Seeing Stars – The Thrill of Skydiving Attracts Famous Faces

July 14, 2010

FREDERICKSBURG, Va., July 14 /PRNewswire/ — On screen and off, celebrities are taking flight, but not in any private jet. Instead, Shania Twain, Hilary Swank and Chuck Norris are just a few of the celebrities who are going up–and jumping out.

According to the United States Parachute Association (USPA), NASCAR driver Brian Vickers and country music star Craig Morgan are the most recent celebrities to complete student training and earn skydiving licenses.

Even ex-President George H.W. Bush celebrated his 85th birthday in June 2009 by making a historic tandem jump–his sixth skydive since leaving the presidency.

Other famous faces to trade their tuxes and gowns for jumpsuits include actors Drew Barrymore, Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Nicole Kidman, Sean Penn, Keanu Reeves, Wesley Snipes, Orlando Bloom, Bill Murray, Harry Hamlin, Amber Tamlin, Jennifer Garner and “90210″ star Trevor Donovan (watch video of his jump); sports stars Tony Hawk and Andy Roddick; NASCAR driver Tony Stewart; supermodels Giselle Bunchen, Petra Nemcova and Alessandra Ambrosio; and TV’s Rachael Ray.

One of skydiving’s most famous fans was Patrick Swayze. His aerial adventures with Keanu Reaves in the 1991 movie “Point Break” brought flocks of first-time skydivers to drop zones nationwide.

So why the celebrity popularity in this adrenaline-pumping sport?

“Celebrities make their first jumps for different reasons–the thrill, life affirmation, escape,” says Dan Brodsky-Chenfeld, a world champion skydiver and coach. “But they continue because they get turned on to flying.”

USPA reports that about 400,000 first-timers, along with USPA’s 32,000-plus members, made nearly 3 million jumps in 2009. Skydiving is a life-changing sport, and after just one jump, it’s easy to get hooked.

A skydiving center outside of L.A. is where big studios often turn to film high-flying scenes. “The Bucket List,” featuring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, was just one of many movies filmed there. Since that movie’s release in 2007, thousands of people have added skydiving to their own bucket lists.

“The past few years have been big for us,” says Scott Smith, stuntman and the drop zone’s manager. “We’ve worked on ‘Ironman,’ ‘The Jane Austen Book Club,’ ‘CSI,’ ‘America’s Next Top Model,’ cable shows and countless commercials.”

Bear Grylls, seasoned adventurer and host of Discovery Channel’s hit show “Man vs. Wild,” perhaps put it best when he explained why he skydives: “It’s all about that moment where you leave the plane or helicopter … It’s a moment of pure exhilaration, freefalling at 120 mph, being on top of the world … How lucky we are to be able to live like that!”

The public is invited to see hundreds of skydiving superstars in action September 10-24 at the 2010 USPA National Skydiving Championships at Skydive Chicago in Ottawa, Illinois. The championships are free and open to the public.

To find a skydiving center near you, visit USPA’s Drop Zone Directory at http://www.uspa.org/FindaDZ/GroupMemberListbyState.aspx, or call 1-800-371-USPA.

    Robert Arends, 619-295-7140

SOURCE United States Parachute Association

Source: newswire

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