Are you really ready to skydive? Well: If you’re a dot-the-i’s-and-cross-the-t’s kinda person, you’ll be interested in the little tidbits we’re about to share with you. Ask any first-time tandem skydiving student and they’ll tell you: Tandem skydiving is so much better when you approach it with the feeling that you’re well-prepared. That’s true for pretty much everything in life, no? If you’re keen to peek at the tandem skydiving “cheat sheet” for easing your troubled mind, pull up a chair and pay attention–because there will be a test.
This one should be self-evident: The dropzone you choose can make or break your tandem skydiving experience. Before you jump, do your homework! Research dropzones before you book.
PRO TIP: Don’t just go with the lowest price you can find. Choosing a reputable dropzone will help put your mind at ease. Don’t be shy; call and ask about safety records.
Mark Twain said it best: “If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” Skydiving is nothin’ at all like eating frogs, but you get the idea: If you already know that you’re going to be anxious, it’s probably best for you to not be biting your nails all day. In the morning, the air tends to be smoother, the vibe tends to be chiller and the schedule tends to be more precise.
An occupied mind is a more peaceful mind, as backward as that might seem. When you get onsite, work that phenomenon for all it’s worth. Ask your instructor questions! Ask him or her to delve deep into the details of the skydiving equipment that will be keeping you safe–the automatic activation device (“AAD”); the parachute/reserve parachute system; the design of the harness; the drogue. All of these things will be utterly foreign to you at the start–heck, they are for all of us at the beginning!–but, with a bit of an investment in time, you’ll feel much more calm and confident in your newfound knowledge.
The United States Parachute Association (“USPA”) has been keeping careful records of skydiving safety since the 1950s. Pretty cool, huh? Their findings are definitive: The odds are solidly in your favor. To ease your worries, pop on over to the USPA website to check out the skydiving safety statistics they’ve collected. (You’ll be amazed. Like: Skydiving is safer than commuting! Whoa.)
Red Bull doesn’t really “give you wings” on a tandem skydive–it gives you the dry heaves. Anxiousness and caffeine are a pretty awful combination, so do yourself a favor and avoid it. Instead of fuel-injecting your circulatory system with caffeine, move your body to get the blood flowing. Bonus: mindful exercise can help reduce anxiety as well. Go for a chilled-out run; do yoga; walk the dog.
Break the experience down into small, manageable pieces. First, just focus on getting yourself there safely–because driving is way more dangerous than skydiving, statistically speaking! Then just go through the process step-by-step. Sign the papers; do the brief; get geared up; ride to altitude; exit; freefall; etc. Embrace the pre-jump jitters–they actually make your jump better, believe it or not. Each part completed is a small victory!
If you have any questions–or just need encouragement–we’re here for you. From the moment you book your tandem skydive to the moment you land, elated, with your eyes turned skyward, we’re standing by to support you and cheer you on your way!
All photos by: David Wybenga
The largest tandem skydiving center near Northern Virginia, Washington D.C. and Maryland.