Skydiving in Delta, Colorado
On nice days, Ultimate Skydiving Adventure in Delta, Colorado averages 20 jumps. Photos courtesy of Ultimate Skydiving Adventures.
The first time Ben Lowe jumped out of an airplane was in 2005; he immediately became enamored by the freedom of falling. In the years since, Lowe estimates he’s been skydiving 12,000 times. He’s jumped all over the world, from Greece to Mexico and beyond, chasing that feeling of the wind on his face. On April 1, 2017, Lowe parlayed that passion into a business with the founding of Ultimate Skydiving Adventures in Delta, offering tandem skydiving experiences for thrillseekers ages 7 years old and up.
A native of Riverside-San Bernardino, California, Lowe was originally lured to the Western Slope by a friend who had an airplane hanger here, but decided to stay because of the unmatched natural beauty. He bought his own hangar a year later. “The hard part is we’re far away from a big metropolis like Denver,” Lowe said, “but I knew the views would also bring people out here.”
In its first year of business, Ultimate Skydiving Adventures hosted about 500 jumps. In an average season now, Lowe said 800 to 1,000 people make the jump from his airplane, freefalling from 7,500 feet above the ground. “When we’re flying up to altitude, we get to see the Grand Mesa, we get to see the Gunnison Gorge. We can see the West Elks,” he says, naming landmarks near the Uncompahgre River Valley. “On very clear days, we can see all the San Juans, out to Telluride and Lizard Head.”
Not that the area doesn’t have its challenges. Ultimate Skydiving Adventures is only open April through September because of the weather, which can be unpredictable at times, Lowe said. Sometimes Mother Nature will allow the skydiving season to extend into October.
That’s also why he only schedules jumps from 7 a.m. to noon each day, in hopes both the winds and thermals stay at bay. On nice days, Ultimate Skydiving Adventure averages 20 jumps.
In addition to being a tandem instructor, Lowe is an airplane pilot. He’s also a master parachute rigger, meaning he’s attained an advanced certification for packing parachutes. In fact, he often spends the offseason doing contract work with the military and packing parachutes in Arizona. Otherwise, Lowe travels to warmer climates like Costa Rica to skydive during the winter months.
Of course, he can’t do every job at once, so during the summers, Lowe hires additional pilots to fly the plane while he jumps tandem with skydiving clients. On busy days, he brings in extra instructors, too, so multiple people can skydive at the same time.
One thing that makes Ultimate Skydiving Adventures unique is its youth program. Lowe will tell you that his is the only company in the United States that allows children as young as 7 to skydive.
According to the protocols set forth by the United States Parachute Association (USPA), a nonprofit association dedicated to the promotion of safe skydiving and the support of those who enjoy it, skydivers should be at least 18 whether they’re going tandem or seeking to get licensed. However, that’s not a written law, said spokesperson George Hargis. Lowe said it is more common to find kids in Europe who skydive, but stateside, no company wants to take on the liability. “I wanted to because I feel like our next generation of skydivers needs to start younger,” he said.
With 20 youth tandems already on the books for 2023, Lowe’s got proof there’s demand. One of his proudest moments was several years ago, when he took a 15-year-old skydiving – a kid who ended up coming back to jump year after year and eventually decided to pursue getting his instructor license when he turned 18, Lowe said. “The parents and people now are spending their money on experiences,” he added. “They're coming from anywhere from Florida, we have Arizona and California – and they’re all flying out just for their kid to have this experience.”
Ready to experience the freedom of falling for yourself? Ultimate Skydiving Adventures accepts reservations exclusively by phone at 970-589-9490. Jumps cost $249 for adults and $349 for kids ages 7 to 17. In-air pictures and video cost an additional $129.
Once you’ve secured a date, the company will send you a waiver by email plus video instructions to help you fill it out.
On the day of your scheduled jump, arrive 15 minutes early in comfortable clothes, including closed-toe shoes. Lowe and his team will provide brief training on what to expect, such as body positioning in the air and what to do upon landing, before gearing you up in a jumpsuit and harness.
After boarding the plane, it’s about a 20-minute flight up to altitude, which is about 7,500 feet above the ground and 12,000 feet above sea level. About halfway through the trip, you’ll get fully geared up with goggles and attached to Lowe. “From there, once that door pops open everything becomes real,” he said.