A high school wrestling coach had an “unreal” experience when he went skydiving.
Ryan Wells is a wrestling coach for Kokoma High School. He went skydiving with the United States Army Parachute Team, also known as the Golden Knights. He was selected for this endeavor by the Army recruiters who were frequent high school visitors. The skydiving experience took place at Clarksville-Montgomery County Regional Airport in Tennessee. Twelve people total embarked on this journey, including other educators and even the mayor of Clarksville. “We just got to hang out with those guys all day,” Wells said.
“We got to know them and hear their stories. I’ll tell you what, they were some of the most impressive guys I have ever been around.”
“Not only were they the toughest dudes I have ever met, but they were smart and so down to earth. We hear their Army stories and they wanted to know about us.” The day Wells went was in late April. The jump Wells completed was a tandem jump—meaning he was attached to a certified skydiver in four places during the jump itself. The sky was cloudy, but it eventually cleared. Originally the dive was scheduled to take place between 9 and 10 a.m., but it was postponed until 2:30 p.m. Before the dive, Wells met with the Golden Knights at 7 a.m.
For Wells the delay was enjoyable; they just got to sit around and talk with the Golden Knights. They got suited up, with the civilians wearing black and gold jumpsuits. Next, they had to mentally prepare for the jump. As Wells put it, “It got real right then.” Wells attempted trying to “hide” his nervousness—although it should be noted a little anxiety before a jump is normal. “Like the guys said, if you aren’t nervous something is wrong,” Wells said. “I was scared, but I was excited. There was no doubt in my mind that I was going to be fine because these guys are the best in the world.”
“I felt good about it, but, then again, I was about to jump out of a perfectly good airplane.”
The wait was well worth it, giving Wells the perfect dive with great visibility. The dive itself took place at 12,500 feet. Wells reflected on the experience. “We free fall for 45 seconds to a minute. We were under canopy, and we were doing loops and flips. It was unbelievable. We had a smooth landing and the adrenaline was flowing.” Wells flew with Golden Knights Sergeant First Class Noah Watts. Watts enlisted in the in the U.S. Marines in 1996 and shipped out after the 9/11 attacks. He employed to Iran in 2003 and has been with the Golden Knights since 2007. As far as skydiving experience goes, Watts is more than certified:
He has completed 6,400 free fall jumps, 2,400 tandem jumps, and 60 static line parachute jumps.
After the experience, Wells said his already high appreciation of the military has grown even more. He said the jump was good for him. Speaking of the event as a whole, Wells said, “It was the opportunity of a lifetime, and I am so appreciative.”