Name: Chattanooga Skydiving Co.
Location: Marion County Airport, 300 Airport Road, Jasper, Tenn.
Products/services: Tandem skydiving jumps, lessons, videos and photos for $199 a session
Age: Opened in March
Startup investment: $100,000, including the airplane and skydiving gear
Business beginnings: Owner Justin Silvia became passionate about the sport growing up around his father’s skydiving business. He passed that passion on to his two sons, who both are skydiving instructors.
Learning to skydive: Silvia and his six-person staff train jumpers on the ground, then offer instruction during tandem jumps. Most jumpers come only once, but anyone who catches the skydiving bug can go back and, after eight total lessons, start solo jumps. “Every jump is a teaching experience,” Silvia said.
Strong start: Between 30 and 50 customers have come in each week since Silvia opened his business. He’s drawn tourists from all over the region, including Nashville, Knoxville, Birmingham, Ala., and Atlanta.
Skydiving experience: Silvia compares the free-fall feeling of skydiving to floating in a swimming pool. When jumpers are up in the sky, they don’t pass anything to indicate they’re hurdling to the ground at 120 miles-per-hour. He said the experience can be anything from exciting to peaceful. “When you come out to skydive, that’s all you’re thinking about,” he said. “You’re not worried about your bills or your business. All that stuff goes out the window with you.”