Deciding to take your first skydive is a huge step. Taking a little extra effort in planning your first skydive can ensure an amazing and life-changing adventure!
First, of course, comes research. You want to find the right skydiving center (also referred to as a dropzone) near you that has a good safety record, great customer service and strictly adheres to all safety related regulations. How do you check for that, you ask? Read on.
Is it the real deal?
First, you'll want to make sure you're dealing with a real dropzone and not a third party reseller. Not all resellers are bad, but there is a good chance they would charge you more than a dropzone directly. Many of them will also claim that you can skydive right "in" your city, and have an address right there on Main St. Be suspicious: you know that skydiving only happens on airports, and those are usually located outside the cities. Many third party booking agents won't even tell you where exactly you will have to go for your skydive until you pay for it. No bueno. Also be careful if a skydiving website you found doesn't have an address at all - this means they're just a call center who will charge you more and send you to a place that's good for them, but not necessarily for you.
Do they follow the rules?
Once you know it’s a real dropzone, check if it is a member of the United States Parachute Association (USPA). USPA focuses on promoting safe skydiving through training, licensing and instructor qualification programs. To be fair, just because a drop zone does not have USPA certification does not automatically make it less safe. However, all USPA member drop zones are required to follow the USPA safety requirements, use only USPA rated instructors and provide USPA required equipment. Use this handy drop zone locator courtesy of USPA to find member organizations near you!
Do they love what they do?
This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for you; make sure to pick a place where people truly love what they do and care about giving you the time of your life. Most skydivers love their sport and enjoy their jobs; but then there's also places that care more about the quantity of slots they sell and number of people they get through the door than the quality of the experience. This tends to happen most with places advertised on Groupon and other discounted channels that need high volume to stay afloat, but don't have the means to invest in a great experience. So make sure to check the reviews on Google, Facebook and Yelp. If you're not convinced, give them a call to chat with their staff or, if you're close by, go check it out! While you're there, ask for a tour. You can see the airplanes and facilities all while getting a sense of the level of care that that business puts towards their customers.
Make it extra special!
So you found a real-life, USPA member drop zone with exuberant and helpful staff? Time to book your jump! Consider this advice to make it extra memorable. The jump itself matters just as much as the memories you're going to have about it for the rest of your life. Every experienced skydiver will tell you that investing into professional photos and video of your very first skydive is one of the best decisions you can make. Your first skydive is an awe-inspiring sensory overload; looking back at the photos and video will help you relive every moment! And trust us, you’ll want to. Plus, you get to show your friends how bold and brazen you are!
It's prep time!
Let’s fast forward to the night before your jump. Save the party for after your land, and rest up! You’ll want to be as awake and aware as possible, so drink lots of water and get a good night’s rest. You’ll wake up refreshed and ready to jump out of a plane from 13,500 feet! And you will be all set to celebrate your jump after!
Be like this rested, bright eyed fellow!
Eat like a champ!
We don't recommend jumping on an empty stomach. You are preparing your body for a completely new experience and you want to make sure it is in tip-top condition. Eat a healthy moderate size meal before you jump. This will make your body happy, relaxed and ready to go!
Dress for success!
Always wear sneakers and make sure they're tight enough so that the wind doesn't take them right off. Wear something you feel comfortable in and pay attention to the weather! If it’s cold, wear long sleeves and pants and think about adding extra layers. It’s always a little colder in the sky than it is on the ground. If it’s hot, wear a tee and shorts.
Remember, the staff is there to help!
You did your research to find a dropzone with enthusiastic and friendly staff, so use that to your advantage! If you're nervous, have questions, or even just want a high five to get you psyched up, the staff will be there to help. As you know by this point, making an incredible skydiving memory isn’t just about the jump itself. Every part of your visit is important and adds to your experience. A great dropzone knows that too! They will be there for you from the time you arrive to the time you leave, so feel free to hang out with them, ask any questions and make the most out of your time at the dropzone.
Now get on the plane and get ready to have the time of your life!
Written by Lauren Harkins