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Every year thousands of people of all ages and professions ventured forth into the world of sport parachuting. Many have since embraced it as their favorite sport. Some will go on to become professional competitors and instructors. Others simply found it is a terrific way to spend a weekend. Newcomers to the sport have a lot of questions. Here are some every jumper asks:

Skydiving FAQ

How much does it cost to go skydiving? What are your prices? Do you currently have any discounts (groups, military, college, etc…)?

You can find all of our various prices and discounts listed throughout our website on their respective pages here:

Tandem Skydive Pricing

Video and Photo Package Pricing

Accelerated Free-Fall Program Pricing

Licensed Skydiver Pricing

Prices vary depending upon the type of skydive and specific discounts. These prices include the ground school and the first jump. We can also provide freefall video and digital stills of your skydive for an additional cost.

After completing their first Category A jump, skydiving tradition allows each student to express their appreciation and admiration for their newfound skydiving friends for their assistance in successfully achieving this milestone in their life by purchasing (from a local establishment) and presenting to them a case of beer. This case, customarily a fine imported beer, is ceremoniously iced down for consumption at the end of the day. The cost generally runs $15-20.

After the first jump, the cost of each successive jump decreases in stages as less supervision is required. Once you have earned your license and purchased your own gear, jumps will cost about $18-$25 to around 14,000′ MSL (about 60 seconds of freefall). Start Skydiving has discount programs as well that can further decrease the cost of jumps.

Equipment can run from $8,000 to $10,000 for all brand new, custom-made, top-of-the-line equipment. However, there is a decent used equipment market (much like the used car market), which can SAVE you loads of money (around half the price of new equipment). You will likely spend around $3,000 to $6,000 when buying used equipment. You can buy it all at once or a piece at a time as finances allow. Generally, you shouldn’t worry about buying gear until you are off student status or close to your A license.

If you are wishing to become a tandem instructor, you are looking at spending about $20,000 (with used personal gear and without any tandem gear) to $35,000 (with brand new personal gear and brand new tandem gear) over the course of at least three years (you must be in the sport for at least three years to become a tandem instructor), which is about $7,000 to $12,000 per year on average. In reality though, the first year will cost you at least $2,500 if you prepay in full upfront for the A-license and complete at least 25 jumps.

Of course, all prices are in US dollars (as opposed to dinars or rubles :-).

What are the age requirements? Do I have to be at least 18 years old or older in order to skydive? Can I still skydive if I’m less than 18 years old as long as I have parental consent?

The United States Parachute Association (USPA) Basic Safety Requirements (BSRs) and the regulations of the parachute manufacturer, United Parachute Technologies (UPT), mandate that anyone wishing to perform any type of skydive must be at least 18 years old or older. No one under the age of 18 years old is permitted to perform any type of skydive regardless of parental consent.

Where is Start Skydiving located? What is the address of your location? How far are you from me? How do I get there?

Start Skydiving is conveniently located about 15 minutes off of I-75 at the Middletown Regional Airport at 1711 Run Way, Middletown, Ohio 45042-2300. We are centrally located right in the “middle” between Cincinnati and Dayton, hence the name of our city. The drive to reach our location is very easy if you are coming from nearly any major city within a 300 mile radius. Please see the approximate travel times from each of these major cities below. Click here for exact driving directions and more accurate estimated travel times.

  • Dayton, OH: about 30 minutes
  • Cincinnati, OH: about 45 minutes
  • Columbus, OH: about 1 hour and 30 minutes
  • Indianapolis, IN: about 1 hour and 45 minutes
  • Lexington, KY: about 1 hour and 45 minutes
  • Louisville, KY: about 2 hours
  • Toledo, OH: about 2 hours and 30 minutes
  • Fort Wayne, IN: about 2 hours and 30 minutes
  • Charleston, WV: about 3 hours and 15 minutes
  • Detroit/Ann Arbor, MI: about 3 hours and 30 minutes
  • Cleveland/Akron/Canton, OH: about 3 hours and 30 minutes
  • Youngstown, OH: about 3 hours and 45 minutes
  • Evansville, KY: about 3 hours and 45 minutes
  • Pittsburgh, PA: about 4 hours
  • Chicago, IL: about 4 hours and 30 minutes
  • Nashville, TN: about 4 hours and 30 minutes
What are the physical requirements? Is there a weight limit? If so, what is the maximum weight limit? Are there any height restrictions?

In general, the prospective student should be in reasonably good physical shape, this ″is″ a sport after all. You will be required to wear around 35 lbs of equipment, endure opening shock, maneuver the canopy, land, and possibly trudge great distances on foot. You will experience 30 degree swings in temperature, atmospheric pressure changes, 4-6 hours of lecture, and lots of beer at the end of the day. It’s grueling (:-).

But seriously, problems may arise where a prospect is too heavy (over 220 lbs, see below) or if they have medical conditions which may impair them during the activity. Someone who experiences fainting spells, blackouts, or has a weak heart should not be jumping. Someone with respiratory illness *may* have a problem due to atmospheric changes at altitude. The better your physical condition, the more you will enjoy the experience. This being said, very few people have medical or physical conditions which actually preclude them from jumping.

