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Jack Broadhead: Repping Georgia Tech and the Boro from 14,000 feet

Five years after his first tandem-skydiving jump, Jack Broadhead has found community by helping to rebuild the skydiving team at Georgia Tech and competing at national championships. Having earned his instructor rating, pilot's license and soon his Master's degree, Broadhead thanks the thrilling hobby for making him who he is today. Read more on how this Statesboro High School graduate is reaching new heights.
Jack Broadhead jumping from an airplane - Picture by Romulo Rangel

​Statesboro native Jack Broadhead says he fell into the skydiving world when an interest in airplanes led him to scoring his first job as a parachute packer at “The Jumping Place” in Statesboro.

Just 17 at the time, he wasn’t old enough to participate in the adventure himself, but he grew familiar with the equipment while packing the gear for others, and was amazed by the safety features.

“The fabric is special and everything is over-built,” said Broadhead. “Even if you break a line or have a tear in the fabric, it still usually works out just fine; the equipment just sort of works.”

Broadhead says watching hundreds of jumps without any major malfunctions is what convinced him to take the leap himself when he turned 18. “I don’t know if I took any real risks before … that was like the first big, crazy thing I ever did,” he said.

Now 23 years old, Broadhead has completed more than 400 jumps.

“My favorite part is the exit, just half a second of your feet inside the airplane and then the rest of you is rolling out,” he said. He described the feeling of floating through the air in free fall: “There's not like a roller coaster stomach drop feeling; you're moving forward, and you just slowly start to descend down.”

He says skydiving has introduced him to many of his close friends and has heavily influenced his experience while attending the Georgia Institute of Technology. Broadhead is a licensed pilot and has been a part of the Flying Club at Tech, taking flight almost weekly while he was pursuing his undergrad degree. 

When he first got to Tech, he was excited to join the school’s skydiving club, a program which he said had actually influenced his decision to attend the university. But he soon discovered that the club had died out the year before, with the former members graduating. 

After searching but coming to many dead ends, he connected with a previous member who helped him restart the club. Broadhead helped muscle the group back into existence, and the club now boasts around 10 licensed members that consistently participate in jumps -- and a few more hopeful trainees.

Broadhead helped the Georgia Tech Experimental Rocketry club test out parachute deployment. In this picture he's holding the nose of the rocket - Picture by Nick Guag

Since restarting the student organization, he’s been able to compete annually at the National Collegiate Parachuting Competition, teaming up with other college students and participating in categories like sport accuracy landing, formation skydiving, and six-way speed.

He has also received his static line instructor rating and been able to teach three members of the club the skills that they need to receive their licenses.

“It's been really rewarding to sort of give back and help people out,” he said.

This spring, Broadhead will be graduating with a Master’s in electrical engineering and is moving to Kansas to start working full time. With a few dropzones in the area, he is hoping to reach the required 500 jumps and earn his Accelerated Free Fall instructor rating, as well as pro-ratings that would allow him to drop into stadiums in front of big crowds.

Broadhead says it was through connecting with the skydiving community, and the help of those like the late Ms. Catherine Kloess, that he has had the opportunity to get so much experience in piloting, skydiving, and in life. 

“I was really shy before I got into that world, and it really snapped me out of it,” he said.

Though his next step in skydiving isn’t certain, with the encouragement of the community, and the support of his family, Broadhead is determined to keep reaching for the clouds… then jumping.