What is it?The SkyRide Virtual network is a collection of websites that present a skydiving, soaring or ballooning business.
Many of the sites are clones with the name of the business changed.
What is the latest news?
Update Sept 2010
Skyride tried to get the March 3, 2010 testimony of Jan Meyer redacted.
That motion was not granted. The parts that were asked to be redacted pertain to the agreement that USPA entered into with 1-800-Skyride et al.
These clauses have never been released until now.
Read the full and complete testimony of Meyer.
Additional court documents include:
Jan 6, 2010 - "Evil only flourishes when good people standby and do nothing" - Sid Leach
Nashville Court Order about Stickers on right-of-way Dec. 15, 2009
Nashville, TN WSMV-TV story about stickers Nov 2009
CT AG launches investigation. (10/09)
There are now 3 lawsuits that Skyride aka all their other names are involved in.
Skydive Arizona v. Skyride et al.
Read the trial minutes Skydive Arizona wins $6.6M from 1-800-Skyride.
Read the court ruling from 3/31/2010.
Skyride et al v. USPA - an anti-trust claim
The State of Georgia v. Skyride et al. - a consumer protection claim
The latest information on this is this document from 8-25-08.
Fox News Story 8/06
Skydiving Co. Ripped Me Off - Company Used Misleading Advertising, Woman Says July 2008
NEW story about 1-800-SkyRide An excellent story with video about a customer's experience. Credit to KUTV, CBS affiliate.
More Complaints from Customers:
Ripped Off by 1800SkyRide 2007-05-29 by Loretta Miller
Yes, it is a scam! - 2007-06-24 by Former Employee
Hot Air Balloning
Up, up and away
Jun 15, 2007 | 9:05 PM
Report This Post
The first time I went up in a hot air balloon was back when I worked in South Carolina. We were preparing stories for an annual balloon festival called Freedom Weekend Aloft. I was struck by how peaceful and relaxation the ride was as we floated several hundred feet above the Piedmont. It was so quiet you felt like you could actually talk to the people down on the ground.
No wonder so many hot air balloon enthusiasts are so upset with a Kennesaw booking company they say turns relaxation into aggravation. The company is called 1-800-SkyRide, but we found they operate under many other names on the Internet. Over the last year I've personally talked to dozens of people around the country who complain SkyRide took their money for skydiving or balloon rides... but never delivered on the trip. They had to file reports with the Better Business Bureau to finally get SkyRide to give them a refund.
The Balloon Federation of America got so many complaints about SkyRide the organization decided not the renew the company's membership.
If you want to book a skydive or hot air balloon ride, check out local operators in your area first. Research their reputation with the local Better Business Bureau. Weather is always a factor for trips like this, but you have a better chance of getting an honest explanation if you deal with the people who are actually going to do the flying.
For more information about ballooning, check out www.bfa.net.
How does it work?A customer reads all about skydiving or ballooning. The web site encourages the reader to call and make an appointment. There is never any physical address listed.
When you call the toll free number you are quoted a price of $165 for the jump. The complete package is quoted as $198.45. The complete package price includes a port fee, weather insurance and sometimes an extra charge to ride in the big plane.
After you give out your credit card information you are told where the drop zone is. No one is ever told where the drop zone is until money has changed hands.
When they finally do tell you where the drop zone is, it may be a drop zone hundreds of miles away, sometimes even several states away.
SkyRide sends the customer a Gift Certificate that they take to the drop zone. The customer goes to the drop zone for his jump.
Hopefully, the drop zone accepts the gift certificate. As the customer looks around, he may notice that his cost for a jump is a lot more than what other people are paying. It usually costs more through SkyRide.
Sometimes the drop zone has never heard about SkyRide or does not have an agreement to accept the gift certificates. The customer starts to become annoyed. The drop zone usually tells the customer to challenge the credit card charge and sells them a jump directly. Other times the customer calls SkyRide to resolve the problem. SkyRide tells them that they agreed to do a jump at Atlanta Skydiving Center. An incredulous customer repeats that they were told to go to the local drop zone. SkyRide sticks to its new version of the agreement and says they should be over at ASC.
