A skydiver descends toward the earth, his red-and-white parachute contrasting against a picturesque scene of azure sky and the springtime grass. It’s just another day at Skydive Tecumseh, where instructors have been taking first-time jumpers and experienced skydivers on exhilarating freefalls for nearly 50 years. Manning aircrafts such a Cessna Super Caravan, Skydive Tecumseh’s flight team ushers parties 7,500 feet into the clouds for tandem and solo jumps that reach speeds of up to 120 miles per hour, much like a cheetah on roller skates. A drop zone with three separate landing areas awaits skydivers on the ground, and a picnic area allows visitors to watch their friends glide safely back to earth. In addition to organizing jumps, the instructors—all certified through the United States Parachuting Association—operate a ground school, where they help clients earn skydiving licenses.
Skydive Coastal California's air-riding experts take first-time and experienced jumpers to the stratosphere for jumps above the scenic vistas of southern California. Tethered to clients, they guide tandem rides to facilitate first tastes of terminal velocity before coasting in for a soft landing. To accommodate licensed skydivers with a current reserve parachute, the staff guides planes over the business's own scenic landing zone so jumpers can take to the air on their own. Beginners who wish to become full-fledged divers can opt for the Accelerated Freefall program, in which aficionados teach the skills necessary to make solo jumps such as how to handle equipment or merge into goose traffic without a blinker.
A nonprofit organization, Midwest Freefall Sport Parachute Club aims to instill a love for skydiving in each person who steps into its 17-place Jet-Prop Cessna Grand Caravan, which elevates jumpers to more than 13,000 feet above the southeast Michigan countryside. Tandem jumps allow thrill-seekers to harvest cotton candy from clouds as seasoned instructors take care of dive essentials, including parachute deployment. For those who want to learn more, seven levels of free-fall training transform novices into experienced jumpers who can take solo dives. Before their second jump, skydivers become members of Midwest's club, which hosts social gatherings that debate the merits of traveling down stairs by parachute. Midwest Freefall Sport Parachute Club embraces the standards and procedures established by the United States Parachute Association to help ensure safety during all of its dives.
Ann Arbor Aviation Center puts its students through the same training regimen regardless of their long-term goals. This approach ensures that all of its aviation alumni, whether commercial pilots or casual fliers, practice safe flying techniques as they share the air. The outfit's licensed instructors conduct training runs out of Ann Arbor Municipal Airport aboard aircraft by Cessna, Arrow, and Cherokee, guiding students through each step necessary to earn ratings from private pilot to airline transport pilot. Students also perform a good portion of their duties on the ground, both through academic work in ground school and situational practice aboard the Frasca flight simulator.
Gravity Powered Sports owner Tod Molter has jumped out of an airplane more than 3,700 times, plummeting through the skies as the force of gravity pulled him back toward earth under a vibrant parachute. Each jump, the experience is as thrilling as it was the first time as freefall speeds hit up to 120 mph, and Tod hopes to share that thrill with patrons of Gravity Powered Sports. Serving customers from across the northeast Indiana, southern Michigan, and western Ohio areas, he teaches a variety of freefall skills ranging from basic jumps to barrel rolls. In addition to running classes for the community, Gravity Powered Sports provides one-time free training and tandem freefalls to veterans to give them the chance to fly.