If you’re wondering about skydiving with an instructor, chances are it’s your first time jumping and you’re keen to know exactly what to expect. You’re likely aware that you won’t be jumping solo — you will be doing a tandem skydive, which means that you’ll be skydiving with an instructor. Are you a tad nervous about putting your life in the hands of someone you don’t know? Of course, you are – that’s only natural.
Here we’ll talk about what it’s like to skydive with a tandem instructor and get into some of the skydiving instructor requirements, in order to give you peace of mind.
The Skinny On Tandem Skydiving
On the day of your skydive, check in at your reservation time. When you arrive, you will have some papers to sign and about 15 minutes of classroom instruction. While the whole skydiving experience usually takes under 90 minutes, plan on spending about 4 hours with us (especially on the weekends) to allow for weather delays and logistics.
When it’s time for your jump, you’ll meet your instructor who will be with you throughout the rest of the process. They’ll make sure that you’re harnessed up, and they’ll assist you in boarding the plane. You’ll ride up to the jump altitude of around 10,000 feet where you’ll exit, securely strapped to your tandem instructor, and begin the closest thing we have to human flight: freefall.
Freefall feels like it lasts forever and also like it’s over in an instant but, in actuality, you’re freefalling for about 45 seconds at a speed of around 120 mph before your instructor deploys the parachute. You and your instructor can talk and enjoy possibly the best view of the Mississippi River (we might be a bit biased) while on the five-minute canopy flight before landing.
Why Tandem Skydiving?
Tandem skydives are the best way to make your first jump for many reasons.
Skydiving is such a fun and extraordinary experience – and one that requires a great deal of training before going solo. Jumping tandem allows you to relax and enjoy your first jump without having to worry about operating equipment and following stringent protocols. That’s not to say you are solely a passenger. Tandem students do have some responsibilities, but your instructor handles most of the work.
Skydiving feels unlike anything else and can be a bit of a sensory overload. The security that comes with having a highly-credentialed instructor strapped to you lets you bask in the awe of it all and not drown in the overwhelm of navigating all of the feels.
What Does A Skydive Instructor Do?
Skydiving instructors have one job: getting you both to the ground safely! That’s a lot of responsibility, which is why all of our instructors are in compliance with the USPA (United States Parachute Association) requirements for certification.
In order to become a tandem skydiving instructor, a person has to be over 18 years old and have:
Been skydiving for at least 3 years
Obtained a USPA D-License (the most advanced skydiving license you can get)
Made at least 500 skydives
Accumulated at least 3 hours of controlled freefall time
Received an FAA class 3 medical certificate or foreign equivalent
Achieved their Tandem Instructor rating through a prescribed skydiving course
Rules are Cool
Above all else: safety. Skydiving is only fun if you can jump with confidence and have the ability to do it again and again (and again!) if you so choose. This means adhering to strict rules and dropzone regulations, including these for tandem students:
Must be at least 18 years of age (valid, government-issued, photo ID required)
Weigh no more than 260 lbs
No alcohol after midnight the night before jumping (and no alcohol on the premises)
Our weight limit is determined by the amount of weight that the skydiving gear can safely carry (typically 500 lbs for a tandem rig) and also by the weight and balance of the airplane. Capping at 260 lbs might seem low, but when combined with the weight of gear and the weight of your instructor, it starts adding up. Enforcing a weight limit is by no means intended to be punitive or discriminatory. Feel free to get in touch with us if you have questions about any of our rules.
Take a Picture, It Will Last Longer
There is so much build-up and excitement before your skydive … and then it is over before you know it. Whether your tandem will be a one-time thing or a first-of-many thing, we promise that you’re going to want to remember your first skydive forever – and the best way to do that is with video and photos.
Sorry, young grasshopper. You can’t take your GoPro with you. USPA safety standards require skydivers to have at least 200 skydives before taking any type of camera up, but we offer awesome photo and video packages that will deliver the content you’ll want to watch over and over again, and share far and wide on social media. (Don’t forget to tag us! @skydivestl #skydivestlouis)
Now you know what it’s like skydiving with an instructor, there’s nothing left to it but to do it!! Come and jump with us! Blue skies!