Travel Brochure Finds: People Who Can Fly And More From Colorado

Travel brochures tout tourist-oriented destinations that commonly offer plenty of things to do. Any given place on the planet might have historic significance, a natural wonder of some sort or man-made things to see and do that draw visitors from around the world. The state of Colorado is no exception.

Racks of colorful travel brochures with a variety of attractions can be found in hotels, airports, restaurants and most public places. Stopping a couple days in the Denver area recently, we found some travel brochures that jumped off the rack saying, “take me.” Surely, that’s what they are designed to do; catch our attention over a hundred other brochures competing for our limited time in town.

It’s interesting though, how just one of those brochures can open up an entirely different experience; in this case, one that literally fell out of the sky.

Indoor Skydiving at SkyVenture Colorado in Denver simulates the free-fall part of a sky dive, the time between jumping out of a plane until the parachute is opened – what is commonly referred to as “flying.”

The SkyVenture wind tunnel facility does it so well, that avid and pro skydivers go there to practice what they might do during free fall, in a timely and cost-efficient manner.

Jumping out of a plane, skydivers get about 50 to 60 seconds until they need to deploy their parachute (called a “canopy”). To practice a routine or formation, many of these “drops” are needed and without a wind tunnel that means landing, repacking their parachute, getting back in a plane, taking off and jumping out all over again.

They don’t mind that; in fact, they pretty much live for it. But the Sky Venture wind tunnel allows skydivers to practice efficiently, often with other knowledgeable skydivers looking on, providing helpful tips and feedback.

We were there for something else though.

It was an event that was something new at SkyVenture Colorado, a wind tunnel wedding, believed to be the first-ever. The ceremony, officiated by Native American Douglas Spotted Eagle, joined my daughter Sydney to my new son-in-law Barry.

Both experienced skydivers from different backgrounds, their paths crossed via skydiving.

Sydney Owen, a recent USF graduate, was climbing the corporate ladder at rapid speeds on a path to epic success when skydiving entered the picture. To feed her passion for the sport, she left the corporate world behind and started her own millennial-focused PR firm. Based at Southern California’s Skydive Elsinore, Sydney has jumped out of a perfectly good airplane 300+ times.

Barry Williams
, the Director of Elsinore Elevate Advanced Bodyflight at Skydive Elsinore with an extensive pedigree (AFF-I, USPA C/E, FAA Sr. Rigger, for readers in the know), has over 6000 jumps.

Frankly, having anything to do with “Pro Skydiving” was not on my original top-ten list of “Wishes For Our Children.”

But “Be Happy,” “Impact Those Around You” and “Find Someone To Share Your Life With” were probably in the top three and skydiving managed to make hitting all of them possible. Pictured here, their “first dance” after the ceremony.

The SkyVenture Colorado brochure lists a number of services they render, but “life changing event” is not mentioned. It kind of makes one wonder what other attractions might have to offer, beyond the brochure headlines.

Let’s take a look at some other Colorado offerings found on brochure racks throughout the state.

Also flight-oriented, Glider Rides in Boulder, Colorado, are not the small, lightweight hang gliders that these high-performance aircraft are often confused with.

Here an FAA-certified commercial pilot tows the glider, you and another pilot to a suitable altitude. Once there, the glider pilot releases the towline, allowing the aircraft to soar effortlessly and silently with no engine noise. Passengers can take the controls for a portion of the flight or just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Back on solid ground, the Downtown Aquarium in Denver features Diving With The Sharks in which visitors dive into the aquarium’s sunken shipwreck exhibit where they experience Sand Tiger Sharks, Brown Sharks, Zebra Sharks and Barracudas.

Another experience available, Swim With The Fish, lets kids ages 6 and up snorkel with the facilities 350-pound Grouper, Moray Eels and more.

Also water-oriented, Raft Colorado, run by Raft masters since 1989 offers a variety of raft adventures and specializes in group experiences. On the Arkansas River in Canon City and Clear Creek in Idaho Springs, Colorado, Raft Masters provides all the equipment and safety training.

Beginners to advanced rafters at Clear Creek experience some of the best and most exciting whitewater, about 30 minutes away from Denver. Arkansas river programs boast spectacular scenery on America’s most popular rafting river.

