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Tandem Skydiving: 20 Things You Need to Know


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Hillary Anne

Tandem Skydiving 92994433 1200x700 - Tandem Skydiving: 20 Things You Need to Know

If you are a fan of extreme activities, you might have already explored one of the dark and narrow caves in the world. Or perhaps your latest travel journal entries include your plans to dive with manta rays. The next item on your bucket list? We’re guessing it’s none other than tandem skydiving!


Well, there’s really nothing fancy about tandem skydiving. You are just simply going to jump out of a moving aircraft from 8,000 to 20,000 feet above the ground. Nothing serious, really.


But kidding aside, if you are thinking whether you should add tandem skydiving to your list of your hobbies, let us help you break down everything you need to know about this extreme sport.


Tandem Skydiving

20 Things You Should Know about Tandem Skydiving


1. What is Tandem Skydiving?

Tandem skydiving is a type of skydiving where you will be jumping out of a plane with a professional skydiving instructor. Unlike solo skydiving, here you will only need about 45 minutes of pre-jump training. Then, you can already wear your harness and jump out of an aircraft with your instructor.


2. Which is better for first-time skydivers: indoor or outdoor skydiving?

Indoor and outdoor skydiving provide different experiences despite their similarities. In indoor skydiving, perhaps you can experience similar wind intensity giving you a glimpse of how it is done. But outdoor skydiving is much more liberating and thrilling because it will give you all the exciting sensations that will really pump your heart.


If you are not yet 16 and you’re itching to try skydiving, you can try indoor skydiving at iFly World (US$59.95). They can fly kids as young as seven years old. But if you’re looking for the real experience, you can wait till your 16 to try outdoor skydiving. Promise, it’s the perfect gift for your sweet 16!


Old man after skydiving


3. Who can do Tandem Skydiving?

Unlike tandem skydiving in New Zealand where you can skydive even as young as seven years old. In the U.S., you have to be at least 16 years old. You will also need parental or legal guardian’s consent if you are between 16 and 18 years old. But there is no maximum age to go skydiving as long as you have the guts to do it.


4. Is there a Weight requirement for Tandem Skydiving?

Similar to riding an airplane, weight plays a huge part in ensuring your safety. Most skydiving centers in the U.S. will limit the weight between 200 and 220 pounds for women and 230 and 250 pounds for men. But this goes hand in hand with the height. Chicagoland Skydiving Center has a Height and Weight Chart that shows you a range of height and weight that is generally okay for skydiving and the applicable surcharges if you are beyond the limit. These surcharges are for the use of more durable equipment suitable for you.


5. Are there Health Restrictions in Skydiving?

As for health concerns, there are really no rigid restrictions for skydiving. Sometimes the restrictions lean towards mental fitness rather than physical. Even those who are terminally ill or paraplegic can skydive! Just make sure to consult with your doctors first if you have a history of spinal injury, epilepsy, fracture, or even just to find out if your overall health status will allow you to skydive.


6. Is Tandem Skydiving safe?

Let’s be honest. Accidents are inevitable and this goes even though you’re not skydiving. But according to the United States Parachute Association, in the three million skydivers in 2019, there were only 15 fatalities and 2,522 injuries. To give you a better picture, it’s like one fatal accident in every over 220,000 skydivers and one injury in every 1,310 skydivers. So you can pretty much say that skydiving, in general, is safe.


7. Is there a special skydiving insurance that I can buy?

Either you are still adamant about taking your first jump or you just want to be safe, you can purchase a skydiving insurance. Regular life insurance may not include skydiving insurance because it’s a high-risk activity that will require you to pay a higher premium. Unless it’s your line of job, it is very rare for you to experience fatalities due to this. But don’t think that getting insurance is just an additional expense, instead think of it as a means to safeguard the things that you have worked hard for. Accidental death may leave your family little to no benefit. Make sure to get travel insurance that includes a skydiving clause or get a quote from Xinsurance to get the exact costing.


Skydiving outfit

8. What should I wear during Tandem Skydiving?

Deciding on what to wear greatly depends on the ground temperature of where you’re skydiving at. In general, you should wear activewear. A dry-fit shirt partnered with knee-length shorts or a crop top workout shirt with yoga pants will do. You can layer it with thermals if you’re skydiving in chilly weather. Some skydiving companies even provide a flight suit for you to wear during the jump. 


As for the shoes, you can wear a sneaker or flat-soled shoes. Do not wear boots, heels, or flipflops for obvious reasons. Also avoid wearing jewelry and accessories, since they might get lost in the air, literally.


9. Should I wear glasses or contact lenses?

Imagine tandem skydiving with an idyllic view of the ocean and mountains, but in your eyes, they are all blurred. Devastating, right? Choosing whether you want to wear glasses or contact lenses highly depends on your preference. However, it is more suggested to wear contact lenses because it’s less hassle. Since you will be wearing skydiving goggles, your eyes will not dry up while freefalling with a speed of 120 miles per hour. But if you are not comfortable wearing contact lenses, you can still wear your glasses, just make sure to use an eyeglasses strap to prevent losing them.


Tandem skydiving

10. What is my Role in Tandem Skydiving?

Although screaming makes up a huge part of your experience, you will learn about your role during the pre-jump training. From the time you jump out of the aircraft, to the actual skydiving, to the landing, you will have to work together with your instructor. Especially when you’re about to land, your instructor will ask you to “arch” your legs to make sure that his or her feet will land on the ground first.


