ASHLAND — AerOhio Skydiving's debut season in Ashland County is officially underway for the summer at the Ashland County Airport.
Although their original launch date in March was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, want-to-be divers and daredevils can now get their fill of thrills at one of only a handful of skydiving centers in Ohio.
After relocating their organization from Rittman, Ohio to Ashland, AerOhio has secured its position as the closest full-time skydiving center to Cleveland, Columbus and Akron. The relative proximity to these heavily-populated metro areas is projected to increase tourism in Ashland County.
Currently, AerOhio is leasing a hangar at the Ashland County Airport to store its airplane and parachutes. The long-term plan is to establish their own hangar on the property, with construction on the hangar planned to begin later this summer.
"We are open and jumping like crazy," said Sherry Butcher, business manager of AerOhio. "We've limited it some to keep the group sizes down. We're working at about 60 percent capacity."
AerOhio will require jumpers to wear masks or face coverings while inside of their hangar as well as their airplane. Masks will be taken off immediately prior to free-falling to avoid potential safety hazards.
The organization also established several hand sanitizing stations and is regularly disinfecting frequently touched surfaces and equipment.
Butcher conveyed her appreciation for the community's encouragement, noting interactions with several of the airport's neighboring farmers.
"The number of spectators from Ashland and who live close by who are coming out and sitting around and watching has been huge," said Butcher. "It's been a steady stream of cars coming in and out just to watch the parachutes land and ask questions. It's been really fun."
AerOhio also offers a training program that gives interested parties the chance to become a licensed skydiver.
Thrill-seekers can book their tandem or solo jump on AerOhio's website. You must be at least 18 years old to skydive.