Jul 142009
Authors: Madeline Novey

Peter DeWitt remembers the first time he flew. It was June 11, 2005, a day he will never forget.

Standing at the open door of a twin-engine jet prop plane, Dewitt looked thousands of feet down to Earth, said to himself, “What the f**k am I doing?” and looked back at the two instructors standing with him. He repeated the question before he gave one shake, signaling to the two others he was ready to jump.

So together, the three jumped as one.

Five hundred jumps later, Dewitt, a CSU Ph.D. student sat at his desk in the basement of the Statistics Building and said, “There’s no great way to explain what happened.” As soon as he landed that day, he knew skydiving again was a must, adding, “It absolutely had to become a part of my life.”

Dewitt and senior marketing and international business major Shannon McCarthy are in the process of reviving CSU’s Skydiving Club after it went dormant when its former president Travis Annan graduated in 2007.

The two avid skydivers who met at a Mile-Hi Skydiving Center jump zone in Longmont have spent the past six months working with the club’s sponsor Mile-Hi to get students discounts on jumps and are talking about holding bi-monthly meetings once students return in August.

Hoping to keep things casual with meetings at Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant, McCarthy said she wants the club to become an extension of the skydiving community she has grown to love and depend on.

“At Mile-hi Skydiving all the skydivers have such a strong relationship because they jump together,” she said referring to some of the long-time friends she has made and depends on for support during jumps.

One of the six current members of the club, Austin Fellows, a senior civil engineering major, said he would like to see a lot of more people get into the sport with the rebirth of the high-flying organization.

“Come out and jump and try it for yourself,” he said to the CSU community.

Before she graduates, McCarthy would like to see the club transform into a competitive team and skydive against other universities and various naval bases at the National Collegiate Competition, hosted by the United States Parachute Association.

McCarthy invited non-experienced skydivers to head out to Mile-Hi Skydiving Center on July 18 and 19 to watch practice jumps for the Go Fast Colorado State Record Invitational.

Seventy skydivers will jump out of four planes and come together to make a formation known as a Big Way in mid-flight.

The current Colorado state Big Way record was set by 56 jumpers in Lamar, Colo. The same 70 people participating in the practice jumps later this month will attempt to break the record at the official invitational starting Sept. 11.

“It’s phenomenal to see that many jumpers make a formation,” McCarthy said. “Just unbelievable. Breathtaking.”

In the middle of describing what it’s like to skydive, DeWitt turned to his computer, saying “I think Leonardo da Vinci said it best” and read a quote from the screen.

“For once you have tasted flight you will walk the Earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.”

News Managing Editor Madeline Novey can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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