If you have a question, ask us, and as always, ask your doctor. You may be surprised at the relatively few physical constraints involved.

Concerning weight restrictions, there are two primary concerns. First, does the drop zone have a parachute system which you can both legally use and safely land? Second, if you are going to be at the top-end of the safe weight range for a particular parachute, are you in relatively good shape? An imperfect landing will be much less likely to injure an athletic person. If this is unclear, consider the difference between a 5’10” linebacker who weighs 240 lbs, and a 5’10” channel surfer of the same weight. If the former has a bad landing, he’ll probably brush himself off and get up. The latter may very well injure himself substantially, lacking both the strength to withstand landing and coordination to do a good Parachute Landing Fall (PLF). With this in mind, use the following table as a guide.

Weight Comments
———– ————————————————————–
Less than 200 lbs: Almost every DZ should be willing to let you jump.

200-220 lbs: The majority of DZ’s should be willing to let you jump. Being in relatively good shape is a plus.

220-260 lbs: Some DZ’s may take you, but will likely insist that you be in good shape, i.e. not a couch-potato. You must recognize that there is a greater chance of injury, particularly if you are not somewhat athletic. Beyond about 235 lbs, most reserves canopies are no longer strictly legal for you to use. We do not perform tandems for students who weigh over 235 lbs.

Greater than 260 lbs: Very few DZ’s will be able to let you skydive. They are likely to use converted Tandem gear. Without this type of equipment, you will need to be in excellent physical condition, and be willing to accept an increased chance of injury in case of a bad landing.

Please note that this table is only a guideline. Call us and discuss your weight concerns. Also, there are experienced skydivers who are quite heavy — however, they likely learned when they were lighter and had mastered landing before gaining the additional weight.

How long does each step of the whole experience take from start to finish?

Most of our guests should typically expect to plan on spending about anywhere from two to three hours on average from their scheduled check-in time to the time they leave to be with us here at Start Skydiving, assuming there are no delays of course. However, we always ask our guests to plan on clearing out at least four to six hours of their day to spend with us here at Start Skydiving just in case there are any unforeseen delays that do occur that may cause them to have to wait longer before being able to jump.

Below you will find a rough timeline of events that you might expect assuming perfect operation with no delays:

  1. Checking in: about 15 minutes if prepaid in full and completed waiver when booking reservation online; about 30 minutes if only deposit paid and waiver is not completed online
  2. Getting geared up: about five minutes
  3. Waiting to board aircraft: about 15 minutes
  4. Plane ride: about 20 minutes
  5. Freefall: about 45 seconds
  6. Parachute ride: about four to five minutes
  7. Getting geared down: about five minutes
  8. Waiting on video/photos to be edited and burned onto discs (if purchased): about 15 minutes
  9. Total time assuming perfect operation with no delays: about 1.5 hours
What does the training consist of?

The First Jump Course FJC teaches the student everything they need to know to safely make their first jump. There are several programs available for first jumpers; the one you choose will depend on your personal preferences and circumstances. The differences of each are summarized below:

Accelerated Free Fall (AFF)

The AFF program was instituted in 1982 as an “accelerated” learning process as compared to the traditional static line progression. The AFF program will give you a true taste of modern sport skydiving.

The ground training is a bit more extensive (5-6 hours) because the student will be doing a 50 second freefall (that’s right!) on his/her very first jump. The student will exit the aircraft at 10,000-12,000 feet along with two AFF Instructors who will assist the student during freefall. The Instructors maintain grips on the student from the moment they leave the aircraft until opening, assisting the student as necessary to fall stable, perform practice ripcord pulls, monitor altitude, etc. The student then pulls his/her own ripcord at about 5000 ft.

The AFF program is a 7 category program. Category A, B, & C require two freefall Jumpmasters to accompany the student. These dives concentrate on teaching basic safety skills such as altitude awareness, body position, stability during freefall and during the pull sequence, and most importantly- successful ripcord pull. On Category C, the Instructors will release the student in freefall for the first time, to fly completely on their own.

Categories D, E, F, & G require only one Instructor (less $$) and teach the student air skills such as turns, forward movement and docking on other people, front loops, back loops, ″superman″ exits from the plane, etc.

Each AFF category is designed to take one jump, and requires about 45 minutes of training. After successfully performing the objectives of each category, the student moves on to the next category.

After graduating Category G, the student enters a more casual format of instruction called Coached jumps where they practice and hone their skills with a USPA rated Coach until they obtain 25 freefalls and qualify for their A license.

Tandem jumps

Tandem jumps are meant to offer an introduction to the sport. They allow the neophyte to take a ride with an experienced jumper. A tandem jump requires from 15 to 45 minutes of ground preparation (it is ″not″ a First Jump Course). It consists of an experienced jumper called a ″tandem master″ and the passenger. The passenger and tandem master each wear a harness, however only the tandem master wears the parachutes. The passenger’s harness attaches to the front of the tandem master′s harness and the two of them freefall ″together″ for 30 seconds, open together, and land together under one Really-BIG-Parachute.

Tandem skydiving provides an obvious advantage for the adventurous spirit who cannot adequately meet the physical or proficiency requirements for the AFF program. By relying on a Tandem Master’s skills, you will still be able to experience the thrill of skydiving.

