Whidbey Island biz offers new perspective

Kevin Kepler, a West Seattle resident, and Chip Laplante, from Bellingham, skydive over Oak Harbor. A drop zone has opened at AJ Eisenberg Airport. - Photo by Brian Wright
Kevin Kepler, a West Seattle resident, and Chip Laplante, from Bellingham, skydive over Oak Harbor. A drop zone has opened at AJ Eisenberg Airport.
— image credit: Photo by Brian Wright

Business on North Whidbey is reaching new heights this month with the addition of a skydiving drop zone.

Long-time Kirkland skydiver Rick Mangan partnered with local businessman Jeremey Jackson to open Jet City Skydiving Center at Oak Harbor Airport, formally known as AJ Eisenberg Airport.

Open less than a month, the drop zone offers tandem jumps to the general public.

A tandem customer is strapped to a professional, giving him or her the chance to experience the thrill of falling through the air at about 160 mph without having to undergo formal training.

“It changes the way you look at the rest of your life,” said Mangan, a skydiver with more than 2,500 jumps under his boots. “It has a way of changing your prospective.”

Mangan, who works as an American sign language teacher at Bellevue College, has owned drop zone businesses before. Jet City was founded in 2010 in Mount Vernon but the company lost its lease and had been on the search for a new home.

Partnering up with Jackson, owner of Northwest Granite & Flooring, the team decided to open up shop in Oak Harbor. Jackson could not be reached for comment but Mangan, who owns his own plane, said it was quickly apparent that this was the right place.

On one of his first jumps over Whidbey Island, he opened up and found himself flying alongside a bald eagle. Gliding just 50 feet way, Mangan said it was a unique experience.

“In my 35 years of skydiving, I’ve never skydived with an eagle before,” said Mangan, recalling the event with an ear-to-ear grin.

Coupled with an impressive view of the island and Puget Sound, Mangan said he’s convinced this will be a drop zone customers, many likely be tourists, will gravitate to.

The company also serves privately licensed skydivers and they are stoked about the new drop zone.

“It’s awesome,” said Brian Wright, a fun-jumper from Bellingham.

Wright will be shooting video for tandem customers but also jumping with friends. He characterized the area as “perfect and beautiful.”

Chip Laplante, also of Bellingham, agreed.

“We’ve been bouncing around the Northwest for a couple of years and this is starting to feel like home,” he said.

According to Mangan, the business is open three days a week. For information call 206-351-4269.

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