Published: May 28, 2015
Tandem Skydiving: The Top 5 Things to Ask Before You Go
Midwest Freefall has been proudly serving the Detroit area for 16 years, so it's safe to say we've heard nearly every question in the book from first time skydivers. From 'Is skydiving safe?' to 'Where are you located?' there are no bad questions when it comes to booking a tandem skydive. But, we want to make sure you're not missing some of the most important questions when you call a drop zone. Making the final call to jump out of a plane is not a small decision, and you should feel comfortable when you book your skydive. Here are some of the top things to consider when booking a tandem skydive:
1. What type of aircraft do you use and what altitude do you jump from?
No, you're not asking this to assess your fear of heights. Knowing the type of aircraft a drop zone uses will help you determine the altitude of your skydive. When you skydive from a higher altitude, you spend more time in freefall. Who doesn't want more freefall time? No one. If you're not convinced by the sheer fun of freefall, you can think about it from an economic standpoint. The longer your freefall, the more bang for your buck!
Several skydive centers in Michigan offer one choice of aircraft for tandem skydives, a Cessna 182. While this is a great plane for a tandem skydive, and one we recommend trying, it usually only reaches an altitude of 10,000 feet. It's great to have options when you're making such a big decision. In addition to a Cessna 182, we also offer a Pac 750XL, which flies skydivers to an altitude of 13,000 feet in less than 15 minutes and, as an added bonus, offers a more spacious cabin.
It's wise to compare the cost of a tandem skydive while paying attention to the altitude. Some smaller drop zones may charge the same price to jump from a lower altitude.
2. What is the best time to book my skydive?
Even when it comes to skydiving, the early bird gets the worm. Mornings are the best time to skydive because weather is a major determining factor, which can cause delays and cancellations as the day goes on.
When you're looking at the weather, especially in the summer, you may be put off by the daily forecast showing 40% chance of thunderstorms. Luckily, summer rain typically doesn't fall until the afternoon. You'll have a better chance of missing bad weather in the early morning hours.
Also, just like the airport, early delays can push back your departure time. If morning jumpers experience weather delays for their skydive, you'll be waiting for each group after them to catch up.
3. Are you a member of the USPA?
Although it's not mandatory for skydive centers to join the United States Parachute Association (USPA) -a nationally recognized governing body of skydiving-it may be a bad sign when a drop zone is not a member. The USPA not only regulates and sets the guiding principals for safety within the sport, but it also represents the industry as a whole to government agencies. You can feel comfortable knowing that a USPA Member drop zone is expected to follow the rules and regulations set by the USPA.
4. What are my options for video services?
Whether it's to show your friends and family or simply prove to yourself that you actually did it, you'll want to capture this monumental moment on film. It's unlikely that a drop zone will not offer video services at all, but you should know about the two types of services available-outside video and handcam video.
A skydiver shoots an outside video independent from the instructor assigned to jump with you for your tandem, which allows them to capture different angles during your skydive, including your exit from the plane and landing.
Handcam video is typically a GoPro attached to your tandem instructor's arm. With this video, you'll be able to get an up close view of your experience, but you may miss out on the views that show the awesome breadth of your jump.
5. This isn't a scam, is it?
We know this is a terrible question to even have to consider, but trust us it's worth asking. In your search for a skydive center, you may run across a third party companies that falsify skydiving websites for drop zones that don't exist. Sigh. Typically a call center will field your reservation, overcharge you, only to reroute you to a skydive center much further away than where you intended to jump.
Keep a lookout for a physical address and look it up on Google Maps before you call. You should be able to tell on Google Maps whether or not the center is located at an airport, a tell tale sign of a true skydiving center.
It's easy to be fake online but much more difficult to evade your gut instinct over the phone. Always give your skydive center a call before booking online!
You'll probably come up with plenty of other questions to ask your skydive center before you book, and that's great! Ask as many questions as you want until you feel comfortable booking. A friendly, well-managed drop zone will be happy to help you get ready for your first tandem skydive!
My skydiving experience on June 20th was everything and much, much more than I expected! I am grateful to all of the staff for their help and support but especially want to thank Phil, my instructor for being absolutely perfect!.
» J. Rosemary Peralta (Rosie)