It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s the Bulldog Blitz!
The skydiving team of three has been thrilling crowds at home football games and other Valley events since 2015.
“Skydiving is so incredibly empowering,” said Sarah Gilbert, Fresno State alumna, Blitz jumper and owner of Skydive Madera. “When you go up in a plane and deliberately step outside of that door, you’re fighting against every instinct that your brain is telling you; but then you just do it, and when you get to the ground, you’re like, ‘If I can do that, I can do almost anything.’”
During performances, the team jumps from a Cessna 182 Skylane traveling at 90 mph, 5,500 feet above the ground. For the first 45 seconds of freefall, the jumpers descend at roughly 120 mph, Gilbert said.
Despite these speeds, the jumpers all agree that the sport can be relaxing.
“Skydiving is actually very therapeutic,” said Fresno State alum and Blitz member Brandy Robertson. “Throughout the day my mind is focused on so many different things, but when I’m leaving the plane, I’m not thinking about any of that.
Gilbert, who has been skydiving since she was 16 years old, said she finds the feeling of flying comparable to the weightlessness felt on certain carnival rides.
Gilbert, Robertson and Luke Breshears, the newest member of the Blitz, are all certified skydiving instructors and offer lessons at Skydive Madera.
Tandem jumps, where one is hooked to an instructor, are $195 per session, while accelerated free fall lessons, where one has their own parachute, cost $295 per session.
“If anybody is thinking about going skydiving, you should really just go for it,” Gilbert said. “Don’t wait any longer. Live life in the moment. Make it happen for yourself. You won’t regret it.”
The team is managed by MaryAnn Boling and her husband Chris. Boling says that as an alumna she is proud to carry Bulldog pride across the Valley.
“The skydiving community is really tight-knit, and we’re all like family,” Boling said. “It’s such a blessing to be able to do something as cool as this and represent Fresno State at the same time.”
The pair also own the Fresno State Blimp, one of roughly 25 blimps in the world. This big red blimp led to the conversations that started the Bulldog Blitz.
“In the aviation world we met some female skydivers that wanted to be on a team,” Boling said. “When we approached Fresno State, their jaws dropped to the ground because they had just done a survey of the alumni, and the top thing that they had asked for was skydiving.”
The Blitz will be at Buchanan High School’s playoff game this Friday Nov. 19, and plan to participate in future Bulldog and Fresno Grizzlies sporting events.