Warsaw Man Takes A Thrilling Plunge Into The Wild Blue Yonder

Judy Kramer
County Reporter
Although man has always been attracted to flying, the sport of skydiving is relatively recent and seems to be growing in popularity each year. It is the perfect birthday gift that not only provides high adrenaline, but offers an incredible 360 degree view.
Zebadiah Swearingin, from the Warsaw area, sky dived for the first time (Tandem style, with an instructor) on his 39th birthday, May 17, 2018. He decided to schedule the event at Glidersports, in Clinton, because he was allowed to choose the spot where he would land, and he had a spectacular view of the lake during his descent.
“It was my first plane ride, and my first sky dive,” said Swearingin. “I thought I would be more scared than I actually was. When they opened the plane’s door, I thought ‘Whoa! This is real!’ It was enjoyable and I was happy. My Dad watched from the ground and made a video. There was also a photographer in the sky who made a video for me to show to friends and family to remind me of the experience. The crew was great and all were fantastic about helping me during every part of the experience. Anybody who wants to do it should not put it off.”
Glidersports is located at 51 SE Hwy W, in Clinton, near the airport. It has been operating for four years, and its primary sport is tandem skydiving, although it also teaches solo skydiving. Other services include Paragliding, Power Paragliding (with a motor on your back), Flyboard and Hoverboard water sports.
“Our facility is called a 50-acre adult playground, but we welcome children and families,” said Glidersports owner, Garrett Reed. “We have tables and shaded areas where spectators can watch sky dives free of charge. We are proud of the revenue our business generates for the local area. About 25 to 60 exclusive customers come to Glidersports every weekend and bring two to three people with them, buying gas, staying in hotels and eating out in the area. About 30 percent of our customers travel through Warsaw on their way here from Columbia, Jefferson City and St. Louis spending money on the way. Other come from Kansas City and other places in a 400 mile radius. About three to four thousand dollars per week are spent in the local area by our customers.”
Reed said that Glidersports itself has invested half a million dollars in the local economy for their facility, concrete, lumber, air conditioning, gravel, gas and other expenses. During special events held several times a year, about 200 people attend from out of town. He said that only about eight to ten local people have been customers in the past, but there seemed to be more this year.
In order to plan a tandem skydiving session, a person needs to plan on two or three hours of time, but expect four to six hours in case of unexpected occurrences like weather problems. The economical dive is $159 with the jump taking place about one and a half miles up. The higher mileage jump is $225 and is made from about three miles up. The temperature drops from that on the ground about two degrees every thousand feet. So a three mile jump would start when the air temperature is about 30 degrees cooler than the ground temperature. However, Reed said that it only lasts about a minute before the air warms up. Skydiving is usually begun at 18 years or older, but there doesn’t seem to be an upper age limit. Reed said that one lady who sky dived at Glidersports was 96 years old, and he knew of another person who sky dived at another facility when she was 106 years old.
Glidersports is also an international, online retailer, doing a multi-million dollar business with people from around the world. More information about the business is available at 855-435-9669, or www.glidersports.com. 
According to Wikipedia, the first parachute jump in history was made by Andre-Jacques Garnerin, the inventor of the parachute, on 22 October 1797. He tested his contraption by leaping from a hydrogen balloon 3,200 feet above Paris. World War I propelled the use of parachutes into the world, and after World War II, parachutes became available for non-military use. The first World Parachuting Championships were held in Yugoslavia in 1951, and the first civilian parachuting school opened in Orange, Massachusetts in 1959. Tandem Skydiving was invented by Ted Strong in 1983.
Skydiving is claimed to be a safe sport. Reed said that it is safer than horseback riding. Fatalities are relatively rare, according to Wikepedia, decreasing from about 42 fatalities per year in the 1970s to about 22 fatalities a year after 2009. Some injuries can be caused by unsafe maneuvers, errors by skydivers, changing wind conditions, and canopy collisions between two or more skydivers. Fifty-four percent of injuries occur on the ankle and 18 percent on the wrist.