Tandem skydiving - a tick in the box on your bucket list
If you have any form of bucket list whatsoever there is a high probability that doing a tandem skydive appears somewhere on that list. If tandem skydiving is of interest, this is the place to get some detailed knowledge on the subject without any pressure to buy anything. We'll even give you tips on how to find the best deal for yourself. Why do we do this? Because we are proud to be a totally independent,free guide written specifically for for first time tandem skydiving folk and also for other first time skydivers. It's our aim to help you to get the most out of your skydiving experience. Our guide is written by experienced skydiving instructors and so you know you are getting real information and real helpful advice. We're not trying to sell our own services here, our objective is to help people much further afield and so far, we know that our guide is being read extensively in over a hundred countries.
We'll give you with a full list of approved skydiving centers to make it easy for you to arrange your skydive. We'll also give you the results of our own research to help you to find the current best buys and you might even want a sneak preview of sky dive tandem best buys now, just to whet your appetite. We're continually working through the drop zone lists and checking details to make sure we get the details right so please be patient. If you want to pass-on any particularly good deals or recognise any excellent service then please feel free to register on our site and blog these for the benefit of others. It wasn't hard to get the list of parachute schools in UK because there are only 26 other them, and we're working on the list for USA and other countries now. We only list high quality and approved centres so that we can therefore ensure that our recommendations help you to enjoy a positive experience and get an excellent deal. Please bookmark this page or hit the RSS button (top right of the home page) and you'll be updated when we have even more (free) resources for you. Alternatively please feel free to register for our free newsletter.
Your tandem skydive - what happens
You arrive at the skydiving center with your booking form and medical certificate/ declaration form all signed up and ready to go.
Your check-in at reception moves through smoothly because you've done the paperwork before you arrived and as a result you are placed earlier in the queue to make your sky dive tandem. You now know that it was a good idea to plan to arrive a little earlier than the drop zone suggested because you managed to beat the traffic. The receptionist takes any final payment from you (most credit cards are usually accepted now unless your drop zone specifically says otherwise) and you are asked to take a seat in the canteen to wait for the call for the instructor briefing where you'll meet a few other excited people who are also planning to make their tandem skydive today. The buzz is building up when your Instructor enters the canteen and asks you all to follow him to the ground training room where he takes you through a briefing which lasts about 30 minutes. All your questions have been answered and you know that you now need to stay around the center and wait for the ‘twenty minute call’. You decide it’s a good time to visit the toilet again! (funny that, you went just before the briefing…) must be something to do with nerves.
The twenty minute call comes over the public address system and you find your instructor again with a huge grin on his face. “How come he’s so happy when I’m feeling so nervous” you whisper to your friend. He immediately recognises how you’re feeling and says something which makes you laugh and he helps you to get into the harness, which he then tightens up. It feels tight and a bit constrictive but you feel glad because it also makes you feel a bit more secure. Now you're glad you brought the loose fitting jogging pants and decided against the 'vanity jeans' option. Your instructor puts his own parachute harness on and invites you to try out a ‘dangle’ and as you are hanging from the attachment points on his harness, you feel a bit more secure, knowing how experienced your instructor is and feeling glad he’s in control of your first skydive. You decide to pull out a few pieces of the jogging pants from under the harness to adjust the fit to be as comfortable as possible.
Soon you’re out on the em-planing area and with all the checks done and pieces of paper signed for checking equipment and manifests and so on. Your instructor helps you to climb into the aircraft and you sit down on the floor of the aircraft between his legs. He hooks up your harness onto his harness and that’s the way you’ll stay until you land (you feel a bit more secure with that).
The aircraft takes off and you feel a few butterflies. Your instructor seems to be really enjoying the whole thing and he chats and jokes and points things out on the ground. The other skydivers in the plane all seem to be enjoying themselves and you find yourself chatting to some of them and even starting to understand a little about their world and why they do this every weekend.