11. Where should I book my first Tandem Skydiving experience?

When you are looking for the nearest Skydiving Center make sure to check if they are a United States Parachute Association affiliate. With this, you can guarantee that they are following the standard protocols for quality and safety. Likewise, when you choose your professional skydiving instructor, you can ask for their certifications, diplomas, or any valid paperwork to prove that they are an instructor. Some people may skip this because they feel shy. But keep in mind, that your life will be in his hands. So you have to guarantee that you will still be alive after this.


Tandem skydiving over the Australian coast

12. Does the location play a big part in skydiving?

Of course! From the time you come to the skydiving center to the time you’re about to free fall from the aircraft, you will just be thinking about how terrifying it is to die that day. But after the freefall, when your instructor opens the parachute and you calmly glide, that is the time you will spend some minutes appreciating the view.


If you were not able to choose a good location, you might probably open your eyes to barren lands and it wouldn’t be as rewarding as how it should be. Now, if you choosd to skydive in a location near the ocean or surrounded by the mountains, your skydiving experience will be much more fulfilling. Imagine being comforted by these natural wonders carved by nature after that terrifying free fall? Priceless.


13. How much does Tandem Skydiving cost?

In a nutshell, the cost of skydiving is dependent on many factors. Some of these are fuel cost, altitude, time, and so much more. But generally, the cost for a tandem skydiving hovers between US$99 and US$1,600 for a range between 8,000 feet and 20,000 feet. A good place to get your first tandem skydiving experience is with Skydive Monterey Bay in Marina, California. Their 10,000 feet tandem skydiving only costs US$179, while the 18,000 feet costs US$279. Or, if you want to go higher at 20,000 feet you can book your tandem skydiving at Skydive Hawaii for US$1,600.


Tandem skydiving free fall

14. How long does the entire skydiving take?

The entire skydiving experience takes several hours. You will spend around an hour to at least three hours during check-in and wait to ride the aircraft. At this stage, you will be signing waiver forms, choosing video and photo add-ons in your package, as well as watching orientation videos and safety briefing. After doing this, you will have to wait for your aircraft. You may experience delays if the weather is not conducive to skydiving yet, or if there is a long queue of people. Then, you will ride the aircraft for around 20 minutes until it reaches the altitude of 8,000 to 18 feet, depending on your package. After which, you will be free falling for 25 seconds to almost two minutes with a speed of 120 miles per hour.


Then the fun part follows. The parachute flight will take about five to seven minutes before you touch the ground. In this last phase, you will be enjoying a bird’s eye view of the surrounding mountains or valleys, depending on where you will be skydiving.


When both of your feet are on the ground, your instructor will take off your harness. Then he will direct you to the counter where you will fill out your instructor’s logbook and get your memorabilia, a.k.a. your tandem certificate. This will only take less than 30 minutes.


15. Can I breathe while skydiving?

As much as this activity is simply breathtaking, it will not literally take your breath away. Some people often hold their breath when they exit the aircraft instinctively. While some do because you’re moving 120 miles per hour and there’s just too much wind on your face. But not breathing will definitely make you uncomfortable and worst, you might pass out. So just remember to breathe normally like you would on the ground. The instructor will also speak with you once in a while, so just relax and enjoy the ride.


16. Can I Eat before Skydiving?

Yes, you may do so. But make sure that you don’t eat too little or too much. We know how you will feel a mix of anxiety and excitement, but this is one important tip. Make sure to eat enough that you will not feel dehydrated and lightheaded. But watch out and don’t eat too much, especially greasy food, that you might puke on air. Avoid eating food that is too hot or too cold since these might cause some stomachache.


17. Can I drink alcohol or drugs before skydiving?

It’s common that some people can ease their anxieties with alcohol and drugs. However, as you’ve expected, you are not allowed to drink alcohol or take drugs at least 12 hours before you skydive.


Taking a photo during a tandem skydive

18. Should I include a photo and/or video add-on to my package?

Of course! This is another thing that you can’t see as an additional expense to your skydiving experience. This will be your first skydiving, so it is important to have the photos and videos to look back on when you’re older. Perhaps, it will be something that will remind you how strong and how happy you were during that time. You should remember your smile, scream, and facial expressions. So don’t think twice about including photos and videos on your package, okay?


19. Can my family and/or friends watch me while skydiving?

This is going to be a huge milestone in your life. As much as your mom is against the idea of skydiving, they will surely want to be there celebrating this life event with you. In most skydiving centers, there is an area that is specifically designated for spectators. It’s an open area near the spot where you will be landing.


Also, there are some skydiving centers that allow family and/or friends to be on the aircraft with you even though they will not be jumping. You can speak with the skydiving center where you’re planning to book for this arrangement to know the terms and conditions, as well as additional payment.


Jumping off a plane during tandem skydiving


20. Can I still back out even though we are already in the aircraft?

If there is the scariest part in skydiving, it’s when you’re at the aircraft going up to at least 8,000 feet. The view will make your legs jelly, and the thought of jumping will send shivers down your spine. So it will be normal for you to feel that you want to back out.


However, that feeling will be momentary. Once you step out of the aircraft, you will thank yourself for being brave in that short moment of cowardice. If you need a little bit of boost, remember that they already charged your credit card. This is non-refundable, so keep yourself together and jump!


two people flying on a parachute

Photo by Filip Havlik from Unsplash


Final Reminders

Tandem Skydiving is an extreme sport that not only costs a great deal of money but also poses risks. But, with the experience that goes with it, it should be one of the craziest things you will do in your life. We hope that this list helped you get an overview and eventually, poked some interest to just do it. You may not remember all of these items, but this is a good starting point as you research your way to your decision.