At iFLY, "indoor flying" means something way cooler than jumping on your bed at home. There are helmets involved. Here's how it works: you show up, suit up, and go through an orientation lesson with expert instructors before lifting off in an air column powered by a combined 1,600 horsepower worth of giant fans. The column is forceful enough to simulate the experience of dropping through the sky, even though flyers are just inches from the ground. As with outdoor skydiving, the flying experience lasts for about a minute but with the earn your wings package flyers get two flights, and may be able to execute turns and tricks at the instructor's discretion.
You could say that Orlando Balloon Rides' crew of FAA-certified pilots is impressive, but that would probably be an understatement. One has flown across the English Channel three times, another trained stunt pilots for the Bond movie The World Is Not Enough, and a third manned a balloon up to the stratosphere. It's a good thing they're so talented—and have an unblemished safety record among them—as they fly one of the largest balloons in the Western Hemisphere.
The 11-story, 425,000-cubic-foot behemoth can carry up to 24 people in its 1,600-pound basket, which is made of aircraft-grade steel and basket-grade wicker. Or put more simply, an average balloon can fit inside this balloon. Whether choosing to ride in this or a traditional-size balloon, passengers are treated to expansive views of orange groves, swampland, Orange County mansions, and sometimes, a certain magical kingdom on the horizon's distance, which actually isn't a mirage. After any flight, a champagne toast contributes to what USA Today called a "spectacular sunrise adventure" and one of Orlando's 10 most romantic attractions.
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 turbine 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.
Though Skydive City's USPA-rated staff members surely have some words of advice for skydivers, the company's numbers do plenty of talking, too:
Skydive City performs 4,000 tandem dives and facilitates 70,000 total jumps annually
The staff has more than 50,000 cumulative jumps
Up to 22 passengers can fit onto the aircraft
Planes safely tote divers to an altitude of up to 13,500 feet
Up to 60-second free falls reach speeds of 120 miles per hour
4- to 6-minute canopy floats finish dives peacefully
Where are you located?: Zephyrhills, FL about 30 minutes NE of Tampa
Are there other locations?: No, Skydive City and almost every skydiving center out there operate from single locations, usually on an airport.
How high do we jump from?: The Basic Groupon package is for a skydive from 10500’, about 40-45 seconds of freefall time. You can upgrade to 13500’ when you arrive?
How do we book?: Go to www.skydivecity.com and click “Book Now”, choose the “Prepaid Tandem” option, enter as much information as possible about each skydiver. It is faster to book online than by phone.
The reservation system will not accept our Groupon Voucher codes: No it does not. That is for Skydive City Codes. Skip that part and bring your Groupon Voucher with you when you check-in.
Why do you require a deposit?: We get a lot of no-shows, so we ask for a $25 deposit. It will be refunded when you check in or applied to other video or merchandise options.
What else do we need to do?: Forward the confirmation email to everyone in your group. Have everyone complete the online waiver and training video ahead of time. It saves on a lot of time at check-in.
How long will all this take?: It could take 3-4 hours before you are in the air and ready to jump. The Groupon promotion has been very successful and as a result, we are very busy. Try to book early in the morning for the best times and less wait times.
Will there be other jumpers to watch?: Yes we skydive all day long every day. You will get a chance to see other jumpers. Your own spectators are welcome as well
Indeed, the impressive numbers behind Skydive City explain why the company has been in business since 1990. But the 14-acre campus offers visitors more than just the thrill of a lifetime: it boasts a full-service RV park and on-site camping, an on-site cafe, a pro shop, and even a swoop pond for canopy piloting. A bar nicknamed the "Bird House" also helps calm nerves with beer and wine, and its walls are covered in memorabilia from 50 years of skydiving at Zephyrhills Airport.
For first-time tandem jumpers, the experience of free falling from 11,000 feet is an unforgettable experience. But just in case, Skydiving Land, 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.
With Skydiving Orlando Florida, divers leap from planes from heights of up to 10,000 feet before soaking up atmospheric views during exhilarating freefalls and leisurely canopy rides. For first-time divers, the company offers tandem rides that pair clients with certified instructors instead of two-person bicycles. Those instructors combine years of knowhow with the industry's latest equipment to ensure every dive ends with a comfortable landing.