In June 2001, Tim Grech gave up his corporate job to build a skydiving centre on 347 acres of pristine property. Tim and his team of CSPA-certified instructors introduce amateurs to the sky through guided-tandem or assisted-solo jumps and shepherd experienced jumpers through the progressive freefall. The bustling skydive centre boasts scenic views of Grand River, along with free camp sites with fire pits and communal barbecues for roasting freshly plucked clouds on a stick.
The 12-foot-wide vertical wind tunnel at Niagara Freefall and Interactive Center stretches 20 feet to the ceiling. Inside, it churns with currents of recirculating air?a system that allows its operators to control the wind conditions and temperature regardless of outside weather. Padded walls and floors, as well as trained instructors, keep those inside safe as they're borne aloft by currents of up to 120 miles per hour. Instructors prepare adventurers?who may be as young as 7 years old?for these turbulent conditions during preflight training sessions, during which they divulge flight physics, safety, and communication hand signals. They also encase their visitors in all necessary safety gear, such as helmets, pads, flight suits, and invisible force fields.
Securely fastened into a tandem-parachute system, an instructor and a pupil tumble from a Skylane Cessna 182, a floating sensation running through their bodies for the 45- to 60-second plummet. Shortly thereafter, a more experienced jumper takes the leap from 10,500–13,500 feet as an instructor falls separately alongside to ensure that nothing goes awry between the departure of the aircraft and the opening of the chute.
Back on solid ground, a 25-acre drop zone reunites divers post-free-fall, and in the distance, Skydive Pennsylvania's pilots shuttle other divers skyward in a fleet of aircrafts that includes a Super Pilatus Porter, which can ascend 13,500 feet in 15 minutes. The on-ground personnel photograph and videotape all tandem and instruction-assisted-free-fall dives, converting their footage into professionally edited videos, DVDs of stills, and screensavers for skydiving-prone laptops.