By Mallory Allen, Mara Allen & Lindsey Gloede
Would you jump out of a perfectly good, working airplane?
Located in Pulaski, WI, Skydive Freefall Adventure provides people with the opportunity to do just that.
Wanting to share his passion for skydiving with the community he calls home, Leon Kunesh opened this family-owned business four years ago. With no other skydiving operations in the immediate area, Kunesh quickly found that people around Green Bay had an interest in the extreme sport whose roots date back to 10th century China.
Since 2018, roughly 1,000 people have taken a leap of faith and jumped with Skydive Freefall Adventure. However, this number doesn’t come close to the number of jumps the company’s instructors have completed.
Leon has jumped more than 2,300 times throughout his life, while another instructor, Dillion, has recorded over 3,000 jumps.
Dillion’s number is particularly impressive, considering he almost never completed even one jump in the first place.
“The coolest thing I’ve ever done”
After a friend of Dillion’s skydived for his birthday, he called Dillion and told him about how awesome his experience was, insisting Dillion needed to try it himself.
Dillion refused, but his friend kept pushing. Another friend jumped and loved it as well, so they both began to badger Dillion to try skydiving.
“I told them, ‘No, you’re crazy. That’s dumb, and I’m not doing it,” Dillion recalls. “I kept saying I wasn’t going to do it. I wasn’t going to throw $200 out the door of an airplane,” he said.
Dillion’s friends countered, telling him that they would pay for his jump. No longer having a valid excuse, Dillion finally agreed to go skydiving.
“I did my first jump, and I was up all night thinking about how awesome it was,” he said. “I woke up still thinking about how it was the coolest thing I’ve ever done. I signed up to jump the next weekend again, and then the following weekend, I registered to get my license so I could jump by myself.”
Now a certified skydiving instructor, Dillion said the best part of his job is being able to share what he loves with others.
“My favorite experiences with other people are when they’re really, really, really scared and nervous. But once we land on the ground they’re like, ‘Oh my god, that was amazing! That was the coolest thing I’ve ever done!’” said Dillion. “Being able to relive my first skydive experience with new people every day is awesome for me.”
A few interesting stories
Dillion said that in all the time he’s been taking people skydiving, only once has someone backed out before jumping.
“He said he was excited. We got on the plane, and we were flying up. I was talking to him, and he didn’t seem too nervous. But as soon as the door opened, he froze, grabbed onto the pilot seat, and said, ‘I can’t do this.’”
Though Dillion did his best to convince the man that everything would be alright and to go through with it, the man was adamant that he was not jumping – and he didn’t. They landed, he got in his car, and he drove home.
Another woman knew herself well enough to know that when it was time for her to jump, she’d want to chicken out. She told her instructor beforehand to make her do it anyway, even if it meant literally having to push her out of the plane.
Indeed, when they reached 10,000 feet, and it was time for her to jump, the woman was too scared; she said she couldn’t do it. Though hesitant, her tandem instructor listened to what she had told him earlier and jumped anyway.
When they landed back on the ground, she was so thankful he had followed through on his promise because she had a blast.
Additionally, during this year’s opening weekend, Skydive Freefall Adventure helped a couple reveal the genders of their twins. During his skydive, the father released smoke bombs into the air – both were pink!
My own skydiving experience
Earlier this year, on February 2nd, I spontaneously decided I wanted to skydive. Like many others, skydiving has always been on my bucket list, and I figured the weekend of my 21st birthday provided a good excuse to finally cross it off.
I Googled “skydiving near Green Bay,” and Skydive Freefall Adventure in Pulaski popped up right away. After reading their outstanding reviews, I decided to book with them. I was originally scheduled to jump on Sunday, April 3.
When I told my friends about it, my friend Haley said she wanted to do it with me, so she booked her jump for the same day and time.
Because we scheduled two months out, we had no idea what the weather would be like at noon that day. After months of waiting in anticipation, April 3 finally arrived. When we got to the location, we filled out a lot of paperwork and watched a mandated safety video.
It was a very cloudy day, so we had to hang out for a while to see if the clouds would clear up enough for us to be able to jump. Unfortunately, they didn’t, so we rescheduled for the following Sunday, hoping it would be a better day. Luckily for us, it was.
As several of my friends and I walked in on April 10, one of them asked an employee, “Are we jumping today?” With the biggest smile on his face, he said, “We’re jumping!”
Because my friend and I had already completed our paperwork, we were ready to go fairly quickly after the employees hooked our equipment up and strapped our harnesses on.
After a short ride to the hangar, we loaded into the plane. It was so small that there was no room for anyone or anything else once the pilot, me, Haley, and our instructors, Leon and Dillion, were in. The plane ride took about 20 minutes. It was a gorgeous, sunny day, so the views were incredible.
Once we were close to 10,000 feet, they opened the door. I had volunteered to jump first, so I was right next to the door. As the wind blew and I looked out over the edge, I finally realized I was actually going to jump.
The pilot and Leon spotted and gave the go-ahead to get into position. As we executed what we had practiced, Leon and I rocked back and forth.
“Ready. Set. JUMP,” Leon said as we catapulted from the edge of the door out of the plane.
We were in freefall for 30-45 seconds before Leon had me pull my parachute.
As I looked down and saw the world from above, I just kept thinking about how surreal this was. If I could’ve, I would’ve pinched myself.
The total jump – from leaping out of the plane to landing on the ground – was around eight minutes. And let me tell you, those were the coolest eight minutes of my life!
My landing was smooth; Leon had me kick my legs up as we slid on our butts. Haley and Dillion landed about a minute after us.
If I had three words to describe my experience, I would say insane, epic, and incredible.
We headed back to the office where Haley and I were given certificates, and they emailed us videos and pictures from our jumps.
If skydiving is on your bucket list, I highly recommend booking with Skydive Freefall Adventure to cross it off.
“Everybody’s gotta try it once. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to do it again,” Dillion said.
If you’re interested in listening to Dillion’s advice and want to take the leap of faith, visit: www.skydivefreefalladventure.com