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Finding community among the clouds, skydivers take leap of faith

Belmont students brought their club to new heights, experiencing intimate community and unexplainable excitement through free fall.

The Belmont skydiving club, Bruin Skydive, held its first jump of the semester Saturday.

A two-hour car ride landed the five-person crew at Skydive Alabama, where president of the club, junior Brett Andacht, works.

“In order to offset the cost of jumping, I learned to pack parachutes and started working for the Drop Zone,” said Andacht, who got the bug for skydiving his freshman year after he rode shotgun in a plane during a dive.

“Watching people jump out of the back of the plane was enough to get me hooked.”

After an instructional video and some teaching simulations, the group donned wind suits and harnesses and boarded a small propellor plane.

“I kept waiting to get nervous and it never happened,” said Hope Siler, a freshman member of Bruin Skydive, as the plane soared to optimal altitude. “I was excited the whole time.”

When the plane reached 14,000 feet, the five took turns dangling their legs out the plane’s open doorway, gazing down at a patchwork field below.

Then they jumped.

Siler, who’s no stranger to an adrenaline rush after going bungee jumping and repelling, said that she had been waiting for that moment for a long time.

“The first thing that I thought when we jumped is, ‘It’s really hard to breathe right now,’” said Silver who went down tandem with an instructor.

When her instructor pulled the parachute, everything seemed to be in slow motion, Siler said.

“Learning to control your body in free fall takes some time to master, and flying your parachute to the ground safely is a discipline in itself,” said Andacht, who has made 44 dives and earned his solo skydiving certification.

But whether diving for the first time or the 44th, the feeling of falling is exhilarating.

“There’s no words to describe the experience. You go from rushing so fast to silence and peace,” Siler said.

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Bruin Skydive was started in 2012 by three Belmont students who had a vision of creating a team of skydivers to compete at the National Collegiate Parachuting League competition, held by the United States Parachute Association, said Andacht.

Since then, Bruin Skydive strives to spread skydiving campus-wide by holding trips to take students on their first tandem skydives.

“It’s our goal to expose the students at Belmont to the sport and culture of skydiving,” said Andacht. “We hope we can all go out and have a blast in the sky together.”

Bruin Skydive plans a trip each semester and always welcomes new members. The club can be found on Facebook or contacted at

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Photo: Bruin Skydive

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