From up to 13,500 feet in the air, skydivers plunge out of Miami Skydiving Center's airplanes, accelerate to 120 miles per hour, and take in scenic bird's-eye views of the Everglades, the Atlantic Ocean, and the giant gorillas terrorizing downtown. But before they enjoy this unique perspective, divers first learn the basics during on-ground tandem diving instruction. Instructors use this initial jump to get new divers excited about and familiar with the process of skydiving and the essential safety procedures. They then teach committed diving pupils to skydive solo with an accelerated freefall program. And as their students progress further, the instructors can introduce them to more advanced techniques such as belly flying and skyboarding.
At Planet Air Sports, kids and adults spend as little time on the ground as possible. They bound across 8,000 square feet of trampolines, using cords in the bungee area to execute somersaults or combining aspects of basketball and volleyball into the bouncy Aeroball. They also practice their Indiana Jones impressions as they maneuver over planks and suspended tires on 30 point ropes courses—the upper level culminating in a heart-pounding zipline adventure. The 20-foot rock-climbing wall, meanwhile, tests strength, beckoning adventurers to the top with the satisfaction of accomplishment and the promise of seeing the last remaining dodo nest.
Guests are also entertained with arcade games and air-hockey tables while parents retire to the lounge area. The colorful center's airtime-inducing attractions make it an ideal spot for birthday parties, corporate team-building exercises, and fun family outings. Families spending the day at the facility can take a snack break at the in-house cafe, which serves a menu of pizza, sandwiches, and salads, in addition to small bites, such as mozzarella sticks, muffins, and fries.
More than 60 times a day, Skydive Air Adventures' King Air jump plane climbs to nearly 3 miles above the earth's surface. Once there, instructors strap themselves to novice divers and plunge out of the aircraft during tandem flights. The frequency of these dives has allowed some of them to rack up serious airtime; many instructors have more than 8,000 dives under their belts, including Carl Smith, who has jumped from planes and escalators to heaven more than 14,900 times. To keep track of all these jumps, Skydive Air Adventures can shoot photos and videos of every wind-blown expression and ear-to-ear grin.
It's not often that you find yourself falling headfirst toward the earth, wind whipping by, before you pull a cord on your chute and float gently to the ground. This thrill-seeking experience is available to first-time and returning divers at Skydive Spaceland, which sends people plummeting out of planes on a regular basis. Tandem dives pair newbies with experienced instructors, and skydiving lessons teach students how to take the plunge on their own. To prepare patrons for the jump, an online pro-shop sells helmets, goggles, and t-shirts that prove you've conquered your fear of heights and cotton that could shrink in the dryer.