by Billy Clouse
During a flight, most people hope for a smooth ride; the idea of falling from the sky is terrifying. But for Kevin Andrews, a sophomore aviation major from Sacramento, Calif., falling from an aircraft is just as much fun as flying one.
Five years ago, Andrews skydived for the first time when he turned 18. Since then, he’s jumped off planes, cliffs, balloons and bridges.
“I’ve always had a dream of flying since I was a kid, but the whole college thing right out of high school wasn’t for me,: he said. “I did the army for a couple years and the aviation bug still had me, so when I got out, I found what I needed to do to fly.”
Seven years after joining the army, Andrews ended up in Cedar City.
“It’s the best flight program for veterans in all honesty,” he said. “I’ve always loved Utah and it’s been one of my favorite states. It helped pushed my want to come here.”
At SUU, Andrews is studying how to fly helicopters instead of planes because he likes the freedom it gives him. Instead of going into the airline industry, he can pursue a job in firefighting, medical evacuations or search and rescue.
The aviation program gives students hands-on experience, and soon after arriving on campus, Andrews flew for the first time.
“It was really interesting finally being behind the controls of the aircraft and flying it instead of jumping out of it,” he said. “It was a freeing feeling, and it was fun and stressing at the same time because you're worrying about everything that can happen.”
Andrew Lloyd, a sophomore aviation major from Cottonwood, Ariz., had a similar experience. Instead of helicopters, Lloyd wants to fly fixed-wing aircrafts.
“My intro flight was in a Cessna 172 and It was incredible,” he said. “There was just some small clouds and it was the first time I had seen them up close and it was pretty.”
In addition to flying and studying, Andrews volunteers with Iron County Search and Rescue. He is considering pursuing a career in it after SUU.
Lloyd, on the other hand, is looking into a job in the airline industry.
“I’m looking forward to the ability to travel,” he said. “I haven’t been outside the U.S., and I want to see the world. I absolutely love flying, but it’s very expensive. This is a great way to do what I love while getting paid.”
In his free time, Andrews enjoys jumping out of planes in a wingsuit. Last year, he helped break the state records in Texas and Florida for the most people in a single formation at one time.
He said that formations are fun, but they’re different than regular group jumps.
“The records are a whole different beast because there’s no shenanigans,” Andrews said. “They are a lot more strict and regulated and they’re not as thrilling, but more of an accomplishment whereas normal skydiving is more fun and thrilling. This one is just a different type (of fun) because you’re setting yourself towards a goal and your whole group achieving it makes it fun.”
Although he has lost friends in skydiving accidents, Andrews still enjoys the activity.
“With skydiving, my favorite part is the brotherhood and the fun,” he said. “It’s a small community, so you develop really strong bonds with all the people you jump with. You make friendships with people across the country and the world.”
Both Andrews and Lloyd said that studying on the ground is the most difficult part of flying.
“The sheer amount of information and all the little things you need to know about actually flying, airspaces and regulations is tough,” Lloyd said. “ Keeping all that information in your head and taking it in your plane is difficult.”
The two also agreed on the best part of flying.
“I love getting a new perspective on the world,” Lloyd said. “I lived in Cottonwood for nine years and I never really knew the city until after I flew over it. I saw it in a completely different way from then on.”