How to do your first tandem skydive
If jumping out of an aircraft at 13,000ft is on your 'bucket list' then here's how to make it a reality, courtesy of the Army Parachute Association's Julie Cooper.
Every journey starts with just one step, and for most people that’s the hardest part. But being outside our comfort zone is good for everyone and often takes us in a new direction.
Tandem skydiving is becoming one of the most popular adrenaline challenges and, extreme though it is, it’s also exhilarating, confidence-building and for most people a massive achievement, whether you’re doing it for fun, to raise money for charity, celebrate a special birthday, or simply, just because you can!
So what happens when you've decided to take that leap of faith?
FIND YOUR CHALLENGE
Choose a location
The first step is easy. There are a variety of drop zones spread around the UK so find the one nearest to you, then just go online and book your date and time.
Find a charity skydive
What do you look for in your drop zone? Ask these questions so that you are not disappointed when the time comes. Many will most likely be answered in the information you are given, but just in case it’s always good to ask.
- Is there an age limit? The minimum age for skydiving is 16 (with mum or dad’s consent)
- Is there an upper weight limit – drop zones vary depending on equipment
- Can I bring friends / family with me?
- Who will train me and how long will that take?
- What height will I jump from?
- How long does it take?
- Do I need a deposit?
- Can I have the experience videoed / photographed?
BEFORE YOUR JUMP
As you can imagine safety is of the utmost importance. Instructors in the UK are highly trained, many are military and have a wealth of experience in parachuting, having done hundreds of jumps (at least 800), so you are in extremely safe hands.
During your training, you will find out how a parachute works and how many parachutes they have. You'll learn what will happen when you jump and what they expect of you. They are the most reassuring people I know, will answer all your questions and are able to dispel any anxiety you might have.
If you’re jumping for charity, why not wear your charity t-shirt over the top of your jump suit – great awareness for your charity, and it looks pretty good in the pictures too! .
You meet your tandem instructor, get suited up and find yourself walking towards your aircraft. You take your place and suddenly you’re off down the runway, tightly strapped to your instructor and ready for something truly amazing.
Free fall... then float
The aircraft climbs to altitude, the door opens and then you’re out in the clear, blue (hopefully) sky. You’re in free fall to start with, which is simply amazing. And then you enjoy the calm of floating back to the landing zone under the canopy, looking at the world from a different perspective.
Time to celebrate
You arrive back on the ground completely exhilarated and wondering why you were ever worried! Your instructor unclips you and walks you off the airfield and back to your friends and family, ready to celebrate the jump.
Relive the experience
Don’t forget to pick up your skydiving certificate and your video before you leave. Although, believe me you will still have your head firmly in the clouds for at least the next two days!
THE NEXT STEPS
For anyone learning a new sport, particularly one as extreme as skydiving, the sooner you start, the better. At Skydive Netheravon our weekends are spent teaching many young people from far and wide, some attached to schools, others from independent cadet groups, or just simply a couple of friends learning to skydive together.
You can choose to do the Static Line (First Jump) Course or the Accelerated Free Fall Course (AFF) which is more intense but equally as challenging. You are then eligible to apply for your 'A' licence, which means you can then jump solo anywhere in the world and are well on the way to becoming an experienced skydiver!
First jump course Accelerated free fall
So if skydiving is on your 'bucket list', try taking that first step. Whether it’s a Tandem skydive for fun, a Static Line or Accelerated Free Fall course, our very experienced military instructors will give you the confidence you need to complete your goal and possibly take it to an even higher level, like Wingsuit flying!
Find out more about Netheravon, home of the Army Parachute Association
(Photo credit: Skydive Netheravon)