If you live in the city center, heading out to the dropzone can be an adventure in and of itself. Why? Well: We need two things in order to run a safe, efficient dropzone and give the best possible experience to our customers: space in the air and space on the ground. As you can imagine, neither of these things are available within a stone’s throw of downtown. Perhaps you’re wondering why skydiving airports are so far away, but we’re pretty sure you’ll understand entirely once you’ve learned the basics of airspace and parachuting safety. Here are the three facts you need to know:
Pretty much every city center has at least a regional commercial airport these days, and a regional commercial airport makes the sky overhead really busy for a “splash zone” that extends around it in a circle. For an idea of just how congested and confusing this can be, take a look at the FAA map for the “Special Flight Rules” area around Washington DC. Crazy, huh?!
In order to skydive safely, the air underneath the plane needs to be traffic-free and visible all the way to the ground. To this end, we need to establish clear airspace away from all other airports, especially major city airports with a lot of big metal tubes pinging around all over the place and complicating the airspace. It’s not just commuter flights full of teddy-clutching grandkids and business people, either: Major city airports have other private and general aviation traffic–including cargo flights and pilot schools–that also gobble up airspace like you wouldn’t believe.
As a rule, the further an airfield is outside busy airspaces, the better it is for safe skydiving operations. (It’s important to note that controlling one’s own airspace controls skydiving wait times, too!)
For skydivers, a spacious landing area is a great luxury. With no obstacles to navigate, minimal airplane traffic and tons of “outs” (alternate landing areas), our jumpers feel very safe and secure. As a tandem student, it should make you more comfortable, too–that you won’t be looking at imminent trees, buildings, or power lines on your final approach, so you can land stress-free.
If it’s a mission to get to the dropzone, you can make it a delightful mission. Give yourself plenty of time for the drive, so you’re not under the pressure of schedule. From there, get creative! Bring all the fixings for a picnic. Pack a couple of binoculars, so you can watch the sport skydivers play around in the wild blue yonder, whipping around in crazy configurations of every type. Sunbrellas, hula hoops, otter pops and coolers full of iced tea are welcome accessories. If you plan for a fun day out–not just a one-and-done jump–the trip will suddenly become some kinda staycation.
…And if you bring your camping gear and a cookout kit? You just made a whole dropzone full of new friends.
So what’re you waiting for? Hop in the car to head to Skydive Orange! You’ll be so very glad you did.
The largest tandem skydiving center near Northern Virginia, Washington D.C. and Maryland.