Here are the most frequently asked questions we get. If there’s something you want to know that isn’t answered here, please call us at (704) 787-5944.
Is skydiving safe?
Skydiving is a high-speed aerial sport that exposes its participants to the real risk of injury and death.
Analysis of skydiving accidents show that most are caused by jumpers who make mistakes of procedure or judgment. Contrary to popular belief, very few skydiving accidents or injuries are caused by random or unexpected equipment failure.
Those skydivers who are trained well, who stay current and who take a conservative approach to the sport are involved in very few accidents and suffer few — if any — injuries.
Some people prefer not to expose themselves to significant risks, while others accept the risk in exchange for the enjoyment the activity offers.
Skydive Central N.C. requires that each customer sign a legally binding assumption-of-risk agreement. The document makes it clear that the sport has its risks and that the jumper is electing to jump in spite of those risks.
What does freefall feel like?
Freefall is not the “roller coaster drop” feeling most people expect it would be. It is a comfortable sensation of floating and support, with a slight pressure of air against your body.
Freefall is the closest thing to human flight, especially when falling “relative” with other skydivers. In relation to other skydivers in the air, a jumper can move forward, backwards, up, down and all around in the sky. He or she can dive vertically over 200 mph or achieve horizontal movement over the ground up to 60 mph. The constant air flow allows aerial maneuvers with precision and control.
What are the age requirements?
As a United States Parachute Association (USPA) group member dropzone, we adhere to the USPA Basic Safety Requirements (BSRs) and the parachute manufacturer’s, requirements that mandate you must be 18 years old or older to be legally permitted to perform any type of skydive.
What are the physical requirements?
In general, the prospective student should be in reasonably good physical shape, this ″is″ a sport after all. You will be required to wear around 35lbs of equipment, endure opening shock, maneuver the canopy, land, and possibly trudge great distances on foot. You will experience 30 degree swings in temperature, atmospheric pressure changes. It’s grueling (:-).
But seriously, problems may arise where a prospect is too heavy (over 220lbs/ see below)) or if they have medical conditions which may impair them during the activity. Someone who experiences fainting spells, blackouts, or has a weak heart should not be jumping. Someone with respiratory illness *may* have a problem due to atmospheric changes at altitude. The better your physical condition, the more you will enjoy the experience. This being said, very few people have medical or physical conditions which actually preclude them from jumping.
If you have a question, ask us, and as always, ask your doctor. You may be surprised at the relatively few physical constraints involved.
Concerning weight restrictions, there are two primary concerns. First, does the drop zone have a parachute system which you can both legally use and safely land? Second, if you are going to be at the top-end of the safe weight range for a particular parachute, are you in relatively good shape? An imperfect landing will be much less likely to injure an athletic person. If this is unclear, consider the difference between a 5’10” linebacker who weighs 240lbs, and a 5’10” channel surfer of the same weight. If the former has a bad landing, he’ll probably brush himself off and get up. The latter may very well injure himself substantially, lacking both the strength to withstand landing and coordination to do a good Parachute Landing Fall(PLF). With this in mind, use the following table as a guide.
Less than 200lbs Almost every DZ should be willing to let you jump.
200-220lbs. The majority of DZ’s should be willing to let you jump. Being in relatively good shape is a plus. Beyond about 230lbs, most reserves canopies are no longer strictly legal for you to use.
220-230lbs. Some DZ’s may take you, but will likely insist that you be in good shape, i.e. not a couch-potato. You must recognize that there is a greater chance of injury, particularly if you are not somewhat athletic.
Greater than 230lbs. Very few DZ’s will be able to let you skydive. They are likely to use converted Tandem gear. Without this type of equipment, you will need to be in excellent physical condition, and be willing to accept an increased chance of injury in case of a bad landing. We do not perform tandems in excess of 220lbs.
Please note that this table is only a guideline. Call us and discuss your weight concerns. Also, there are experienced skydivers who are quite heavy — however, they likely learned when they were lighter and had mastered landing before gaining the additional weight.
Tandem jumps are meant to offer an introduction to the sport. They allow the neophyte to take a ride with an experienced jumper. A tandem jump requires from 15 to 45 minutes of ground preparation (it is ″not″ a First Jump Course). It consists of an experienced jumper called a ″tandem master″ and the passenger. The passenger and tandem master each wear a harness, however only the tandem master wears the parachutes. The passenger′s harness attaches to the front of the tandem master′s harness and the two of them freefall ″together″ for 30 seconds, open together, and land together under one Really-BIG-Parachute.
Tandem skydiving provides an obvious advantage for the adventurous spirit who cannot adequately meet the physical or proficiency requirements for the AFF program. By relying on a Tandem Master’s skills, you will still be able to experience the thrill of skydiving.
Because the tandem training is not a First Jump Course, if you decide to pursue the sport, you will still have to attend a FJC in AFF curriculum.
