Going night skydiving, commonly called a ‘“night jump,” is when skydivers soar through the skies after sunset and before sunup. Night jumps are not for the faint of heart and carry more risk than your average jump. Let’s look into who can make a skydive by moonlight, what equipment is needed, and the unique obstacles that only night jumps entail.
What Is A Night Jump?
As stated by the United States Parachute Association (USPA), for a skydive to constitute a night jump it must take place between at least one hour after official sunset (which is the prettiest time to skydive) and at least one hour before official sunrise. This means that jumping into a completely pitch-black abyss isn’t necessary for a night jump.
Can you even see your parachute?
Yes! Once the canopy opens, skydivers are able to check for our three S’s: Is the canopy square, stable, and steerable? They check all three in succession on every skydive to determine the fly-ability of their canopy! Skydivers typically go on full-moon nights and are able to see by the illumination from the moon, stars, and their personal lighting tools.
Why The Heck Do Skydivers Want To Jump At Night?
Night jumps are appealing because they are fun and challenging! An inherent characteristic of being a skydiver is having the desire to constantly learn and grow in the sport, and night jumps present a new opportunity for growth. Doing specialty skydives (like night jumps) helps us to bond closer with the others on the jump, and while every skydive is special, a night jump will always stick out in our memory log! Once the average night jump is mastered, you can add magnesium flares (like the Red Bull Air Force) and other cool tricks!
How do you land from a night jump?
Hopefully not on your face! Only kidding (kinda). Night jumps are a community effort, and it’s typical for a line of cars to shine their headlights on the landing area to show the jumper where to fly to.
Can Tandem Skydivers Jump At Night?
Nope. It is illegal for tandem pairs to go skydiving at night in the good ole US of A. Don’t see this as a bummer, though! Tandem skydives are so enjoyable because of the camaraderie around the dropzone (it’s more crowded during the day), the views during freefall and under canopy, and of course the video documenting your first jump. While skydiving videography has come a long way in recent years, capturing your smiling face in freefall would be impossible without the sun shining.
Skydiving, like any extreme sport, possesses an inherent amount of risk. We are able to repeatedly do what we love and welcome newcomers into our sport as tandem students by always putting safety first and mitigating risk wherever possible – we are prepared for any and every situation. That being said, the risk of night jumping is significantly higher than daytime jumps due to limited vision.
Who Can Make A Night Jump?
“Omg, I got my skydiving license, can I make a night jump now?” This is a question we frequently get from new and eager jumpers, and while the enthusiasm is awesome, the answer is no. In order to jump from a plane after sunset, the skydiver must have at least a USPA B-license. The B-license requirements include a minimum of 50 solo skydives, having passed a written examination, and exhibiting proficiency in freefall and under canopy. On top of this, the jumper must’ve completed water landing training, had an extensive brief the day of the scheduled night jump, and have conducted at least one parachute jump on the day of the night jump at the dropzone holding the night jump.
Special Equipment Needed & How To Prepare
On top of the regular skydiving gear, a skydiver will need the following:
Back-lit altimeter: The altimeter on the jumper’s wrist will need to have the capability to light up.
Flashlight: Referred to as an identification light, the flashlight can be used for a multitude of reasons, including shining it at other jumpers while under the parachute to make themselves known.
Chemlights: These are basically jacked-up glowsticks – groovy!
Strobe light: Needs to be visible for a minimum of three statute miles, again, to be visible to other jumpers.
Whistle: If other jumpers can’t see one another, they can hear!
The preparation for a night jump is more involved than a regular skydive. The pre-jump briefing will be more in-depth, especially for first-time night jumpers. While our gear is extensively checked before every skydive, prior to night jumps we prioritize double-checking our muscle memory. Since it will be dark outside, we need to rely more heavily on touch rather than sight while checking our gear on the ground, during the ride to altitude, and after deployment of the canopy.
Are Night Jumps Scary?
Heck to the YES! Even the most experienced skydivers get a little jittery for a night jump. Simply put, jumping into the night is different from what skydivers are used to. We do our first tandem, go through all of our student progression jumps, and will complete the majority of our skydives in our jumping career under the sun.
Doing anything for the first time is a bit spooky! Book a tandem, get licensed, and be on your way to your first night jump NOW!