Talking to Jaime Barajas is kind of like talking to a Hollywood action star — he seamlessly transitions from his 2,300 skydives to climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro to riding motorcycles across Central America. Throw in a villain and a sexy Bond girl and you’ve got one heck of a script.
“I think the secret to youth is having no fear,” he smiles.
Fear isn’t a part of his lexicon. He attacks adventure. But, despite his affinity for all things extreme, does not consider himself an adrenaline junkie.
“It gives me a lot of serenity, it’s relaxing,” the Preston Hollow neighbor says of jumping out of a plane from 14,500 feet. “You’re stressed out from your week at work but you step in the plane and you’re focused.”
Barajas credits the 1993 surfer/bank heist cult film “Point Break” with inspiring his fascination with plummeting through the air at up to 240 mph with nothing but a parachute strapped to his back. If you haven’t seen it, there’s an iconic male bonding scene where the surfers-turned-bank robbers jump from a plane, forming a circle while free falling over Southern California.
Before then, he thought skydiving was only something open to military paratroopers. After seeing the movie, he was obsessed. His first jump was in his native Colombia, and it was like a fish to water — Barajas was meant to fly.
“I think the first time I did it, I did three jumps in one day,” he says.
Soon thereafter he moved to Texas to attend the Art Institute of Dallas, earning a degree that got him a job oddly suited for his high-adrenaline lifestyle: designing remote control cars for Plano-based Traxxas. Meanwhile, his fascination with skydiving continued to grow. He kept jumping, learning to work with teams of up to 40 other people to create complex formations while rocketing through the sky, before each spins away to deploy his own chute. He was living the “Point Break” dream — sans the criminal activity.
“It really absorbs you,” he says. “All you want to do is go jump.”
Barajas is a regular at Skydive Spaceland Dallas, located north of the city in Whitewright, Texas. Although the new runway that allows for larger aircrafts and higher altitude jumps helps, he says it’s the warm community that keeps him coming back.
“It is so welcoming,” he says. “No matter who you are, you fit in there.”
He’s met most of his best friends through his hobby, as well as his wife. Barajas trained her as she sought the license that allows skydivers to jump unassisted.
He says he’s never had a truly terrifying experience when skydiving, although he has had to rely on his reserve parachute on five separate occasions. In each case, his primary chute got tangled, something that can happen if the lines cross upon deployment. It’s really no big deal, he says dismissively, you just pull the cut-away line to detach it, then release the reserve chute.
“That’s what we train for, you have to develop that muscle memory,” he says while miming the motions. “When things go wrong, it’s really quick but it gives you enough time to make a decision.”
He adds that it’s riskier to drive to the drop zone than to jump, considering the statistics on automobile accidents versus skydiving accidents. “It’s a calculated risk, but the odds are on your side,” he says.
Barajas also is a high-altitude climber, who has been to base camp on Everest; Aconcagua, the highest peak in the Western Hemisphere; Mount Elbrus in Russia; and Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. He’s an adventurer at his core, a love sparked when he was a youth in Boy Scouts.
“We would always go exploring,” he says.
It’s a side of him he’ll never relinquish, even though he’s had to slow down this year as a new father to a 10-month-old son. “I told my wife I’m never giving up skydiving,” he says. “I think giving up the adventurous side of my life would be like giving up who I am.”