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Meet Upper Milford's World Skydiving Champ, Curt Bartholomew

Emmaus High School graduate and Zionsville native, Curt Bartholomew explains what it took to win the 2012 Skydiving World Championship title in Dubai.

Name:  Curt Bartholomew 
 
Where do you live?  Deland, Fla.
 
What is your connection to Emmaus/Upper Milford? 

"I graduated from Emmaus High School in 2004 and grew up in the Upper Milford area (Zionsville)."
 
Tell us about your recent accomplishment. 

"I represented the United States in the recent Skydiving World Championships in Dubai in the discipline of Canopy Piloting, more commonly known as Swooping. I was one of only eight athletes from the United States to attend in our discipline of skydiving. There were over 130 competitors from around the world in our discipline, each country could only send eight athletes. 

How did you become interested in skydiving? How old were you? 

"I started jumping while I was going to college at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to become a pilot. My tail-wheel flight instructor was a jump pilot, and I had lessons in the summer up in Pennsylvania in between jump loads. He ended up convincing me to go for an observer ride and I sat right next to the door in a King Air. After watching everyone exit I thought it was the coolest thing I had ever seen and started jumping the next week. I was 20 years old, and now I am now based out of Skydive Deland in Deland, Fla.

Have you had any scary experiences?

"Well, I have had to cut my main parachute away while it was malfunctioning about nine times. With the very small high performance canopies sometimes they spin so fast I pull so many G’s that I cannot breath. I usually try to fix the problem for about 10 seconds when this happens so that I don’t black out. 

"I have also had some bad crashes, as one would expect when learning to do high performance landings. It is similar to motorcycle racing and those riders crashing. One time, I was proximity swooping some trees and I clipped one. It collapsed half of my canopy. I managed to keep it flying, but it turned me into the tree line and I hit a tree trunk going about 50 mph directly with my body.  Luckily I only broke a rib and tore a hamstring and was able to go on another jump 30 minutes later."
 
You’ve traveled many places to go skydiving, which is your favorite?

"My favorite place would be Hungary. It was the first jump right after I had gotten engaged to my fiancé while in Budapest. Her family is originally from Hungary so it made it very special. She is also a Canopy Pilot, and we went to the dropzone and jumped out of the biggest helicopter that is available for skydiving, it fits 29 jumpers in it. That is more than most airplanes fit. The dropzone was also located right next to the biggest lake in Europe, and the sight was amazing. It was one of the best experiences to fly my parachute with the woman I was going to spend the rest of my life with at 13,000 feet above the city where her great grandparents grew up."

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