Skydivers are the cowboys of the air, roaming the wide-open skies and herding children’s runaway balloons. Giddy up, up, and away with today’s Groupon: for $130, you get a skydive package from Florida Skydiving Center in Lake Wales (a $219 value). The package includes the following:
- A tandem skydive (a $199 value)
- A T-shirt (a $20 value)<p>
The USPA-licensed instructors at Florida Skydiving Center’s new 11,000-square-foot facility guide students through the aerial artistry of tandem free falling and parachute navigation over 250 acres of central-Florida landscape. With their feet firmly planted on the ground, instructors brief visitors on the equipment, techniques, and optional in-flight movie that will be utilized during the jump. Up to four tandem leapers then suit up and board a DHC-6 Twin Otter, Caravan, or C-182 plane for their journey into the troposphere. Upon reaching the exit altitude at up to 14,000 feet, instructors revisit the details of the jump while securely affixing themselves to students. The door opens and a 60-second, 120-mph free fall commences before the parachute opens, peacefully drifting passengers to the ground or to their treetop summer home in a six-minute scenic excursion.
Following a brief reprieve from running the business, original owner Betty Hill has returned with newly appointed owner Billy Bradshaw. Both intend to employ a combined 75 years of sky-hopping and goggle-defogging experience to restore the brand to its former glory.
Florida Skydiving Center
Encompassing three landing areas and nestled amid 250 acres of open terrain, Florida Skydiving Center forms a stage where advanced skydivers compete in national competitions and beginners gain their wings under the guidance of United States Parachute Association–certified instructors. The experienced teachers can take newbies on tandem jumps at up to 14,000 feet above the Earth's garlicky bread crust. For dedicated pupils, the instructors lead accelerated free-fall training, which imparts the skills needed to take solo dives. As divers plunge from the metallic belly of a DHC-6 Twin Otter or Cessna, air-bound photographers sometimes capture adrenaline-packed moments and photo ops with passing Supermans.
Florida Skydiving Center's owners maintain a facility where teams strategize and solo divers can pair up for jumps. A carpeted packing area lets skydivers cleanly prep parachutes, and an onsite store rents and sells the necessary gear to soar among the ghosts of pterodactyls. Outside, RV hookups and free tent camping welcome overnight visitors.