and finished in first place in the Intermediate class of the Georgia Skyleague for the season. They placed first in both the National Semifinals in Raeford, NC and the National Finals in SkyQuest, FL.
The 2002 team consisted of Brian Timberlake, Allison Yasitis, Jonathan Bartlett and Craig Sellars. Sellars graduated from Tech in August, prompting Gene Stuart to take over for him to compete in the Collegiate Nationals. Sellars is continuing his graduate work here at Tech and will be competing with the team for the 2003 season.
Since the 2002 season, the competition team has increased their training level and intensity, spending at least five hours in simulation tunnels and working with their coaches to perfect their sport.
"Our goals have changed from the Collegiate Championship and our eyes are now set on the USPA Nationals with a plan to move into the AAA Advanced class next season," said Brian Timberlake.
While the goals of the competition team might sound lofty to the average person who is simply interested in skydiving, the club and team doesn't take all the fun out of skydiving. The competition team is made of ultra-competitive and skilled skydivers who have practiced day-in and day-out for their competitions, yet the GT Parachuting club offers all the same thrills to the students, faculty and staff of Georgia Tech, with less of the dedication and time-commitment.
For the safety-conscious sports fan, it is reassuring to know that the club prides itself on using strict health and safety precautions, such as weight and medical conditions. The team also uses state-of-the-art equipment (and returning Tech students use the gear for free!) to aid in making the experience as fun and rewarding as possible.
In general, at least a hundred Tech students jump per year, recording at least 500 jumps per year total. Some of the more active members are able to make around 100 jumps independently per year.
If those facts don't convince you to go jump out of plane, just think about this: Statistics show that there are more accidents associated yearly with SCUBA diving, mountaineering, boxing, and water sports, than there are in skydiving. Still not convinced on taking the plunge? So how else are you going to get a chance to free fall at 180 MPH?
When you jump, once you leave an aircraft, you are moving horizontally at the same speed as the aircraft you jump from.
Your body then accelerates for the first 10 seconds, increasing or decreasing because of the different techniques of either diving of "standing up" during the freefall. This is where the real fun begins.
The most experienced skydiver can reach from 180 MPH to even 200 MPH.
The highest recorded speed ever for a freefall is 321 MPH, but for you beginners, don't worry about getting anywhere close to that anytime soon.
If you're interested in finding out more about the club, it meets almost every Tuesday at 6:30 PM in the Student Center in Room 320.