In both of these training methods, students are taught normal and emergency procedures for all aspects of the jump – climb to altitude, exit, opening, canopy control, and landing. They are also shown the equipment and go over it so that they understand how it works.
What is opening and flying the parachute like?
The opening “shock” of the parachute is much like jumping feet-first into a pool of water. The opening takes about two to five seconds and is not uncomfortable.
Square parachutes are simple to maneuver and steer to the ground. Steering lines are attached to the rear right and left side of the parachute. By taking the controls in each hand, one steers the parachute by pulling on one control. To turn left, simply pull down the left control. To stop the turn, simply return the control to its original position.
What should I wear?
Dress comfortably for the weather on the ground ? . Make sure to wear or bring sneakers as you will not be permitted to jump on open-toed shoes, sandals, flip flops, shoes with heals or barefoot.
Can my friend and I be on the same video?
Each tandem pair will have over a quarter mile of separation from each other so you will not be near each other during freefall, nor can you hold hands or talk to each other in freefall. A videographer cannot physically fly between 2 tandem pairs and get video of both. Each tandem student needs to get his or her own video.
If I made a 10:00 reservation, what time should I be there?
10:00 is your arrival time and the skydive will happen anytime between 1 and 3 hours after. You are welcome to come out 20 ? 30 mins early to get started on the paperwork, but it does not guarantee an earlier jump time. We do our best to get you in the plane efficiently, but many factors can contribute to a longer wait time (i.e. weather, volume, wind speed, etc.)
What if your parachute doesn’t open?
Clearly, this is the most Frequently-Asked-Question posed by all prospective jumpers.
By law (FAA regulations), all intentional parachute jumps must be made with a single harness, dual parachute system with both a main canopy *AND* a reserve canopy. In other words, you have a second (or spare) canopy in case the first one fails to open properly.
However, it must be noted that the technology utilized in today’s sport parachuting equipment is light years ahead of the old military surplus gear used in the ’60s and ’70s. The canopies are DRASTICALLY different from the classic G.I. Joe round parachutes. The materials are stronger, lighter and last longer, the packing procedures are simpler, the deployment sequence is much more refined, etc.
The reserve canopies are even more carefully designed and packed. The reserve parachute must be inspected and repacked every 180 days by an FAA rated parachute Rigger – even if it has not been used during that time.
The student’s main canopy is always packed either by a rigger or under a rigger’s direct supervision by experienced packers.
There are also additional safety features employed to ensure canopy deployment such as Automatic Activation Devices (AAD), Reserve Static Lines (RSL) and Sky Hooks which add still more layers of safety.
How much does it cost?
Prices vary depending upon the size of your group and specific discounts the tandem skydive is $259. We provide freefall video and digital stills of your skydive for an additional cost.
After completing their first Category A jump, skydiving tradition allows each student to express their appreciation and admiration for their newfound skydiving friends for their assistance in successfully achieving this milestone in their life by purchasing (from a local establishment) and presenting to them a case of beer. This case, customarily a fine imported beer, is ceremoniously iced down for consumption at the end of the day. The cost generally runs $15-20.
After the first jump, the cost of each successive jump decreases in stages as less supervision is required. Once off student status, and owning your own gear, jumps will cost about $18-$23 to 12,500′ (about 60 seconds of freefall).
Equipment can run from $1000 to $3500 depending on what you want to spend. There is a used equipment market (much like the used car market) which can SAVE you loads of money, or you can custom order everything brand-spankin-new with your own personalized colors and sizes, which will cost you more but be custom fitted for you. You can buy it all at once or a piece at a time as finances allow. Generally, you shouldn’t worry about buying gear until you are off student status or close to your A license.
Of course, all prices are in US dollars (as opposed to dinars or rubles :-).
How fast do you fall?
When you leave the aircraft, you are moving horizontally at the same speed as the aircraft, typically 90-110MPH. During the first 10 seconds, a skydiver accelerates up to about 115-130MPH straight down. (A tandem pair uses a drouge chute to keep them from falling much faster than this). It is possible to change your body position to vary your rate of fall. In a standard face-to-earth position, you can change your fall rate up or down a few (10-20) miles per hour. However, by diving or “standing up” in freefall, any experienced skydiver can learn to reach speeds of over 160-180MPH. Speeds of over 200MPH require significant practice to achieve. The record freefall speed, done without any special equipment, is 321MPH. Obviously, it is desirable to slow back down to 110MPH before parachute opening.
Once under parachute, decent rates of 1000ft./min. are typical. A lighter student with a bigger canopy may come down much more slowly, and, obviously, a heavier person may have a somewhat faster decent. Experienced jumper’s can canopies descend (in normal glide) at up to 1500ft./min. During radical turns, the decent rate can go well over 2000ft./min.
How hard is the landing?