Because the tandem training is not a First Jump Course, if you decide to pursue the sport, you will still have to attend a FJC in AFF curriculum.

In both of these training methods, students are taught normal and emergency procedures for all aspects of the jump – climb to altitude, exit, opening, canopy control, and landing. They are also shown the equipment and go over it so that they understand how it works.

What time should I be there to check-in for my scheduled reservation?

Whatever time that you chose when booking your reservation is your scheduled check-in time. We cannot and do not schedule jump times since it is impossible to guarantee when you will actually be able to jump.

If this is a surprise for someone, please arrange for them to arrive 15 to 30 minutes prior to the scheduled check-in time to allow them to complete their waiver.

Arriving earlier than your scheduled check-in time will not allow you to jump before others that are scheduled to check-in before your scheduled check-in time. However, arriving over 15 minutes late for your reservation will result in a late check-in fee of $25 per person.

Is there anything I need to bring? What should I wear?

There are a few things that you must bring with you when you arrive to jump with us. First, you must have a valid state-issued photo ID or driver’s license or passport as proof of identity, age, and residency. Secondly, you must bring a valid form of payment to pay any remaining balances or surcharges or purchase any video or photo packages. There are other items that you are welcome to bring, including your own picnic blanket, sunglasses, binoculars, stereo, frisbee, baseball, basketball, soccer ball, football, cornhole, food, drinks (the non-alcoholic kind of course until the last load takes off before sunset), ect… and make a whole day out of your experience!

As far as what to wear, we always recommend that everyone wears athletic clothing that fits comfortably under a harness and is appropriate for the weather on the ground at the time of your jump. We recommend that you do not wear jeans. Belts are not permitted. This includes comfortable general athletic activity shoes, such as tennis shoes, gym shoes, or sneakers. Sandals, flip-flops, toe-shoes, high-heels, dress shoes, and boots of any kind are not permitted. Any footwear that contains any of the following is also not permitted: leather, synthetic leather, bungee straps, Velcro straps, hooks, or buckles. You will be given a jumpsuit to wear over your clothing during your skydive. This jumpsuit will help prevent your clothes from getting dirty and help protect them from becoming damaged during your skydive.

You should also wear clothing that you don’t mind possibly getting a little wet, dirty, damaged, and/or even completely lost or destroyed. We strongly advise that you do not wear anything that could be torn off your body, such as piercings, watches, bracelets, and other forms of jewelry. We also recommend that you do not wear anything that you consider to be irreplaceable if lost forever, such as a wedding ring. We are not responsible for any items lost or injuries that occur during your visit with us here at Start Skydiving.

Anyone wearing any attire determined to be inappropriate or unsafe for skydiving may not be permitted to skydive. No refunds are given for anyone who is denied service for this reason.

Can my friends and family come watch me jump? Is there a place where they can watch?

Absolutely! The more, the merrier! We have two large paved patio areas with picnic tables, umbrellas, and lawn chairs for your friends and family to sit and watch you and everyone else jump. We also have two manicured green spaces with meticulous landscaping right next to our patios where your friends and family are welcome to layout and relax. So please feel free to invite as many friends and family as you want to watch you jump. Both patios and green spaces are prime locations only a few feet away from where you will be boarding the plane and only about 50 feet away from where you will most likely be landing under the parachute (assuming you are doing a tandem skydive that is)! You will also most likely be jumping out of the plane right above these very same areas! Please also feel free to bring your own picnic blanket, binoculars, stereo, frisbee, baseball, basketball, soccer ball, football, cornhole, food, drinks (the non-alcoholic kind of course until the last load takes off before sunset), ect… and make a whole day out of your experience. Be sure to let your friends and family know they are also welcome to bring the same things. Start Skydiving is a highly energetic and upbeat place to just hang out and have fun with some of the most awesome people you will ever meet!

What about the weather? What if it rains? Can I still skydive if it is raining? What if it’s cloudy? Can you jump through clouds?

Unfortunately, like most outdoor activities, skydiving is completely weather dependent. We are affected by all aspects of the weather. You can find all of our weather restrictions listed below.

Strong Winds:

  • Maximum Non-Licensed Student Wind Speed Limit (including gusts): 14 knots
  • Maximum Tandem Student and A-License Skydiver Wind Speed Limit (including gusts): 20 knots
  • Maximum B-License, C-License,  and D-License Skydiver Wind Speed Limit (including gusts): 30 knots
  • Jumping operations will be suspended for at least 30 minutes if any of the following have taken place twice within five minutes of each other:
    • The steady winds or the gusts exceed their respective maximum wind limits
    • More than a nine knot difference between the steady winds and the gusts
  • Once suspended, jumping will resume after waiting at least 30 minutes since the last exceeding gust has occurred, assuming none of the following have occurred:
    • The steady winds or the gusts exceed their respective maximum wind limits
    • More than a nine knot difference between the steady winds and the gusts
  • If at least one of the above occurs during the 30 minute suspension, the suspension will be extended for 30 minutes past the last exceeding gust.

