It’s About Joy and Freedom, Living in the Moment
ant to overcome and experience extreme fear? When the door opens at 14K, I promise you, your heart stops, and you start to think, ‘Why in the heck am I doing this?’ and ‘What the heck was I thinking?’ And then you leap! And for about 45 to 60 seconds, nothing else matters. It’s you and the sky, and you’re actually flying. As your heart begins beating again, you pull your pilot chute and feel a jolt. You’re back in control, but you’re not done yet! Now you’ve got to steer the big chute back to the ground safely. The cool thing is you’re just riding up about 3,000 feet and getting some of the best views of the earth.”
The above quote is by 41-year-old Norman resident Loren Coburn, describing his thoughts as he exits a plane from a height of 10,000 to 14,000 feet above the ground.
Coburn got started in the extreme sport of skydiving four years ago when his son, also named Loren, at age 15 shared his desire to skydive.
“I can remember the times growing up when I was told ‘no,’ that I couldn’t do something because it was too dangerous … and that sucked. But I’m just not that style of parent,” Coburn says. “If my children want to accomplish something, they know they just need to ask. But when they do, it’s theirs’ to own. The funny thing is, when Loren said that to me, I knew from his expression that there wasn’t any quit in him, that he wouldn’t back out when the time came. And that he would have the opportunity to overcome something at such a young age that not many could even fathom.
“Our first jump was on July 27, 2013, at the Oklahoma Skydiving Center in Cushing,” Coburn recalls. “Loren did the research, and we picked a day and went. It was one of the most exciting–and scariest–days of our lives.” (Coburn’s wife, Evi, a U.S. Army veteran, accompanied them on that first visit, but she didn’t stay with it.)
After that first experience, father and son were hooked.
“It’s not as easy as the videos make it seem,” Coburn relates. “It’s one of the most extreme sports in the world! It also requires you to control yourself under the most extreme amount of pressure. The sport requires fast reaction times and the ability to handle pressure with poise.”
Both are now experienced skydivers, as well as members of the U.S. Parachute Association. The older Coburn now has 176 successful jumps behind him. On the 177th, he was less fortunate, breaking a fibula upon landing and sidelining him from jumping for five weeks.
Son Loren has enjoyed 200 successful jumps, has earned a coach rating, and is now teaching others to skydive at Oklahoma Skydiving Center.
Coburn’s reasons for continuing to jump are many and complex, and go far beyond just the adrenaline rush it affords.
“It’s hard to explain,” he says. “Skydiving is like an alternative lifestyle. It’s quiet. It’s about you and the sky. I don’t need to be perfect or to compete. You’re not thinking about the business and the reality of life. You’re just flying free for the 60 or so seconds that you’re falling, and nothing else matters at that moment.
Laughing, he adds, “It’s beyond cool to say that I’m a skydiver; it’s always a great way to get people to talk to you.”
Coburn, a broker and owner of RE/MAX Elite in Norman, believes skydiving has benefitted him in both his career and life.
“Once you’ve faced fear head on, you’ve won. Is there really anything you can’t do? Not for me. I will talk to anyone, speak up when needed and handle pressure with a poise that I never had when I was younger. I have always been afraid to speak in front of people. I would never have thought that I could lead an organization, as I’m currently doing now as the president of the MLSOK in Oklahoma City.
“Skydiving has helped me know that I can do anything and overcome anything life throws at me. I’m a better leader because of some of the people in my life and skydiving.”
“There are probably hundreds of reasons I can give you for why I skydive, but the short answer is there’s nothing that compares to that feeling of freedom you get when you jump out of a plane,” Coburn’s son adds. “Words can’t really describe it, but that feeling and view never gets old, and every jump is different and unique.”
The 19-year-old calls the initial jump his favorite part of the entire experience.
“It’s so real and amazing just to think that I am getting to jump out of a plane, and it’s even better when your friends are there jumping with you and you get to see the smiles on their faces. It’s always scary while riding up in the plane, thinking of what you’re about to do, but as soon as you let go of the airplane, somehow all that fear instantly turns into joy and the ultimate feeling of freedom.”
On a more reflective note, the junior Coburn, who hopes to make skydiving a vocation as well as avocation, adds that skydiving has helped him put his life into perspective, to understand “how tiny humans are and how big and amazing our world really is,” and how to live in the moment.
Both men have set goals of performing HALO jumping, a military-style, high-altitude, parachute jump, and BASE jumping, which involves parachuting or wingsuit flying from a fixed structure or cliff. They also hope to go skydiving in Dubai and across the world. Coburn’s son, who also enjoys skydiving with his girlfriend, Rachel, says one of his biggest dreams is to skydive under the Northern Lights.