The Coolest Jobs in Hawaii
What do you daydream about when you’re at work? Surfing? Shopping? What if you could do it for a living? This month, we found 11 lucky people who get paid to do what many would do for free.
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Richard Doppelmayer thinks of his office as the whole of Oahu, from a view of 14,000 feet above. Doppelmayer is a professional skydiver at Skydive Hawaii, with more than 15,000 jumps under his parachute.
“I definitely enjoy the falling,” says Doppelmayer, who has been an instructor for 20 years. “I get more of a rush turning people on to the sport and seeing their reactions. I’m like an emotional vampire, feeding off your emotions, your fears, your enjoyment.”
Doppelmayer has done everything from teaching skydiving classes and photographing jumpers as they fall, to tandem jumping with six to eight first-time jumpers per day. “I talk to them a bit, find out where they’re from, what they’ve done, and then gear them up in a harness, take them in the airplane and throw them out.”
He became a skydiver after taking a two-for-one class with a friend and has been jumping ever since. Doppelmayer has landed on Oahu more times than any other skydiver and has been doing it barefoot for four years.
“I go to work in bathing suits and T-shirts,” he says, adding that he kite-surfs and surfs regularly after work. “As I’m flying over the North Shore of Oahu I can see where the waves are best and the crowds are least and I go there after.”
Despite losing more than 20 friends to the extreme sport, Doppelmayer is still passionate about jumping, but also doesn’t take it lightly. “It’s serious business. We have a lot of fun here but it’s definitely a sport that eats its own. You can never get complacent.”
He tells his first-time jumpers to smile and breathe. “Just remember you’re attached to me and I love myself very much,” he says. About half the people he takes up want to go again, some right away.