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Skydiving to be local attraction

By Teresa Crowder
Freelance Writer

Skydiving demonstrations were proudly held last week at the Johnson County Airport, with test jumps conducted to determine if the facility and the region are compatible enough to start doing tours for the public.
Leading up to the event, Dave Garris, Manager of the Johnson County Airport, was approached by Linda Cassese, a skydiving enthusiast, searching for a facility that could accommodate her desire to offer the sport to others in the region.
Cassese, a native of Raleigh, North Carolina, has a daughter attending Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, and fell in love with the mountains prompting her to look around for an airport nearby.
“I have approached Ashe County, but they were not interested and wouldn’t support it,” she said.
Boone has a private field with no fuel or suitable clearings for landing, so the next step was to give Garris a call and come for a visit.”
“I’ve always wanted to offer skydiving here and have solicited jump schools in the past that determined we were too far out for them to travel,” Garris said, adding that last week’s test jumps allowed the group to determine if the airport is suitable for their purpose. “They were able to get in enough freefall time, and the valley was open enough to maneuver,” Garris said. “We got the “thumbs up,” and Linda proceeded to start the paperwork and build websites.”
The venture, appropriately named Skydive Mountain City, was thus born.
Garriss said more events are planned for June, followed by a grand opening in July.
Details will be available soon, officials said. Skydive Mountain City will offer tandem skydives. Tandem skydiving is one of the most popular ways to experience skydiving for the first time. Patrons will be attached to a tandem skydiving instructor, jump from the airplane, and experience freefall before the parachute opens, and the jumpers glide back down to earth.
Basic requirements involve being at least 18 years old and weighing less than 220 pounds.
For more information, contact the Johnson County Airport at 423-727-1223 or message Skydive Mountain City at [email protected]