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David Arneberg describes his first-ever skydive as “a solo freefall jump.”

“I absolutely loved it,” the Chippewa Falls native remembered.

Arneberg is one of three brothers – all graduates of Chippewa Falls Senior High School and all attendees of the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. – to join Wings of Blue, the Air Force skydiving team.

But Arneberg won big last week in a different category: Along with three teammates, he took home a gold medal in the four-way open formation skydiving event at the U.S. Parachute Association National Collegiate Parachuting Championships in Lake Wales, Fla.

Formation skydiving not only requires a steel backbone, but a range of aerial gymnastics. The team leaps from an aircraft over two miles above the ground, then performs “geometric formations in freefall before opening their parachutes,” a U.S. Parachute Association press release said.

“We’ve been jumping together (for) a little less than two years,” Arneberg said, in a phone interview with the Herald, of his award-winning teammates and fellow academy members Chandler Beachy, Ryan Silva and Joseph Wilde. “We’ve been training together … (using) roller carts; you lay down on your stomach and practice the different formations.” The group often travels, jumping at locations across the country, he said.

His interest began after that first solo jump. Arneberg trained for a year, “spent a summer learning how to teach the same class I was in the summer before,” and eventually joined Wings of Blue. He’s following in the footsteps of his brothers Ben Arneberg, a 2012 academy graduate and Jasper Arneberg, a 2016 graduate. David Arneberg’s father, Tom Arneberg, is also a longtime former Herald community columnist.

David Arneberg attributes his background in Chippewa Falls to his success at the academy and on the team. “All the great teachers and faculty (at the Chippewa Falls Middle School and Chi-Hi) let me build a foundation of … good leadership skills. I think that Midwest work ethic has helped me,” he said.

A systems engineering major, he expects to graduate in 2018 and enter pilot training at Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio, Texas.

“Thanks to everyone for the support, teammates, coaches … how much work they’ve put into this,” he said.

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Chippewa Herald reporter

Sarah Seifert reports for the Chippewa Herald. Contact her with tips or story ideas at 715-738-1608 or at sarah.seifert@lee.net.

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