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November 12, 2013 at 3:18 PM

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Veterans soar at iFLY


ERIKA SCHULTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Juan Castellanos, 34, finishes his session at iFLY Indoor Skydiving Monday, Nov. 11, in Tukwila. For Veterans Day, the Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit dedicated to honoring and empowering service members, partnered with iFLY to give veterans an experience in flying. "I haven't had this much fun in a long time," said Castellanos, who served two tours in Iraq. "I don't know what I would have done if I didn't come here today. It probably would have been a sad day." Despite working as a local security guard, Castellanos is homeless and living with his wife and four children at a local hotel. While struggling with PTSD and readjusting into society, he has also struggled with employment, continuing education and mounting bills. "I never thought it would happen to me," Castellanos said. "You always hear about it happening to someone else." The Wounded Warrior Project took the group of veterans and their partners out for lunch after the indoor skydiving session.

ERIKA SCHULTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Margarita Brunke, of Olympia, rises during a session at iFLY Indoor Skydiving. "It was awesome," Brunke said. Brunke said she didn't think she would be able to skydive again after injuries from multiple army deployments.

ERIKA SCHULTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Leslie Mansour, physical health and wellness coordinator of the Wounded Warrior Project, suits up at iFLY Indoor Skydiving.

ERIKA SCHULTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Rick Power, 28, prepares to get suited up at iFLY Indoor Skydiving. "It was the most awesome," Power said, after the flight. "I loved it." Power was injured from an IED attack at the age of 18 in Iraq, and had his right leg reconstructed.

ERIKA SCHULTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Veterans and employees with the Wounded Warrior Project watch participants at iFLY Indoor Skydiving.

ERIKA SCHULTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Dave Miller, an army veteran and peer support specialist with the Department of Veteran's Affairs, reacts during a session at iFLY Indoor Skydiving. Miller suffered a traumatic brain injury in Baghdad in 2005. After the experience, he wanted to help those in the military community overcome adversity.

ERIKA SCHULTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Trisha Power, in red, reacts to watching veterans, including her husband, soar at iFLY Indoor Skydiving.

ERIKA SCHULTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Sam Powers, an Air Force veteran, rises at iFLY Indoor Skydiving. "I liked going really, really high and really, really fast," she said. Powers was wounded in Afghanistan.

ERIKA SCHULTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Juan Castellanos soars during his session at iFLY Indoor Skydiving.

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