Soon, its time to prepare to exit the plane. You decided at reception to have a camera person to jump with you to capture the whole event,. It cost a little more but you figured that, after all its' a once-in-a-lifetime experience and you don't want to miss a second. Your camera person seems to be having just as much fun as your instructor and she asks you to say a few words int the camera and them finishes off by giving you a high-five and one of those funny skydive handshakes, well, after all you are about to be a skydiver now…
It all feels a bit surreal and while you’re looking out if the window you hear someone call ‘running in’ above the drone of the engines and you know from your briefing that you and your instructor will both soon be moving forward to the door. Your instructor gives you a final reminder to keep your hands on the harness and head back in the door, and you shuffle forward together like some aerial Siamese twins.
All of a sudden you’re in the door and your legs are dangling in space, pushed sideways by the powerful airflow. “Head back, legs back and arch” you say to yourself. Suddenly you’re in free fall and you see the whole of the countryside spread out below you. You feel your instructor tap your arms and you bring them out into the box position and he adjusts them a little to get them into the perfect place. Feeling the pressure of the wind on your palms you now look up and see the video camera man just a few feet in front of you “how does she do that?” goes through your mind followed by “oh yeah! this is going to look great” and so you give a great big smile and wave to the camera and you shout at the top of your voice “I'm Tandem skydiving” (for no particular reason except you need to let some the adrenaline out, and anyway it felt some words were needed for the video and you couldn't think of any thing else). The camera person gives you a big thumbs up, seeming to have heard you and moves around a bit, seeming to be trying out the best picture angles.
Now you’re starting to really enjoy this 'slipstream adventure'. Its all too soon that you feel the instructor tap your arms, as the signal to bring them into hold your harness for parachute deployment and you feel the tandem parachute starting to open and see your camera person dropping away, still looking up at you with her helmet mounted camera.
Suddenly everything goes very quiet and you realise how noisy free fall actually was. Under the canopy you become aware of a slight pressure build up in your ears and you pinch your nose and blow to make them ‘pop’. Now you can hear your instructor talking to you and explaining what's happening as he checks the canopy and you can see that its absolutely perfect “phew, really glad about that” you say to yourself, and then you realise you were talking out loud and the instructor answers with some funny skydiving remark and you wonder if he reads books to get all these great one-liners or if he’s just a natural comedian.
The canopy ride feels so graceful and seeing every detail of the local countryside is just amazing. You enjoy the simplicity of the canopy steering and your instructor coaches you on how to steer, how to allow for the winds, where the landing point is and how to steer to get to it. You toy with the idea that you could really get into this sky diving thing, hmmmm....
You’re now turning in on final approach for landing, and the instructor clearly tells you to lift your legs up (so he can take the strain of the landing on himself) and you go through the landing with him as you’ve both practiced – way up there in the sky. Smoothly pulling down together on the steering toggles on the landing which goes surprisingly softly. Before you realise it, you’re sitting on the ground, with the camera flyer asking you questions as you try to answer them and look cool, but in fact you’re still buzzing and feeling like you're floating on air. You’re not totally sure that you've actually landed – or have you? The camera captures all the good points and later you realise she made you look far cooler than you felt at the time.
Walking back to the center, helping your instructor to carry the parachute (which now looks a lot bigger than it did packed up in that container) you have a grin which is completely ear-to-ear and you wonder if you could justify getting the credit card out to go and do it all again…..
Who can make a tandem sky dive?
Almost anyone! Meaning maybe 80% of the population. Skydiving tandem is designed as a mass market adventure system and it has all the equipment, process and quality management systems to deliver outstanding fun to the many thousands of people who try it each year. If you are aged between 16 and 40 and are in good health with ‘normal’ physique then there is very likely no reason why you can’t sky dive. It gets even better than that because the current youngest skydiver is six years old and the oldest is 101, the younger one in New Zealand and the older one in Australia. The local regulations vary from country to country and each are influenced by the insurance and litigation situations in those countries . If you are hoping to sky dive tandem in UK, the rules state that you have to be sixteen and have your parents consent. The rules in USA vary from state to state and they are usually either sixteen or eighteen, with parental consent if you are under 18. We've produced a more detailed article about sky diving for younger and older folk here on this site.
