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Jim Olney, VP of Research & Development for Empire Corporate FCU, can scratch “skydiving” off his life’s To Do List. In late spring Olney took a leap of a lifetime from an airplane 9,000 feet in the sky. It was not a solo skydive, rather a tandem dive where a certified skydive instructor rides piggyback. Skydiving is something Olney always wanted to. He briefly took it off his life’s To Do List when a good friend, an experienced skydiver, had a tragic accident. He later reasoned that accidents were extremely rare and put a plan into motion to make his first dive. The flight to get to an altitude of 9,000 feet took about 25-minutes. When the airplane door opened and Olney looked down, the reality of one of his life’s dreams set in, as did a tangled knot of nerves. But Olney pressed on and before he knew it he was freefalling towards earth. Olney’s freefall lasted about 25 seconds. They reached speeds upwards of 125 miles per hour. Within seconds, they were at 5,000 feet and Jim was signaled to pull the ripcord. When the parachute opens, it is both a shock and a relief, said Olney. The shock comes from the immediate deceleration from 125 miles per hour down to around 30 miles per hour. The relief comes from knowing that it opened! Olney said what amounted to a very peaceful descent from the sky lasted about three minutes. The landing was smooth and graceful as they slid onto the designated grassy landing area. A tad on the expensive side for five minutes of exhilaration (an in-flight video package added to the tab), Olney said it is probably best left as a one-time life experience, though he’s not ruling out a solo jump. [email protected]

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