Clouds and Fog:

  • Maximum Legal Exit Altitude without Supplemental Oxygen onboard for the pilot: 14,000 feet MSL
  • Maximum Legal Exit Altitude without Supplemental Oxygen onboard for the jumpers: 15,000 feet MSL
  • Minimum Legal Non-Emergency Tandem Student Exit Altitude: 7,500 feet AGL (this would provide for only about 15 seconds of freefall)
  • Minimum Accelerated Free-Fall Student Exit Altitude: 9,000 feet AGL
  • Minimum Solo Student, A-License, and B-License Skydiver Exit Altitude: 3,500 feet AGL
  • Minimum C-License and D-License Skydiver Exit Altitude: 3,000 feet AGL
  • Minimum Legal Exit Distance under Clouds below 10,000 feet MSL: 500 feet
  • Minimum Legal Exit Distance under Clouds at or above 10,000 feet MSL: 1,000 feet
  • Minimum Overcast/Broken Cloud Ceiling Base for A-License and B-License Skydiver Exits: 4,000 feet AGL
  • Minimum Overcast/Broken Cloud Ceiling Base for C-License and D-License Skydiver Exits: 3,500 feet AGL
  • Minimum Overcast/Broken Cloud Ceiling Base for Tandem Student Exits: 8,000 feet AGL
  • Minimum Overcast/Broken Cloud Ceiling Base for Solo Student Exits: 10,000 feet AGL
  • Minimum Legal Horizontal Radial Distance from Any Clouds below 10,000 feet MSL: 2,000 feet
  • Minimum Legal Horizontal Radial Distance from Any Clouds at or above 10,000 feet MSL: one statute mile
  • Minimum Legal Hole Diameter Size between Scattered Clouds below 10,000 feet MSL: 4,000 feet
  • Minimum Legal Visibility below 10,000 feet MSL: three statute miles
  • Minimum Legal Visibility at or above 10,000 feet MSL: five statute miles

Rain, Lightning, Thunder, Storms, Etc…:

  • We do not jump when it is raining.
    • It hurts to hit the rain at 120 MPH in freefall. This is like getting repeatedly shot in the neck multiple times with a weak spring-loaded pistol firing .12g/6mm BBs. It also prevents our parachutes from being repacked and jumped again until they are dry.
  • We do not jump when storm cells are reported within a 20 mile radius.
  • Jumping will be suspended for 30 minutes after any time lightning is seen, heard, or reported within a 20 mile radius.

Temperature:

  • We do not jump if the current ground temperature is below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • We also do not jump if the ambient temperature at jump altitude results in a 120 MPH wind chill factor colder than -30 degrees Fahrenheit.
    • The temperature difference between the surface temperature and the temperature at jump altitude is typically about 3 to 4 degrees colder for every thousand feet or 10 degrees Fahrenheit for every 3,000 feet. If the temperature on the ground is 40 degrees, then the temperature at jump altitude can be anywhere from 15 degrees to 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
    • Then you have to factor in a 120 MPH wind chill which brings the temperature that is felt in freefall down to around -30 to -40 degrees Fahrenheit (yes, those are negative, as in below zero, temperatures). To put this more into perspective, this is about the same wind chill temperature that is felt on top of Mount Everest during the summer time. Exposed flesh will begin to start to freezing within one minute.

If you have waited for at least two hours after your scheduled check-in time and we still have not been able to jump due to the weather, then you may reschedule for another date during the same season at no additional cost. However, any difference in price must be paid in full upon arrival for your rescheduled jump.

Do I have to do a tandem skydive for my first jump? Can I jump solo? How many tandem jumps, if any, do I have to do before I can jump solo?

While a tandem skydive is highly recommended for your first jump, you are not necessarily required to do any tandem skydives before being able to jump “solo”. Instead, you may choose to attend one of our six to eight hour long Accelerated Free-Fall (AFF) First Jump Courses and then ideally jump later that same day with two instructors holding onto to you, one on each side, while wearing one of our solo student parachutes. The goal of this skydive is to open the parachute on time and land safely in the correct area. Due to the overwhelming nature of making your first freefall skydive, most people find it difficult to focus and correctly perform all of the necessary tasks required to successfully pass their first AFF jump without any previous experience with freefall. This is why we strongly encourage each our students to perform at least one tandem skydive before making their first AFF jump. However, for those that already know that skydiving is a sport that they wish to pursue and continue to earn their skydiving license, then by all means please feel free to do an AFF jump instead of a tandem for your first skydive.

Can my friends and I jump together?

Due to regulations in place for everyone’s safety, students are not permitted to ever jump together in freefall. However, students may certainly be on the same plane load as their friends or family. We make every effort to keep every group together, but we can never guarantee that groups can all go on the same plane load. Because of many factors, we cannot always accommodate groups larger than three in one plane load. If we are not able to keep an entire group together, we will split it up as evenly as possible so no one ends up jumping alone. In our ongoing effort to provide you with the best possible experience, we will always ask your group who wants to be together on the same plane and which part of your group wants to jump first.

What if I have my own camera? Can I bring it on my skydive instead of paying for a video or photo package?