Where to go tandem skydiving
Your main options are whether to make a tandem sky dive in your own country or enjoy the experience abroad, perhaps when you are on holiday depend entirely on you. Wherever you go, you should make it a drop zone which is properly assessed and licenced by one of the main governing bodies. Yes, this may mean that you have a little more red tape to deal with but it's all designed to protect you., after all this is a risk sport with a possibility of injury or even worse. Here are a few points to consider;
Vacation tandem sky diving
Let's face it, we all want to get as much as possible out of our holiday and we are in the right frame of mind to do something that we wouldn't normally do. This is good stuff of course but it also means that we may tend to cut some important corners. When you consider making a vacation tandem skydive, please always do your research on the drop zone you decide to use. Please do not assume that they operate under rules and regulations of some governing body, because there are very many that practically - don’t. There are six main points to check when you plan to go vacation skydiving and reading this section it could well save your life. Please don't ever think that the standards of safety and training in sky diving tandem that you've seen in your home country, are always as good in the small Island paradise (or even the EU country) that you are visiting for vacation. The reality in some of these places may possibly be that the equipment isn't properly maintained, the instructor isn't properly qualified and the aircraft isn't safe to fly in. To top all this, you really need to check your holiday insurance to make sure you are covered for air ambulance repatriation - just in case.
Tandem Skydiving in UK and USA
It couldn’t be easier! (watch this space for articles on USA, Canada and UAE). There are twenty six centres in UK that are affiliated to the BPA (British Parachute Association) That means that that they have BPA trained CCIs (Club Chief Instructors) and instructors. BPA approved Pilots (oh yes, a jump pilot has some special requirements over and above flying jumbo jets) and every aspect of safety and operations is audited, monitored and under continuous improvement. One of the best things about making a sky dive tandem in your home country is also that there are usually some very special deals to be had from time to time and we're always keeping our eyes open for them to pass on to you.
Tops Tips for sky diving tandem
Wherever possible, choose a parachute school on a fixed drop zone which is local to your home (there are 26 to choose from in UK)
Whats local? How far could you/would you commute to work? Then double it, just for a one-off event that might become two or three if you need to come back due to a weather problem.
Why local? Mainly because the UK is subject to erm…‘variable weather conditions’. So - if you and the family or friends set off for a nice weekend at the other end of the country, with one day allocated for mum or dad or son or daughter to do their tandem skydive and then off to see Aunty Gladwys, Girlfriend or your buddies and then to that concert and then visit…
Well, you get the drift. A well planned and busy weekend or holiday itinerary is upset by the vagaries of the weather! and the way the jet stream seems to be going, it's not going to get any better. Anyway, lets say the weather is unkind to you and you wait around for a whole day and feel disappointed to leave unfulfilled. You plan to get back to complete your sky dive tandem, and the DZ operator is helpful and will hold your ticket open to come back another day. Then when you get home, you realise it’s another five hours drive and other priorities come up and it just never happens. You miss this great opportunity. Will you buy another ticket years later? Probably not because the last one seemed wasted (through nobodies fault). Now that excellent deal for the cut price sky dive tandem seems to be false economy. On the other If you check out the list here you can surely find your local drop zone within two hours drive – maybe even an hour.
UK and US centres are strong on risk management
Lets not stick our heads in the ground because sky diving tandem is definitely a ‘risk’ sport even though its statistically safer than the other forms of skydiving! When it comes to risk management and the reduction of injuries, students are far better off in a regulated environments than in unregulated ones and you always need to consider the concept of risk in skydiving.
