PLATTSMOUTH -- Thirty minutes before their plane takes off at Plattsmouth Municipal Airport, the Blacksher family talks about their next reunion activity.
Mike Blacksher tells his son, Todd, that since the six family members don't see each other much, they need to make the time they are together count.
So for this reunion, they're jumping out of a plane.
Six members of the Blacksher family participated Thursday in the Redemption Boogie, an annual event for area skydivers.
Officials expect participants to make more than 2,000 jumps over the four-day fundraiser, a term skydivers use to describe their events. The Lincoln Sport Parachute Club hosts the event and a portion of the proceeds is donated to the American Cancer Society.
Mike Blacksher of Lincoln, president of the parachute club, has lost count of how many times he's jumped out of a plane. Somewhere around 2,500, he said. He started in the 1970s and hasn't stopped. His son, Nick, and daughter-in-law, Chazi, who live in Arizona, have each done more than 1,000 jumps.
But it's the first time for Mike Blacksher's other son, Todd, and daughter-in-law Jade, who are from Omaha, and grandson, Connor, 19, from Minnesota.
"We had dinner at Lazlo's one night, and Mike asked if we wanted to jump, and we just said, 'OK!'" Jade said. "This is the first time everybody has been in town together."
But now it's 20 minutes before the plane takes off, and they're getting a little nervous.
"Connor's going to fall in love with it," Chazi said.
The three first-timers are jumping tandem, each with an experienced skydiver, while Mike, Nick and Chazi are jumping by themselves, each with a camera on their helmet.
Mike has only one piece of advice for his family: "When they say go, go."
But even he gets nervous, he said.
"It's not scary, it's unusual," Mike said. "Your mind tells you 'I shouldn't be jumping out of a plane.'"
The Redemption Boogie, named a few years ago after the jumpers had aircraft problems and felt they had to "redeem themselves," allows serious skydivers to come together with new jumpers.
Five years ago at the boogie, Nick and Chazi were married on a plane by a fellow skydiver. After they said their "I dos," they jumped out of the plane.
"The club is like a big family," Chazi said. "We fight, we get along, we skydive."
Ten minutes to take off. They all get their equipment ready.
"All family reunions should be like this," Nick says as he adjusts a strap.
Five minutes. Now Chazi's nervous, but that's normal, she said. She once had to use an emergency parachute after hers was tangled.
"When Plan A doesn't work out, it gets your attention," Chazi said.
The plane's here. Three generations of the Blacksher family load into the Twin Otter.
Fifteen minutes later, six parachutes dot the sky. Mike Blacksher lands first, followed by Nick, Chazi, Todd, Jade and Connor.
Connor can't even speak. He runs toward his grandpa and hugs him, lifting him off the ground.
"It was ... wow," Connor said. "It was just crazy. I want to go again. "
The Blacksher family group hugs.
"That's something everyone should do once," Jade said.
"Or twice or three times," Todd added.
Mike just laughs.
"This is a proud moment."
Reach Paige Cornwell at 402-473-7126 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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