Skydive SAFETY – The CRUX
Dan's Dan's Thought for the Day...
Skydiving is not an experience of half measures. Most people have generally one of two reactions. It's either 'No way' or “I've always wanted to'. If making a skydive is on your bucket list, you're in the right place for information…
We are an independent online magazine, not tied to any country, school or system. We aim to explain the principles of taking up skydiving, enthuse a bit about our fabulous sport, and help you find the information you want next
Of course this does not replace the proper instruction it's obvious anyone should have before skydiving. You can't learn to swim on the internet, and you can't learn to skydive either. We just give some background to paint a picture. Systems, approaches and equipment vary around the world so we have kept things general.
There are four ways of trying skydiving; tandem, AFF, static line or tunnel. They are briefly outlined here to help you decide what appeals.
This is the most popular way of doing a first jump. You skydive in a dual harness with an instructor, who takes care of opening the parachute, landing on the drop zone, and dealing with any emergency situations. Because you have little to do, apart from smile and enjoy the ride, the briefing is short, 5-30 minutes. You jump from about 10,000 feet, experience the thrill of freefall, feeling the rush of the wind and taking in the incredible view of the countryside two miles below. When the parachute is opened at about 5,000 feet, you should be able to talk to the instructor, and take a turn with the toggles. A tandem gives a true skydiving experience.
Time Training: 5-30 minutes Exit Altitude: 10,000 -13,000 feet Freefall: About 30 seconds Parachute: Large, made for two, dual controls but no requirement for student to operate Cost: Best value first jump experience Summary: As a taster of skydiving this is as good as it gets. Recommended, the first jump that's the most fun
More at Tandem Jumping
'Accelerated free fall' doesn't mean you descend any faster, it just means you learn more quickly than classically. An AFF course usually takes 8-10 jumps, in 3-4 days if the weather is kind. A full day of instruction usually ends with a written exam. You jump at the end of the first day or next morning. Your first three jumps are from about 12,000 feet, with an instructor on each side. You open and fly your own parachute to the ground, with guidance from a radio. The second half of the course is with one-on-one coaching from a single instructor. This is a highly personalised, top of the range, super-fun skydiving course.
Time Training: All day Exit Altitude: 12,000-13,000 feet Freefall: About 30 seconds Parachute: Student alone under canopy, with radio guidance Cost: Not cheap but worth every penny Summary: If you definitely want to take up skydiving, this is the most motivating and quickest route
More at AFF Explained
Pictures of AFF: AFF Storyboard in Pictures
Videos of AFF: Preparing for AFF
Some drop zones offer a first jump course by way of a 'static line'. Here you jump from roughly 4,000 feet, as the parachute opens immediately, activated by a static line attached to the aircraft. This takes a full day's training before you're ready for jump 1. If you want to carry on, there will usually be a progression system in your country/state that will advance you slowly but surely to become a qualified parachutist. You do all the jumps solo, an instructor will despatch you' from the airplane, and write up your critique logbook. This is a budget method of learning to skydive.
Time Training: All day Exit Altitude: 3,000 - 5,000 feet Freefall: None Parachute: Student alone under canopy, with radio guidance Cost: Cheapest entry method to skydiving Summary: A budget method of learning to skydive
More at Static Line Progression
There are free fall simulators in many countries, wind tunnels, that can give you a taster of the sport. Although purists may argue that it's 'not skydiving', it is very similar to being in free fall – but without an urgent need for a parachute. Controlling your body is a matter of basic physics – moving your limbs pushes the air so you move in the opposite direction. Learning basics in a wind tunnel can help with control and confidence when you skydive. It can be compared to learning on a dry ski slope before taking to the mountains for a skiing holiday. If you're not sure if you would like skydiving then tunnel flying may help you decide – but then so would a tandem jump.
Time Training: 15-60 minutes Exit Altitude: 3-4 feet! Freefall: 2-20 minutes Parachute: None Cost: Not cheap but worth it if you can afford it Summary: It's always good to do tunnel, provided you're not sacrificing skydives
More at: Tunnel Flying
To sum up, if you want a 'taster experience' of skydiving, then tandem and wind tunnel flying are both excellent options. If you are committed to taking up skydiving then AFF, static line or local versions would be more appropriate. The choice is yours and depends on your personal circumstances, such as budget, time available and location.