To Skydive Tandem or Solo?
Most things are much more fun when you experience them with friends, right? Think about it – it’s not much fun tossing a ball around by yourself, but it gets infinitely more fun when you have someone to throw it back. Video games can be a great way to blow off some steam, but most games really aren’t fully experienced until you’ve tried out the various multiplayer modes available.
Lots of people take a similar approach when they plan to go sky diving. They see jumpers diving out of planes strapped to each other, and immediately conjure up images in their heads of tandem skydiving with a friend. Some might even think it would make for an unforgettable date or a great anniversary present.
Is that really the way sky diving works though? Can you really just walk up with a friend and go tandem jumping? We are going to explain some of the rules and misconceptions about tandem sky diving here today.
The most common type of tandem jump
By far, the most common type of tandem jump is when a person is brand new or still a beginner sky diver. They will show up at the drop zone with little to no experience and want to dive that day. Sounds crazy to some people, but just about every sky diving facility will allow for this with no problems at all.
You will undergo a short training session, learn how to put on and use all of your gear, and then board the small plane with your Jumpmaster and maybe a couple of other fearless divers as well. Once up in the air, you will be strapped to the front of your Jumpmaster, by way of a harness. This harness is quite strong and will ensure that it is very difficult, if not impossible for you to become unattached from the Jumpmaster on the way down.
When it comes time to jump, you’ll both exit the plane at the same time, sometimes being pushed out by your Jumpmaster, if you are scared to push yourself out of the plane on your own. Then you will free fall, and enjoy the view, while your Jumpmaster handles everything. They will keep an eye on wind conditions, elevation and everything else and will also be fully responsible for deploying the parachute at just the right moment.
This is a very preferable way to jump, especially among beginner sky divers, because you need no previous experience to get the full experience of jumping out of a moving plane and free falling. While there are certain types of jumps that will allow you to jump without being strapped to your Jumpmaster on the first try, the training period is much longer and is usually recommended for the serious adrenaline junkie types.
What if I bring a friend to the sky diving facility?
Usually, they will recommend that you both jump with a separate Jumpmaster, although they may allow all four of you to jump at the same time, so you can free fall in unison with your friend or partner. While you can both opt to do a solo jump on your first try, it would be rare that you would be allowed to jump at the same time in that case. This is because even in a solo jump, you aren’t truly jumping alone. One or two more Jumpmasters will be jumping with you, attached to you by a strong rope, and with another Jumpmaster on the ground to guide you down with a walkie talkie once your parachute has been deployed.
For that reason, it all gets too complicated for them to allow more than one jumper at a time to jump in this fashion, so you and your friend will still be separated on the way down.
Remember, these rules are all in place for your own safety, and are certainly not there in an attempt to detract from your fun in the slightest.
But I saw a husband and wife go tandem skydiving together – how can I do that?
Really, the easiest way is to become a Jumpmaster yourself, or have your partner become one. A Jumpmaster is a certified sky diver who has over 500 jumps under their belt, and is experienced enough to be responsible for someone’s life up in the air. By becoming a Jumpmaster, you will be able to do tandem jumps at any time, with anyone you want, no matter what their experience level is. Becoming a Jumpmaster takes a lot of time and commitment and also comes with a huge amount of responsibility, so it’s not something that one should consider entering into lightly.
Some facilities might also allow you to do a tandem jump with a friend or partner, provided that both of you are experienced sky divers, although not yet Jumpmasters. Most facilities would be hesitant to let someone who is not a Jumpmaster jump with someone who has never gone sky diving before. But, if both of you have several jumps under your belt and can demonstrate a serious understanding of the sport of sky diving, then you may be permitted to jump as a tandem. Keep in mind, that there may be some extra training required, even just as a formality, and not all sky diving facilities will allow this. If you are planning on doing this, then your best bet is to call the sky diving facility ahead of time to see what they do and don’t allow.
Just like there is no feeling out there like plummeting towards the earth in a free fall on your own, there is also no feeling like being able to share that experience with someone you love. For some people, this alone is enough to convince them to become experienced sky divers or Jumpmasters, just so they can bring others up on a dive with them. It’s true what they say, things are always better when done with a friend.