A Bristol student at the University of Connecticut is sporting two gold medals in collegiate skydiving.
Douglas Hendrix, 20, a junior at the Storrs university, and his UConn team won a gold in 6-man formation in the 2014 National Collegiate Parachuting Championships sponsored by the U.S. Parachute Association. Hendrix also won an individual gold for sport accuracy and a bronze medal for 4-way formation.
"You aim for a target area and get as close as possible," said Hendrix of the accuracy competition.
His team also set a Florida state collegiate skydiving record at the Florida Skydiving Center in Lake Wales. Click here to see a videoof the team at the national championships. Hendrix is in the inner circle in the "star" formation to the left of the teammate in the while helmet and with the teammate in a baby blue helmet grabbing his legs.
Hendrix and his teammates competed as the “Mo’ Budget, Mo’ Problems’ team.
The team leaped from a plane more than 14,000 feet up and then raced against the clock to form certain geometric formations while free falling for about 60 seconds. The state collegiate skydiving record came when the team built a formation in 8.65 seconds.
Hendrix has been skydiving only for about 18 months. He said he always wanted to try a tandem skydive and the opportunity presented itself at an airport in nearby Ellington, Conn., for a discount price.
"Once I hit the ground, I knew I had to do it again," Hendrix said.
He enrolled in a class to get ground school training, got his license and soon was part of the UConn team.
"We have a coach, but the amount of commitment is totally up to you," he said.
Hendrix said he jumps just about every other weekend at the Ellington airport from April to the end of October -- the skydiving season. He and his teammates also travel once a month to Nashua, NH, to SkyVenture, a vertical wind tunnel, to practice.
"It simulates a free fall," he said. "You just step in. It's kind of like a batting cage for skydivers."
More than 75 skydivers from across the U.S. competed over the winter break at the national championships. The teams competed in four disciplines: Formation Skydiving, Vertical Formation Skydiving, Sport Accuracy and Classic Accuracy.
Hendrix, a son of Keith and Ellen Hendrix, is majoring in materials science and engineering.