Though skydiving is often billed as a once-in-a-lifetime experience, for the staff at Jump Florida Skydiving, it's a job. As they climb above the scenic landscape of Lake Country in a Cessna 205 aircraft, they stay calm as excitement radiates off customers—as young as 18 and as old as 79—about to make their first leap. At the ideal altitude, the plane levels off, and jumpers get into position. The sky is amazingly clear around the plane, which takes off from a private airport, so there are no commercial jets or flocks of migrating geese obstructing the airspace. Tandem or solo divers step to the edge, take a deep breath, and experience the thrill of accelerating at 9.81 meters per second per second.
While participants revel in their adrenaline-fueled thrills, the staff keeps them safe by adhering to the strict standards of the United States Parachute Association. These protocols enforce rigorous regulations, safety guidelines, and eminently cool member handshakes. On the ground, the team prioritizes hospitality, offering guest rooms, a restaurant, spectator fields, and a nerve-diffusing bar.
At Heli Aviation Florida, LLC, the Robinson R22, R44, and R66 helicopters that make up the fleet serve a number of roles. They not only lift casual passengers into the sky for sightseeing tours, photography sessions, and search parties for lost Mylar balloons, but also give traffic-patrol pilots a bird's-eye view of the morning commute. Plus, they're used during flying lessons.
Aerial fun and excitement aboard the helicopters are second only to one thing at Heli Aviation Florida?safety. The Helicopter Association International member relies on the Target Zero Safety Management System, whose goal is nothing short of perfection, or zero accidents while providing helicopter services.
After full safety briefings each day, the pilots take off from their 10,000-square-foot area at Sarasota Bradenton International Airport, which features a lobby, classrooms, a training area, and hanger space.
With Skydiving Orlando Florida, divers leap from planes from heights of up to 10,000 feet before soaking up atmospheric views during exhilarating freefalls and leisurely canopy rides. For first-time divers, the company offers tandem rides that pair clients with certified instructors instead of two-person bicycles. Those instructors combine years of knowhow with the industry's latest equipment to ensure every dive ends with a comfortable landing.
The licensed skydive veterans of Skydive Tampa Bay have accompanied customers soaring from the bellies of airplanes since 1978. These plummetologists have earned national and international championship titles and multiple world records, and now start beginners on a path to their own air-bound accolades with introductory tandem jumps. Lessons begin with on-ground instruction before instructors securely attach students to their torsos like thrill-seeking mother kangaroos and freefall for two miles. After students learn the basics through tandem dives, instructors put them through the Accelerated Freefall Program, which includes classroom time, ground training, solo jumps, and post-dive critiques of freefall techniques and maneuvers.
In more than 100 locations around the country, ThrillZown's staff facilitates adrenaline-filled excursions full of extreme water, air, and land adventures. Under the supervision of experts, brave souls defy gravity as they skydive, hang-glide, bungee jump, or play films of apples falling off trees in reverse. On land, crews harness the power of horses, stock cars, and snowmobiles; in the water, groups navigate whitewater rapids or explore aquatic depths as they scuba dive or surf.
For first-time tandem jumpers, the experience of free falling from 11,000 feet is an unforgettable experience. But just in case, Skydive Orlanpa, in partnership with Jump Florida Skydiving, can document tandem jumps with professionally produced videos set to music. A preflight interview on the ground gives way to footage shots inside the plane as jumpers and their tandem instructors make their ascension. From there, videographers capture the entire free fall as participants take in the scenery and attempt to block out the chortles of condescending geese. The parachute then deploys, and jumpers and their instructors return to terra firma. Meanwhile, friends can watch dives from the ground in a large spectator area or tag along on the plane ride and watch the leap firsthand.