When you set out for the dropzone to undertake your first tandem skydive, your cute little sports camera might seem like an obvious jumping buddy. You want to remember this forever, after all–and you’ve been taking that camera on every adventure you’ve tackled for the past you-don’t-even-know-how-many years. Sports cameras are ubiquitous! Anyway: If there’s no video, it didn’t happen. Right?
To folks who are new to skydiving, all of that seems perfectly logical. However: taking your own camera on a tandem skydive–no matter how teeny-weeny that camera may be–is not a thing that’s gonna happen. Here’s why bringing your GoPro on a tandem is a no-no.
As skydivers, we operate from the playbook known as the United States Parachute Association Skydiver’s Information Manual, or “ SIM.” The USPA has been around for 70 (!!) years, now, and sets down all the guidelines and best practices that have come together to make the sport of skydiving the safest it’s ever been.
There’s a section in the SIM that’s all about jumping with a camera. (It’s Section 6-8 if you’re curious.) The most experienced camera flyers in the world collaborated to put this section together–a group of men and women who have seen everything there is to see in the world of camera-flying, from the very-very good to the bad to the ugly. They know these things of which they speak.
The result of these conversations set the minimum experience level for flying with a camera at 200 jumps, or a USPA “C” solo skydiving license. At least fifty of those jumps must have been made using precisely the same equipment (to reduce surprises, variables and tragic mistakes). The USPA’s Instructional Manual goes on to recommend that skydivers filming students have at least 300 group freefall skydives and at least 50 jumps using a camera while filming experienced jumpers. For those filming tandem jumps, the recommended jump numbers are even higher.
If that sounds perfectly wacky to you (200 jumps?!!), know that the C-license recommendation in the SIM exists for a very good reason: Cameras have caused accidents for a very long time. To have a camera in your hand or strapped to your body during a jump, requires some serious bodyflight chops and seamless familiarity with the freefall environment. And, when you make a tandem skydive, make no mistake: You are a skydiver. You’re not on a fairground ride. You’re bound by the same rules.
Unconvinced? Here’s more:
Here’s the simple truth: Even if you could bring a camera on a tandem skydive, you shouldn’t. Allow yourself, just this once, to live in the moment–and relive it in your tandem skydiving instructor’s video footage after-the-fact!
According to all the scientific data (and personal experience) we have collected as a sport, we are absolutely certain that skydiving is safer, more satisfying and more fun when your focus is placed entirely on having the time of your life jumping out of a plane. The footage will be there for you when you land because our talented videographers will make sure it is.
And you don’t have to leave your GoPro at home, either! Your faithful lensed friend can be right there to greet you on the ground, poised in the capable hands of a friend or family member in the observation area, ready to capture your ecstatic landing. Then you’ll just have to brace yourself for the torrent of 👍–no heavy lifting required.
The largest tandem skydiving center near Northern Virginia, Washington D.C. and Maryland.