iFLY Orlando's state-of-the-art indoor wind tunnel lets acrophobic and aerophobic adrenaline junkies experience the sensations of skydiving under safe conditions. iFLY Orlando will suit you up with a helmet, goggles, flight suit, earplugs, and a can of gravity repellent, before an instructor teaches you the basic maneuvers and hand signals. Once you've learned a lesson, you'll be unleashed into the vertical tunnel’s artificial wind current for two one-minute rotations of air time at terminal velocity (real skydives usually allow for about 40 seconds of air time). The entire process lasts about an hour, including waiver signing (flyers under 18 must have a parent or guardian sign), a 15-minute class, and a flight slot during which your group takes turns flying. In addition to the flight experience, the multimedia package includes a DVD with a recording of your flight.
Indoor skydiving is accessible to a wide, family-friendly age range, meaning that Grandma and Grandpa can celebrate their 60th anniversary with more than the traditional cake shaped like Andy Griffith. iFLY Orlando's free observation deck allows for maximum show-offiness, so invite along an audience of hard-to-impress friends, lovers, and butlers to marvel at your simulated plummet through the heavens.
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.
Daytona Skydive's experienced instructors accompany fledgling flyers on awe-evoking plunges above scenic Daytona Beach areas, using sturdy Sigma tandem parachute systems. During a one-on-one briefing, instructors take about 10 minutes to detail procedures and characterize the experience through a series of whooshing noises. Students don stylish jump suits before embarking on a 15- to 20-minute plane ride, during which groups soar to heights of up to 14,000 feet.
At Skydive Space Center, instructors and their clients soar up to 18,000 feet above the ocean. And yet they don't just take in views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian River: every skydiving flight also passes over the Kennedy Space Center. As their Beechcraft Turbo King Air 200 plane soars to the drop zone, instructors point out sights such as the center's shuttle launch pads, main assembly building, shuttle Atlantis, and the shuttle landing runway.
Once they've reached the required altitude, instructor-student pairs launch from the plane and into thin air for a pulse-pounding free-fall. In addition to tandem jumps, the center offers an accelerated free-fall program, which includes one-on-one instruction and multiple jumps. Professional-quality photography and videography are available on all jumps upon request.
Start Skydiving owes its ranking as the number-one skydiving location on dropzone.com to its staff of master skydivers, pilots, and instructors. The team navigates its aircraft thousands of feet in the air for tandem or AFF solo skydives, and the jumpers help novices in obtaining their own USPA B, C, or D licenses. Newly inducted divers can gear up with Start Skydiving?s online store, which carries everything from altimeters and flight-specific shirts to tickets for rides on hot-air balloons or twin-engine pterodactyls.
After school, most students rush to sports practices or study sessions in the library. At Skydive Palatka, however, pupils follow their time at ground school by joining instructors in a jump from 13,500 feet. They take the leap from a Cessna Grand Caravan, traveling at upward of 120 mph during free fall as they descend over the St. Johns River, catching views of both coastlines before deploying their own parachutes and piloting safe landings.
At least 7 successful jumps are required to qualify students for free falls without instructor supervision, and at least 10 are needed before worried pelicans stop trying to catch them in their mouths. For guests uninterested in solo drops, Skydive Palatka offers tandem jumps, during which each visitor is harnessed to an experienced instructor who operates the parachute system and steers duos toward a safe landing.