The instructors at Skydive Hollister conduct their highest jumps at 18,000 feet—the greatest height from which one can dive without supplemental oxygen. Even at this altitude, they have to pump oxygen into the plane’s cockpit before a jump. Once outside, the 120 mile-per-hour free falls last little more than one minute. They help students navigate this rapid descent on tandem dives, during which they strap into the same harness as their student and coach them in proper body position, steering, and parachute release over the sound of roaring wind. At 5,000 feet, instructors deploy the parachute and instruct their partner in parachute control and landing techniques as the blue waters of Monterey Bay and the hills of San Francisco unfold below.
Instructors also train students seeking skydiving licenses through two programs. In the Accelerated Free-Fall program, they teach skydiving principles and technical basics in a four- to six-hour ground school before strapping students into their own parachutes for seven jumps. The Instructor-Assisted Free-Fall program precedes this solo training with two tandem skydives, during which instructors teach their protégés the basics of free-fall turns, altitude awareness, and filling in for the lead goose flying in V-formation.
iFLY simulates skydiving without plummeting toward the earth at 9.8 meters per second by floating patrons in a vertical wind tunnel. Unlike an amusement-park ride, simulator, or a jump off a one-story house, the vertical wind tunnel re-creates the experience of actual flying, with professional instructors controlling the airflow the entire time and communicating with fliers via hand signals. iFLY’s cache of earplugs, flight suits, helmets, and goggles keep divers protected during flight. iFLY plans flights for groups of all sizes and occasions including birthdays, corporate events, and summer camps.
At 18,000 feet in the air, the view is peaceful: Monterey Bay and Santa Cruz sprawled out below, bordered by the immense blue of the Pacific Ocean. And yet, this view is also exhilarating?it means you're about to leap out of a plane and fall at 120 miles per hour. Luckily, if it's your first time with Skydive Monterey Bay, you'll be strapped to a tandem instructor.
These coaches take their guests up to one of the world's highest jumps, in one of the fastest jump planes. Their mission is to balance the right amount of thrills with the utmost consideration for safety, whether they're with a skydiving newbie or an experienced parachuter. In addition to leading?and filming?first-time jumps, they host one-on-one lessons and accelerated freefall training for students who want to dive on their own. They can teach visitors to pack their own parachute, fall in different postures, and frighten William Shatner on the wing of a plane, all before coming back to earth. And according to their FAQs, landing is as gentle as "stepping off the curb."
Sportations connects amateur adrenaline jockeys to certified professional adventurers, drawing from a nationwide network of aeronauts and speed demons to introduce habitual pedestrians to the wonders of skydiving, ballooning, hang gliding, and stock-car racing. Thrill seekers can zipline across a forest canopy, hollering like Tarzan or taunting nearby birds until they agree to race. Helicopter tours ferry patrons skyward over landmarks and cityscapes, whereas paragliding adventures get up close and personal with blue skies and clouds. For most sports, Sportations accommodates groups of any size, from physics classes empirically proving gravity's existence to solo ballooning supervillains declaring dominion over all they see.
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.