Tandem Skydiving: Everything You Need to Know
Go Tandem Skydiving
Skydiving is one of the most popular adventure sports in the world with upwards of 3 million jumps annually. The thrill of freefalling from a great height, releasing the parachute and gently gliding towards Earth is hard to match.
There are two types of skydiving experiences you can opt for: Accelerated Freefall (AFF) and tandem skydiving. While you require legal training and certification to try AFF, tandem skydiving is ideal for those with no prior training in the field.
What is Tandem Skydiving?
Tandem skydiving is where you jump out of a plane that has reached a particular height, with a certified instructor deploying the parachute.
Unlike solo skydiving, where you are responsible for controlling every aspect of the jump and landing, an instructor guides you from start to finish during a tandem skydive. In tandem skydiving, the instructor controls the jump in its entirety -- from the different body positions and movements while skydiving, to deploying and controlling the parachute.
Tandem skydiving is generally preferred by first-time skydivers or people looking to learn how to skydive. The adventure sport is also extremely popular amongst tourists in cities like Dubai, Sydney, Melbourne.
How To Prepare For A Tandem Skydive
You can prepare for a tandem skydive by reading up on the dropzone and checking out reviews of others who have finished a tandem skydive. This is important because you need to be able to trust the skydiving center before signing any agreement or making a payment. Once you've shortlisted a skydiving center, watch videos of other skydives to get a general idea of what the experience would be like.
The night before your skydive, try and get proper sleep and avoid consumption of alcohol or drugs. In the morning, eat a light yet filling breakfast and dress in comfortable clothing before heading to the center.
Most skydiving centers require participants to be at least 18 years of age. Kids between 13 to 17 are also allowed to skydive at certain centers with signed consent forms and if they are accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
Individuals weighing more than 200 to 220 lbs will not be allowed at most skydiving centers. This number slightly varies across different skydiving centers.
Comfort should be your priority when getting dressed for a tandem skydive. Wear loose, yet fitting clothing like t-shirts, pants or shorts because you'll have to put on a jumpsuit on top of your regular clothes. Women can avoid wearing dresses, skirts or any material that flows to avoid getting it caught in the harness or the parachute. Comfortable sneakers are ideal for a tandem skydive.
Here are a few safety instructions you must absolutely follow if you're planning a tandem skydive:
- Listen to every word your instructor is saying and ask them to repeat if you have trouble understanding
- After you jump, bend your body like a banana: head upwards, back arched in a u-shape position and feet pointing towards the sky
- While freefalling, never touch or hold your instructor's arms. They need their arms to be free to deploy the parachute on time.
- When landing, lift your knees and feet to avoid your feet from touching the ground while in forward motion
Tandem Skydiving Steps
Wondering how the entire process of tandem skydiving works? Don't worry, we've got you covered!
- AAD: The Automatic Activation Device automatically deploys a reserve parachute when a skydiver crosses a predetermined altitude threshold at a high speed
- Arch: This skydiving position allows divers to fall stably in a belly-to-earth position
- Canopy: In skydiving terms, a parachute is called a canopy
- Reserve Handle: This is the handle you use to deploy your reserve parachute
- Container: Another term for the parachute harness that contains the primary parachute, reserve parachute and the AAD
- Toggles: These are brakes attached to the steering line of the parachute and are used to steer the parachute
Training for a tandem skydive takes between 20-30 minutes. It includes training sessions on how to exit the aircraft, maneuvers to employ while in freefall, how to deploy the main canopy yourself and more.
It's imperative that you get to know and trust your skydiving instructor before making the jump. This involves verifying their certification and license. A certified instructor should have a Class D license and must have completed at least 500 jumps. Once you're convinced of your instructor’s legitimacy, get to know them! The more comfortable you are with your instructor, the better your tandem skydiving experience will be.
The few moments before your tandem skydive will be nerve-wrecking. There will be a million thoughts darting through your mind which could lead to panic. To avoid this, focus on the positives of the experience. Talk to your instructor and get assurance from them about the safety of the process. If you're feeling uneasy, have some water and take slow, deep breaths in frequent intervals. Close your eyes and think about the euphoric feeling of flying like a bird that awaits you.
