Vacation skydiving six points to check
If you’ve decided to include skydiving in your vacation, or even make a specific vacation to get licenced and qualified to skydive, here are six things you can do to make your trip more successful, safer and more fun;
- Check your Travel insurance!(see below).
- Ask to train and jump with a BPA or USPA Instructor. Meet him or her. Ask when they qualified, how many jumps they’ve done and how long they’ve been teaching. Take a thousand jumps and ten hours in freefall as the minimum level to put your trust in. It's not enough for them to just be your countrymen. They shouldn't take offence if you ask for details, actually they'll be pleased you're so 'heads up'.
- Ask if the drop zone is affiliated to BPA or USPA and see a letter or document showing the affiliation.
- Ask about the Drop Zone safety record – how many injuries (or worse) have they had? Don’t allow skating around the subject, ask for specific numbers over the previous year. Do this on the telephone or email before you get there and get this information from the Chief Instructor or Drop Zone manager – someone in authority!
- Then take a look around for yourself ‘before you buy’. Watch some landings and student training and get a general impression for yourself of how the places runs. You gut feel will tell you a lot.
- Talk to a student after they have jumped – ask how they like ‘the product’
Travel Insurance for skydiving
Before going skydiving, consider some priority preparations first – check your travel insurance policy for exclusions. These policies exist in an incredibly dynamic and competitive market and exclusions seem to change as fast as underwriters underpants (erm, not that I’d know about the latter….). Seriously though, make sure the hazardous sports section is included and that you are covered for medical and personal accident. It’ll take ten minutes to read your policy and it’s worth a phone call to upgrade your insurance, because even a slightly rocky landing leading to a minor injury can spoil your whole vacation. There are a few insurance companies who are already quite good in this area, and they tend to be the ones who skydivers use all the time. I must say that the travel insurance policies which are included with package tours don’t usually have the cover you need (and they are also more expensive than necessary). Don’t go for less than a five million pounds equivalent medical insurance cover, personally I always have ten million cover. I’ve never yet needed to use it but it’s good to have it just in case.
Medical requirements for tandem skydiving on vacation
If the holiday drop zone operators don’t ask you for a signed medical declaration or medical certificate for skydiving, it may well be that their ‘safety management’ is a little lax, and perhaps that’s because they are operating outside of the supervision of any of the main parachuting organisations (oh yes it happens in vacation locations). Of course it’s also possible that as long as they get your money they don’t really care about you (even though they may smile more than in the busy centers in your home country).If you do decide to go and do some skydiving on vacation, check out the BPA medical requirements here and apply them to yourself. If you can’t honestly answer those questions on the form, then maybe its best to wait until you can. If you’re over 15 and a half stone perhaps it’s worth losing those few pounds before the skydive. Hmmm, perhaps a couple of days cycling the coast route before the skydive would be a good thing all round and you’ll enjoy your whole vacation much more as a result.
But the weather is so much better for skydiving here
Sure, they’ll make jokes about the horrible weather back in Germany, Belgium, Ireland or UK but you may well be surprised to find out that the prevailing wind conditions in many of the vacation drop zones are similar to UK, and this (wind speed and gust) is one of the biggest factors determining student landing success.
The slippery slope of probabilities
In skydiving, we know that – ‘its not just one thing that causes the problem… it’s a couple of things all ganging up together’. The medical is just one of them. What are the other things? Too much sun, too much local wine the night before, dehydration, not used to the altitude or the food. These seem to be the main things, so please feel free to email me if you have anything to add. In fact, why not register on this site and blog your own experiences and comments about vacation skydiving. Its easy – just register at the login menu.
Who has the responsibility for your skydive?
If you do an AFF course you'll see this question on your exam paper. So what's the answer?
Your instructor? No
The DZ operator? No
The Insurance company? No
You - Yes! of course
After you’ve been through these six simple steps to check out your vacation skydiving drop zone, well – you’ve done a pretty good job so far in looking after your own hide. You’ve done the best you can to check things out and its almost time to pay your money and sign up for a skydive.
If your dream vacation paradise seems a little ‘third world’ then do yourself a favour and go and do something else and save the skydive idea until you get back home – there is a lot to be said for gut instinct. If you’d like to check a little further before making that vacation skydive, take a look here for some more resources including a discussion about risk in skydiving. By the way, you did get your injections up to date before you left didn’t you?
Please consider that it’s OK for a drop zone to be ‘relaxed but professional’! In fact that’s the way I found Skydive Hawaii to be. On the other hand, there are other places where I would happily go myself, and I'd also recommend to another experienced skydiver, but for a first time student? Nah! So if you really have set your heart on making a skydive (yes, even a Tandem) at your “little retreat from the world” and want to check a little further into their track record email us and we’ll do what we can to help you find out. Even better, blog your question on this site and there will be more possible people to answer (in case I’m away jumping myself).