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Jumpers Remember Ryan Risberg At Spaceland–Dallas

Five Minute Call | September 2018
Saturday, September 1, 2018

There were lots of smiles and lots of tears the weekend of July 14-15 at Skydive Spaceland–Dallas in Whitewright, Texas, as friends, family and skydivers from across the country came to pay their last respects to Ryan Risberg, D-22873, an amazing personality who passed away in June. Risberg was a well-known organizer who enjoyed all disciplines of skydiving and tunnel flying. Friend Brandon Chouinard described Risberg this way: “Ryan lived more in half a lifetime than most people could in 10 lifetimes. He followed his dreams and his passions. He lived without fear and didn’t let anything stand in the way of achieving what he wanted. He traveled the world organizing and coaching (both sky and tunnel). He organized and participated in many national and world records. Ryan loved nature and exploring new places. He was a very experienced carpenter and photographer, among various other talents. He had natural abilities and could pick up new skills at an impressive speed. He seldom stayed in one place for very long. Everywhere he went he made friends.” Those friends and Risberg’s family hosted a traditional memorial service in the town of Richardson, Texas, on Saturday and then gathered at the drop zone for a series of memorial ash dives on Sunday.

The first memorial jump was a large angle jump featuring a nearly full Twin Otter load of jumpers from all over the country. The jumpers—with one trailing smoke so friends and family on the ground could follow their progress—flew on their backs with the leader on his belly. When the formation completed, the leader turned to his back to release Risberg’s ashes, making him the leader on his final angle jump. However, the ashes wouldn’t release from the pouch. When the group landed, everyone decided that Risberg—in his joking way—simply wanted to go on one more angle jump. The group went up again, and the jump went perfectly. Risberg’s family and friends cheered and applauded on the ground as they watched the puff of ashes and the stream of smoke slowly fade as the wind carried them into the distance.

The next jump was a no-jumpsuit 10-way “hog flop,” a favorite jump of Risberg’s in which everyone formed a star on their bellies, released, did a backflip, reformed and stayed linked while transitioning to a sit.  The leader released Risberg’s ashes immediately before the backflip.

The third and final jump was a canopy flock with all of the jumpers flying Performance Designs Valkyries, Risberg’s favorite canopy. The leader flew center with two jumpers flying smoke on either side followed by a camera flyer. The leader released the ashes once the group neared the drop zone and then spiraled down in formation with the flanking jumpers.

Because Risberg had found a way to fly in flip-flops (attaching a rubber band to the thong and wrapping the end around his big toe), the organizers created flip-flop and #livelikeRR symbols, which they put on T-shirts for the event. It was a weekend filled with laughter, tears and amazing memories. Risberg’s family was grateful that his friends helped them honor his memory in a way that he would have wanted. His memory will live on in the lives that he touched around the world.

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