Your First Jump
No official organization rates the safety of skydiving centers. Compiling a list of accidents by skydiving center would simply indicate the busiest, most active centers. Drop zones that abide by the rules can still be places where individual jumpers have accidents. Feel free to ask the DZ directly about their safety record; they've been asked before. Drop zones that join as USPA Group Members are required to use only USPA-rated instructional personnel and provide standard skydiving equipment.
Recommended attire is comfortable clothing for the weather on the ground. Also, be sure to wear sneakers or shoes without hooks. Students are oftentimes outfitted in jumpsuits which are worn over the clothing. Skydiving equipment is provided by the drop zone.
As with most sports, there are potential risks involved and it is standard to address safety concerns. Upon arrival at a skydiving school, all jumpers must fill out a registration form and sign a liability release.
Around 110 mph or approximately 1,000 feet for every six seconds of freefall.
Surprisingly no. There typically isn’t a “sudden drop” feeling. Falling at such a fast speed, the air acts almost like a cushion, supporting your body as you fly through the air.
No. The rush of air and adrenaline may make you feel that way, but just relax and breathe normally through your nose or mouth.
Approximately five minutes; a good time to take in the breathtaking views and practice maneuvering the parachute.
Prices vary depending on type of first jump and location. Tandem jumps typically range from $200-275. Most drop zones offer video and/or photos for an additional cost. Contact your local drop zone to get rates.
Skydiving centers or “drop zones” are located in nearly every state and many countries. There’s most likely a drop zone near you. USPA Group Member drop zones are skydiving centers who have pledged to follow USPA’s Basic Safety Requirements and use appropriately trained instructors. Find a USPA Group Member drop zone near you.
All participants should be in good health and physical condition and should not be on medication which could affect judgment or performance. Before scheduling a jump, check with the local drop zone’s weight requirements.
Typically, around 10,000 to 13,000 feet above the ground for tandem and AFF jumps, and 3,500 feet for Static-Line/IAD jumps.
For tandems and AFF, approximately 45-60 seconds before deploying your parachute between 3,000 and 5,000 feet above the ground. For Static-Line/IAD, deployment is almost instantaneous during the first five jumps, then freefall gradually increases as the training progresses.
On a tandem jump, the instructor is ultimately in charge of pulling the ripcord, so if you forget to do it, he will. In Static-Line/IAD jumps, main canopy deployment is initiated immediately via the static line (static line) or the instructor throwing your main pilot chute (IAD), once you let go of the airplane. As an added precaution, all student gear is equipped with an Automatic Activation Device designed to activate the parachute automatically at predetermined altitude should the student fail to do so.
In the US, skydiving schools require a minimum age of 18.
USPA publishes the Skydiving Information Manual (SIM), which contains the most up-to-date information about skydiving. It contains everything from learning to skydive to obtaining all the skydiving licenses and ratings to extreme jumps. It’s available online.
There are currently over 200 USPA Group Member skydiving centers or “drop zones,” located within convenient driving distance of most major cities and towns. Find a Group Member DZ.
Anyone can become a member of USPA. You don’t need to be a pro skydiver to support the sport of skydiving and help keep it around for others to join in years to come. Learn about the benefits and join online.
Yes, the FAA regulates skydiving. USPA disseminates industry safety standards.
People have been parachuting for hundreds of years. Learn more about the history of skydiving.
Getting Your License
Based on the training method and the individual’s learning curve, the first solo skydive without an instructor in freefall typically occurs between the fifth and 10th jumps for students learning by tandem or AFF training methods. Static-Line and IAD students jump alone beginning with the first jump and continuing throughout the training. The instructor is in the aircraft to observe the student’s performance then debrief the jump afterward.
Students must demonstrate certain skills in freefall and under canopy to obtain a skydiving license. The minimum number of jumps to obtain an A license is 25.
The cost varies depending on the brand of gear chosen and how new it is. A complete parachute system equipped with an Automatic Activation Device typically ranges from $2,000-6,000. Most drop zones have gear that may be rented either by the jump or for the day.