A rush of cool air whipped through the airplane as Paul Janes opened the door. Ten thousand feet below, the city of Buhl seemed small intertwined with the patchwork quilt of the earth’s surface. The Snake River Canyon cut through an inspiring masterpiece of geometric shapes cast in green, brown, yellow and beige.
Southern Idaho Living’s Senior Photographer Calman Lugo’s heart pounded as the instructions he had received moments earlier from Paul, his tandem instructor, shuffled through his head. This was Cal’s first skydiving experience. Up until the plane smoothly lifted off the runway at the Buhl Airport, Cal was calm as a summer hammock. But as the plane ascended – from 5,000… to 8,000… then to 10,000 feet – the adrenaline rush began.
Cal is used to putting himself in imaginative positions to get just the right angle for a photograph, but this was taking things to a whole new level. He checked and re-checked the strap securing the camera to his body. The last thing he wanted was to have the camera somehow flip up and whack Paul in the head – because then who would pull the ripcord?
Denise Janes, Paul’s wife, sat opposite Cal in the plane. The Janeses own Skydive Buhl, one of southern Idaho’s most exciting new businesses.
The 15 minute plane ride seemed to last an eternity. When the airplane finally reached proper altitude, Paul hooked onto Cal’s harness. With a big smile, Denise was the first to step out through the open door. No turning back now. Without even a moment to think, Paul and Cal were right behind her.
It’s like describing to an Eskimo what a sandy Caribbean beach feels like. Until you’ve flung from an airplane
yourself, there’s no satisfactory comparison. Suddenly, your view of the world – literally and figuratively – changes.
“From 10,000 feet above the ground, you get out of the airplane and all of a sudden you realize just how small your problems really are in the scope of things,” Denise says. “You look out at this endless sky, and you feel it. When you get back down on the ground it’s like, ‘You know what, so what if I don’t have a babysitter on Friday? I can cope with that.’”
Paul started flying in 1989 to get over his fear of heights. That led to him performing aerobatics in the airplane and soon he was jumping out. He was hooked. After extensive training, he found that he loved to teach skydiving and he loved to share the air with others. He established Skydown Sport Skydiving, located in Caldwell, in 1996 in order to share his enthusiasm and introduce people to the sky at an affordable price.
When the Janeses recently expanded their business, Buhl was the logical site. The elevation (3,600 feet above sea level) is favorable, the community and local government are supportive, and thousands of thrill seekers from the central and east regions of Idaho had been traveling across the state to skydive in Caldwell for years. It was time to bring the sport closer to those customers.
“We’ve been embraced by the community,” Denise says.
Skydive Buhl has been a welcomed addition to southern Idaho as the business will bring in thousands of tourism dollars annually. It also provides another recreational outlet for locals at all levels of skydiving aspirations – whether your intentions are to simply cross off an item on your life’s “To Do” list, or you’re interested in becoming a serious, certified skydiver.
With one of the BASE jumping meccas of the world nearby at the Perrine Bridge, Skydive Buhl can serve anyone interested in either sport.
“BASE jumping is a very different sport. Usually the evolution is people first learn how to skydive and then go into BASE jumping,” Denise says. “We can teach them how to jump out of an airplane, do the canopy control, how to deal with a problem – and they will be so much more prepared [for BASE jumping].”
Paul and Denise have logged nearly 10,000 jumps between them. Paul is the only certified individual in Idahowho can train tandem instructors. Their goal is to grow the business in Buhl, but money isn’t their primary motivation. They are more interested in spending time with people to ensure they have an optimum experience.
“We want to get a training program started,” Denise says. “We want to grow the sport. It is such a fulfilling feeling to introduce people to the sky. If you want to get somewhere in this sport, we’ll help you.”
The Janeses say that most of their customers fall into three categories: It’s on their list of things to try; they are celebrating a special occasion, such as a birthday or anniversary; or they are experiencing a life-changing event, such as the death of a loved one.
“After tax time, you would be amazed by the number of CPAs and accountants that come to get a skydive just to clear their heads of numbers and stress,” Denise says.
Not every person who jumps from an airplane has a life-altering epiphany; however, overcoming the challenge will indisputably provide a whole new perspective of your place in this world.
It only took a 35-second freefall from 10,000 feet for Twin Falls resident Brookney Borron, 24, to change her mind about skydiving.
“I’m totally freaking out; I have butterflies so bad. After this, I’m never doing it again,” she said before climbing into the Cessna 182 with Skydive Buhl for her first tandem skydive. She was smiling, but nervousness permeated her laughter.
Several minutes later, after Brookney’s feet touched the ground again, she was still
smiling, but this time with the excitement of a child on the first day of summer vacation.
“It’s so worth it. The first few seconds when we flew out was the ultimate – it was so fun. I couldn’t scream until we had dropped quite a ways. I was trying, but nothing was coming out.”
Mike Leonard, 23, of Buhl was also a first-timer, but seemed less anxious before boarding the plane.
“I’m ready to do it; I’m excited more than anything,” he said. “I feel safe, so there’s no need to worry.”
After Mike landed, he was ready to go back up for more.
“It was a blast; I’d like to do it again, definitely.” he said. “The wind is whipping and you just kind of look around. Then when you pull the chute, you just sit there and it’s calm and quiet. You get a whole new look on Buhl from up there.”
And a whole new look on yourself, too.
Schedule your jump by calling 208-543-2359
or visit www.skydivebuhl.net