BOULDER, Colo. – For most people, the idea of jumping out of a plane at 12,000 feet and hurtling toward the earth at 120 miles per hour probably doesn’t sound appealing.
But for the men and women who make up the Mile-Hi SkyDiving Demo Team that will bring the flags into Folsom Field at the end of the BolderBOULDER on Memorial Day, there is nothing else they would rather do.
“You can hear the crowd screaming when you’re coming into the stadium,” Team leader Gary Mancuso told Katie LaSalle before a recent jump. “At about a thousand feet above the ground you can actually hear and feel the energy.”
Mancuso has been part of the team for about a decade, but the tradition actually started at the BolderBOULDER back in 1992. While you may have seen the team jump into Mile High Stadium and other venues, jumping into Folsom Field on Memorial Day is quite a bit more challenging.
“The thing about the stadium is there is field houses all the way around on three sides,” Mancuso explained. “We have one side to come in. We have field goal wires on one end. We have a scoreboard and we don’t get the full football field to jump into. Now it’s about the size of two volleyball fields with people all the way around it."
Seven jumpers make the plunge into the field every year. They carry flags representing the five branches of the military, the POW flag and the American flag, which is carried by Mancuso.
“I know what that means to me and the respect that I give that flag and the people who have served their country in the past and presently to allow us this opportunity,” Mancuso said. “I never take that for granted.”
Denver7’s Katie LaSalle and Dominick Lee jumped with the team while doing research for the story. It was the second skydive for both employees, but Katie says she may have been more nervous this time than on her first jump.
Mancuso says most people are nervous until they are actually out of the plane and on their way back down to the earth.
”Those first few seconds, that’s when a lot of people just have that wide open mouth and are all like, ‘Oh my gosh,’” he said. “Usually what we see after that is 1-2 seconds, the grin comes on your face.”