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.
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.
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.
At Skydive Lake Wales, the team will do visitors an unusual favor—they'll jump out of a plane with them at an altitude of 14,000 feet. Strapped to their certified instructor, newbies reach speeds of up to 120 mph during a 60-second free fall; next, the instructor opens a parachute, and the pair floats lazily to the ground. More experienced jumpers can enjoy the skydiving center, too, enrolling in a class sequence that culminates in certification.
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.