“At first, falling out of the plane happened very fast. I was directed to look at the horizon as I fell through the clouds, looking at the landscape. It was breathtaking, I heard the force of air, felt it against my clenched teeth, looking out over the Snohomish River, the trestle, Everett, Pilchuck River…”
Caleb Marker never thought he would be dropped to Earth from an airplane taking off in Snohomish County, just north of Seattle.
“No one I know really skydives, so I was surprised that people came up to Snohomish to do this! I only thought it was an airstrip originally for private planes.”
Historically, skydiving evolved into an organized sport at Harvey Field in the early 1950s. Snohomish hosted many skydiving meets and competitions in those early days. Since August of 2000, Skydive Snohomish has been an undertaking that Tyson and Elaine Harvey have taken on as members of their family continue to manage a flight school, a maintenance center and an espresso stand around the airstrip.
“Acrophobia is a very regular thing to see overcome by skydivers,” says Elaine Harvey. “We have people jump with fear of heights all the time. A lot of licensed skydivers have issue being on a ladder or going over Deception Pass, and they can conceptualize hundreds of feet. That height, the human mind can grasp. But when you are up in an airplane, seeing the curve of the Earth… you can’t fully conceptualize that. It’s a whole other feeling just being there.”
Elaine seemingly demystified the terror of hurtling toward the Earth, while Caleb grappled with those fears before his very first jump with Skydive Snohomish.
“Anything above a two-step stool or ladder, I can get the shakes,” said Caleb before his jump. “It kept me up all week when it was confirmed that Skydive Snohomish they would take me, because I did meet all their qualifications, even though I totally had nerves.”
The beginning of a skydiver’s story was already developing.
On a cloudy Sunday with the sun peeking through the clouds an hour before the Skydive Snohomish scheduled check-in, Caleb received a personal call saying the flight was on. He headed out toward Snohomish to make his appointment.
The time between Caleb’s jump and the meeting with the Harvey family wasn’t short of action. Just south of the river and past the locales of downtown, personal and private planes marched in line, maneuvering, taking off, ascending, circling and landing like clockwork. The staff of Skydive Snohomish immediately greeted and guided Caleb to the training facility for his indoctrination.
“The training classroom was direct and to the point and wasn’t short of humor and relatable material,” says Caleb. “I won’t spoil the training for those that consider the thrill of jumping, but the number one rule was to smile and have fun, and the Skydive Snohomish training staff brought up that rule a lot. Because if you remember to do that, the partner you go tandem jumping with can handle the rest.”
It wasn’t long until Caleb was acting out the material in the training video, mostly the deployment of his parachute. Once the skydive class was complete, Caleb left the training facility and proceeded to a small courtyard, donning a jumpsuit and partnering up with Kelly, a long-time instructor of Skydive Snohomish with enough credentials to quell the fears of any woeful jumper... 11,080 jumps by his count.
“He gave off the energy of Patrick Swayze in Point Break, nothing but cool confidence.” Caleb laughed. “He made the experience as simple as sitting back and watching. As we elevated, Kelly was intermittently checking in on me and asking if I was alright. All I could do was smile, even though I had a cold sweat and a jackhammering heart!”
Within an hour Caleb and Kelly were boarding a small plane bound for the sky where they would make their jump.
Caleb mentioned that after his first unforgettable tandem skydive, once he pulled his parachute around 4000 feet, his combined weightlessness and freeness of direction made him feel like his own compass.
Elaine says the feeling of skydiving was near-indescribable, but once it was done you could stop limiting yourself in innumerable ways:
“When you skydive, you can focus on the here and now, the present, and once you do skydive, you think ‘what happens next?’” Elaine says. “You can dream bigger, you can understand that you don’t have to limit yourself”
This is a place to challenge yourself. They are currently accepting people aged 18 and up, some with a doctor’s waiver and permission.
Be sure to visit Skydive Snohomish, the best place to skydive in Seattle NorthCountry. Harvey Airfield is located at 9906 Airport Way, Snohomish, WA 98296. Check availability here, or make an appointment by calling (360) 568-7703.