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Bozeman local hopes to fill skydiving niche with new business

Published On: May 22 2013 07:57:44 PM MDT

"I've been jumping out of airplanes since I was 17."

Bozeman resident Mark Hollabaugh flips through photos in a scrap book, posing with the Blue Angels, making the front page of the paper for jumping out of planes.

"I managed the entire special forces, special operations military free fall school in Yuma, Arizona for two years, specifically, the basic course that certifies all branches of the military personnel," says Hollabaugh.

Hollabaugh started as a paratrooper. He became a military free fall parachutist before becoming an instructor. Now, he wants to add partner in Skydive Three Forks to the list.

"The proof is in the pudding, but I confidently can tell you, we'll offer about the best instruction that this state has ever seen," says Hollabaugh.

He has an impressive resume but Hollabaugh says Skydive Three Forks isn't about him, it's about he and his partner's state-of-the-art equipment, their professional and commercial skydiving skills and ratings and what they can offer to a Montana market he knows exists.

"A lot of people here in Montana, this area, they also skydive, surprisingly enough. They don't have an outlet to do it consistently," explains Hollabaugh.

Three years in the making, Hollabaugh says Skydive Three Forks not only fill a niche but it will also allow them to do what they love in a place they love.

"A lot of people ask, 'why do you want to open a skydive operation in Montana, the season's so short?' Well, it keeps us here. We're going to end up going elsewhere to do it," explains Hollabaugh.

Hollabaugh tells me the Cessna 182 is one of the most reliable and most used airplane in the industry. However, there are still some changes they have to make to their Cessna. The door has to be modified and the back seats taken out. The FAA then has to approve all modifications.

"I've been wanting to jump out of a plane for a while," says Montana native Ben Buford.

Buford helps to paint the Skydive Three Forks sign. It's no secret why he signed up to work.

"I can't really think of anything more exhilarating than jumping out of an airplane, except maybe with a wingsuit," says Buford.

There are a few more loose ends to tie up- waivers and paperwork, the website, logo development and tee shirts.

"My vision for what I'll be doing here is packing chutes and jumping, getting "A" license," explains Buford.

It takes 25 jumps to get the "A" license.

Buford hopes, when it's all said and done and Skydive Three Forks opens its doors, he'll be able to get the thrill he's been waiting for, like many others in the niche Hollabaugh hopes to fill.

"My vision for what I'll be doing here is packing chutes and jumping, getting "A" license," explains Buford.

It takes 25 jumps to get an "A" license.

Hollabaugh hopes to open for business June 1st.