Insurance for Tandem sky diving
The price of your tandem sky dive should include third party insurance cover. Generally this is a specialist package provided by your national governing body (in USA it's the USPA, in UK it's the BPA). It's important to be aware that this only covers you if you damage someone else's property or person - for example if you land on their car and it has to be repaired. If you were to hurt yourself in that same incident then you wouldn't receive a penny. This is the same as car insurance - third party is the basic compliance requirement of the (UK) Road Traffic Act and while its legal to have this as a minimum, most people like to go for the 'fully comprehensive' cover if they can afford it because it also covers their own person and possessions.
This is a whole subject in itself and so we've written section to cover skydiving insurance whether its in your own country or for when you travel abroad to skydive click here. it's a very personal decision to insure yourself against personal accident or injury when making a sky dive but more and more people are now deciding to pay the few bucks for the peace of mind it gives. If you buy it on the day at the drop zone it will cost you more - after all that's the way of life isn't it? It's a changing market and we are always on the lookout for the best deals in personal injury insurance for sky diving whether it's for a one-off sky dive tandem or if you decide to take it up as a new hobby. Before you buy, check out the adverts on this site or look at our current best buys list for sky dive tandem insurance and you'll save money and get better cover.
It's more fun to do your skydive when your family and friends are there to join you for the experience
It’s much easier to have them around when you are an hour or two up the road, and if you’re doing a sponsored skydive for charity there are positive benefits. I remember my old boss Jim Strowger coming up for a Tandem skydive and then his wife Valerie decided at the last moment that she'd like to go with him. It worked out well because the bookings were low on that day, so she and her tandem instructor sat right next to her hubby on the way up and they enjoyed the whole buzz on the way up to altitude.What a great day! It doesn't always work out like this because there usually ends up being a queue of people who want to be on that plane.
We suggest you leave the dogs and other pets at home if at all possible, otherwise you have to keep them on a lead all day (lots of aeroplanes and other things that a dog would love to chase). Kids are welcome and facilities are usually pretty well appointed for the disabled.
After you've done your tandem skydive, what next?
Don't forget to come back here to blog your tandem sky dive experience. Tell your friends, post your pictures, use it for your charity fund raising and enjoy!
If all this altitude and adrenaline has gotten you thinking about going straight into doing an accelerated free fall course, then we can help you with that too.
An invitation from us
Whatever your reasons for making a skydive we'd like to invite you right up front to share your experiences here in our blog. Just register (I promise we won't ever pass on your details to third parties) and you can start writing your own blogs about your experience. Right from the time you decide you're going to do it to the time you finish. Add your pictures, make your recommendations, have fun and tell the world. Maybe even use it to help raise funds for your favorite charity. The best thing about blogging your skydive experiences with us is that your blog will actually be found by the search engines. We invest heavily in making sure that the search engines see our site, and you get the benefit of that. For example if you write your story up in a blog and you mention your name and the place you made your sky dive tandem, any one of your friends or colleagues who puts your name and "sky dive" into google will almost certainly find you on the front page. It's that easy and it's all part of our service to you.
Got any stories questions, comments or reviews about your skydiving tandem experience?
If we haven't yet managed to answer all your questions, then we'll keep trying. If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts with us about any aspect of making your first skydive, you'd be very welcome to register on acceleratedfreefall.com and use our free 'dive doctor' service from qualified and experienced skydiving instructors to answer any questions you may have. You're invited to publish and blog your views and reports about your first skydive on this site. You'll see the registration form on the left of this page. It's free and we promise to respect your privacy.
Here's another option to consider - Indoor skydiving in a wind tunnel is fun, has fewer restrictions and you can do it with your friends, family and colleagues in corporate team building sessions. It also doesn't matter if you're fearful of heights or flying or if you're too young to skydive. So in our view it's great for just about anyone!
If you're concerned about the risks and want to read more about how to manage them, perhaps with added personal insurance then we can help you with some excellent tips to make sure you get the best package.
Would you like to go to the section about skydiving insurance? If so click this link.
1. We are not licenced financial advisors so you need to read the small print for yourself.