Once you jump out with your instructor, you'll experience a momentary sensory overload -- this is because your mind and muscles will work overtime to adjust to the sudden pressure on your body. This will be followed by moments of absolute peace as you fall through air at a speed of more than 120 mph. The freefall part of your tandem skydive will last between 45 to 60 seconds -- so make sure you make the most of it. At this point, the instructor will release the parachute and your speed will slow down considerably. The instructor will maneuver the parachute as per the wind and after 4 to 6 minutes of gliding, you'll finally reach the ground.
Tips For Your Tandem Skydive
- Plan your day: Prepare to spend at least 3-4 hours at the skydiving center. The weather, most likely, will delay your skydive.
- Motion sickness: If you get motion sickness, inform your instructor before the jump. Guests prone to motion sickness get nauseated during the parachute descent because of the turns. Once your instructor is aware of your motion sickness, they'll be more gentle while descending.
- Avoid alcohol: Drinking before skydiving is absolutely prohibited. Most skydiving centers are strict about alcohol consumption before the jump and can even prohibit you from skydiving if they suspect you're intoxicated.
- Advance booking: Book your tandem skydiving experience in advance because skydiving is a very popular attraction and walk-ins are generally not accepted. Making a reservation in advance also allows you to plan your day better.
- Stay hydrated: You'll be spending around half a day at the drop zone. Carry enough snacks and water to last that long. Avoid overeating or starving yourself before the jump, though, since you'll be needing plenty of energy.
- Get goggles: If you wear eyeglasses or contact lenses, check with the skydiving center staff and get goggles to protect your eyewear.
- Mental preparation: Tandem skydiving is more of a mental challenge than a physical one. Taking that first step off the plane will require plenty of courage on your part and you need to be mentally prepared for it. To do this, have an honest discussion with your instructor. Talk to them about your fears and ask them about their experiences. This will not only let you trust your instructor but offer you some much-needed inspiration.
- Capture photos: Your first skydive will be a momentous event and worth remembering for the rest of your life. To capture the moment, get professional videos and photos clicked when you skydive. While expensive, your skydiving photos and video are incredibly priceless and hold immense value.
Tandem Skydiving FAQs
Q. What is a tandem skydive?
A. In a tandem skydive, two people jump from an airplane together, strapped to one another. It is the instructor who controls the jump, the canopy release and the landing.
Q. What is the difference between tandem skydiving and solo skydiving?
A. The biggest difference between tandem skydiving and solo skydiving is that in the former, the student shares a parachute with their instructor while in the latter, they jump alone and get a parachute to themselves.
Q. How long does a tandem skydive take?
A. A typical tandem skydive should take you anywhere between 4-5 minutes. The first 50 seconds are spent freefalling after which the parachute is released.
Q. Can you drink alcohol before skydiving?
A. Don't consume alcohol or any drugs at least 24 hours before your tandem skydive.
Q. Can you breathe while skydiving?
A. Yes, of course. Even when you're falling at a speed of 160 mph, you'll easily get plenty of oxygen to breathe.
Q. What should I eat before skydiving?
A. Don't overeat before skydiving. Ideally, you should have a light meal, such as a sandwich, salad or healthy snacks like trail mix, protein bars, smoothies, etc.
Q. How high does the plane go when skydiving?
A. Typically, an airplane will release jumpers into the sky from a height of 10,000 to 13,000 feet.
Q. Is there a weight limit for tandem skydiving?
A. Yes, most skydiving centers require that participants weigh less than 220 lbs/100 kg. There's no minimum weight limit, though.
Q. Can you go skydiving in the rain?
A. Most tandem skydiving centers cease operations during rains. This is because there's limited visibility when it rains and the raindrops hitting your body at the speed is not a pleasant experience.
Q. Do people throw up when skydiving?
A. Typically, no. There are instances where people throw up if it's their first skydive but that doesn't happen during freefall. Instead, most cases of throwing up happen during the parachute ride. Inform your instructor if you get easily motion sick so that they can maneuver the parachute gently.