Under no circumstances are students ever permitted bring any type of camera on a skydive. The Basic Safety Regulations (BSRs) mandated by the United States Parachute Association (USPA) prohibits anyone with less than 200 skydives to wear any camera gear on their person or equipment. Anyone wishing to skydive with a camera is required to have at least a Class C skydiving license. This is due to the additional hazards and complications that may occur on a skydive as a result of having a camera. When inexperienced skydivers jump with a camera, it becomes a danger to them and their instructors for that matter. Our staff are well-trained in the use of cameras while jumping, and the chances of a student being able to get any good footage of their own jump are slim to none. So whether you just purchased a GoPro for the jump, have mounts galore, took a video class in college, have a friend who is a photographer, you are not allowed to take it on your skydive no matter how much you beg. However, once you have a Class C skydiving license, you can film all the skydives that you want! Until then, you may purchase one our video/photo packages so our professional aerial photographers can capture your amazing experience without any additional risks to you or your instructors!

Can my friends and I be together on the same video?

Every student will have over a quarter mile of separation from each other in freefall, so you will not be near each other, let alone be able to hold hands or talk to each other. A videographer cannot physically fly between two students and get video/photos of both. Each tandem student must purchase his or her own video or photo package to receive any footage of his or her freefall. However, if only one student purchases a video or photo package, other students may be in the footage while on the ground before and after their jumps and in the airplane during the ride to altitude. We may even be able to catch them exiting the airplane and/or landing on the ground under their parachute. Just be sure to ask your instructor if it is a possibility. We can never guarantee anyone else being in your own video footage.

What if I just want one picture of me in freefall?

Then you must still order the entire video and stills package so the videographer can get paid for taking your photo in freefall. You will also get many more pictures and a video for free!

What does freefall feel like? Will I get that stomach drop feeling like I get on a roller coaster?

Freefall is not the “roller coaster drop” feeling most people expect it would be. It is a comfortable sensation of floating and support, with a slight pressure of air against your body.

Freefall is the closest thing to human flight, especially when falling “relative” with other skydivers. In relation to other skydivers in the air, a jumper can move forward, backwards, up, down and all around in the sky. He or she can dive vertically over 200 mph or achieve horizontal movement over the ground up to 60 mph. The constant air flow allows aerial maneuvers with precision and control.

How high do you go up and jump from? What is the maximum altitude that you can go up and jump from? Can I pay you more to go up any higher to jump?

We strive to send every plane load to 14,000 feet MSL, which is the maximum legal altitude that we can jump from before we would need to have supplemental oxygen onboard for the pilot. However, due to certain constraints such as overcast or broken clouds lower than 14,000 feet MSL, we may only be able to jump from a lower altitude. If such constraints present themselves on the day of your jump, we always advise our customers of the constraints currently present and provide them with the option of waiting until the clouds separate or raise up higher. Alternatively, they may choose to jump from a slightly lower altitude knowing that there is no price difference and no refunds issued for such jumps. This is gives people who may otherwise not have another opportunity to jump again at another time or have travelled a long distance the chance to still make their skydive without having to come back to make their jump at another time.

How fast will I fall? Will I reach terminal velocity?

When you leave the aircraft, you are moving horizontally at the same speed as the aircraft, typically 90 to 110 MPH. During the first ten seconds, a skydiver accelerates up to about 115 to 130 MPH straight down. (A tandem pair uses a drogue chute to keep them from falling much faster than this). It is possible to change your body position to vary your rate of fall. In a standard face-to-earth position, you can change your fall rate up or down a few (10-20) miles per hour. However, by diving or “standing up” in freefall, any experienced skydiver can learn to reach speeds of over 160-180MPH. Speeds of over 200MPH require significant practice to achieve. The record freefall speed, done without any special equipment, is 321 MPH. Obviously, it is desirable to slow back down to 110 MPH before parachute opening.

Terminal velocity is the constant speed (velocity) that a freely falling object eventually reaches when the resistance of the medium through which it is falling (air resistance) prevents further acceleration. This means that terminal velocity varies from person to person depending on the amount of air resistance faced. This amount of air resistance can vary greatly depending on the person’s body position, which changes the amount of surface area being contacted by the air. To answer your question, “Will I reach terminal velocity?”, the answer is, “Yes.” However, the actual speed at which you will be falling will be different than someone else’s terminal velocity.

Once under parachute, descent rates of 1,000 feet per minute are typical. A lighter student with a bigger canopy may come down much more slowly, and, obviously, a heavier person may have a somewhat faster decent. Experienced jumper’s can canopies descend (in normal glide) at up to 1,500 feet per minute. During radical turns, the descent rate can go well over 2,000 feet per minute.

What is opening and flying the parachute like?

The opening “shock” of the parachute is much like jumping feet-first into a pool of water. The opening takes about two to five seconds and is not uncomfortable.

Square parachutes are simple to maneuver and steer to the ground. Steering lines are attached to the rear right and left side of the parachute. By taking the controls in each hand, one steers the parachute by pulling on one control. To turn left, simply pull down the left control. To stop the turn, simply return the control to its original position.

What if your parachute doesn’t open?

Clearly, this is the most Frequently Asked Question posed by all prospective jumpers.

