Is there a weight limit for skydiving?
Monday, July 27, 2020
Indeed, there is a skydiving weight limit. At Skydive STL, our weight limit for skydiving tandem is 260 pounds. We wish that everyone, regardless of size, could experience the wonder of the wild, blue yonder on a skydive. However, the skydiving weight limit is an essential part of maintaining the safety and well being of our customers and instructors. We hate turning down individuals because their weight exceeds the weight limit for skydiving tandem, but the skydiving weight limit is a real immutable dictum which we must abide by.
Here’s what you need to know about the weight limit for skydiving.
The Basics: A Brief Physics Lesson
From the moment Sir Isaac Newton sat in that orchard and witnessed an apple falling from a tree, we became acquainted with an unyielding law: the law of gravity. What goes up, must come down.
Pretty much everything that flies has a weight limit. This is because of the properties of flight, including parachutes, balance air resistance (drag), lift, and weight. As you may know, objects with a greater mass fall faster than objects with a smaller mass. Until any falling object encounters an amount of air resistance equal to its weight, it will continue to accelerate. An object that weighs more thus experiences a greater force of gravity and will accelerate to higher speeds before reaching terminal velocity. Simply put, the more massive the object, the faster it will fall! Ipso facto, the more massive the object suspended beneath it, the more surface area, drag, and lift the parachute must have to safely bear the load of the weight.
If you’re wondering, why not just create a parachute big enough to carry a 300-pound skydiver and his tandem instructor? (Read more about tandem skydiving here.) Here’s the kicker: the larger the parachute, the more it weighs. In this case, the only potential solution exacerbates the problem. This is why parachutes are only made up to a certain size.
How much weight can a parachute hold?
Let’s take into consideration that parachutes, while meticulously designed, tested, and a tad more complicated, are, in essence, pieces of nylon sewn together, a series of strings, and all attached to a “backpack” with reinforced binding. As one might expect, there are limits to how much weight a parachute can bear.
The majority of civilian tandem parachute systems on the market cannot exceed a limit of 500 pounds. This weight consists of the instructor, passenger, and the weight of the gear (which sits somewhere around 60 pounds). Before being approved for use, each component of the tandem skydiving equipment undergoes rigorous testing and is issued a Technical Standard Order (TSO) from the Federal Aviation Administration.
Exceeding the weight limit for tandem skydiving gear means exceeding the parameters in which the gear is proven to work correctly. The result of exceeding the weight limit can be disastrous. This is why for the safety of our customers and instructors we have a strict skydiving weight limit.
Skydiving Weight Limit at Skydive STL
The weight limit at many facilities is 225 pounds. At Skydive STL, we are able to accommodate guests up to 260 pounds. However, there is a $1 per pound charge for jumpers over 200 pounds. (Take a look at our skydiving prices here.)
This increase in cost is directly correlated to the increased strain on an instructor that is required for a successful skydive with a heavier individual. Please consider, in a tandem jump, the weight limit that the gear can bear does not change, so in order to take a larger/heavier passenger, the instructor that is used must be smaller/lighter.
We will be here when you are ready!
Haven’t quite made it below the 260 pound mark? Don’t fret yet. Skydiving can be the perfect motivator to help you reach your weight loss goals. Take your time and celebrate your accomplishment with a skydive. We’ll be here, all smiles, cheering you on!