To say that World Skydiving Center owner Mike Doke has an encyclopedic knowledge of the skydiving industry is an understatement. He’s a senior rigger, an instructor of instructors for the Sigma, Wings, and Strong tandem skydiving systems, a pilot and an instructor par excellence. It takes significant time and effort to accrue bona fides like that, of course. Mike started early — at the tender age of eighteen, in fact, as early as he possibly could. Luckily, he was born and raised in Athens, Georgia, just 30 minutes away from Georgia’s beautiful Skydive Monroe.
“A friend of mine made a jump and told me I had to try it,” Mike remembers. “I tried it. He was right.”
Like many super-keen skydivers, Mike racked up the jumps with passionate efficiency. After getting about five hundred jumps in his logbook, he was already working his way up through the professional ranks at Skydive Monroe, working as a camera flyer, then went over to Skydive Atlanta for a while, even though it was more than a two-hour drive from his front door, each way.
He earned his Tandem Instructor rating there at Skydive Atlanta somewhere around jump number 800, but chilly weather started to urge him south. Soon, Mike found himself moving from Georgia to Florida in order to pursue a longer skydiving season. (Like so many of us, he doesn’t like skydiving in the cold!) Mike moved to Titusville, then Jacksonville. He’s been living here for about fifteen years.
With all his accomplishments and certifications, he’d never thought seriously about becoming a drop zone owner. Then, one day, the owner of the Jacksonville skydiving center at which Mike was working as an instructor (just ten minutes from his front door!) gave him a call. He was interested in selling the place, but wanted to keep it in the dropzone’s extended “family.” He wondered if Mike was interested. Suddenly, Mike realized it was time. He accepted the challenge.
“[World Skydiving Center is] one of the more unique places I’ve been to,” Mike muses, “because as far as I know, we’re the only dropzone in the country within the city limits of a city like this. Most other places out there, like Skydive Chicago and Skydive Houston, aren’t actually in those cities. They’re usually about an hour away. On the other hand, we’re just a 15-minute drive from downtown Jacksonville. You take off and see the buildings and skyline.”
Today, Mike balances an intense schedule at the dropzone with family life. His daughter, Masyn, just turned six years old. (She’s nervous, but she dreams of jumping one day.) As busy as he is, Mike always seems to find time to spend with his customers, and they love him for it: our fearless leader’s impressive breadth of experience, obvious love of skydiving and commitment to customer experience have a tendency to make a visitor’s day. Come join us and meet Mike for yourself!