It's not often that you find yourself crouched at the open door of a flying airplane, heart pounding and wind whipping by, while waiting to jump out, deploy your own parachute, and float gently to the ground. This thrill-seeking experience is available to first-time and returning divers at Skydive Spaceland, one of the country's largest skydiving training centers which has been helping people achieve lifelong dreams on a regular basis for more than 20 years. Tandem dives pair newbies with experienced instructors, and skydiving lessons teach students how to take the plunge on their own in as little as one week. Skydiving experiences can also be given as a gift or used to cross an item off a bucket list. An on-site pro shop sells skydiving T-shirts and souvenirs that prove you've conquered your fear of heights.
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.
More than 60 times a day, Skydive Air Adventures' King Air jump plane climbs to nearly 3 miles above the earth's surface. Once there, instructors strap themselves to novice divers and plunge out of the aircraft during tandem flights. The frequency of these dives has allowed some of them to rack up serious airtime; many instructors have more than 8,000 dives under their belts, including Carl Smith, who has jumped from planes and escalators to heaven more than 14,900 times. To keep track of all these jumps, Skydive Air Adventures can shoot photos and videos of every wind-blown expression and ear-to-ear grin.
Skydive Sebastian’s planes fly far above the Atlantic, affording their passengers a chance to drop into Florida's eastern edge near the picturesque swimming cove of Sebastian Inlet. The company's hangar and flock of professional skydivers—some of whom boast more than 16,000 jumps––await flights at a 7-acre facility, where they host first-time tandem skydivers and operate a skydiving school for beginners interested in learning to skydive on their own through the Accelerated Freefall course. Meanwhile, experienced skydivers with a passion for the sport of skydiving can receive independent coaching to keep free-fall skills sharp.
At Planet Air Sports, kids and adults spend as little time on the ground as possible. That's because they're too busy jumping across 6,000 square feet of trampolines, executing somersaults on the bungee trampolines, and playing intense games of bouncy dodgeball. They also practice their Indiana Jones impressions as they maneuver over planks and suspended tires on the upper or lower ropes courses. Other exciting activities include ninja-inspired climbing walls, the fear-challenging Leap of Faith, and the shifting surfaces of the colorful Twister. The facility even lets visitors live out their deepest sports fantasies; trampoline basketball courts facilitate sweet dunks, and the snowboard-inspired X-Board allows guests to spin through a full 360 degrees.
While kids play, parents can retire to the lounge area or watch the action from viewing spots around the facility, which is outfitted with comfortable couches and free WiFi throughout.
Families spending the day at the facility can take a snack break at the in-house cafe, which serves a menu of pizza, sandwiches, and salads, in addition to small bites, such as mozzarella sticks, muffins, and fries. All of these extra comforts make the center an ideal spot for birthday parties, corporate team-building exercises, and fun family outings.
Located on 50 acres of land in Clewiston, The Florida Ridge Air Sports Park gives guests unlimited opportunities to indulge in airborne activities. Winds from the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf Coast converge to create favorable soaring conditions for hang-gliding, paragliding, and controlled umbrella flights. The park also offers pilot-training programs and equipment rentals for expert windsurfers.