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What is Tandem Skydiving?

Monday, June 15, 2020

What is tandem skydiving? We’re so glad you asked! Simply put, tandem skydiving allows people with zero skydiving experience to enjoy the world’s greatest adventure! You can’t go to Mt. Everest without vast amounts of experience and training but you can exit an airplane from 10,000 feet thanks to tandem skydiving! 

Tandem skydiving allows for two people to jump together by way of a harness system built for two and a parachute container system built to sustain the weight of two people (usually up to 500lbs). 

Man tandem skydiving for the first time at Skydive St Louis

The History of Tandem Skydiving

The jury is out on who officially invented tandem skydiving, but the first jump with two people is known to have happened back in 1908 with the exhibition jumps of Dolly Shepard. The person recognized most for having created tandem skydiving as we know it today is Ted Strong. 

Strong built the first commercial dual harness system for two people with his “Dual Hawk Tandem” system in 1983. Ted’s dual harness revolutionized the skydiving industry, allowing dropzones to become commercial businesses as opposed to jump clubs for the small population of outliers “crazy enough” to jump out of perfectly good planes. With so many more people getting to experience skydiving, the sport went from a fringe activity to one that’s more mainstream. As it turns out, all those “crazy” people were onto something – skydiving is incredibly fun! 

Man having the time of his life while tandem skydiving at Skydive St Louis
As it turns out, all those “crazy” people were onto something – skydiving is incredibly fun! 

What Makes Tandem Skydiving So Great!

What makes tandem skydiving so great are the benefits you don’t expect. It’s so much better than you imagine because it’s less about being scared and more about empowerment, adrenaline, and realizing that maybe we’re not getting as much out of life as we should be.  

Tandem skydiving is like an awakening – you can do big things if you really want to; you just have to leave the padded world we’ve built around ourselves and step out of it. To face something that seems so scary, work through it, and discover exhilaration on the other side of it… that’s the magic of this amazing activity and it’s why we love facilitating it! 

Who Can Tandem Skydive? 

We’d love to say that everyone can go tandem skydiving, but unfortunately, that’s not the case as this is jumping out of an airplane after all! Tandem skydiving is demanding on the body and so, that’s the first place we need to start – strength and flexibility. 

Sideview of a tandem skydiver coming in for a landing at Skydive St Louis
A tandem skydiver and instructor coming in for a landing at Skydive St Louis.
Strength and Flexibility with Tandem Skydiving

When making a tandem skydive, you’re more than a passenger; you have to assist the instructor to help ensure the skydive is safe and to do this requires someone to be in reasonably good health. You don’t have to be an Olympic track star, but a degree of fitness is required. For example, individuals need to be strong enough to get into the aircraft, crouch in the door of the plane at the time of exit, have the ability to arch one’s back (think the shape of a banana) during free fall, and have the core strength to lift up your legs in preparation for landing. There’s no maximum age restriction for skydiving – it’s about your health more than anything else! 

Tandem Skydive Weight Restrictions

Another possible restriction for tandem skydiving is one’s total body weight plus the ratio of one’s weight and height. At Skydive St. Louis, we can accommodate guests who weigh up to 260lbs, however, it’s important to note that a tandem harness is not a one-size-fits-all design, but rather a one-size-fits-many. This is where the weight-height ratio comes into play. A 6-foot tall man weighing 230lbs will fit into a tandem harness much differently than a man who is 5’3” and 230lbs. 

Talking about weight is always uncomfortable, but we must as it’s an issue of safety. 

Tandem Skydiving Age Restrictions 

Regrettably, the minimum age requirement for all United States Parachute Association (USPA) member dropzones is 18 and it’s the same here at Skydive St. Louis. Due to the litigious nature of high-risk sports in the US, 18 is the minimum age requirement regardless of parental consent for minors. As mentioned above, there is no maximum age restriction. 

Woman excited to tandem skydive at Skydive St Louis

How Much Does Tandem Skydiving Cost? 

The price of a tandem skydive varies greatly depending on the day of the week, type of aircraft used, fuel prices, demand for skydiving in tourism-based destinations, and volume of competition in the marketplace. Generally, the price of a tandem skydive in the US will range from $159 to $300 based on these variables. 

At Skydive St. Louis the price for a tandem skydive is $239. Our media package is $79 for photography and $109 for video and photography. 

How Do You Prepare for a Tandem Skydive? 

Preparing for a tandem skydive is relatively easy and can be broken down into three essentials: 

  • Administrative – have the right documents at check-in
  • Clothing – dressing for comfort 
  • Health  – being physically prepared 

1. Administrative – What You Need To Make Your Tandem Skydive

This is a big detail that shouldn’t be overlooked because not having the right documents may result in you not being able to skydive, which is a major bummer! Because of the minimum age requirement, dropzones need to verify age which means every person will need to bring a valid, government-issued, photo identification – usually, a military ID, passport, or driver’s license. Sorry to say, your Costco Membership card won’t serve as verification of who you are (this has been tried before).

Tandem skydiving over St Louis Missouri at Skydive St Louis
2. Clothing – What To Wear During a Tandem Skydive

It’s all about safety and comfort, so let’s chat about how to safely dress for a tandem skydive. We want to be sure that nothing inhibits the vision of the tandem instructor who is behind you and we want to ensure nothing could potentially serve as a snag hazard. The primary rule of thumb is to avoid baggy clothing like bulky hoodies or jackets. If jumping on a cooler day, it’s best to layer clothing.

Also, if you have long hair, be sure to bring some hair ties. We’ll want to be sure your hair is cinched and out of the way. For gents with long beards, it’s a good idea to keep beards under control as well!

Shoes are important as well. Kindly avoid from wearing shoes that are open-toed or that are loose fitting. Tennis shoes or running shoes fit the bill perfectly. Boots with eye hooks serve as snag hazards and should be avoided.

Woman smiling while tandem skydiving at Skydive St Louis in Missouri
3. Health – What To Eat Before Your Tandem Skydive

It is possible to feel nauseated during the skydiving experience. Nausea generally sets in when under parachute and is usually the result of not eating at all or overeating. During the free fall experience, your body will be surging with adrenaline and if there’s nothing in the tank to support that surge, you’re going to feel ill. On the other side of the token, if you stop at IHOP for Chocolate Chip Pancakes or our fave, the Cupcake Pancakes, you may end up with regret and a spoiled skydive (and an unhappy tandem instructor). Eat sensibly with a balanced breakfast or lunch and you’ll be just fine!

It’s important to also stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water before you arrive and during your time at the dropzone. Your body is about to endure a chemical cocktail of an endorphin explosion and feeling dehydrated won’t support this particularly in the heat of a St. Louis summer! Drink lots of water!

It should be noted that some guests have been known to imbibe in a drink or two before the skydive or heavily the night before. Any dropzones that suspect you may be either inebriated or hungover will not permit you from making a skydive. It’s important to have your whits about you. Here at Skydive St. Louis we are firm about this policy. 

Have more questions about tandem skydiving? If so, check out the following resources: 

Are you ready to skydive? We’d love to welcome you to our world and show you our passion for flight. Click here to contact us or click here to schedule your skydiving adventure

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