A view from above: skydivers in Meadow Lake

Sixteen-year-old Mackenzie Kortje circles over the main building at the airport to come in for a landing after an 11,000 ft drop with her instructor

By Ben Ingram

You could hear their screams from 11,000 feet.

Last week, people suited up 89 times to jump out of an airplane circling the Meadow Lake airport, free falling through the sky before an instructor anchored on their back pulled the chute.

For many of the divers, it was their first time.

“I’m alive and I can,” said 16-year-old Mackenzie Kortje as to why she accepted her uncle’s offer to take her skydiving. “It’s exciting, a bit of a rush.”

When the plane reached altitude, Kortje and her instructor dove out into a free fall. Her screams could be heard by onlookers watching safely from the ground of the airport before their parachute was released and the tandem glided in circles towards a nearby field.

Like her younger cousin, Meadow Lake resident Diana Carson, 21, said skydiving was on her bucket list.

“She asked if I would go up with her, so I rushed to town, got some money and some running shoes and now I guess I’m going up,” Carson said.

For her, it was a 20 minute decision with no chance of looking back.

“I’m not thinking about it, actually. I’m just going to go with it. Hopefully I make it back alive so I can go to Stonehenge,” she said, referring to another lifelong goal of hers.

The jumpers paid $303 per jump while instructors filmed the events and took pictures for afterward keepsakes.

“This is the guy I’m going to die with,” Carson said with a smile pointing to Andrew Whyte, her instructor and jump partner.

In four years of skydiving, Whyte estimated that he had made about 5600 jumps.

“Stick your hips out and have fun,” he said. “That’s the key.”

The four days of death defying jumps were organized by local Meadow Laker Barb Williams on behalf of the humane society.

Unfortunately, the goal of 100 jumps was not reached so no donations were made to the group, but Williams still hailed it as a success.

“They were so happy to be here,” she said of the instructors. “They loved the reaction from the town and they’re talking about coming back in August to do the solo course.”

When one man opted for a third jump, the instructors decided to take Williams instead. It was her second ever skydive and one just as thrilling as the first.

The group refused to take her payment, so she returned the favour by providing them with a video game system to keep them occupied in-between jumps.

“For the people, the experience that they’d got, I was so satisfied with that,” she said.

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