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Skydiving enthusiasts get rush from #039;total feeling of flying#039;

SOUTH POINT - If you ask Larry Lemaster what it feels like when you jump out of an airplane, his answer is a simple one.

"It is a total feeling of flying," he said.

Lemaster owns Tri-State Skydivers, which is located at the Lawrence County Airpark in South Point.

Saying the feeling is hard to put into words, Lemaster said most of his students agree that it feels like you are flying, a feeling that is both exciting and liberating.

For Lemaster, skydiving started as something that he wanted to try ever since he was a child. Lemaster "did it once and was hooked."

Lemaster has owned the business for approximately five years. Until this year, however, he worked two jobs, but has taken on the skydiving business as a full time venture this year.

"It's a big step," he said. "You've got to enjoy what you are doing."

Lemaster said he has met many interesting and unique people during his time in skydiving.

One thing that Lemaster said he really enjoys about his job getting to share in people's first jump experience - while they fulfill a dream or do something they always wanted.

"It's new and different, until you try it," he said.

Lemaster has had a wide range of customers - the oldest being 92 and the youngest just 18.

Lemaster said he has worked with many people in their 60s and 70s.

Along with the many customers he has taught, Lemaster has also taken many members of his own family - including his mom.

"It's a lot safer than people think," Lemaster said of the sport.

Many safety precautions are utilized in skydiving and there are more dangers exist in other sports, Lemaster said. According to enthusiasts, skydiving is statistically one of the safest recreational sports.

An individual can learn to skydive in one day, but it takes a minimum of 25 jumps to earn an A license.

Students who have never been skydiving before can take a class, then go up for their first jump. In a static-line jump, the static line pulls the parachute cord, then jumpers guide themselves to the landing field. Static line jumps are from 3,500 feet.

Individuals can also do a tandem skydive - where students spend an hour in class with a tandem master learning how to work together and techniques you will use in the jump.

Tandem jumps are made from 11,000 feet.

Tri-State Skydivers also offers freefall photography, exhibition jumps and parachute rigging. Interested in making the leap? Contact them at (740) 894-JUMP or on the Web at www.tristateskydivers.com.

"It's one of the best experiences I've ever had," Lemaster said.