The Thrill of the Skill

Skydiving and Paragliding

Learn to float like an eagle     Photo: Corbis

SKYDIVING
Perris Valley Skydiving
Perris, California
PVS, one of america's largest skydiving centers, boasts its own bunkhouse (the IHOP: International House of Parachutists), full-service gear shop, and wind tunnel (to fine-tune free-fall technique). During the One-day Accelerated Freefall Training for neophytes, you'll spend four to six hours on the ground learning hand signals and safety procedures before your first jump. (Lines in a tangle? Cut your chute and pull the reserve!) Perris's 15 instructors have logged more than 7,000 jumps between them, so don't panic as you prepare to hurl yourself out of the plane at 13,000 feet.
End Game: Notching your inaugural instructor-assisted jump—seven leaps away from your first solo skydive.
Info: $309 (instruction only), year-round; 800-832-8818,
Or Try: Skydive Arizona, in Eloy, Arizona, for a 14-day, 25-jump course that will earn you a Class A solo free-fall license; $2,940; 520-466-3753,


PARAGLIDING
Super Fly Paragliding Academy
Sandy, Utah
Point of the mountain, south of Salt Lake City, is considered one of the best paragliding training grounds in the world, thanks to a consistent 300-days-a-year updraft that keeps fliers aloft for hours. In Super Fly's Two-day Introduction to Paragliding, you'll start on the ground, boning up on basic wind and weather strategies, the physics of gliding, and maneuvering your canopy. Then it's a solo jog off the "bunny hill," where you'll catch 100 feet of glide before touching down on the grass. Day two includes a tandem launch with an expert coach, then your first solo endeavor: a 300-foot-high, quarter-mile soar.
End Game: Earning a P1 rating—the first hurdle in obtaining your paragliding license.
Info: $395 (instruction only), year-round; 801-255-9595,
Or Try: Torrey Pines Gliderport, in La Jolla, California, one of the largest and oldest schools in the country; three-day beginner camp, $795; 858-452-9858,

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