Ready, set, jump: 509th CES Airman’s skydiving passion

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Taylor Phifer
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Imagine flying in a small and tightly-packed plane 14,000 feet in the sky and hearing 1-2-3, jump! Without thinking, you’re suddenly free falling, feeling the wind hit your skin and getting a rush of adrenaline through your entire body. You pull the parachute open and are maneuvering yourself down to the ground. Carefully basing your movements on the wind direction and speed to ensure you land correctly.

This is something U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Anish Chauhan, a water and fuels systems management journeyman assigned to the 509th Civil Engineer Squadron, frequently experiences when he spends his free time skydiving.

“It all started because I wanted to do something exciting, but now it has become a part of my life,” said Chauhan. “Whenever I’m having a bad day, I find myself thinking about how much fun I’d be having if I was in the air. It’s a feeling like nothing else. After my first jump, skydiving became a passion of mine.”

Chauhan started skydiving as a way to have fun and try something new. Once he experienced it for the first time it was something he fell in love with and he knew he wanted to work his way up to a solo jump.

“My first ever jump was back in 2012, which was a tandem jump, with an instructor strapped to my back,” said Chauhan. “Although it was a little awkward to have someone else strapped to me, it was a really great experience that had me craving that rush and feeling of serenity again.

My first solo jump was a totally different experience. It all started with an eight-hour night shift at the water plant. Following work, I had to drive to Kansas City, Missouri, for a three-hour skydiving class. After learning the basic and emergency skydiving procedures, I geared up and was ready to go. As we flew to our jumping altitude the nerves really started to kick in, I felt butterflies in my stomach and my heart was pounding through my chest. Finally, I jumped out of the plane at 14,000 feet with two instructors holding straps on my gear. It’s almost a blur now, all I remember from that jump was the uncontrollable spins and sudden jerks once I deployed my parachute.”

After his first solo jump, Chauhan said he loved the excitement of skydiving and knew he wanted to do more and continue learning, so he decided to work toward becoming a skydiving instructor.

“As a beginner, I still get anxious every time I get on the plane,” said Chauhan. “Normally, I’m the second or third one to jump out and my heart still beats fast when I start to see people jumping.

Although the nerves are still there, I think I’ve overcome the fear of falling. Now as a solo skydiver, I have more time to try maneuvers when I’m free falling. I jump out of a plane at about 14,000 feet and don’t open my parachute until I’m around 4,500 feet. So that gives me a couple of minutes before the chute opens to practice maneuvers.”

Chauhan is an avid adventurer, along with skydiving he also rock climbs and hikes, in May 2017, he hiked up to the South Base Camp of Mount Everest at an altitude of 17,568 feet.

He said, like rock climbing and hiking, he started skydiving because he wanted a new thrilling adventure, but grew to really appreciate the experience that every jump brings him.

“It’s like going on a drive to clear your mind, when I’m skydiving I find a sense of peace,” said Chauhan. “Even though I’m falling usually around 120 mph, I have total control over my body up there and all the movements that I make. I can position my arms, legs and body in different ways to make different maneuvers. That’s what I like most about solo skydiving because what comes next is completely up to me.”

After 35 jumps, Chauhan plans on taking it even further and working towards becoming a skydiving instructor, which requires a minimum of 200 jumps.

“If I get out of the military, I’d like to go back to my home in Nepal and open a skydiving business,” said Chauhan. “Skydiving is not a home sport in Nepal. The businesses hire skydivers from other parts of the world which can get really expensive and unaffordable for the majority of the people. I would also like to be the first or one of the very few Nepal-born licensed skydivers.”

Chauhan’s dream of becoming an instructor will allow him to encourage and teach others to skydive and experience the once-in-a-lifetime feeling that skydiving has brought him. Whether it’s an extreme sport like skydiving, or something more calm and relaxing like yoga, Chauhan hopes everyone can find something in life that they love to do.