Features At Issue

Above It All

Multimedia and Story by Andy Abeyta

[vimeo id=”83825445″ width=”620″ height=”360″]

Buzzing around the hangar at Eugene Skydivers, parachute-packer April repeatedly says that the most intense moment is the moment the plane’s door first opens at altitude. The volume skyrockets in the cabin, and the skydivers finally face the environment around them for the first time since the plane was on the ground. Experiencing 120 mile per hour winds and a view of the passing landscape 6,000 empty feet below the plane, I discovered April could not have more effectively described the feeling that was rushing through my body. The rush, adrenaline, and perceived danger is often understood to be the most attractive draw to the sport, but for Alex Chapman, it is really about the challenge. Chapman is a senior at the University of Oregon who began packing parachutes at Eugene Skydivers to get involved in the sport. He is now learning the sport and pursuing a license to jump for fun. April explains that skydiving curbs her primal urge. Even if only for a few seconds when she is in free fall, she feels completely in control of her life. April cites a phrase used around the hanger to explain, “As soon as you leave the airplane—technically you are dead, unless you do something to change your fate.”

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