All eyes to be on the skies for boogie

The daring to take to the skies during the annual Dollar Daze Couch Freak Boogie at the Fort Dodge Regional Airport from Friday through Monday.

The Couch Freak is one of the largest skydive boogies, or gatherings, held in the nation and is organzed by the Des Moines Skydivers Club based out of the Winterset-Madison County Airport. Jumping officially begins at 8 a.m. Friday and continues throughout the day each day until sunset, weather permitting.

And though the boogie is geared for skydivers, the public can sample the action themselves through tandem jumps that will be available during the weekend-long event.

“I encourage people to come out and take a jump,” said Rhonda Chambers, airport manager.

Tandem jumping is a way for people to experience the sport of parachuting even if they have no experience or training, she said. They make a jump attached to a certified and specially trained instructor. Chambers has done three tandem jumps herself and said it is a great way to enjoy the thrill of freefall and canopy flight yet remain under immediate guidance of an experienced professional.

According to information from the Des Moines Skydivers Club, costs of tandem jumps can begin at around $225 then increase as photo and video options are added.

For those less adventurous, a spectator area with bleacher seating will be provided at the drop zone to watch the aireal manuvers from the safety of the ground. Admission to the area is free though on-site concessions will be available for purchase. The airport is the best place to watch the skydivers, Chambers said, because the public viewing area is right up close to where they land.

Last year, 400 skydivers and associates participated in the boogie, Chambers said. That makes for a lot of people spilling forth from the planes passing over the north side of Fort Dodge and quite a sight for the public. Included among the aircraft that will be rolling along the tarmac filled with jumpers will be a Skyvan, two Otters, which are single-engined, short take-off and landing aircraft; a helicopter; and a balloon.