By law (FAA regulations), all intentional parachute jumps must be made with a single harness, dual parachute system with both a main canopy *AND* a reserve canopy. In other words, you have a second (or spare) canopy in case the first one fails to open properly.

However, it must be noted that the technology utilized in today’s sport parachuting equipment is light years ahead of the old military surplus gear used in the ’60s and ’70s. The canopies are DRASTICALLY different from the classic G.I. Joe round parachutes. The materials are stronger, lighter and last longer, the packing procedures are simpler, the deployment sequence is much more refined, etc.

The reserve canopies are even more carefully designed and packed. The reserve parachute must be inspected and repacked every 180 days by an FAA rated parachute Rigger – even if it has not been used during that time.

The student’s main canopy is always packed either by a rigger or under a rigger’s direct supervision by experienced packers.

There are also additional safety features employed to ensure canopy deployment such as Automatic Activation Devices (AAD), Reserve Static Lines (RSL), and Sky Hooks which add still more layers of safety.

How hard is the landing?

The canopies used today bear little resemblance to the classic round canopies of years gone by. Today, nearly all jumpers and jump schools use “square” canopies for parachuting. These canopies are actually rectangular in shape, and when open, act like an airplane wing (or an airfoil). They are more like gliders than umbrellas.

The aerodynamics of the square canopy provide it with exceptional maneuverability, allowing the jumpers to land almost anywhere they wish. This wing shape also provides tippy-toe soft landings for even the novice jumper. The days of landing like a sack of flour are history. Most solo students land standing up on their first jump, while most tandem students slide in softly on their butt with a force similar to that of a baseball slide.

How does one learn to skydive?

We offer the First Jump Course (FJC) at least once each weekend and will offer it during the week or several times during the weekend depending on the interest. You will need to contact the DZ to determine the class scheduling. The FJC consists of about 4-6 hours of ground school followed by your jump, weather permitting.

There are several types of training you can take: Accelerated Freefall, or Tandem. They are described below in greater detail.

It is ″your″ safety at stake and ″your″ responsibility to look after it. If you have reservations about making your first jump, make the effort to visit the DZ, check it out, meet the people and staff. We will be glad to see you, and you will be ″much″ more confident and comfortable having done so, and consequently have a much better time!

After my first jump, what’s next?

Basic parachute training consists of a series of jumps made under the direct supervision of an instructor. Each jump is preceded by a session on the ground followed by a jump. It takes from about 10 to 15 jumps until the student is competent enough to be cleared to jump without instructor supervision. Since most students are weekend skydivers who make two or three jumps a day, the typical student takes about a month to graduate.

After graduation, the new jumper practices his skills and learns new ones. He or she becomes eligible to earn licenses that attest to the jumper’s competency.

From there the sky is the limit. The new skydiver has the freedom of the sky to share with others who enjoy the exciting sport of skydiving.

Is skydiving safe?

Skydiving is a high-speed aerial sport that exposes its participants to the real risk of injury and death.
Analysis of skydiving accidents show that most are caused by jumpers who make mistakes of procedure or judgment. Contrary to popular belief, very few skydiving accidents or injuries are caused by random or unexpected equipment failure.

Those skydivers who are trained well, who stay current and who take a conservative approach to the sport are involved in very few accidents and suffer few — if any — injuries.

Some people prefer not to expose themselves to significant risks, while others accept the risk in exchange for the enjoyment the activity offers.

Start Skydiving requires that each customer sign a legally binding assumption-of-risk agreement. The document makes it clear that the sport has its risks and that the jumper is electing to jump in spite of those risks.

How is parachuting regulated?

In the U.S., parachuting is regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration by Part 105 of the Federal Aviation Regulations.

The FAA allows sport parachuting to monitor itself in training and operational requirements. After all, it is a sport just like SCUBA diving or rock climbing. The U.S. Parachute Association has developed standards called “Basic Safety Requirements” which all USPA affiliates pledge to follow. BSRs represent the commonly accepted standards for a high level of safety. They cover equipment, training, DZ requirements, wind limits, and so forth.

How do I tell a good Drop Zone from a poor one?

Most drop zones that provide regular student training are ″USPA Affiliated.″ The United States Parachute Association (USPA) is the representative body for sport parachuting within the US, and a member of the FAI (the international equivalent). The USPA defends the sport′s interests before the FAA and other regulating/lawmaking bodies at all levels of government. It also develops and monitors safety and training doctrine for the sport. Other benefits include liability insurance for students and DZs in the case of damage to property, the monthly magazine ″Parachutist″, etc.

The USPA has had tremendous success instituting rating programs for Jumpmasters, Instructors, and Instructor-Examiners to ensure that only properly trained and qualified personnel work with students. You should insist on USPA Instructors and Jumpmasters.

Some USPA-affiliated DZ′s have not been diligent in using only Currently-rated Instructors and Jumpmasters. Do not be afraid to ask to see your Instructor or Jumpmaster′s rating card. It should show the appropriate rating and expiration date. Also note that currently, Tandem Jumpmasters are certified by the equipment manufacturer, not USPA.

USPA affiliation is not required, and does not ″guarantee″ a DZ to be a ″good″ DZ, and non-affiliation does not mean the DZ is ″bad″, however, most non-affiliated DZ′s do not follow the safety guidelines of the USPA BSR′s, Basic Safety Recommendations.

