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Skydivers range from age 90 to 18

By Jason Landers, Rome News-Tribune Staff Writer

A skydiver and his student descend in tandem Saturday above the Polk County Airport. William T. Martin / Rome News-Tribune CEDARTOWN Midway between Rockmart and Cedartown off U.S. 278 there is an old airstrip where you can learn to leap from a perfectly good airplane that is flying 14,000 feet high. The free fall, a 120 mile per hour adrenaline rush, lasts about 70 seconds. Then at an altitude of 4,000 feet it's time to pull a parachute ripcord and slowly descend to the ground. Beginners make the leap harnessed to a professional skydiver like Justin Silvia, an instructor with the Atlanta Skydiving Center, based at the Polk County Airport. Silvia, 39, has years of experience tied to his ripcord. He has logged 3,384 jumps in 17 years and started skydiving from planes at age 21. For him it is a sport, a hobby and a way of life that he learned from his father, who was skydiving back in the early 1960s. The first lesson is to visualize the fall. Silvia has his students lie stomach down on the floor with their backs arched and their legs and arms slightly raised in a spread-eagle position. From this position, beginners learn in just minutes the proper way to measure altitude and pull a ripcord. It's all part of the last-minute instruction new skydivers receive before a tandem jump. Men and women from the age of 90 to 18 have learned to skydive at the Atlanta Skydiving Center this way. They come, says manager Ben Butler, because of the excitement. "The general consensus is they are looking for something exciting," he said, "and they came to the right place." "What a ride!" wrote one first-timer, who recorded the event in Sylvia's logbook. "It wears you slap out! Now I can say I've done it. Whoopee!" Sylvia has a simple explanation for why people try and often continue skydiving. "'Cause it's fun," he said. The fun has its price. A tandem jump with an instructor costs $195. For an additional $85, first-timers can purchase a video and photograph of their experience. Sightseers are welcome at Atlanta Skydiving, which has a picnic area and which is scheduled to host the National Skydiving League team competitions June 23-24. The Atlanta Skydiving Center is open seven days a week and an average of 400 people jump any given weekend day in the spring. The attendance increases in the summer, Butler said. For more information about the center call 1-800-490-DIVE. For skydiving closer to Rome, there is Adventure Skydiving, which can be reached at 295-5011, and Air Ventures Skydiving Center, which can be reached at 234-3087.



This article was created at :

April 7,2001

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