Tandem Skydiving: Everything You Need to Know
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.