These are just guidelines. You should always visit the DZ before you jump.
Things to look for when visiting a DZ;

1. The condition of the aircraft!
2. The condition of the parachute systems!
3. The condition of the jump suits and harnesses!
4. The cleanliness of the facility!
Each one of these are a sign of the experience and training you are about to have and receive. Do not be afraid to ask for your money back and go to another DZ.

I’m a skydiving student, and I’m having trouble with something, can I get some help and advice?

The person best equipped to help you with your difficulties is your regular real-life instructor.

Talk with a rated instructor or jumpmaster before changing your equipment, airplane, exit, freefall, deployment, emergency, canopy control, landing, packing or any other skydiving-related procedures.

Where can I try Skysurfing or BASE jumping?

In a nutshell, you can’t — unless you’re already a very experienced skydiver.

“Skysurfing” or “Skyboarding” refers to skydiving with a small board, similar to snowboard, attached to your feet. This allows for some radical maneuvers in freefall. However, such jumps should only be attempted by expert skydivers, and preferably after long discussion with one of many skysurfers who have experience. Some board manufacturers and experienced skydsurfers offer instructional classes or videotapes.

BASE jumping involves jumping off of fixed objects (like Buildings, Antennas, Spans (bridges), or Earth (cliffs)), and landing under a parachute. While being an expert skydiver isn’t an absolute requirement, you need a great deal of experience in parachute packing, canopy control, quick reflexes, and body position awareness before this can be attempted with any real safety. Start with skydiving, and then go from there. Furthermore, there are very few places where one may BASE jump legally, as most locations are private property.

Terms And Conditions

What are the terms and conditions of your refund policy?

Tandem Prices, Discounts, and Payments

  • The full retail price of a tandem skydive at Start Skydiving is valued at $249. Any discount prices given are discounted off of the full retail price.
  • Discounted prices that are prepaid in full prior the original reservation date are completely non-refundable for any reason whatsoever. This includes, but is not limited to, any online payments, second tandem jumps, and gift cards. However, the funds may be transferred to another jumper for a $25 transfer fee.
  • $25 deposit payments are non-refundable for all transactions except those that made by jumpers that have already prepaid in full by booking online or purchasing a $99 second tandem a gift card or discount voucher and jumpers that have been issued a free tandem skydive by management, such as people with permanent disabilities or terminal illnesses or Gold Star family members. For all other jumpers, the remaining balance must be paid in full upon arrival on the day of the scheduled reservation. However, the remaining balance (everything except the $25 deposit) may be refunded for any reason whatsoever at any point up until you are geared up or thirty minutes prior to your scheduled flight, whichever comes first.
  • Any payments made on the day of a jumper’s scheduled reservation may be refunded at any point prior to being geared up. Once a jumper is geared up, any and all payments are considered used and are not refundable. The only exception that may be made is if the jumper is unable to jump due to unsafe weather conditions.
  • Any payments made on the day of a jumper’s scheduled reservation may be refunded at any point after being geared up only if the jumper is unable to jump due to unsafe weather conditions, including video and photo packages. If the jumper leaves without being able to jump due to the weather and no refund is requested, no refunds will be issued. However, the funds will remain on the account until the jumper uses them or transfers them to another jumper for a $25 transfer fee.
  • If unable jump due to unsafe weather conditions, jumpers that chose to pay the $25 deposit only payment option may receive a full refund minus the $25 deposit, which will remain on the jumpers’ account until they use it or until it is transferred to another jumper for a $25 transfer fee.
  • Start Skydiving reserves the right to refuse service to any customers that have been deemed to be an unsafe risk to themselves and/or others for any reason whatsoever. This includes, but is not limited to, being less than at least 18 years old or older, exceeding our maximum weight limit, wearing inappropriate attire, and being under the influence of intoxicating/inebriating substances, including alcohol and/or other drugs/narcotics (both legal and illegal). No refunds are issued to jumpers that have prepaid in full or have been geared up and are denied service for any reason deemed to be an unsafe risk to themselves and/or others. Instead, the jumper may reschedule their reservation for another date for a $25 cancellation fee or transfer it to another jumper for a $25 transfer fee.
  • Jumpers that prepaid in full prior to their original scheduled reservation may never receive a refund of any amount for any payments made toward their tandem skydive for any reason whatsoever. However, the amount that was prepaid in full will remain on the jumpers’ account until they use it or until they transfer it to another jumper for a $25 transfer fee.
  • Any difference between the price paid and the price of a tandem skydive on that day of the week must be paid in full upon arrival prior to being permitted to jump. (For example, if you purchased the $129 Wednesday special, then you must book your reservation for a Wednesday to receive a tandem skydive at this price. If you purchased the $129 Wednesday special and decided to reschedule for a weekend, which is $189 if prepaid in full, then the price difference of $60 must be paid in full upon arrival prior to the jump.) However, any difference in price may not be refunded if the price that was paid is greater than the price on that day of the week. Instead, the price difference may be applied toward the purchase of a video/photo package or another jump.
  • Any discounted prices that are prepaid in full prior to the original reservation date will cover the full retail value for up to one year from the date of purchase as long as a reservation is made at least 24 hours in advance.
  • If not used within one year from the date of purchase, any and all discounted prices paid will no longer cover the full retail value. Instead, the discounted price paid may be applied toward the full retail price.
  • Any and all payments made will permanently expire forever if not used within five years of the date of purchase.

