Carrabelle resident Mike Horan has received a coveted award from the United States Parachute Association the USPA’s Gold Medal for Meritorious Service. Each year, the association presents this prestigious honor to “outstanding Americans who, by their efforts over a period of years, have made significant contributions to the skydiving community.”

Horan began skydiving in 1963 after returning from service with the Marine Corps in Vietnam and has since amassed more than 3,200 skydives. He attended Indiana University on the G.I. Bill, obtaining an undergraduate degree in sociology and a master’s degree in clinical social work. Later, he went on to receive his PhD in higher education leadership at Florida State University.

Horan’s contributions to the sport of skydiving span more than five decades. He has been a skydiving instructor, a safety and training advisor, a competitor, a Federal Aviation Administration certified parachute rigger and a member of the USPA Board of Directors. But he is perhaps best known for his contributions toward preserving the history of the sport.

Over the years, he has authored hundreds of articles for Parachutist magazine, the sport’s premier publication. He has also authored three books related to the sport, “Index to Parachuting 1900-1975,” “Parachuting Folklore: The Evolution of Freefall” and “Index to Parachuting 1976-1980.”

For decades, Horan assembled an extensive library related to skydiving (collecting and binding every English-language skydiving magazine he could find and assembling a library of more than 250 skydiving books). The International Skydiving Museum & Hall of Fame now houses this collection. Today, Horan continues his archival activities as a trustee of the museum and a member of its Building and Exhibits Design and Curations committees. Through these efforts, he continues to preserve the history of skydiving and USPA.

USPA Executive Director Emeritus Norman Heaton presented Horan with his gold medal on Nov. 2, 2018, at the Skydiving Hall of Fame induction barbecue at Skydive City Zephyrhills, surrounded, fittingly, by those whose accomplishments he’d preserved for history.

The inscription on his plaque reads, “For his instrumental role in preserving the history of skydiving and USPA by serving as the organization’s archivist, assembling more than a century of the sport’s history and sharing the information freely with USPA and the skydiving community.”

Founded in 1946, the USPA is a non-profit association dedicated to the promotion of safe skydiving nationwide, establishing strict safety standards, training policies and programs at more than 220 USPA-affiliated skydiving schools and centers throughout the United States. Each year, USPA’s 41,000 members and hundreds of thousands of first-timers make roughly 3.3 million jumps in the U.S. USPA represents skydivers before all levels of government, the public and the aviation industry and sanctions national skydiving competitions and records.

For more information on making a first jump or to find a skydiving center near you, visit www.uspa.org or call 800.371.USPA.