When a man willingly jumps from 24 miles above the Earth and lives, there is going to be some buzz. On the heels of Austrian Felix Baumgartner's record-setting "supersonic" skydive from the stratosphere last Sunday, the skydiving community in Maryland is thrilled with what the accomplishment could mean for the sport's future.
"I think everyone in our sport is enthusiastic about it," said Josh Dolan, the operations manager for the Ocean City Skydiving Center. "Everyone is really excited."
Baumgartner's dive garnered close to eight million views on YouTube as they watched him become the first man to break the sound barrier without the use of a spacecraft or a jet plane. According to the International Federation of Sports Aviation, the Austrian reached a top speed of 833.9 mph, which equates to about Mach 1.24.
"I was kind of putting myself there," said Lance Linton, owner of Maryland Skydive and a diver since 1999. "It must have been pretty intense."
"I had a permanent smile on my face," said Dolan, who watched with his 8-year old son Chase and wife Jeanice, a skydiver herself with 1,000 jumps.
Both men agreed that in the skydiving community there was a sense of pride as a result of Baumgartner's feat.
"I think everyone did in the industry," said Dolan, a man with about 10,000 skydives.
But perhaps the biggest result of the historic skydive will be the increased interest in the sport by the general public. While Dolan points out the timing wasn't that great with the winter season right around the corner, he insists there will still be an impact.
"Some of my friends have already been getting an increase in phone activity asking about skydiving. … Some have been jokingly asking to do space jumps," Dolan said with a laugh. "People want to try skydiving to step out onto the edge."
This notion that a rise in popularity is on the horizon was summed up that Sunday night when Linton went to dinner at a local sports bar. To his surprise, and later excitement, the topic of discussion by the patrons wasn't the Ravens or football in general. It was skydiving.
"As one of my coworkers said, 'It was a good day to be a skydiver,'" Linton said.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun