A look at most people’s bucket list will usually include a skydiving experience, and why not? It’s right up there as one of the most exhilarating things a person can do, isn’t it? Its not complicated, and anyone can do it. It doesn’t matter whether you are 12 years old or 100 years old. If you have a good ticker and aren’t overly large, then there is no reason why you can’t take part in a tandem skydive. But then we start to over think it don’t we? You are being asked to put your faith in the pilot of the plane you are about to step into, the tandem skydiving instructor you are going to be strapped to, the parachute that’s going to stop you plummeting at 200kph per hour (that’s terminal velocity in case you don’t know) and your heart from not stopping at the very thought of it. That’s where a good ticker comes in. So lets break this down into its smaller parts and deal with each objection one at a time.
Is tandem skydiving safe?
Ok, this is a biggie so lets get it over and done with up front. Skydiving is a highly regulated sport. Over 70,000 tandem skydive jumps are conducted each year in Australia. CASA, the Civil Aviation Authority has very strict guidelines a skydiving centre has to operate by. Is there a risk? Of course there is. If you are after a NO risk experience then tandem skydiving is not for you. But in saying that, it is fair to say that the risk is acceptable, and that tandem skydiving is the safest form of skydiving. The British Parachute Association has calculated that the injury rate in tandem skydiving is about 1.0 injury for every 1000 jumps and varies a little by gender (slightly higher risk for women). The all-time tandem fatality rate is about 0.17 per 100,000 jumps (1 in 595,000) and there were no tandem fatalities in the UK in the last 20 year block studied (1994-2013).
Want more proof on how safe skydiving is? Thanks to Kenny Myers blog post, 20 Things that are Statistically Safer than You think, (who is going to question this statistical fact), skydiving is a fairly safe experience. According to the United States Parachuting Association’s fatality rate figures, a person would have to skydive 17 times in one year to bring their statistical risk of dying as a result of their skydiving hobby to the same level as their risk of dying in a car accident. Thanks to Kenny, I’m convinced. Tandem skydiving looks pretty safe. Hmm, did I mention that the skydiving centre is going to get you to sign a waiver? They like to call it an indemnity form. It’s a legal thing.
Ok, but what happens if the parachute doesn’t open?
Fair enough question. Even though your skydiving centre packs their parachutes very carefully, malfunctions can happen. Statistics tell us that in tandem skydiving, 1 in every 1,200 jumps results in a main parachute malfunction. If the main parachute is malfunctioning, the reserve parachute will be activated. The reserve parachutes are checked and packed by packers and riggers qualified under the Australian Parachute Federation (APF) and the World Federation of Aerosports (FAI). Additionally, parachute rigs are fitted with an Automatic Activation Device (AAD), which is a little computer that will deploy the reserve parachute if the main parachute is not deployed.
How old do I have to be to tandem skydive in Australia?
In Australia the current law is you have to be 12 years old do a tandem skydive. That’s down 2 years from a couple of years ago when the minimum age was 14 years. Now, if you are under 18 years you’ll need a permission note from your parents or guardian and all skydiving centres require this. It’s another legal thing. Maximum age? Well there isn’t any. If you are healthy at 99 and want to jump, then why not, I say! There is no maximum age limit in Australia.
Can I breathe in freefall?
What? Seriously? Yes, of course you can.
Can I talk in freefall?
You can try but nobody will hear you. Though this changes when the parachute is deployed. You can yell and scream as much as you want to.
Am I going to pull silly faces when I’m in freefall?
Yes. It’s unavoidable. Luckily, you’ll probably get it on camera.
Will I swear a lot?
How high am I when I jump from the plane?
Most skydiving centres in Australia jump from a maximum height of 14,000 feet. Some offer jump heights of 12,000, 10,000 or 8,000 feet, mainly to keep the cost of the jumps down. The lower the jump height, the less time you spend freefalling, or travelling at 200kph making silly faces. This is because all jumps release their parachute at the same height, 5,000 feet. At 14,000 feet you are going to experience freefall for around 60 seconds. There are a couple of centres now offering jumps from 15,000 feet. We have these products in Break Loose for you.
What if I get up in the plane and decide I can’t jump?
Will you be nervous on your first jump? Yes, of course you will. It’s very natural to feel anxious and worried, you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t. Some people even decide not to jump at the last minute. But tandem instructors are very good at helping you through your nerves and committing to the jump. Not because they enjoy watching you squirm, but because they know that once you are out of the plane freefalling it will be a truly amazing experience for you. It’s also important to say that you will never be forced to jump.
How much does tandem skydiving cost?
A tandem skydive will cost anything from $250 to $450 depending on where you are jumping, what day you are jumping and what time. Some centres offer special deals for jumping early. Others offer deals for midweek jumps. The higher you jump from generally, the more expensive it is. But as most centres now jump from 14,000 feet exclusively this option is not widely available. Have a look through Break Loose, we have most of the skydiving centres and deals available right now to look through.
Is there a weight limit to tandem skydiving?
People of many different shapes and sizes go skydiving. Generally there is a weight limit between 30kg and 95kg, but all prospective jumpers are assessed on their fitness. If you are a fit and flexible 100kg, and the Tandem Instructor is happy, then you can skydive. Note though that all skydiving centres will charge an extra fee if you are over 95kg. This is usually around $50.
Are there any physical requirements?
A reasonable level of fitness should be adequate for you to jump. You need to be able to lift your legs for landing, so some core strength is needed for this. You only need to hold them up there for about 10 seconds. You will be required to fill in a health declaration, more of that legal stuff again. Issues that might prevent you from jumping can be heart problems, recent fractures, recent dislocations or ear problems. Consult your GP if you are concerned at all.
Alcohol and the night before!
So, after reading through this list and you are considering a tandem skydive, there are a couple of things you need to do the night before you jump. Abstain from alcohol and drugs! If you arrive drunk or hung over, the tandem master will not take you up in the plane. Hung over passengers have a habit of throwing up… not much fun for you and definitely no fun at all for the tandem instructor you are attached to. Anyway, it is said the beer tastes much better after the jump, then before!
Where can I do a Tandem Skydive in Australia?
I think if you’ve got this far in the article then you are ready to book your tandem skydive. Congratulations. Now its time to choose, and fortunately Break Loose has one of the largest selections of skydiving options from around Australia. In fact we have you skydiving in Queensland at Mission Beach and Cairns, the Whitsundays and Brisbane. In New South Wales your options are Byron Bay, Newcastle, the Hunter Valley, Sydney and Wollongong. In Victoria there is Nagambie, Melbourne, and the Great Ocean Road. South Australia we have a jump site near Adelaide. In Western Australia there is Perth, York, Busselton, Rockingham Beach, Rottnest Island and Jurien Bay. You can skydive over beaches, the countryside, there are island views and island landings. Don’t forget, if you want to give someone a gift then our Skydiving Gift Vouchers are also available.