Senior student partakes in extreme sport

By Morgan Steinbach — It is a mix of thrill and adrenaline. Excitement and fear all in one. It is the feeling of losing complete control, until the instructor pulls the cord to deploy the parachute to slow down the breathtaking free fall.

To some, this might sound like a terrible nightmare coming to life, to others, like senior John Mihai, skydiving would symbolize an awesome once in a lifetime experience.

As the son of a jump instructor, John has been able to gain knowledge about skydiving allowing him to dive at the young age of 14. He experienced his first and last free fall on August 15, 2010. At the time, it was legal for minors to jump with the consent of a parent. According to U.S.P.A. (United States Parachute Association) the guidelines have changed, generally only allowing people 18 and older to jump, depending on the institution in which they intend to go.

John experienced a tandem free fall. This means that he had to train for less than 30 minutes on the ground to learn the precautions as well as the steps to take before jumping with one instructor. He jumped from an altitude of about 4,000 feet, resulting in a 30 second free fall period before the parachute was deployed.

“The hardest part is standing and looking out of the door,” John said. “But after jumping, the feeling of adrenaline was crazy, there’s nothing even comparable.”

John jumped at Canton Air Sports where his dad, Phil Mihai, was employed for over 30 years. His jobs included being a jump master, running classes, packing parachutes and being an instructor. Phil started his career on his 26th birthday after receiving one sky dive for his gift. He was pulled into the extreme sport after experiencing his first jump. As an employee, Phil experienced a traumatic accident.

“It was my 161st jump and I wasn’t experienced enough to do what I tried. The landing was tight, the winds were high and I made mistakes,” Phil said.

The accident resulted in the breaking of both femur bones as well as broken ankles but was fortunately not career ending; he jumped for many years after that. Phil has not sky dived in five years but his heart and support still lies at Canton Air Sports.

Currently, John is an employee of the company. In the summer months, he takes photographs and videos of the jumpers landing on the ground. Although he cannot currently jump due to his age, he plans to get a license in order to jump solo in the future.

“I want to get my AFF (accelerated free fall) license so that I can jump alone,” John said. “I wouldn’t want skydiving to be a career but it will definitely be a hobby as I get older.”

According to both John and his father, skydiving is something that everyone should try at least once. Although they realize that people fear the mere thought of jumping out of a plane, statistics show that one has a better chance of dying in a car accident than in an accident involving skydiving.

“I’ve seen all kinds of people jump- teachers, electricians, business owners- they all want to cross something off of their bucket list but realize they really enjoyed what they did,” John said.

The Mihai’s also agree that although skydiving is very enjoyable, it is a sport that deserves respect and precautions need to be taken.

“Stupid people shouldn’t sky dive. Respect needs to be given in regards to safety,” Phil said.

[Updated Aug. 7, 2017: This article has been reformatted for consistency.]