1. Eat before you come to the skydiving center
Easily, one of the biggest misconceptions about skydiving is that it’s going to make your stomach drop, and subsequently make you drop your stomach contents (I.E. get sick). This misconception causes one out of every four tandem students to fast on the morning of their jump. A students misplaced trust in going without food to remedy future motion sickness is rarely a good idea.
Your scheduled time is not necessarily your jump time. Skydiving, being heavily weather and equipment dependent, is not an activity that lends itself to a strict schedule. Though we schedule students on the hour, there are innumerable factors that impact the actual time of your jump. You will need to fill out paperwork when you arrive, which will consume about 30-45 minutes. You’ll have to wait until the students ahead of your group have jumped. On smooth fair-weather days students are in and out of our facility within a matter of hours. However, if for any reason our operations are delayed by winds, clouds or other unforeseen circumstances, there will be an additional wait. As the wait time increases on these “weather” days, your stomach will, not-so-kindly remind you that you neglected to eat. So do yourself a favor and eat as you normally do on the day of your jump and bring along a snack to the skydive center.
2. Get plenty of rest the night before your jump. We suggest that you don’t party-it-up the night before either.
Skydiving, while not “strenuous”, IS a physical activity and can pack a wallop of an adrenaline rush for first time jumpers. People generally ride on a high immediately after their jump and then report feeling a little tired and drained in the hours following. We attribute this to the massive pump you get on the edge of the plane’s door and in free fall. It truly is a natural high.
The best way to prepare for this emotional roller coaster is by logging a good nights sleep the evening before your jump and avoiding excessive amounts of alcohol. Your instructor will appreciate your attentiveness to their instructions and you’ll enjoy the scenery with a clear mind. It’s a win-win.
3. Don’t wear heavy boots
Long gone are the days of military style boots used in civilian sport parachuting. Heavy boots certainly hold their place in the annals of parachuting history, but in the history books is where we like to leave them. There was a time when parachutes were designed to descend relatively steeply and gave the parachutist little or no steering control. The skydiver was literally at the mercy of his or her “luck”. When skydivers of the past landed, it could be better described as an impact-event than a landing. The only thing standing between this gilded age skydiver and a pair of sprained or broken ankles was an iron will and a heavy-duty pair of boots.
Fast forward to 2012 and you’ll see that we’re enjoying a true renaissance of parachuting technology. The parachutes we fly today are more akin to rigid aircraft wings than to yesteryears “round” style counterparts. Your tandem instructor has full steering and descent control of the parachute above your head. If he wants to steer left, he simple pulls left, if right, he simply pulls right and if he wants to stop he pulls down on both steering toggles. It’s elegant in it’s simplicity and genius in it’s ability to land us safely back on the ground, legs intact. A good pair of running shoes, or skate shoes, or any type of light shoe will see you safely through your skydiving experience. Boots will only weigh you down and painfully ricochet against your instructors legs in freefall.
4. Dress comfortably for the weather
We’re going skydiving, we’re not going to space. Regular clothes that cover your legs, torso and arms should suffice. During the spring and fall months there will be a little chill at exit altitude. You’ll want to wear jeans, a long sleeved shirt and a light jacket. If it’s a little bit cold on the ground you’ll want to add one layer. We advise against adding too many layers as this will make you sweat on the ground and just make you colder once the wind starts to hit your body.
During the summer months it’s all about your personal comfort. If it’s 90 degrees on the ground it will be around 70 in the sky. We like to think of it as air conditioning. The brief time spent in freefall isn’t enough to make you chilly, it’s more like “just-perfect”.
If you plan on wearing shorts in the summer, we do advise against short-shorts, we regularly slide in on landing so you’ll want some fabric between the back of your upper thigh and the ground.