We know this won't be an easy weekend for you. It's a great deal—and a chance at an extraordinary adrenaline rush—but do you have it in you to take the plunge? Maybe you're the career thrill-seeker who chews up adventure and spits out stories. Or maybe you're more like us, ordinary Janes and Joes, nine-to-fivers, worker bees who aren't sure they're cut out for real adventure. But here's a Groupon secret to transform your life: bees can fly.“Oh, hey Eileen.”
Cindy Gibson hears a lot of ecstatic exclamations from first-time jumpers—including gratuitous use of the words "awesome" and "amazing"—but one of the most memorable remarks she ever heard came from a woman celebrating her 81st birthday. After landing, Cindy asked her why she waited so long to try skydiving. The woman replied that her husband never let her. Then she cracked a sly smile and said, "But now he's dead."
Cindy certainly understands the lifelong desire to skydive. "I don't remember a time when I didn’t want to jump out of airplanes," she says. But growing up, she figured you had to be paratrooper to do it. Then as a waitress in college, she overheard some customers talking about going skydiving, and she convinced them to take her along. The more she went, the more ways she found to improve the experience. With this newfound love and knowledge of the skydiving business, she sought out a parcel of land and a passionate team and founded Texas Skydiving Center.
Today, she and her team of instructors lead tandem jumps, static-line jumps, and solo free falls thousands of feet above their picturesque facility. Beyond using equipment and instructional methods that are compliant with the United States Parachute Association's standards, the instructors' claim their chief difference lies in the individual attention they give each client. Groups are kept small so that all are on a first-name basis, and the instructors ask each person what they hope to do in the air. A bunch of flips? Maybe a zen-like float? On the way down, they can even record the jumps with several filming options. An eco-friendly dropzone then awaits skydivers, where chattering guinea fowl snatch up insects, colorful songbirds flit through wildflowers, and a llama and alpaca knit their own wool into a commemorative scarf for each successful skydiver.
The male and female firearm experts of American Home Defense shape their shooting and self-defense classes around legal regulations with an emphasis on personal safety. In private shooting lessons, students learn to handle three of the most common handguns and home-defense classes equip participants with the know-how to protect their families from intruders or a neighbor's moat monster.
Dallas Skydiving teaches visitors how to turn the power of gravity into a safe, adrenaline-spiking thrill. Tandem jumps allow beginners to experience the sensation of free falling while safely harnessed to a highly trained, professional instructor. Additionally, the staff offers opportunities for visitors to earn their skydiving certification over time or purchasing a video to immortalize a specific jump by capturing the entire experience with a helmet-mounted camera or a portrait painted by trained birds.
For nearly 30 years, Future Flight has unfurled its fleet of parachutes to send riders soaring through the open sky aboard lightweight two-person flying machines. Sky captains brief each patron during a preflight inspection and provide a few minutes of on-the-ground instruction on flying powered parachutes to ensure a safe and fun trip. The seasoned aviators then throttle up a rear propeller from the pilot's seat and rumble down the runway until the attached parachute swells with wind and lifts the craft into the air, sending pairs soaring above the Lake Lavon shoreline at altitudes of up to 1,000 feet. For patrons interested in amateur migration, Future Flight also runs training lessons for solo flying in sport-pilot and Far Part 103 Ultralight craft, and sells new and used vehicles and accessories.
While it's not uncommon to share stories around a campfire, there's something special about the ones told at Dallas Skydive Center's fire pit. For one, most of them feature the storyteller's exploits 13,500 feet above the earth's surface. The fire pit is part of Dallas Skydive Center's 651-acre open landing area, which doubles as a campground where people hang out before and after their jumps.
The massive landing area and campground aren't the only things that set the center apart. It has also attracted an expert staff, all hand selected by chief instructor Jimmy Mendonca, who has more than 12,000 dives under his parachute harness. Plus, it assuages some of the fears felt by first-time divers by employing the same tandem harnesses used by U.S. Special Forces and by never showing Hitchcock's The Birds. Skydivers just need to worry about what face they'll make during their mid-dive photo op.