The first parachute was invented when Jack, tumbling haplessly from his titanium beanstalk, used a purloined pair of giant underpants to steady his fall. Glide to earth safely with today's Groupon: for $125, you get a tandem skydive from Skydive Midwest (up to a $209 value). Divers must be 18 and weigh 250 pounds or less to plunge from the Sturtevant, Wisconsin dropzone, a 75-minute drive north of Chicago and accessible by Metra. Jumps are available seven days a week, but Skydive Midwest is limited to accommodating 50 total skydives in a day.
Addicted to both adrenaline and safety, Skydive Midwest's staff gives students the chance to soar through the clouds in a fun, controlled jump environment. Each fall pro has completed an average of 4,000 jumps and is licensed by the United States Parachute Association. Prior to soaring above the private, closed airspace, divers-to-be receive a half-hour briefing on the jump process and landing technique, afterwards taking to the 14,500-foot-high skies in a King Air turboprop plane. Depending on the viscosity of the air and the presence of cottony clouds, patrons can freefall for up to a minute, whooping in excitement or stoically staring down passing birds, snugly secured to an instructor. The gentle tug of the chute switches gears from rush to awe as divers drift slowly down to earth while admiring the magisterial flatness and the skyline of both Chicago and Milwaukee.
Because of the length of time involved in the experience, students are advised to bring their own lunch, preferably a giant, sloppy sandwich to eat during freefall. To accommodate throngs seeking to take to the sky, cloud-spelunking outings must be booked at least two weeks in advance.
Skydive Midwest's U.S. Parachute Association–certified instructors have completed an average of more than 4,000 skydives each. The instructors' ample explorations of gravity and comprehensive training sessions, which are held onsite, help them to securely guide thrill-seekers during tandem jumps, solo jumps, and bouts of spontaneous levitation. Skydivers leap from a sleek and speedy DeHavilland Twin Otter jump ship, which boasts a glitzy new paint job, lightweight bench seating for 23 people, and the ability to climb to 14,500 feet in only 18 minutes.