A Skydiving Guide for Before You Take the Leap
If you're planning to skydive for the first time, there's a good chance you're desperate for skydiving tips. You probably have a dozen questions running through your mind: "Will I get sick? What if I'm afraid of heights? Will my instructor get mad if I scream in his ear?" But here's the truth: though your palms might get sweaty at the thought, you're probably ready to skydive right now.
At least, that's what Russell Goldman seems to think. The owner of World Skydiving Center in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Goldman claims that he can have most people trained and ready for their very first tandem dive in 15 minutes. If that's not enough to put your mind at ease, we asked the expert to give us his top skydiving tips for beginners. And just below, we break down some essential info to consider before making any plans.
How old do you have to be to skydive?
You might not be able to bring the kids, but you can bring grandma and grandpa. Most skydiving facilities draw the line around age 12. That means kids aged 12–17 may need parental permission (if they're allowed to jump at all—always call ahead or check the website to be sure). Gramps, on the other hand? If he's is in good health according to his doctor, he'll be allowed to jump. After all, the oldest person to take the leap was 101!
How much does skydiving cost?
One of the more intimidating facets of skydiving, once you get past all the actual fears, is the concern that it has to cost an arm and a leg. I mean, how many other hobbies can you think of include a private plane ride plus classes and gear? Without a deal, a single jump can cost you as much as $250 per person. That's not exactly chump change! Thankfully, that's why we'r here to help.
Shop for skydiving deals near you, or check out some of our favorite deals from around the country:
A few of our favorite deals:
- $156 for tandem skydiving at Skydive Cleveland in Garrettsville, OH (1 hr. from Cleveland)
- $265 for tandem skydiving with hand-cam video package and photos at Skydive Pepperell in Pepperell, MA (1.5 hr. from Boston)
- $175 for weekday tandem skydiving from 13,000 feet at Skydive Kapowsin in Shelton, WA (1.5 hr. from Seattle)
- $179 for tandem skydiving with complimentary transportation at Sin City Skydiving in Jean, NV (0.5 hr. from Las Vegas)
- $313 for weekday tandem skydiving for two at Royal George Skydive in Penrose, CO (1.5 hr. from Denver)
- $176 for tandem skydiving with up to 50 digital images of your dive at Skydive Spaceland in Clewiston, FL (1.5 hr. from Palm Beach, FL)
- $149 for tandem skydiving from 13,000 feet plus a T-shirt at Skydive San Diego in Jamul, CA (0.5 hr. from San Diego)
- $149 for weekday tandem skydiving from 14,000 feet at Skydive the Rock in Beloit, WI (1.5 hr. from Milwaukee)
9 skydiving tips to remember before taking the leap:
1. You don't need to be an athlete to jump out of an airplane.
Goldman tries to keep things as simple as possible when teaching beginners how to skydive. He starts with the good news: there are no outrageous physical requirements for jumping out of a plane. "You don't have to be in great shape," he said, "but you do need some ability to move your legs up and down." Most skydiving companies also have weight limits to ensure safety. The normal limit at World Skydiving Center, for example, is 200 pounds.
2. Scared of heights? It's not as bad as you think.
"[Skydiving] is different than climbing a ladder," explained Goldman. In fact, when you're thousands of feet in the air, the elevation becomes an advantage. "We're so high up, it almost seems not real."
Goldman finds that, while most first-timers quickly forget about the height, they do have something else on their minds. "They're mostly worried about jumping out of the plane," he laughed. But that's OK—beginners don't need all of their nerves under control. "They're strapped to one of us [so] we're doing the work for them."
3. A roller coaster is more likely to make you sick.
If you're prone to sudden nausea, skydiving has one advantage over the typical roller coaster: "You don't go back up." Divers don't feel the repetitive dropping sensation associated with thrill rides, and very few report feeling sick after their first jump. If nausea does occur, it's likely to happen during the slow, swaying part of the canopy ride.
4. You won't have any trouble breathing.
According to Goldman, the only reason you might not be able to inhale during a freefall is if you're holding your breath. "There's no difference between [breathing] in the plane and out of the plane," he assured us. Freefall speeds reach a maximum of 120 miles per hour—while thrilling, that's not fast enough to making breathing difficult.
5. Chat with your instructor, but only if you feel like it.
On clear days, Goldman and his fellow instructors at World Skydiving Center will point out sights such as the Chicago skyline on the way down. "During the canopy ride, the instructor becomes like a tour guide," he said. But you shouldn't feel obligated to hold a conversation if you're just enjoying the view. "Some people are chatty. Others are quiet." In any case, nobody's going to get their feelings hurt.
6. Get a good night's sleep.
Preparing for your first skydive is easy enough: in short, don't do anything differently. "We want [you] to treat it as a normal day," said Goldman, which means waking up and eating breakfast as you normally would. He does warn against staying up late the night before.
7. Remember to bring your glasses.
Or contact lenses, if you need them. Nearly all skydiving centers provide over-the-glasses goggles for skydivers, so you won't be stuck trying to make out the blurry scenery on your way down.
8. The landing is usually pretty soft.
Goldman prefers to slide people in gently on their backsides, making for a slow and steady landing. First-timers almost always dive in tandem with an instructor who knows how to make the landing as soft as possible, so there's no need to wear those shock-absorbing shoes.
9. Invite your friends and family.
"[Skydiving] is a bigtime spectator sport," Goldman said. Most skydiving centers actually have dedicated spectator viewing areas, so don't forget to flash a thumbs-up to anyone watching the latter part of your descent—including, of course, your triumphant landing.
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