Interesting Facts:All of the customer testimonies on the ballooning sites are identical except for the city that the person is from.
Customer testimonials on the skydiving sites are just as bogus. This testimony by 'Sheila Haigler' firstname.lastname@example.org
I wanted to write and tell you how much I enjoyed my first skydive. I recently attended the Atlanta Skydiving Center on June 4, 2000 and made my first tandem jump. It was such an adrenaline rush. I loved it so much that I hope to be back before too long and bring some friends with me. I would like to thank my tandem instructor, Danny, for such a great first skydive. Not to forget the awesome job that Steve did on videoing my first jump. Thanks guys for such a great experience.
appears on these sites with the DZ name replaced:
http://www.skydivingnashville.com/pages/getcert_pages/testimonials1.html http://www.skydivecenter.com/letter.html http://www.skydivebirmingham.com/letters.html http://www.skydiveknoxville.com/letters.html http://www.alskydiving.com/birmingham_skydiving_letters.html http://www.montanaskydiving.com/skydive_montana_letters.html http://www.jerseycityskydiving.com/skydive_jersey_city_letters.html http://www.skydivesaltlakecity.com/skydive_salt_lake_city_letters.html http://www.skydivingknoxville.com/skydive_knoxville_letters.html http://www.hawaiiskydive.com/skydive_hawaii_letters.html
Some of the drop zone sites have a picture of their facilities. It is the same picture on many different sites. The picture is actually a picture of the Atlanta Skydiving Center hanger. The owners of these web sites do actually own two real drop zones.
I am in the 'staff' picture on Skydive Green Bay, LASkydiving.com. and skydive-tennessee.com. The picture is a Mission Impossible photo that Brent Finley took in 2000. That is misleading because none of the people in the picture work for Los Angeles Skydiving.
Just in case they change their site, here is a picture of their staff page.
See a side by side look at three of their web sites.
TNskydiving.com, Colorado-Skydiving.com, KansasSkydiving.com and SkydiveMS.com SkydiveTrenton.com are knock-offs of a Canadian DZ Adventure Skydiving
See many more Adventure Skydiving knock-off sites.
There are DZOs that are happy with SkyRide. They seem few and far between. Most DZOS that have used the service are not happy when they find out the customer gets charged more. Other DZOs have renegotiated, so that the customer pays the same rate as a direct customer. Then SkyRide finds a competing DZ that will allow the over-charging. New customers are then sent to the second DZ, even when SkyRide tells the first DZ that they will receive referrals in their area.
These are not isolated incidents. They are happening across the US and soon Canada.
Other web sites that you should look at (also owned by Ben & Cary) are
Who Wins?Obviously, SkyRide makes a hefty amount of money for the recruitment of the customer. The drop zone makes less money than they would otherwise - but the theory is that they make up for it in volume. The customer pays more for a jump.
This has a list of over two hundred of the more than
SkyRide does not operate like an agent site like Travelocity.com or CheapTickets.com They mislead the public. Their empire of virtual DZs is extremely deceptive.
The FutureThere is also another aspect of this that was related to me by yet another DZO about a year ago. This past week I heard the identical 'speculation about the future' from a different DZO from a different part of the country.
The speculation goes like this:
SkyRide makes the DZs happy by recruiting tandems for them. After a year or two, SkyRide has made its name in the whuffo public. It has branded itself in the minds of one-time jumpers. Skydive Detroit, Skydive Sacramento, Hawaii Skydive, Skydive Knoxville, Skydive Tucson, Skydive Phoenix, Georgia Skydiving etc etc dominate the public's awareness. Someone that does a jump through SkyRide today, meets someone a couple of years from now and highly reccomends SkyRide. Only thing is, a couple of years from now - the scene may be very different. One day, a couple of years from know, SkyRide opens its own DZs across the country - nearly simultaneously. At this instant, referrals to all of the real DZs (that we know today) are cut off from SkyRide. SkyRide saves up other people's money to buy a fleet to support the operations. It's much better to use OPM than your own, right?
