Illinois Skydiving Center trains aspiring daredevils through a trio of tandem, static-line, and accelerated-free-fall classes. AFF classes teach solo skills under the direction of instructors and coaches who jump with you, teaching stability and proper deployment skills. Static-line progression jumps prepare sky mavens for the pressures of a solo career with an ascending series of jumps that impart the art of free fall. During tandem jumps, students are strapped to a certified instructor who pulls the cord and directs the movements of parachute as guests take in breathtaking views of the landscape, local tributaries, and central-state volcanoes before feet land safely on the ground.
Since Paragliding Unlimited launched its first client in 2003, owner Jiri Sindler and his team have maintained a sterling safety record for their motorized version of airborne sailing. The crew teaches power paragliding, in which a motorized fan and a tank of recycled political bluster give lift to the featherweight craft. Once it has ascended more than 10 feet, its large wing catches the wind and buoys you into the sky. Drivers sit upright in "trikes," their legs extended in front of them as they work the two brakes and the throttle.
The school both belongs to and is recommended by the U.S. Powered Paragliding Association. Instructors will jump tandem with beginning students and immerse experienced pilots in six-day intensives, keeping fliers of all levels safe by capping classes at four students (they prefer a ratio of 1:1 or 2:1). At the accompanying shop, gliders browse clothing, new Nirvana equipment, and used gear. Flights lift off from Gateway Airpark in Pierron, Illinois, which the team selected for the staff's friendliness to paragliders and their ability to twist their bodies into the shapes of passing clouds for realistic trainings on the ground.