Jumping Out Of A Plane – Oklahoma’s Biggest Extreme Thrill
No matter how many times I've told some people about all the things there is to do in Southwest Oklahoma and throughout the rest of the state, there is still some that toss out half-witted statements like "There's nothing to do here."
There are no boring places on this earth, only boring people. Case and point, there's a parachuting place about an hour and a half Southwest of Lawton, down in the little town of Frederick.
Frederick, Oklahoma's only claim to fame might be the doppler radar array that lives there, providing meteorologists across the state a window into this season's wild weather... but there's a group of extreme enthusiasts that have a crazy habit of jumping out of airplanes, with a catch.
It's not your average run-of-the-mill parachute jumping place you'd be familiar with from watching movies like Point Break over the years, these guys are hardcore World War II enthusiasts.
Imagine you've just finished watching Band of Brothers... You start to think "I was born in the wrong decade" wishing you had a chance to serve with your own company of heroes, and the closest thing you can get to carrying out that dream is a short drive from where you're living now in SWOK...
This entire world of WWII paratrooper life exists in a WWII hangar. It stores the historical and storied planes that once flew over Europe dropping sticks of America's elite all over the place... There are period-correct barracks you'll live in while you're having this experience... You'll train, walk, talk, live, eat, work, drill, and be a WWII paratrooper. You even get to immerse yourself in the complete paratrooper life, dressing up in the proper period-correct attire, doing what you're told until you earn those jump wings.
Let your inner kid think about all this for a minute.
Critter and I were lucky enough to get a random invite out to see how it all works a few years ago and I can tell you, it's like stepping back into every WWII movie you've ever seen.
After you've completed the jump training on the ground and in their mock plane, you eventually get the chance to complete several combat jumps over the Southwest Oklahoma fields. The vintage C-47 cruises around 1500 feet at around 150mph. When your jumpmaster gives the go, you and your stick hop out and hope all that training stuck with you.
It was an amazing thing just to see with our own eyes, I can't imagine what it's like to jump.
So What's The Catch?
Well, since you asked... It's expensive, sort of... In the grand scheme of room and board for a week or two, all of the activities, a handful of flights and jumps, the price doesn't seem like they're charging enough... but they make it work. The point isn't to make a profit for the WWIIADT group, it's to have the means necessary to continually maintain and have the opportunity to do so. Savvy?
If you find like in Oklahoma a little boring, maybe this is the thing for you. While you might assume it's a young-mans game, the average age of the WWIIADT veterans is likely pushing the current retirement age. The enrolled classes are usually on the younger side, twenties and thirties. That being said, I watched a gentleman in his (probably) mid-to-upper sixties make his 50th jump out of that plane the day we were invited out to watch, and he's not even the oldest man to hold the record.
If it sounds like something you'd like to at least look into, here is the website, though they tend to be more active on their Facebook page. Every summer they host an open-hangar day where you're invited out to see how it all works. Think of it as an open-enrollment day where you can audit the class. Even if you don't enlist to become the next paratrooper, if you're a history buff or enjoy that era of American history, this is one thing you have to check out in person.
While you're in Frederick, don't miss out on one of Oklahoma's most delicious meals... The hallowed Allsups burrito.