How fast will I fall?
When you leave the aircraft, you are moving horizontally at the same speed as the aircraft, typically 90-110MPH. During the first 10 seconds, a skydiver accelerates up to about 115-130MPH straight down. (A tandem jump pair uses a drogue chute to keep them from falling much faster than this). It is possible to vary your rate of fall by changing your body position. In a standard face-to-earth position, you can change your fall rate up or down a few (10-20) miles per hour. However, by diving or "standing up" in freefall, an experienced skydiver can learn to reach speeds of over 160-180MPH. Speeds of over 200MPH require significant practice to achieve. The record freefall speed, done without any special equipment, is 321MPH. For obvious reasons, it is desirable to slow back down to 110MPH before parachute opening.
Once under canopy, descent rates of 1000ft./min. are typical. A lighter student with a bigger canopy may come down much more slowly, and, obviously, a heavier person may have a faster descent. Experienced jumpers' canopies descend (in normal glide) at up to 1500ft./min. During radical turns, the descent rate can exceed 2000ft./min.
How hard is the landing?
Typically, the landing force is like jumping off a curb or a step.
The canopies used today bear little resemblance to the classic round canopies of years gone by. Today, nearly all jumpers and jump schools use "square" canopies for parachuting. These canopies are actually rectangular in shape, and when open, act like an airplane wing (or an airfoil). They are more like gliders than umbrellas.
The aerodynamics of the square canopy provide it with exceptional maneuverability, allowing the jumpers to land almost anywhere they wish. This wing shape also provides tip-toe soft landings for even the novice jumper. The days of landing like a sand bag are history. Most first-time jumpers land standing up.
How much does it cost?
What are the age requirements?
Our age requirement is 16 and up. Many Drop Zones will require you to be 18 years of age to skydive. Some dropzones in some states will allow 16 year olds to jump with parental consent. So, if you are under 16, you will just have to wait; take up some odd jobs, and start saving your money.
On the other side, there is no maximum age. See the following question to determine if skydiving is appropriate for you.
What are the physical requirements?
In general, the prospective student should be in reasonably good physical shape. This is a sport, after all. You will be required to wear 25+ lbs of equipment, endure opening shock, maneuver the canopy, land, and possibly trudge great distances on foot. You will experience 30 degree swings in temperature, atmospheric pressure changes, hours of class-time, and lots of beer after your jump! It's grueling (:-).
But seriously, problems may arise where a prospect is too heavy (over ~250lbs/ 110kg) or if they have medical conditions which may impair them during the activity. Someone who experiences fainting spells, blackouts, or has a weak heart should not be jumping. Someone with respiratory illness or sinus congestion may have a problem due to atmospheric changes at altitude. The better your physical condition, the more you will enjoy the experience. This being said, very few people have medical or physical conditions which actually preclude jumping.
Dropzones will try to work with you. If you have a question, ask them. As always, consult your physician. You may be surprised at the relatively few physical constraints involved!
Can my friend and I share the same video?
The videographer jumps with each skydiver individually. You will not be in freefall close enough to anyone else except your jumpmaster for them to appear in your video. However, if you ask your cameraman, he may be able to get some ground footage of the other people in your group.
What makes a good Drop Zone?
Find out! See Our Difference >>
How can I learn to skydive or obtain a license?
There are three different methods of training you can take in order to learn to skydive. They are Tandem, Static Line and Solo Freefall. Follow those links to see each in greater detail. Not all Drop Zones offer all of these options, so you should ask the DZ which type of training they provide.
It is your safety at stake and your responsibility to look after it. If you have reservations about making your first jump, make the effort to visit the DZ, check it out, meet the people and staff. They will be glad to see you, and you will be much more confident and comfortable having done so, and consequently have a much better time!
What does the training consist of?