The canopies used today bear little resemblance to the classic round canopies of years gone by. Today, nearly all jumpers and jump schools use “square” canopies for parachuting. These canopies are actually rectangular in shape, and when open, act like an airplane wing (or an airfoil). They are more like gliders than umbrellas.
The aerodynamics of the square canopy provide it with exceptional maneuverability, allowing the jumpers to land almost anywhere they wish. This wing shape also provides tippy-toe soft landings for even the novice jumper. The days of landing like a sack of flour are history. Most students land standing up on their first jump.
After my first jump, what’s next?
Basic parachute training consists of a series of jumps made under the direct supervision of an instructor. Each jump is preceded by a session on the ground followed by a jump. It takes from about 10 to 15 jumps until the student is competent enough to be cleared to jump without instructor supervision. Since most students are weekend skydivers who make two or three jumps a day, the typical student takes about a month to graduate.
After graduation, the new jumper practices his skills and learns new ones. He or she becomes eligible to earn licenses that attest to the jumper’s competency.
From there the sky is the limit. The new skydiver has the freedom of the sky to share with others who enjoy the exciting sport of skydiving.
How is parachuting regulated?
In the U.S., parachuting is regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration by Part 105 of the Federal Aviation Regulations.
The FAA allows sport parachuting to monitor itself in training and operational requirements. After all, it is a sport just like SCUBA diving or rock climbing. The U.S. Parachute Association has developed standards called “Basic Safety Requirements” which all USPA affiliates pledge to follow. BSRs represent the commonly accepted standards for a high level of safety. They cover equipment, training, DZ requirements, wind limits, and so forth.
Where can I try Skysurfing or BASE jumping?
It a nutshell, you can’t — unless you’re already a very experienced skydiver.
“Skysurfing” or “Skyboarding” refers to skydiving with a small board, similar to snowboard, attached to your feet. This allows for some radical maneuvers in freefall. However, such jumps should only be attempted by expert skydivers, and preferably after long discussion with one of many skysurfers who have experience. Some board manufacturers and experienced skydsurfers offer instructional classes or videotapes.
BASE jumping involves jumping off of fixed objects (like Buildings, Antennas, Spans (bridges), or Earth (cliffs)), and landing under a parachute. While being an expert skydiver isn’t an absolute requirement, you need a great deal of experience in parachute packing, canopy control, quick reflexes, and body position awareness before this can be attempted with any real safety. Start with skydiving, and then go from there. Furthermore, there are very few places where one may BASE jump legally, as most locations are private property.
How do you breathe in freefall?
Through genetically developed gills, this falls into the realm of urban folklore. One CAN breathe in freefall – if it were necessary. However, due to the high speed of terminal freefall (and much higher speeds in vertical freefall dives), the jumper’s body is exposed to O2 molecules at a much higher rate than someone walking around on the ground. The body is able to absorb the necessary O2 through the skin. This is why jumpers flap their cheeks in free fall, it presents a larger surface area to the airstream for oxygen osmosis. Once under canopy, the jumper resumes breathing normally.
Skydiving puts all your earthly fears into manageable perspective. It inspires such complete focus of attention, that all other worries, aggravations and frustrations are forgotten. It charges you with such energy and spirit, that vitality lost to the mundane world snaps back with invigorating speed. Skydiving inspires freedom of spirit, and attracts some of the most interesting people on earth. Plus, it’s really fun to talk about!
How long will it take to make my first jump?
For a tandem skydive, plan for a minimum of 3 hours.
How old do I have to be?
You must be at least 18 years of age with a current photo ID. There are no exceptions to this rule.
Can I get pictures of my skydive?
Yes, a MP4 video of your skydive and digital stills are available at an additional charge.
What will the skydive feel like?
The sensation of freefell is more like flying than falling. The parachute flight is quiet and inspiring.
How will it feel when the parachute opens?
You will definitely know that something is happening, but few people have complained of any discomfort.
What kind of parachute will we use?
The parachutes used are specially designed, large “ram-airs”. A “ram-air” is a high-technology square parachute, as opposed to the old-style round parachutes.
How long does the skydive last?
35 to 50 seconds of free-fall and 4 to 6 minutes under the parachute.
Will I be scared?
It’s human nature to be frightened of the unknown. You will definitely feel a surge of excitement and anticipation before the jump… -this is a normal part of the experience. During the jump itself, you’ll probably feel a thrill that you’ve never experienced before – enjoy it!.
Do you jump in all weather?
No, we do not jump when it is raining, completely clouded over, or extremely windy, but we still can do your training. That way you can be ready to jump right away if you have to come back another day. Weather can causes unexpected delays, so please be patient, we are trying to get you in the air as quickly and safely as possible. If you have any doubt about the weather, please call us on the day of your jump.
Are customers expected to tip their Instructors?
No, tipping is not required, but of course, it is always appreciated if you feel they did a great job.