SKYDIVING FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS!
WHAT IS A TANDEM SKYDIVE?
Tandem jumps are meant to offer an introduction to the sport of skydiving. A tandem jump requires from 15 to 45 minutes of ground preparation (it is not a full "First Jump Course"). It consists of an experienced skydiving instructor, or "tandemmaster", and the passenger: you! The passenger and instructor each wear a harness, however only the instructor wears the parachutes. The passenger's harness attaches to the front of the instructor's harness, and the two of them freefall together for 30 to 50 seconds (depending on aircraft altitude), open together, and land together under one large parachute.
WHY CAN'T I GO "SOLO"?
Solo skydiving requires a full curriculum of ground training and several jumps-some tandem and a few more very closely supervised-in a course known as Accelerated Freefall, or "AFF". You are then coached up until your 20th jump, at which point you are eligible for your "A-Level License".
Skydive Atlas' mission in your town is to provide the introduction and thrill of skydiving through tandem jumps only. Many of our instructors and staff are certified to teach the entire course, but simply don't have the time during our events for the full curriculum.
However, during your tandem skydiving experience, feel free to ask as many questions as you like if you are genuinely interested in the sport: you can learn a lot! Our instructors will be happy to explain many aspects of the jumps: normal and emergency procedures, climb to altitude, exit, opening, canopy control, and landing. They will also show you the details of the equipment and how it works.
If you do want to "GO SOLO" someday, see "Where can I learn to skydive?" at the bottom of this page!
WHAT IF YOUR PARACHUTE DOESN'T OPEN?
Clearly, this is the most Frequently-Asked-Question posed by all prospective jumpers.
By law (FAA regulations), all intentional parachute jumps must be made with a single harness, dual parachute system with both a main canopy AND a reserve canopy. In other words, you have a spare canopy in case the first one fails to open properly.
Additionally, it must be noted that the technology utilized in today's sport parachuting equipment is light years ahead of the old military surplus gear used in the '60s and '70s. The canopies are drastically different from the classic "Airborne" round parachutes. The materials are stronger, lighter and last longer. Modern packing procedures are simpler, and the deployment sequence is much more refined, providing smoother and more reliable openings.
The reserve canopies are even more carefully designed and packed. The reserve parachute must be inspected and repacked every 180 days by an FAA rated parachute Rigger - even if it has not been used.
There are also additional safety features employed to ensure canopy deployment such as Automatic Activation Devices (AAD) and Reserve Static Lines (RSL) which exponentially increase the level of safety. Should neither you nor your instructor deploy the parachute for any reason, the AAD will "fire" it for you.
HOW FAST DO YOU FALL?
When you leave the aircraft, you are moving horizontally at the same speed as the aircraft, typically 90 MPH. During the first 10 seconds, a skydiver accelerates up to about 115-130MPH straight down. A tandem jump pair uses a drogue chute to keep them from falling much faster than this.
Once under canopy, descent rates of 1000 feet per minute are typical. However, the parachute is designed with steering controls and "brakes" to slow you down for a soft landing when the time comes.
HOW HARD IS THE LANDING?
The canopies used today bear little resemblance to the classic round canopies of years gone by. Today, nearly all jumpers and jump schools use "square" canopies for parachuting. These canopies are actually rectangular in shape, and when open, act like an airplane wing-- more like a glider than an umbrella.
The aerodynamics of the square canopy provide exceptional maneuverability, allowing jumpers to land almost anywhere they wish. This wing shape also provides tip-toe soft landings for even the novice jumper. The days of landing like a sand bag are history. You will probably land standing up, even on your first jump.
WHAT ARE THE PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS?
In general, the prospective student should be in reasonably good shape. You will be required to wear around 25 lbs of equipment, endure opening shock, maneuver the canopy, land, and possibly walk a short distance after landing.
Problems may arise where a prospect is too heavy (over ~230lbs/ 110kg, see below) or if they have medical conditions which may impair them during the activity. Someone who experiences fainting spells, blackouts, or heart conditions should not jump. Respiratory illness or sinus congestion may cause a problem due to atmospheric changes at altitude (can you "clear your ears" prior to and after the jump?)
The better your physical condition, the more you will enjoy the experience. This being said, very few people have
medical or physical conditions which actually preclude jumping.
Skydive Atlas staff will work with you. If you have a question, ask them, or even better, consult your physician. You may be surprised at the relatively few physical constraints involved!
Concerning Weight Restrictions, there are two primary concerns.
First, does the drop zone have a parachute system which you can both legally use and safely land?
Second, if you are going to be at the top-end of the safe weight range for a particular parachute, are you in relatively good shape? An imperfect landing will be much less likely to injure an athletic person. If this is unclear, consider the difference between a 5'10" linebacker who weighs 240lbs, and a 5'10" 240lb couch potato. If the linebacker has a bad landing, he'll probably brush himself off and get up. The couch potato may very well injure himself substantially, lacking both the strength to withstand landing and coordination to do a good Parachute Landing Fall (PLF).
Generally speaking, our guidelines are as follows:
- Less than 200 lbs/ No restrictions
- 200-230 lbs/ Participation may be dictated by your physical fitness and/or wind conditions
- Over 230 lbs/ A jump may be possible, but would depend on the size of the parachutes we have on hand, weight of our available tandem instructors, wind conditions, and your physical shape.
WHAT ARE THE AGE REQUIREMENTS?
You may sign your own liability release and jump with Skydive Atlas if you are 18 years of age. If you are between 16 and 18, you may jump if accompanied by a parent or guardian authorized to "co-sign" with you. We cannot allow tandem students under 16 to jump.
WHERE CAN I LEARN TO SKYDIVE AND GET MY LICENSE?
Many of our staff work full-time at major skydiving centers across the country. If they don't work somewhere near you, they probably know someone who does! We can refer you to skydiving schools whose mission is to provide instruction all the way to your A-License, including the following:
Skydive San Marcos (Fentress, TX) Skydive Houston (Waller, TX) Skydive Spaceland (Rosharon, TX) Skydive Chicago (Ottawa, IL) Skydive The Ranch (Gardiner, NY) Skydive Dallas (Whitewright, TX) Lincoln Sport Parachute Club (Weeping Water, NE) Emerald Coast Skydiving (Elberta AL) Skydive Arizona (Eloy AZ) Skydive Oklahoma (Cushing OK)
These are just a few of our favorites. There are hundreds more across the United States and abroad.
Be sure to tell them you were referred by Skydive Atlas. Once you get your B-License or better (about 50 jumps), you can join us and JUMP SOLO on the beach or wherever Skydive Atlas is currently operating!
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