Thrill-seekers in the air

Posted 7/25/12

Self-described “serial entrepreneur” Bob Burke admits he’s tossed a lot of ideas up in the air, but somehow the concept of operating an indoor …

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Thrill-seekers in the air


Self-described “serial entrepreneur” Bob Burke admits he’s tossed a lot of ideas up in the air, but somehow the concept of operating an indoor skydiving facility seemed to be the most appropriate — that is, as far as “lofty” ideas go.

Centered on a 1,200-horsepower vertical fan system that generates freefall-speed winds of more than 150 mph, SkyVenture Colorado in Lone Tree delivers all the thrill and excitement of skydiving, but in a controlled and comfortable environment.

Indoor skydiving, also known as body flying, evolved from skydiving over the past decade and is rapidly becoming a sport of its own, complete with competitions held worldwide.

“It’s fun for everyone and suited for ages 3 to 103,” said Burke, SkyVenture Colorado managing partner. “As a matter of fact, the oldest lady we’ve had in here to date was 96, and she had a great time.”

According to Burke, four 300-horsepower fans circulate air around the interior of the wind tunnel structure, generating the same speeds skydivers feel during free fall. Visitors enter a small Plexiglas chamber, under the watchful eye of a certified instructor, and learn how certain body positions can allow them to balance on airflow and fly the way skydivers do, but much closer to earth and in view of friends and family.

Unlike actual skydiving, there’s no jumping and no experience is needed.

Burke says it’s simply as easy as floating on a column of air.

There is no sensation of falling that might cause motion sickness.

The facility, which opened in 2006, attracts a wide variety of clientele, from local youngsters in search of something new, to special operations soldiers preparing for career qualification jumps.

“One of the biggest misconceptions about indoor skydiving has to be the price,” Burke said. “So many people think it costs hundreds of dollars, but actually it doesn’t.”

As a matter fact, compared to what most beginners would pay for an introductory flight, SkyVenture comes in at less than a quarter of the cost for an actual airborne jump.

Burke said instructional costs at a skydiving school average between $125 and $200.

“For actual coaching in the drop-zone, a student would need to cover the cost of the instructor, the slot on the aircraft, any school fees that might apply, as well as the cost of gear rental,” he explained. “And that’s just for a single jump and about 20 seconds of instruction.”

Introductory packages at SkyVenture Colorado include a training session, use of all flight gear, two one-minute flights, one-on-one personal instruction and a souvenir flight certificate. Flight videos are immediately available for review and purchase afterwards.

Competitive skydivers enjoy SkyVenture for the price as well as the convenience and immediate performance feedback.

“I’m here because I’ve been out of the country for about three months and haven’t been able to skydive,” said Jeff Chrjapin. “I just wanted to get some local training here before doing a real jump.”

With more than 6,000 visitors annually, Burke said the 9,000-square-foot facility has a growing number of patrons both locally and internationally.


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