Package deals include a Rail & Raft offering that begins with a scenic round-trip train ride through Royal Gorge. After an included buffet lunch, choose an afternoon raft trip on either Bighorn Sheep Canyon or Royal Gorge. A Boat & Bridge package combines Royal Gorge Bridge and Park with a half-day raft trip.

Skydiver Prepares To Jump From Edge Of Space

For the past five years, Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner has been preparing for the biggest jump of his – or anyone else’s – career. On Monday, October 8, he hopes to climb inside a specially designed capsule that, with the help of a balloon filled with helium, will carry him to the very edge of space. And when he has reached a height of 120,000 feet (About 23 miles!) above the surface of the planet, Baumgartner intends to step out of that capsule and free fall back to Earth. If successful, it’ll be the highest, not to mention the most audacious, skydive in history.

In preparation for his history-making leap, Baumgartner has already completed two practice jumps at lower altitudes. The most recent of those test runs took place back in July when he dove from 96,640 feet. That successful effort paved the way for the final jump next week, which will take place in the skies over New Mexico.

In addition to being the highest skydive in history, this could also be the fastest. Baumgartner expects to hit speeds in excess of 690 mph, which would actually be faster than the speed of sound. In the near vacuum found at the edge of space, he should break the sound barrier in about 30 seconds. After that, he’ll free fall for another five minutes before pulling his ripcord, which will release his parachute and allow him to drift safely back to Earth. The entire jump should last somewhere between 15 and 20 minutes and will be broadcast live on the web at his descent, Baumgartner will be wearing a pressure suit that has been specifically designed to protect him from the harsh elements of the upper atmosphere. That suit, which is not unlike something an astronaut would wear, will be vital to his safe return. If it suffers even the slights tear while exiting the capsule or during the high-speed drop, Felix could develop bubbles in his blood stream that could be potentially lethal. This is similar to the danger that scuba divers face when returning to the surface too quickly.

Baumgartner’s team has taken great pains to ensure that he survives this jump. In addition to his main parachute, he also has a second back-up chute that he can use in case of an emergency. If Felix should blackout while making the descent or go into an uncontrollable flat spin, a smaller, third parachute will automatically deploy to help slow his fall and regain control. Hopefully none of those systems will be needed, however, and his main chute will function properly.

Right now, all eyes are on the weather. Conditions are expected to be good for a Monday jump, but if the winds are too high or storms are in the area, it’s possible that Baumgartner will scrub the attempt. With a little luck, however, he should be making his historic jump right on schedule.

[Photo credit: Jay Nemeth/Red Bull Stratos]

138 Synchronized Skydivers Break Vertical Formation World Record

On Friday, a world record was shattered as 138 skydivers jumped off six different planes to form the largest vertical formation to date. The unusual event occurred over Ottawa, Illinois, beating the previous record of 108 people.

According to Digital Trends, there were 15 failed attempts during the course of three days before the skydivers were finally able to join hands and form a perfect formation. The divers faced speeds of up to 220 mph, and had to perform acrobatic tricks similar to “doing a handstand at 7,000 feet,” as described by Rook Nelson, an organizer and the owner of Skydive Chicago. Their hard work paid off, however, as the group was able to create a colorful snowflake shape that lasted for a few seconds, before divers had to disband and open their chutes.

The diverse group of skydivers came from all over the world, and included 13 women. Divers hailed from France, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, Russia, Italy, Belgium, Australia and Great Britain to take part.

To see the record-breaking stunt for yourself, check out the video above.

How To Face Your Fears Through Travel

For many people, traveling is about trying new things and making inner discoveries. It’s a great primer for getting your mind ready for an adventure. While you’re having these unique experiences, why not take the opportunity to conquer a fear, as well? Here are some ideas on how travel can help you face your anxieties head-on.


Being afraid to fly is very common, and the best way to overcome your fear is to face it. While simply going to an overseas destination is a step in the right direction, why not go all out and try skydiving? Some of the best places for skydiving are the Fox Glacier in New Zealand, Mount Everest in Nepal, Cairns in Australia and Seville in Spain. If you’d like to start out smaller, zip lining can also provide an aerial adventure. You’ll be able to attach yourself to a harness, which is connected to a wire, and fly over tall trees and beautiful landscapes.The Ocean

This is a big one for me. During a trip to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, I sat on the boat shaking as my guide fitted me for scuba gear. I watched jealously as my friends jumped into the ocean without a care in the world. However, my fears slowly drifted away as the instructor showed us step-by-step how to safely navigate the water. It ended up being one of the best experiences of my life. Some other great diving areas to explore on your travels are East Java, Madagascar, Raja Ampat and the Galapagos Islands.


