Founder Rick Sweitzer started the adventure travel company in 1983 before leading one of the first amateur dogsled expeditions to North Pole. Driven by his vision, the guides and instructors of The Northwest Passage lead travelers of all skill and fitness levels to some of the most dramatic terrain on the planet. Locally, the team leads outings around the Chicago area, ranging from stand-up paddleboarding classes on Lake Michigan to kayaking and camping trips in Door County, Wisconsin. As for the rest of the world, Northwest Passage sends it adventurers to conquer it locale by stunning locale during programs that include hiking across Europe, trekking to remote Polar regions, and dressing up like scientists to infiltrate Area 51.
Skydive Midwest's U.S. Parachute Association–certified instructors have completed an average of more than 4,000 skydives each. The instructors' ample explorations of gravity and comprehensive training sessions, which are held onsite, help them to securely guide thrill-seekers during tandem jumps, solo jumps, and bouts of spontaneous levitation. Skydivers leap from a sleek and speedy DeHavilland Twin Otter jump ship, which boasts a glitzy new paint job, lightweight bench seating for 23 people, and the ability to climb to 14,500 feet in only 18 minutes.
As they fall toward the earth, skydivers can glimpse the buildings and rivers of Chicago glimmering against the azure waters of Lake Michigan. This is possible because the team at Skydive Horizonz orchestrates skydives within 40 miles of the city—always to the east, which gives evening divers breathtaking views of downtown silhouetted against the setting sun.
Scenic dives are just one way the team demonstrates its dedication to divers. Location is another—Skydive Horizonz is conveniently located off the South Shore Line.
Despite their name, The Sky Knights won't swoop down to earth on a dragon—instead, they use a parachute. Since its founding in 1963, the club has helped others take their first skydiving plunge via tandem jumps or work toward becoming USPA-certified skydivers. They conduct all of their classes and aerial excursions at Skydive Milwaukee, a dedicated drop zone extending up to 13,500 feet above the Wisconsin countryside. Whether briefing visitors pre-jump in their climate-controlled classrooms or strapping them in with an instructor for their first 50-second free fall, the company adheres to all FAA and United States Parachute Association rules and recommendations and uses only FAA-certified teaching equipment fitted with automatic reserve-activation devices. The center, meanwhile, features open-air grills and an observation deck—allowing even those on the ground to partake in the pulse-pounding thrills.