There are three different ways of making your first jump: Tandem, Static Line and Solo Freefall. For the Solo Freefall and Static Line, you will be doing the jump yourself, so you will take a First Jump Course in the morning and jump in the afternoon. The FJC teaches you everything they need to know to safely make your first jump. The Solo Freefall is a higher-altitude jump, and the Static Line is a lower-altitude jump. If you choose the Tandem jump, you will be with a JumpMaster the whole time and your training will take place in the air during the jump, therefore there is no first-jump course for the Tandem skydive. The differences of each are summarized below:
Tandem jumps are meant to offer an introduction to the sport. They allow the novice to "take a ride" with an experienced jumper. A tandem jump requires from 15 to 45 minutes of ground preparation (it is not a First-Jump Course). The student and tandem instructor each wear a harness, however only the master wears the parachutes. The student’s harness attaches to the front of the instructor’s harness and the two freefall together for 45 seconds, open together, and land together under one Really BIG Parachute.
Tandem jumping provides an obvious advantage for the adventurous spirit who cannot adequately meet the physical or proficiency requirements for the Static Line or Solo Freefall jumps. By relying on Tandem Instructor’s skills, they will still be able to experience the thrill of skydiving.
You can make several tandem skydives, learning more about freefall and the parachute on each jump, and then merge into the Solo Freefall program at Level 3.
Static Line has evolved over the last 30 years from its military origins into a successful method for training sport parachutists. The student gets hours of ground training and is then taken to an altitude of about 3000 feet for the jump. The jump itself consists of a simple "poised" exit from the strut of a small single engine Cessna aircraft. As the student falls away from the plane, the main canopy is deployed by a line attached to the aircraft. The student will experience about two to three seconds of falling as the parachute opens.
Subsequent Static Line jumps require about 15 minutes of preparation. After 2 good Static Line jumps, the student will be trained to pull their ripcord for themselves. The student is then cleared to do their first actual freefall.
AFF or Solo Freefall was instituted in 1982 as an "accelerated" learning process as compared to the traditional static line progression. The Solo Freefall program will give you a true taste of modern sport skydiving.
The ground training is a bit more extensive than Static Line (approx. 4 hours) since the student will be doing a 50+ second freefall (that's right!) on his or her very first jump. The student will exit the aircraft at 10,000-12,000 feet along with two AFF JumpMasters (JM) who will assist the student during freefall. The jumpmasters maintain grips on the student from the moment they leave the aircraft until opening, assisting the student as necessary to fall stable, perform practice ripcord pulls, monitor altitude, etc. The student then pulls his/her own ripcord at about 4500 ft.
What if my parachute doesn't open?
We carry two parachutes whenever we skydive.
According to FAA regulations, all jumps must be made with a single harness, dual-parachute system with both a main canopy and a reserve canopy. In other words, you have a spare parachute in case the first one fails to open properly.
Additionally, the technology utilized in today's sport parachuting equipment is light years ahead of the old military surplus gear used in the '60s and '70s. The canopies are drastically different from the classic "G.I. Joe" round parachutes. The materials are stronger, lighter and last longer. Modern packing procedures are simpler, and the deployment sequence is much more refined, providing smoother openings and softer landings.
The reserve canopies are even more carefully designed and packed. Reserve parachutes must be inspected and repacked every 180 days by an FAA rated parachute rigger - even if it has not been used during that time.
The student's main canopy is always packed either by a rigger or under a rigger's direct supervision by experienced packers.
There are also additional safety features employed to ensure canopy deployment such as Automatic Activation Devices (AAD) and Reserve Static Lines (RSL) which exponentially increase the level of safety.
Where can I try Skysurfing or BASE jumping?
In a nutshell, you can't -- unless you're already a very experienced skydiver.
"Skysurfing" or "Skyboarding" refers to skydiving with a small board, similar to a snowboard, attached to your feet. This allows for some radical maneauvers in freefall. However, such jumps should only be attempted by expert skydivers, and preferably after long discussion with one of the many skysurfers who have experience. Some board manufacturers and experienced skydsurfers offer instructional classes or videotapes.
BASE jumping involves jumping off of fixed objects (like Buildings, Antennas, Spans (bridges), or Earth (cliffs)), and landing under a parachute. While being an expert skydiver isn't an absolute requirement, you need a great deal of experience in parachute packing, canopy control, quick reflexes, and body position awareness before this can be attempted with any real safety. Start with skydiving, and then go from there. Furthermore, there are very few places where one may BASE jump legally, as most locations are private property.