SkyRide is run by DZOs. That's a significant difference than an airline booking agency run by people that would not know much about starting an airline. It's kind of strange that it is working at all. Can you imagine one DZO saying to his neighboring DZO - 'Hey I'll take care of advertising for both of our DZs. We'll split the customers. Give me 40% of what you charge them.' Maybe the SkyRide long term plan might be realized by 'competing' DZOs and they may do cooperative adverting in their area with their branding. One can only hope that DZOs realize how good Cary's advertizing is.
There is a big picture here that many people do not see.
Think of Cary and Ben's new twin otter with the SkyRide logo paint job flying into an airport near you.
If you think this is far-fetched, go look at this:
Fine Living Update: Fine Living removed the link to SkyRide that they had on that page. ;)
What REAL skydiving or balloon operators are saying?This is a list of Consumer Alerts that appear on REAL operator's web sites.
Phone numbers and addresses used by SkyRide: (incomplete list)
1 800 Skyride (214) 234-1935 Dallas, TX Thrill Planet (214) 234-1935 Dallas, TX Soaring Sports (469) 385-6247 Dallas, TX Above Dallas Skydiving (972) 692-0252 1300 W Mockingbird Ln, Dallas, TX Dallas Skydiving Center (214) 398-2360 8324 Lake June Rd, Dallas, TX Soaring Sports (281) 759-3483 Houston, TX 1 800 Skyride (281) 759-3483 Houston, TX Sky Dive Houston (281) 550-8070 16603 Royal Mile Ln, Houston, TX Adventure Skydiving (281) 759-3483 Houston, TX 1 800 Skyride (847) 995-9991 Chicago, IL Thrill Planet (847) 995-9991 Chicago, IL Soaring Sports (815) 929-9000 Northbrook, IL Phoenix Skydiving Incorporated (800) 404-5867 6020 E Lake Dr, Lisle, IL Thrill Planet (305) 455-0022 Miami, FL Soaring Sports (786) 515-1080 Miami, FL 1 800 skyride (305) 455-1220 Miami, FL Thrill Planet (347) 332-7199 New York, NY Soaring Sports (646) 274-5630 New York, NY Above Newark Skydiving (973) 679-5727 Newark, NJ Above Newark Skydiving (973) 693-1141 56 James St, Newark, NJ 1 800 Skyride (973) 679-5727 Newark, NJ Thrill Planet (201) 526-0884 Newark, NJ Soaring Sports (973) 679-6408 Newark, NJ Thrill Planet (404) 214-2040 Atlanta, GA 1 800 Skyride (404) 214-0027 Atlanta, GA Soaring Sports (404) 214-0027 Atlanta, GA Adventure Skydiving (678) 295-1140 3240 S Cobb Dr Se, Smyrna, GA 1 800 Skyride (770) 405-1036 3240 S Cobb Dr Se, Smyrna, GA Above Skydive Knoxville (865) 246-0872 Knoxville, TN Thrill Planet (865) 246-0051 Knoxville, TN Soaring Sports (865) 246-0872 Knoxville, TN Adventure Skydive Center (423) 894-2666 Chattanooga, TN 1 800 Skyride (423) 894-2666 Chattanooga, TN Luxergy.com 770-405-0303 2593 Kennesaw Due West Rd. Suite 300 Kennesaw, GA 30144
Compiled by Jan Meyer Nov. 2003.
Updated October 2004.
Updated November 2005.
Updated July 2007.
Updated October 2007.
Updated October 2009.
Sport Parachutist's Safety Journal
dedicated to enhancing sport parachuting safety by disseminating information about equipment, environments and human factors.
that title is an acronym, not a slick one like scuba, but each letter does stand for a word. have you ever heard an acronym at your dz? (ah, there's one now).
Find the Problem
what usually occurred was that jumpers passed through the optimal place and the formation disintegrated into a bunch of people scattered about the sky.
safety and risk are not the same things. risk is measured. safety is judged. safety is the personal or societal acceptance of a given risk.
have you ever seen someone on your jump cutaway and deploy his reserve? it's pretty interesting to watch from that close. you can tell, almost before the other guy, that his parachute is history. then you see the canopy released and the reserve come out. great. your friend will live and has got a new story to tell.