Fully licensed instructors, thoroughly maintained aircrafts, and a skydiving training program licensed by the US Parachute Association ensure that a jump at Chicagoland Skydiving Center is rigorously safe—but nothing can dampen the thrill of free falling from 14,000 feet. The center’s spotless student record can be attributed both to the longevity of the program, which has been around since 1968, and to the expertise of the instructors, some of whom have made more than 15,000 jumps. Their attention to safety enables visitors to focus on the fun part: a 60-second free fall followed by a leisurely float under a parachute with countless high-fives from passing birds.
Once their feet have firmly planted on the ground, skydivers can celebrate besting Sir Isaac Newton in a spacious facility with games, a lounge, and an onsite restaurant. HD video and photos are ready to take home within minutes of landing to show friends and family footage of the adventure.
Despite their name, The Sky Knights won't swoop down to earth on a dragon—instead, they use a parachute. Since its founding in 1963, the club has helped others take their first skydiving plunge via tandem jumps or work toward becoming USPA-certified skydivers. They conduct all of their classes and aerial excursions at Skydive Milwaukee, a dedicated drop zone extending up to 14,500 feet above the Wisconsin countryside. Whether briefing visitors pre-jump in their climate-controlled classrooms or strapping them in with an instructor for their first 50-second free fall, the company adheres to all FAA and United States Parachute Association rules and recommendations and uses only FAA-certified teaching equipment fitted with automatic reserve-activation devices. The center, meanwhile, features open-air grills and an observation deck—allowing even those on the ground to partake in the pulse-pounding thrills.
Founder Rick Sweitzer started the adventure travel company in 1983 before leading one of the first amateur dogsled expeditions to North Pole. Driven by his vision, the guides and instructors of The Northwest Passage lead travelers of all skill and fitness levels to some of the most dramatic terrain on the planet. Locally, the team leads outings around the Chicago area, ranging from stand-up paddleboarding classes on Lake Michigan to kayaking and camping trips in Door County, Wisconsin. As for the rest of the world, Northwest Passage sends it adventurers to conquer it locale by stunning locale during programs that include hiking across Europe, trekking to remote Polar regions, and dressing up like scientists to infiltrate Area 51.
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.
iFly simulates skydiving without plummeting toward the earth at 9.8 meters per second by floating patrons in a vertical wind tunnel. Unlike an amusement-park ride, simulator, or a jump off a one-story house, the vertical wind tunnel recreates the experience of actual flying, with professional instructors controlling the airflow the entire time and communicating with fliers via hand signals. iFly’s cache of earplugs, flight suits, helmets, and goggles keep divers protected during flight. iFly plans flights for groups of all sizes and occasions including birthdays, corporate events, and summer camps.
Indoor Skydiving is an Out-of-Body Experience
No parachute? No problem. An editor tries indoor skydiving for the first time, and learns to love the vertical wind tunnel.