In the same way you’d spend time reading reviews, comparing prices, checking out location, considering the available equipment or facilities before choosing a doctor, your kids’ school or where to buy your next car, it’s super important to do some research ahead of booking your skydive. Here are five pro tips to help you ensure you’re making an informed choice:
Two types of customers tend to write reviews – super happy ones and super unhappy ones. Reading online reviews on Google, Facebook, TripAdvisor, Yelp and other sites will help you suss out the sheep from the goats. Make sure the typical rating is well above average and that the comments that go along with the glowing reviews address aspects of the experience that are important to you. Great vibe … supportive team members … stellar customer service; look for clues that suggest that the potential for you to be one of the super happy guests is high. And of course, study up to make sure the opposite isn’t true. Do your homework.
Skydiving is expensive for good reason. Top-notch, meticulously maintained aircraft and equipment and highly-trained, world-class instructors, pilots, camera flyers, parachute packers and a whole host of other professionals come at a price. Buyer beware the deal-of-the-decade; you may well get what you pay for. In a time when skydiving is mega popular, dropzones are cropping up everywhere and not all operators’ intentions are good. Price wars are unfortunately common and many excited first timers are disappointed in their experience.
Crooks and con artists come in a lot of unprecedented stripes these days. A common scam in the skydiving world ties back to a call center that’s affiliated with bogus websites and legit-looking phone numbers staffed with “helpful representatives” who charge a premium and then connect you with a random dropzone that accepts their vouchers. Not cool. Before you dish out your credit card details, scour the website or ask some basic questions like the name and address of the dropzone and then do your research. Put the address into Google Maps, make sure there’s an actual airport at the stated location. Search for the name of the DZ in concert with “Better Business Bureau” and see what comes up. No listed prices for the experiences offered is a definite red flag too. Don’t be a statistic!
Part of your research should include the type of aircraft available at the DZ you’re considering. Ideally, you’ll have the opportunity to ride up in a turbine aircraft, i.e. a plane that’s a little larger than the average and can carry more people to a higher altitude. This means more of your pals can comfortably accompany you in the sky and that you’ll enjoy priceless additional seconds in freefall. Commonly found aircraft in this category include PAC 750XL, a Cessna Grand Caravan, a Twin Otter, a Skyvan, Casa or a King Air. At Skydive Orange, we proudly fly a 22 seat Twin Otter. The traditional aircraft of choice for skydiving is the Cessna 182. While a great machine, it holds only four passengers and requires you to step onto a platform above the wheel before jumping instead of exiting straight into the clouds.
The higher the altitude when you exit the plane, the longer your time in freefall. Flying under canopy, i.e. after your parachute has been deployed, is awe-inspiring for sure, but the holy grail every skydiver seeks – from novice to veteran – is freefall. The Cessna 182 opens up at 10,000 feet, and while that’s a glorious position in the sky, it can’t top the opportunity afforded by the Twin Otter which opens up at 13,500. This difference assures an additional 25 seconds of freefall time. Delicious.
At Skydive Orange, we are confident that we will make the grade even after your most rigorous research. Operating since 1977, we are the number one choice for tandem skydiving in Virginia, Maryland and DC. Come and jump with us; let us exceed your expectations.
The largest tandem skydiving center near Northern Virginia, Washington D.C. and Maryland.