For those who are afraid of spiders and other creepy crawlers, a trip to the jungle or rainforest will be just what you need. In places like the Amazon Jungle in South America, where you can see the world’s largest species, the Goliath Tarantula, you’ll find enormous spiders and unique insects you can’t find anywhere else in the world. And after you face these bugs, the average house spider will seem as harmless as a kitten.

The Unknown

For many people, not having a set schedule or itinerary can be terrifying. I actually used to be the kind of person who constantly planned out every detail of a trip and would get anxiety if something went off course. Help free your mind on your travels and try not making a plan. Simply pack a bag, buy a plane ticket and show up at your destination. Not only is it liberating to travel with a blank itinerary of endless opportunities, it’s a lot harder for things to go wrong when you had no plan to begin with.


Are you the type of person that shakes at the thought of committing to something for longer than the afternoon? Get over your fear and sign up for a volunteer project abroad. There’s usually a two-week minimum commitment, but to get the most out of the project I’d recommend going for a month or longer. Volunteer at an orphanage, teach English, coach sports, provide medical help or work with animals and help another community. You’ll not only get over your fear of commitment, you’ll also grow as a person.

The Dark

It’s unfortunate that so many people are afraid of the dark, as there are so many great things that happen when the sun’s not around. One great experience to have is camping. You’ll be able to roast marshmallows over an open fire, sing songs, go on night hikes and feel how small the Earth really is through stargazing. One tip: it’s probably best to skip the scary campfire stories the first time around. Some great camping destinations include The Outback in Australia, the Inca Trail in Peru and Torres del Paine in Chile. Another fun adventure to have in the dark is black water rafting, or cave tubing. While it doesn’t need to be nighttime, you’ll be rafting through dark caves where anything is possible. It’s a lot of fun, and a very different experience from white water rafting in the sunlight.

Eating New Foods

While being afraid to try new foods isn’t too serious, tasting unique and “scary” dishes can open you up to new things and lead you to say “yes” to more opportunities. For some people, eating a food they’ve never had can be terrifying. The best remedy for this is immersing yourself in a unique food culture, ordering something unknown and asking what it is only after you’ve tasted it. In my opinion, the best place to do this is Asia, where they have some of the most unimaginable foods ever created. Some unique dishes to try include tarantulas, durian, smelly tofu and white ant eggs.


Death can be a hard thing for anyone to face; however, it’s also a part of life. Many dark tourism sites offer a look into the more morbid part of history, and usually leave you with an important takeaway point. Some of these sites include Dachau Concentration Camp in Germany, Napoleonland in France, and the slave castles of Cape Coast, Ghana. There are also less intense ways to explore death through travel. For example, there are some beautiful cemeteries you can visit like Recoleta in Buenos Aires, St. Louis #1 in New Orleans and Woodlawn Cemetery in New York.


There are many ways to overcome your fear of heights when traveling: high-altitude hikes, zip lining, hang gliding, parasailing and, my personal favorite, bungee jumping. The first time I bungee jumped was in Cairns, Australia, and I was scared out of my mind. After the jump was complete, however, I found myself laughing hysterically and asking to do it again. Some of my favorite destinations for the activity include Interlaken, Switzerland, Queenstown, New Zealand, and Puerta Vallarta, Mexico.


To really face your fears of the walking dead, the best thing you can do is visit a haunted site. There are tons of haunted houses, haunted castles, haunted hotels and creepy abandoned cities to explore. For your next trip, why not find out for yourself just how these sites got their reputation?

[photos via Alexander Savin, cheetah100, Jessie on a Journey, Jessie on a Journey, LIN HSIN YAO]

Scariest Skydiving Video Ever!

For many people skydiving is one of those bucket list items you do following a monumental birthday just to cross it off your list. That’s what Lavern, the woman in this video, did after she turned 80. The problem is, once she got up in the air she decided she really wasn’t sure she wanted to jump after all. Clinging to the open doorway on the airplane, the man that was jumping tandem with her forced Laverne out of the plane and in doing so she became dislodged from her harness. The result is one scary plunge back to Earth with the instructor clinging on to the woman for dear life and a clearly panicked cameraman desperately wanting to help. Warning: this one is not for the faint of heart!