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How to Skydive for the First Time

Admit it, daredevil—you've been waiting to fly since the day you were born. Find a great instructor, throw on that jumpsuit, and get ready for freefall!

Instructions

  • : Skydiving can be extremely dangerous. Investigate your skydiving school thoroughly, and consult a doctor to make sure you're medically fit to jump.
  • Step 1: Find your school Make sure the school and instructors you choose are certified and rated by the United States Parachute Association. (If you're outside the U.S., look for a certification from The World Air Sports Federation.) Research their safety records and overall reputation online.
  • TIP: Skydiving schools are sometimes referred to as "drop zones."
  • Step 2: Be healthy You need to be in good shape, which means you shouldn't be taking any medications that affect coordination or decision-making process. If you have a pre-existing condition, consult the jump school to see if they think they can work with you. Also, don't scuba dive or donate blood for at least 48 hours, and don't drink alcohol for at least 8 hours before your jump date.
  • TIP: If you suffer from obesity, epilepsy, alcohol or drug addiction, heart disease, or a tendency to black out, choose a different sport.
  • Step 3: Pick a day Once you've decided on a jump school, pick a day and book it. You may be asked to put down a deposit in advance, and to call to confirm your reservation.
  • Step 4: Prepare for your jump On the day of your jump, eat a small meal before heading to the drop zone. Wear comfortable clothing that can fit under a jumpsuit, and avoid overly tight or baggy clothing, flip-flops, and high heels. Also, if there's any inclement weather, you may need to wait a little while, so bring something to keep yourself occupied.
  • Step 5: Fill out the forms At the school, you’ll be asked to provide I.D. and review and sign several legal forms. Usually, these documents certify that you understand the risk you're about to take, and state that you waive the right to blame the school if anything goes awry. These forms look scary, but they're fairly standard. Read them through, and don't be afraid to ask questions.
  • Step 6: Pay up Your first skydive with an instructor can cost as much as $200 (if not more), so make sure you've got the resources to pay before you go.
  • TIP: For discount rates, try booking your jump for a weekday or as part of a larger group. You may also pay more if you'd like to get a DVD of your jump.
  • Step 7: Go in tandem Don't expect to go solo. It's likely that, for your first dive, you'll go as a tandem where you're strapped to the front of an instructor. It's still super exciting, and much less dangerous since your instructor's right there to help.
  • Step 8: Learn the ropes Before you head up, you'll be given an orientation class, where you'll spend time getting comfortable with the gear, the terminology, what to expect, how to react, and what signals to look for. Each school's instruction is a little different, so even if you think you know what's going on, pay close attention.
  • Step 9: Suit up and head out Once you're appropriately attired with a jumpsuit, a harness—which will hook up to your instructor—and goggles or glasses, you're ready to board your flight.
  • Step 10: Jump When the moment's right, your instructor will let you know that it's time to jump. Since your plane will ascend to a height between 10,000 and 14,000 feet, you'll enjoy as much as 65 seconds of total freefall before your tandem buddy signals you to pull the rip cord, which will deploy the parachute and slow your fall.
  • Step 11: Land Once you're on the ground, you'll sign a logbook, proving that you completed a training dive. It's official—you've made your first jump!
  • FACT: Skydivers usually jump from 14,000 feet or below; at greater altitudes, the FAA requires supplemental oxygen.

You Will Need

  • To be 18 or older
  • An accredited
  • reputable jump school
  • Good health
  • Photo I.D.
  • At least $200
  • Attentiveness
  • A sense of adventure

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