Yes, you CAN skydive in winter, and ENJOY it too! We jump at Skydive Cross Keys all year round, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t try it at least once.
So WHY jump in the cold? First, you get to enjoy a DIFFERENT view. The snow covered ground and the familiar scenery, all shiny and white, is one of the prettiest things to see. Second, it feels good to conquer the elements. Why stay grounded and bored when you can put some warm layers on and go fly? Challenge accepted! And third, if crowds aren’t your thing, the drop zone is definitely quieter in winter. You can enjoy a more relaxed pace and avoid the long waiting times.
There is some preparation necessary though to keep you safe and comfortable in the cold. We gathered the best advice from experienced skydivers.
First, let’s talk about making a tandem skydive in winter.
How do you know if the weather is good for jumping? We’re basically looking at the same things as we do in summer: clear sky and calm winds. The temperature is not really a factor, as long as you dress properly. Call us before heading out to make sure that the weather is jumpable!
You’ll want to wear some layers to make you comfortable in the cold. For a tandem student, too many layers won’t be a problem. Bring gloves, they make a huge difference. We usually have some to offer as well, but it’s just nicer to wear your own.
Neck protection is very helpful: wear a turtleneck or a sweater that covers your neck a little. Neck warmers are great. You can ask your instructor for a soft helmet, the chin strap would help keep your neck warmer in place.
It also helps to bring a thermos with a warm drink (no alcohol allowed before jumping though). Have some before the jump, and save some for after. At Skydive Cross Keys, we have a heated hangar where you can stay comfortable before and after your jump. Relax on the couches, watch your skydive video and share your impressions with other jumpers!
Are you a licensed jumper preparing to jump in the colder months?
We asked our pros what their favorite winter gear is, and here’s their list:
- A full face helmet. If you don’t have one, use a ski mask and a neoprene mouth mask.
- Layers are your friends. Specifically, jumpers mentioned turtlenecks, Under Armor 4.0, or Mysterioso brand for really cold days.
- Snow pants and jacket help protect you from the wind. Be careful not to overdress so you can maintain mobility and range of motion, that’s really important when you pull or have to use emergency procedures.
- Thin gloves. Gloves are a big topic: you have to keep your fingers warm so they don’t get numb, but you also don’t want to wear thick gloves which will restrict your finger mobility and make it difficult to find your handles or grab toggles. A lot of jumpers suggest wearing latex gloves underneath your regular gloves, or polypropylene glove liners under your gloves. Hand warmers (something like this) can be placed between the liner and the glove on the front and back of your hand. Don’t put them directly on your skin as they can burn. Some jumpers suggest Neff Pipe Gloves that are made from wetsuit material and are very tacky, which makes it easy to grab your handles.
- Neck warmer, turtleneck, or a mock turtleneck are very helpful.
- Windproof boots and something to cover your ankles are something many jumpers forget to think about. You’ll be walking back in deep snow, so prepare for that.
- Bring a change of clothes, shoes, socks etc. If you get wet landing in the snow, you don’t want to drive home like that.
Also some great tactical advice for jumping in the cold:
- Practice your emergency procedures in full winter gear, gloves and helmets.
- Practice finding your hackey in your gloves several times before boarding the plane, in the plane and before jumping out.
- Practice opening and cutting away your helmet if that’s part of your EP.
- Snow covered ground can be soft and fluffy, or it can have a frozen crust and be rather dangerous. Go out in the landing area and make sure you know what kind of surface you will be landing on. Make sure you know what is under that snow, and always be prepared for a PLF.
- Keep moving your fingers in the plane and under canopy.
- Have a warm drink before and after the jump!
Most importantly, especially if you’re a student or a less experienced jumper, make an effort to stay current in winter. Staying current is a big factor in the safety of your jumps. If winter jumps aren’t your thing, catch a plane to Florida and enjoy a weekend of sunshine and skydiving. Go over your learning materials, revise emergency procedures, watch training videos, and refresh your memory every now and then. Get together with other jumpers, watch skydiving movies, and share experiences. Stay connected to the sport when you don’t have a chance to jump.
And finally, come out to the Safety Day in the beginning of the new season! Safety Day is a nationwide USPA lead initiative, usually held on the first weekend of March (2017 date is Saturday, March 11). At Cross Keys, we put together a whole day of vital safety refresher courses. They involve an EMT demonstration and classes on every aspect of skydiving, taught by our experienced staff members. We also have safety related games and raffles with prizes. Come out, attend the classes, pay attention, and stay safe!
Blue skies, and let’s go jump!