Though children are taught to reach for the sky, in time it becomes apparent that jumping out of the sky is more practical. Accomplish great feats with today's Groupon: for $130, you get a tandem skydiving jump (a $219 value) and AFF Ground School training (a $75.00 value) from Skydive Alabama in Vinemont (a $294 total value).
A former parachute-regiment military veteran—also a three-time world skydiving championship medalist who moonlights as a shark whisperer—owns and operates Skydive Alabama. During each 13,000-foot tandem jump, instructors certified by the United States Parachute Association hook on to plane-leaping newbies, operate air-resistance devices, and offer moral support. Divers receive 15–20 minutes of training on the ground before climbing aboard a 14-seat turboprop plane that transports students and teachers 13,000 feet into the air, soaring past birds, clouds, and idealistic pies.
Tandem masters link up with first-timers using a specially designed harness and a pinky swear, fastening themselves at four secure points and chaperoning the atmospheric plunge. Air whizzes past bodies plummeting at a 120 mph freefall until chutes deploy, floating their human cargo gently through the remaining sky and depositing flight partners on the ground. Friends, family members, and pet goldfish can all watch the graviton-fueled flight from a large spectator area at the drop site. Fridays and Saturdays regularly end in bonfires to celebrate the existence of gravity.
After the tandem jump, customers enroll in AFF Ground School training, which prepares freefallers for their first solo jump.
Helmed by an by ex-military parachute-regiment veteran who holds three World Skydiving Championship medals, the United States Parachute Association-certified instructors at Skydive Alabama fly customers up to heights of 14,000 feet for solo and tandem dives. The skydiving center supplies oxygen for these jumps, and conducts both ground schools and eagle-impersonation classes to get first-timers and experienced divers ready for their aerial plunges. Instructors take up to 18 participants to the height of the drop zone in a Grand Caravan turboprop plane, from which they free fall for more than one minute, either by themselves or securely fastened to an instructor. A professional videographer can also join visitors on each jump to capture the aerial experience.
In accelerated free-fall programs, instructors lead students through a ground school, up to seven flights with instructors, and several solo jumps, allowing them to earn their USPA diving license without having to compete a multiple-choice test inside a wind tunnel. While every dive takes place in the designated drop zone, ground-school classes are held inside the airport's dedicated hangar. They have a brand new 80,000 sq/ft., state-of-the-art air conditioned facility which boasts indoor bathrooms and showers, as well as a common area with couches and TV's available to all guests.