Before making your first jump, make sure you are ready by knowing what to expect.
There are several different methods of training you can take in order to learn to skydive. They are: Static Line, Accelerated Freefall, or Tandem. They are described below in greater detail. However, not all drop zones offer all these options, so you should ask the DZ which type(s) 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, and meet the 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!
At Texas Skydiving you must be 16 and up. Most drop zones will require you to be 18 years of age to make a skydive. Some states will allow 16 year olds to jump with parental consent.
On the other side, there is no maximum age. See the following question to determine if skydiving is appropriate for you.
In general, the prospective student should be in reasonably good physical shape, skydiving is a sport after all. You will be required wear around 25 pounds of equipment, endure parachute-opening shock, maneuver the canopy, land, and possibly trudge great distances on foot. You will experience 30 degree swings in temperature, atmospheric pressure changes, and four hours of lecture, so be prepared for an endurance challenge!
Problems may arise when a prospect is too heavy (over roughly 250 pounds / 110 kilograms, see below) 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.
Drop zones will often 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!
When dealing with Weight Restrictions, there are two primary concerns.
First, does the drop zone have a parachute system which both you and your instructor can legally use and safely land? (I changed this sentence for clarity, please make sure it still says what it is supposed to.
Second, if you are at the top-end of the safe weight range for a particular parachute, are you in relatively good shape? An imperfect landing will be much less likely to injure an athletic person. If this is unclear, consider the difference between a 5'10" athlete who weighs 240 pounds, and someone of the same height and weight who is inactive. If the athlete has a bad landing, he'll probably brush himself off and get up. The inactive person may very well injure him or herself substantially, lacking both the strength to withstand landing and coordination to do a good Parachute Landing Fall(PLF). With this in mind, use the following table as a guide.
|< 200 pounds||Almost every DZ should be willing to let you jump.|
|200-230 pounds||The majority of DZs should be willing to let you jump. Being in relatively good shape is a plus.|
|230-250 pounds||Some DZ's may take you, but will likely insist that you be in good shape. You must recognize that there is a greater chance of injury, particularly if you are not somewhat athletic.|
|> 250 pounds||Few DZ's will be able to let you skydive. Without special equipment, you will need to be in excellent physical condition, and be willing to accept a greatly increased chance of injury in the case of a bad landing.|
Please note that this table is only a guideline. Call your local drop zone and discuss the matter with them. Also, there are experienced skydivers who are quite heavy -- however, they likely learned when they were lighter and had mastered landing before they gaining the additional weight.
Our instructors teach the student everything they need to know to safely make their first jump. There are several different programs available for first jumpers; the one you choose will depend on your personal preferences and circumstances.
In all of these training methods, students are taught normal and emergency procedures for all aspects of the jump--climb to altitude, exit, opening, canopy control, and landing. They are also shown the equipment and go over it so that they understand how it works.
Click a link below to see details about each jump type
Most dropzones that provide regular student training are "USPA Affiliated". The United States Parachute Association (USPA) is the representative body for sport parachuting within the US, and a member of the FAI (the international equivalent). The USPA defends the sport's interests before the FAA and other regulating/lawmaking bodies at all levels of government. It also develops and monitors safety and training doctrine for the sport. Other benefits include liability insurance for students and DZs in the case of damage to property, subscriptions to the monthly magazine Parachutist, etc.
The USPA has had tremendous success instituting rating programs for Jumpmasters, Instructors, and Instructor-Examiners to ensure that only properly trained and qualified personnel work with students. You should insist on USPA Instructors and Jumpmasters.
Some USPA-affiliated DZ's have not been diligent in using only currently-rated Instructors and Jumpmasters. Do not be afraid to ask to see your Instructor or Jumpmaster's rating card. It should show the appropriate rating and expiration date. Also note that currently, Tandem Jumpmasters are certified by the equipment manufacturer, not USPA.
USPA affiliation is not required, and does not guarantee a DZ to be a "good" DZ, and non-affiliation does not mean the DZ is "bad". However, the USPA, through their diligence and caution, has compiled an excellent safety record over the years. Other affiliating organizations include Skydive University and Parachute Industry Assn.
These are just guidelines. You should always check it out before you jump.
With good reason, this is the most frequently asked question posed by prospective jumpers.
By law (FAA regulations), all intentional parachute 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 second (or spare) canopy in case the first one fails to open properly.
Additionally, it must be noted that 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 in that the materials are stronger, lighter, and more durable. In addition, 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. The reserve parachute must be inspected and repacked every 120 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.
When you leave the aircraft, you are moving horizontally at the same speed as the aircraft, typically 90-110 MPH. During the first 10 seconds, a skydiver accelerates up to about 115-130 MPH straight down. (A tandem jump pair uses a drogue chute to keep them from falling much faster than this). It is possible to change your body position to vary your rate of fall. 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 160-180 MPH. Speeds of over 200 MPH require significant practice to achieve. The record freefall speed, done without any special equipment, is 321 MPH. For obvious reasons, it is desirable to slow back down to 110MPH before parachute opening.
Once under canopy, descent rates of 1,000 feet per minute 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 1,500 feet per minute and during radical turns, the descent rate can exceed 2,000 feet per minute.
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 jump students land standing up.
See our pricing schedule
Unless you're already a very experienced skydiver, you can’t.
"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.
Talking in Freefall is virtually impossible. The wind is too loud.
Without taking Oxygen on the plane with you, freefall time is limited to about 80 seconds on a single jump.
Learning to fall stable and to fly while in freefall takes practice--it's not realistic to do this on your first jump.
This virtually never happens. Everyone tends to deploy around 2,000-2,500 feet. Skydivers fall at about 5.5 seconds/thousand feet.
Stunts similar to this have been done, however, it's almost impossible to hold onto someone during the opening shock of the parachute when at terminal velocity ... would you trust your buddy?