1. How long does freefall last?

Short Answer:

Usually somewhere between 30 and 60 seconds.

Long Answer:

The higher you go, the longer you fall.

You should be under a parachute at around 5,000ft (in the UK) and the first 1,000ft takes around 10 seconds as you’re still accelerating to your ‘Terminal Velocity’, but each 1,000ft after that takes about 5 seconds.

If you exit at 15,000ft (Generally accepted as the highest you can go to in the UK) then the first 1,000ft will take 10 seconds, and from 14,000ft down to 5,000ft will take about 45 seconds. That brings you to a grand total of 55 seconds – so what happened to the extra 5 seconds?

An hourglass on a rock set against a setting sun

Different people fall at different speeds. A heavily built muscular professional rugby player will usually fall faster than your average 16-year-old ballet dancer. Also, differences in body position, air pressure, temperature, clothing and a few other factors can alter the time in freefall. So whilst the ballet dancer might be lighter; An extremely good body position and tighter clothing would create less drag than the heavy set rugby player with a terrible body position and baggy clothes – In theory the ballet dancer could fall faster. Confusing isn’t it!

 

2. Is Skydiving Safe?

Short Answer:

Yes.

Small people carrying letters spelling the word SAFETY

Long Answer:

Yes - because of the training, regulations and restrictions that are in place to ensure it remains safe, and also because it’s really, REALLY bad business to break people.

If you want to - you can continue your own reading on the subject of skydiving and parachuting safety. You may want to look at just how difficult it is to become a drop pilot, the rules of aviation, the rules that govern parachuting, and other areas - or simply take it from us that this is actually (see also section to the bottom containing statistical analysis of skydiving injury rates) incredibly safe.

 

3. How much does a Tandem Skydive cost?

Short Answer:

Around £250

Long Answer:

An American style Yellow Road Sign with the words "HOW MUCH?"

Each airfield varies as their individual base costs are different. Keep an eye out for offers and deals via voucher sites and their own social media & advertising. Alternatively find out who else is nearby and see if your first choice will price match if they are initially more expensive.

Watch out for mid-week deals! There are a few places around the country that offer heavily discounted rates for mid-week jumping – it’s really worth searching for!

Airfields in the North are often slightly cheaper than ones in the South, but the distance to travel means that it would often cost more in fuel or train fare than the difference in price of the Skydive.

 

4. Can anyone do it?

Short Answer:

Yes – IF you are within the defined criteria for parachuting in the UK.

Long Answer:

Age.

If you’re under 16 – you can’t go skydiving, but you can jump on the day of your 16th birthday.

There is no upper age limit.

Weight.

Each airfield has a weight restriction. The common weight limit is between 14 and 16 stone, and this is based on the ‘All Up Weight’ on the reserve. This weight is when you are fully clothed!

Physical Fitness & Mental Health

You have to be fit and healthy. That’s not to say you have to be an athlete, just that you need to be in general good health. If you are, you can self-certify on the medical declaration to say you are. You’ll also need to demonstrate that you can lift your legs up for the landing during the briefing.

You’ll need a doctors’ signature AND surgery stamp to validate a BPA Tandem Medical form (A letter from the doctor is no good) if you’re suffering or have suffered from any of the conditions listed on the form.

On the day.

On the day of your jump, your paperwork must be in order – and the staff will check all the forms – including the medical declaration. You’ll also need to pass the basic briefing which consists of paying attention and demonstrating that you can lift your legs up for the landing.
You’ll also need to be wearing the appropriate clothing, stiletto heels and boots with hooks on them are a big “No-No”. See our post on appropriate footwear for more guidance.
Don’t rock up thinking you’re going to enjoy a skydive if you’re clearly under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and that includes a heavy drinking session the night before! If you get spotted or the staff suspect that you’ve consumed anything you shouldn’t have (alcohol or drugs) they have every right to (and usually will) ask you to book for another day.  

 

5. How old do you have to be to go Skydiving?

Short Answer:

16+

Happy Birthday Banner

Long Answer:

You need to be 16 years old on the day of your jump or older. If you’re under 18, then you also need the signature of a parent or legal guardian to say you can go skydiving.

There is no upper age limit. In fact there are a few people over the age of 100 that have been Tandem Skydiving!

 

6. Can I skydive if I have a disability or physical impairment?

Short Answer:

Yes – But you will need the doctors signature and stamp, plus the assessment of the CI as a starting point, and special measures may need to be taken to ensure your safety.

Long Answer:

Disabled - A standard logo

Yes, but it depends on a few things. The first stage is to get your doctor to declare by signing and stamping the medical form that you are physically and mentally fit enough to undertake a parachute descent.

Depending on the nature of the disability, impairment or even injury the local DZ staff and CI (Chief Instructor) will make their own assessment – which is final!

Many hundreds of disabled and impaired people make a successful Tandem Skydive each year, and this includes; Blind, Deaf, Para and Quadriplegics, Amputees, and  those with mental handicaps.

