Rural Missouri - June 2013 - (Page 40)
N E I G H B O R S
Preston Hartung’s love for
skydiving has taken ﬂight
as a new business
In 2011, Preston Hartung opened Skydive Mid-America for those looking to try the extreme sport of skydiving. To date, he has executed more than 800 jumps.
by Kyle Spradley
divers and specializes in training jumpers through
Preston’s introduction to skydiving began in
its weeklong courses.
2000 thanks to his father, Larry, and older broth“They teach you all the ins and outs,” says
er, Eric. At the time, they were heavily involved
Preston. “Through several jumps, I learned what
with archery and often visited Las Vegas for touraltitude to pull your chute, how to maintain
naments. One year, the boys decided to
stability and properly check your gear and
try out a wind tunnel, which mimics
how to maneuver yourself while in the air.
the feel of a freefall indoors.
“It was pretty expensive, so my dad
Skydiving is actually really simple. You
asked, ‘Why not do the real thing?’” the
basically just jump.”
Five years later, Preston complet28-year-old recalls. “I unfortunately was too
ed more than 500 jumps. Reaching
young and couldn’t go, but as soon as I was
this milestone is a requirement
old enough, I knew I wanted to try it out.”
by the United States Parachute
His father and brother were instantly
Association — the governing
hooked on the sport and during the next
several years, Preston tagged along for numerbody of the skydive industry —
before an instructor can offer tandem jumps.
ous jumps — whether it was at the landing zone
Since opening his business, he has taken more
or up in the airplane along for the ride.
than 150 jumps with people of all ages.
“I started at 16 by doing static lines,” says Pres“Stepping out on the edge of the plane was
ton. “This is the beginning stage for most jumpthe scariest part, but once you began the freefall,
ers. You jump out of the plane, but you don’t get
it was so exhilarating,” says Allene Gremaud of
the feel of freefall because a 15-foot-long cord that
Kirksville, who went on a jump with Preston last
is attached to the plane pulls the chute for you.”
summer. “I was a little nervous at ﬁrst, but after
Preston knew he was ready for the next level,
we listened to a tutorial from Preston and got
so he decided to become a certiﬁed skydiver in
instruction from him, I knew we were safe. He put
2006 at Skydive Chicago. The private airport in
me at ease. And if you ever thought about trying
Ottawa, Ill., is one of the premier facilities for skyit, I would go for it!”
Preston looks to eventually turn his
skydive business into a full-time job,
but as of now, it keeps his summer
“When you skydive, it is just so
peaceful up there, and I still get an
adrenaline rush every time I jump,”
says Preston. “I just love to see the
excitement of the people. It’s a mind
overload of emotions going from
scared at ﬁrst, which is natural, to
exhilaration. I am glad I can share that
with them. But I still ﬁnd it funny to
think that people trust me to throw
them out of an airplane.”
he door opens and a blast of air rushes
in and almost knocks you off your feet.
Peering out the cockpit of a Cessna 182, a
patchwork landscape of farms and forest
that resembles an organic quilt is the only thing
between you and 10,000 feet of airspace.
“Up here it’s amazing how square everything
looks,” Preston Hartung yells through the howling
wind. “It’s time to jump!”
He climbs with you out onto the plane’s landing gear for mere seconds — for some it may
feel like an eternity. With your heart racing, the
moment comes. Attached in tandem, you ﬂip
off the plane and gravity takes over. As freefall
begins, the journey back to terra ﬁrma is one
of the most intense adrenaline rushes one can
experience. Nearly a minute passes, then the parachute deploys, providing a gentle, safe ﬂoat back
to the ground.
Preston is a skydive instructor and for nearly
a decade, he has been taking to the skies and
leaping out of perfectly good airplanes. To date,
he successfully has performed more than 800
jumps without any problems and
now is turning his hobby into a business by providing skydive trips for
those interested in experiencing the
“In 2011, I opened Skydive MidAmerica because there isn’t anyone
else close that does this, so I ﬁgured
I’d bring something unique to the
area,” says Preston, who lives in
Macon. “I think everyone should try
it once. There truly is nothing else
like it, but it is a very simple sport
that almost anyone can do.”
Most days, Preston works for his
dad’s construction business, but
whenever he can, he is at the Macon
airport, preparing for his next jump.
“Almost every weekend during the
photo courtesy of Jeff McHenry
summer, I am out taking a group on
a jump,”says Preston, whose jumps
Allene Gremaud of Kirksville joined Preston for a skydive in the summer of 2012. In
start out at a little more than $200.
nearly two years, the 28-year-old has taken more than 150 people on jumps.
Those interested in skydiving with
Preston may contact Skydive Mid-America
at 660-385-5867. Visit www.facebook.
com/skydive.m.america for more skydive
pictures and updates.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - June 2013
Rural Missouri - June 2013
Table of Contents
Back to the land
Full steam ahead
Out of the Way Eats
Where shall I thee wed?
Missouri Snapshots contest
Hearth and Home
Missouri’s forgotten war
Plant during summer’s sizzle
Rural Missouri - June 2013