Published: August 29, 2016
If you're thinking about skydiving for the first time, there are a few questions you should be asking to help you prepare. Here we discuss some common questions, whether you're doing a one-off tandem or embarking on a full learn to skydive course.
The altitude from which you jump has a big effect on the experience you have. Jumping from a higher altitude means you get more time in freefall and therefore more time to absorb the feeling of flight. Jump from really high, and you're into the realms of needing oxygen in the plane on the way up (which is also a cool experience).
No matter what height you jump from, you'll typically have a similar amount of time under your parachute. This is because the deployment height is pretty consistent - usually around 5,500 feet for a tandem skydive or a little lower for a solo jump.
Here at Chattanooga Skydiving Company, we offer three jump altitudes of 10,000, 14,000 and 18,000 feet.
Another question you should ask is what aircraft the drop zone uses. This can vary from a very small plane to a much larger aircraft that takes 20 or more people at once.
Skydivers can jump from many types of aircraft, each one prepared for jumping. In some, you'll sit on the floor on the way to altitude, in others, on benches. Skydivers don't just jump from airplanes either; we also use helicopters and hot air balloons from time to time too.
The biggest effect the choice of aircraft has on your experience is the time it takes to get to altitude. Some aircraft are faster than others. For example, here at Chattanooga Skydiving Company, we use a 2008 PAC 750 XL (the newest, fastest, and safest skydiving aircraft in the region) and a reliable, 4 passenger Cessna 182. Find out more about our skydiving aircraft.
It can also have an effect on your experience of learning to skydive as the way you exit will vary depending on the position and size of the door, the wings and the run in speeds (the speed at which the plane is moving across the ground as you prepare to jump).
The USPA (United States Parachute Association) is the governing body for the sport of skydiving here in the US.
This means the USPA sets guidelines and provides recommendations which help to negate risk within skydiving as much as possible and ensure consistent qualification levels and standards.
USPA member drop zones are those which have affiliated with the USPA and therefore abide by the rules they set. The instructors at USPA drop zones are USPA qualified, meaning they have undertaken extensive training and proven their abilities through examination.
By choosing to jump at a USPA drop zone like Chattanooga Skydiving Company, you can be assured of a level of quality that can't be guaranteed at non-USPA centers. When learning to skydive at a USPA drop zone, you'll also be working toward a USPA qualification which is recognized worldwide.
Particularly if your first time jump is a tandem, you may find you're waiting on the drop zone for a few hours prior to your skydive. This is because customers are jumped on a first come, first served basis - so no matter how well we plan, factors such as weather may intervene so you don't jump at the time you expected.
As a beginning skydiver, you'll be part of a smaller group and therefore likely to jump more quickly. But the nature of learning means you'll be on the drop zone a lot longer over the period of your course and as you continue jumping as a hobby thereafter.
That means it's important to know how clean the facilities are and how comfortable you'll be while you're there. Check out the drop zone before your jump - this is also a good opportunity to meet the local jumpers and instructors and to get a good feel for the vibe.
Again, if your first jump is a tandem, you may find yourself waiting an amount of time before you skydive. This is to fit you in with the group and also to account for any changes in the weather which may affect the schedule.
That said, there are some drop zones where larger aircraft, faster climb times or aircraft capacity can have an effect on how quickly you jump. Don't be put off by a longer waiting time - you can prepare for this by bringing games and other entertainment to keep you busy - but it is worth asking how long you're likely to wait when you book.
If you have any more questions before your first time skydiving Tennessee, contact a member of the Chattanooga Skydiving Company, and a member of our team will be happy to help.
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» Tisha Bell