Because each case is dealt with individually, it’s best to contact the airfield you are planning on making the jump at directly and discuss it with them.

7. Is it physically demanding?

Short Answer:

For you – The Tandem Student – No.

Long Answer:

Each situation is slightly different.
Each airfield can have different types of aircraft which can make the exit procedure slightly different.
People are different and have different levels of physical fitness and stamina which means that moving around might exhaust some and not others.
Exit order in larger aircraft may play a part – with those last out having to move more in order to get to the exit door.
Altitude – The higher you go, the thinner the air is. This means it’s easier to become tired after exerting yourself.

Scrabble letters on a table spelling out STAMINA. Depth of field focuses on the central letters

However, taking all that and more into account – it’s generally pretty easy to move into the door and fall out. The air flowing past your body at 120Mph will help support your body position, so it’s slightly easier than when practicing on the ground.

Generally, it’s just a couple of short bursts of activity and exertion before you are actually in freefall, so although there are points where you need to help the instructor – it’s not really physically demanding.

It’s actually quite a lot more intense on your instructor, so be nice to him \ her – They’re about to save your life!

8. How did the person become an instructor – Are they really qualified?

This one is quite commonly asked once people get chatting to us - which usually happens when the weather isn’t as good as it needs to be and we’re sulking in the café eating sandwiches and drinking tea.

Short answer:

They’ve been skydiving for about 2 years, did over 800 jumps on their own before applying to go on a Tandem Instructors course – which they then passed in order to take members of the general public.

Long answer:

They spent 2 years in the sport and made 800 solo descents (Jumps where they were on the front as a Tandem Student don’t count).
They have also received a written recommendation from a CI (Chief Instructor) that they can go on the course.
Have paid the fees to the BPA to secure a place on the first part of the course – which is the TBI (Tandem Basic Instructor) which is enough to allow them to teach the lessons or briefings on the ground.
Have passed the TBI, paid for and passed the subsequent assessment consisting of a number of live Tandem jumps with heavy bags to act as the student, then more jumps with an experienced skydiver acting as a student.

A Tandem Instructor has generally only managed to get to the qualified stage after around 3 years of being in the sport. Most instructors don’t apply to be Tandem Instructors until they have done well over 1,000 jumps and have spent many more years in the sport.

9. Is skydiving scary & What’s the worst part?

Short Answer:

Yes, and that’s normal. The scariest bit is usually being in the door just prior to exiting.

Long Answer:

Actually – it depends on you as a person and your life experiences up to that point. Fear is subjective, so whilst it might be scary for some, it isn’t going to be for everyone, and fear has different levels – some of which can be hidden.

Riding up in the aircraft can be quite noisy, but if you are able to look out the window, then there that will probably take your mind off things – especially if the instructor is pointing out things to look for.

As the door opens and the jumpmaster sticks their head out and checks the aircraft is in the right place the wind noise will pick up and you’ll feel the cooler air. When the first person actually leaves, and you see them dropping away – That’s when things start to get scary for some people.

For others, getting themselves into the door and ready to leave is the hardest part.

Directions on a road sign to FEAR

The worst part – statistically speaking, is actually the landing. Air doesn’t really hurt you, even if it is hitting you at 120Mph, but if you put your legs down when you get told to keep them up…… Even a couple of miles per hour can be all it takes to do some damage.

As a side note – despite being scared out of their wits; People that have been utterly petrified have a near 100% record of saying that they were glad that they did it.

10. Do I need extra insurance to go skydiving?

Short Answer:

Only you can decide.

Long Answer:

Statistically – Tandem Skydiving is INCREDIBLY Safe.

Skydiving Injury - Statistical probability in graphical format. Categorised by jump type.

(Click to open the larger image in a new window)

If you feel you need to take out extra cover to protect yourself in the event of an accident or injury, then that is entirely up to you. You will automatically be covered via a limited BPA insurance policy when Tandem Skydiving for accidental death and permanent disability, but that doesn’t cover you for things like being off work.


If you really want to – you can read the BPA members insurance information – found here.

Finally - Why does everyone wear those silly clothes and hat?

Short Answer:

For your protection and that of your instructor.

Long Answer:

A male mannequin wearing a skydiving soft hat and goggles, otherwise known as a Frappe or Frap Hat.

A Tandem Student is required to wear a stupid looking (and you’ll find that most skydivers agree) hat to both protect their own head and to protect the instructor from the student. The hat is soft to negate any impact damage to the instructor.

Imagine for a moment that a student wearing no protective helmet or wearing a hard helmet (think motorcycle helmet) suddenly jerked their head backwards and hit the instructor. Harnessed together in a particular orientation – it’s going to be a head hitting the face of an instructor. This gives rise to a number of possible results including just simply annoying the instructor all the way through to knocking them out.

 

Skydiving Myths - BUSTED!

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