Tandem Reservations, Cancellations, and Walk-ins

  • Any and all reservations must be made with notice given at least 24 hours prior to the scheduled reservation time.
  • Walk-ins are accepted every available day of operation. Walk-ins will jump at the next available check-in time after everyone prior to that check-in time has already jumped. The walk-in price must be paid prior to being permitted to jump. The walk-in price may be refunded for any reason whatsoever at any point prior to being geared up. If we are unable to jump due to unsafe weather conditions, the jumper may receive a full refund.
  • A jumper may place a current reservation on hold or may rescheduling the reservation at no additional charge as long as the jumper calls our main office to notify us at least 24 hours prior to the current reservation. If a reservation is placed on hold or rescheduled with less than 24 hours notice, a late cancellation fee of $25 per person will be charged upon arrival.
  • If a jumper arrives late for a reservation and checks in after their scheduled check-in time, a late check-in fee of $25 per person will be charged upon arrival.
  • Failure to arrive at all for a scheduled reservation without any type of notice will result in immediate forfeiture of all funds paid. The same policy applies to anyone who has checked in but is not able to be found onsite when time to board his or her flight.
  • If a jumper has checked in but is not available to be geared up at least 15 minutes prior to the aircraft’s departure, the jumper will be charged a $25 late fee and be rescheduled for the next available time slot that day. If the jumper is unable to wait until the next available time slot or if there isn’t one available, then the jumper must reschedule for another date.

Video and Photo Packages

  • Video and photo packages may be refunded for any reason whatsoever at any point up until you are geared up or thirty minutes prior to your scheduled flight, whichever comes first.
  • If only part of a video and photo package is not up to our standards, then only a partial refund may be issued. This partial refund is our apology for not providing you with a complete video and photo package.
  • The only time a full refund may be issued for a video and photo package is if the entire package is not up to our standards. This full refund is our apology for not being able to provide you with any part of a video and photo package.

Gift Cards, Certificates, and Vouchers

  • Gift cards, certificates, and vouchers are completely non-refundable and not replaceable. However, you may sell or give them to someone else if you are not able to use them yourself.
  • The amount paid and placed on a gift card expires after five years from the date of purchase.

Accelerated Free-Fall Training (AFF)

1. Once on the airplane, no refund or transfers are available.

2. Accelerated Free Fall Training Program Prepaid Package is Non-refundable, it is transferable.

3. Get your skydiving License in a Week Prepaid Package is Non-refundable, it is transferable.

Experienced Jumpers

1. We allow all jumpers to maintain an account at Start Skydiving. Credit card transactions are the same as cash we do not charge a fee. Accounts must be kept in the black to be able to jump.

2. Money paid ahead on account is non-refundable and may be applied only to jumps from our aircraft.

3. Repacks cannot be taken out of accounts unless you are a staff member. Merchandise, food, and beverages cannot be taken out of accounts.

4. Money on account may not be transferred to another person’s account without permission from management.

5. Refunds to licensed jumpers are not available for most skydiving related purchases. Any consideration for refunds will be handled on a case by case basis. The management reserves the right to make the sole and final decision in these cases.

6. Any funds left inactive on account for five years will be considered abandoned and forfeited. There are no refunds of any type available after 24 hours.

7. If bulk tickets are purchased, they must be used in the year of purchase, remaining tickets may not be carried over to the next year.

8. It is the individual jumpers’ responsibility to monitor his or her account. You are encouraged to check your account daily. At the closing of each business day, the computer is considered to be correct, and discrepancies will not be considered at a later date.

9. If you are a staff member and choose not to receive a pay check during a work period, those funds will remain permanently on your account and can be used for any Start Skydiving purchase.

Whuffo Questions

How do you breathe in freefall?

Through genetically developed gills, this falls into the realm of urban folklore. One CAN breathe in freefall – if it were necessary. However, due to the high speed of terminal freefall (and much higher speeds in vertical freefall dives), the jumper’s body is exposed to O2 molecules at a much higher rate than someone walking around on the ground. The body is able to absorb the necessary O2 through the skin. This is why jumpers flap their cheeks in free fall, it presents a larger surface area to the airstream for oxygen osmosis. Once under canopy, the jumper resumes breathing normally. This is also why jumpers do not jump on cloudy days or when they might risk going through clouds. The moisture in the clouds can condense on their exposed skin surfaces preventing the absorption of the necessary oxygen resulting in suffocation.

Do your ear drums pop on the way down?

Yes, we’re not ignoring you, we’re deaf.

What if you have to go to the bathroom in the plane?

Go ahead!

Can you steer your parachute?

No, one time I landed in Jamaica.

Does it hurt?

Yes, that’s why we jump all the time! Masochism!

What if your parachute doesn’t open?

Gee, I never thought of that…

Why do you jump?

Why do you breathe?