Las Vegas is certainly one of America’s top tourist destinations, with people coming from all over the world to experience the city of sin. Some people come for the gambling, others come for the extravagant shows and some come for the skydiving.
Even with all of the things there are to do in Las Vegas, skydiving is still a very popular activity for vacationers. Whether it is your first or hundredth time skydiving, Las Vegas definitely provides a great venue for it. If you’ve never jumped over a desert before, then you’re in for a real treat, as the wide open areas in Las Vegas make it one of the best vistas you can experience from 12,000 feet above sea level.
It also helps that there’s so much wide, open space just outside the city, as that is exactly the type of terrain you want for a successful dive. Many first time skydivers believe they will be able to dive over the city, especially at night to take in all the great views. That is not a safe way to skydive though, since skydiving in a heavily populated area is in no way safe.
Skydiving as it pertains to Las Vegas
While the actual process of going skydiving in Las Vegas is not very different compared to skydiving elsewhere in the world, there are some things to keep in mind. Since Las Vegas is known as a place for split-second, sometimes irresponsible decisions (Las Vegas weddings, anyone?), it is important to think things through carefully.
Many people will go to Las Vegas to party, get a bit too tipsy and then decide they finally have the guts to go skydiving. They will get driven out to the drop zone, and then become angry when the drop zone turns them away. Believe it or not people actually become very angry about the fact that the drop zone cares much more about their safety than they do about letting them skydive.
If you are planning on going skydiving in Las Vegas, then make sure you set a whole day aside for it, and show up ready for it. This means having a quiet night the evening before, so you aren’t showing up to the drop zone hungover. This can be difficult for many people to do in Las Vegas, but it’s worth being in top condition before you jump. Besides, you can always go out and party after you finish your jump.
It’s also important to take the weather into account. Depending on the season, the desert in Las Vegas can either be very hot or very cold. When you’re 12,000 above sea level, you can expect things to be pretty cold anyways, but when it’s cold on the ground, it’s going to be much colder up there. When it’s extremely hot on the ground, it might be a little warmer way up there, but it still could be a bit chilly.
Most drop zones recommend that you wear long pants and long sleeves. They also recommend loose fitting clothing. Your skydiving equipment is probably not going to be comfortable in any way. Pairing that with tight fitting clothes is just going to make things worse. Make things much easier on yourself by wearing comfortable clothes. You’ll also want to make sure you have close-toed shoes that can be tied up tightly. Loose fitting shoes or sandals are pretty much guaranteed to come off your feet during free fall, which is a big hazard for anyone who is below you. Also, landing in bare feet can cause some problems of its own.
Preparing for your first jump in Las Vegas
The most likely scenario, is that you’ll head out to the drop zone early in the morning. Contrary to popular belief, even if you know nothing about skydiving, you can show up in the morning and perform your first jump within a few hours. While this might sound dangerous to some people, there is a system for getting you up to speed very quickly.
Before we cover that system though, let’s talk about the safety of skydiving, especially as it pertains to a first timer. Many people believe skydiving to be a very risky and unsafe sport. It’s only natural they would think so, since skydiving involves jumping out of a moving plane. In reality though, skydiving in much safer than average daily activities like driving a car, or crossing the street.
On average, 60 people per year die in skydiving accidents. 60 might seem like a lot, but when you take into account the amount of people who go skydiving every year, it’s really not all that high at all. The other thing to consider, is that it’s almost never beginners that have accidents while skydiving. The overwhelming majority of skydiving accidents are from experienced skydivers who attempted risky maneuvers. This means either they jumped on a day when the weather wasn’t suited for it, or they did something risky like waited far too long before pulling their parachute. Neither of those things will happen to you as a first time or beginner skydiver.
When you show up at the drop zone, you’ll be immediately entered into a training session, where you will learn about all of the basics of skydiving. Every drop zone has a different way of accomplishing this. Some of them will prefer to show you a video of the basic concepts and then walk you through all of your equipment. Other drop zones won’t use a video at all, and will have an instructor walk you through everything.
The point of all this training is to get you ready for your first jump. Even though you won’t be jumping alone, they want you to be to fully capable of doing everything yourself, in the minuscule chance there is an emergency in the air. They will teach you how to put on and take off your equipment, how to pull both your main and back up parachute and how to steer yourself down towards the ground. Most of that stuff you will never need to utilize in your first jump, but it will be very handy to know it, just in case.
This training usually only takes a couple hours to go through, but it’s very important that you pay close attention throughout the entire thing. Once your training session is complete, you’ll be ready to board the plane and head up for your first jump.
The types of jumps available to beginners
As a first time skydiver, 98% of you will do a tandem jump with a jumpmaster. A jumpmaster is a certified skydiver who has performed at least 500 jumps in their career. A jumpmaster with only 500 jumps would be a very new jumpmaster though – most jumpmasters have well over 1,000 jumps since they jump so frequently.
When you do a tandem jump, you’ll head up in the plane with your jumpmaster and when you reach the proper altitude, you’ll both get suited up. Once your jumpmaster checks that all your gear has been put on correctly, they’ll put on their own and prepare for the jump. This entails them strapping themselves to your back. Once you are strapped in, your jumpmaster will be in complete control.
At that point, the only thing left for you to actually do, is jump out of the plane. This is also the point where many people become nervous, and decide to back out at the last second. Every jumpmaster has a different way of dealing with this. Most of them are pretty good at gauging your level of fear. If they can see that you truly do want to jump, but are simply too scared to push yourself out of the plane, they can give you that push you need to make it happen. If they see that you’re scared out of your mind, and really don’t want to do the jump though, they won’t be cruel enough to push you out of the plane.
While some people do back out at the last second, most people end up jumping. They are already all that way up in the air, and are only a few feet from the plane door they need to jump out of to make it all happen. Also, if you back out at the last second, you still need to pay the full skydiving fee. The cost is split between the plane ride and the jumpmaster’s time, both of which you will still be utilizing even if you don’t jump. For some people, knowing they will have to pay anyways is more than enough reason to push them over the edge for the jump.
Once you finally hit free fall, most people’s fears vanish instantly. The feeling of free falling is indescribable and can easily make you fall in love with skydiving right on the spot. Since you’ll be jumping with the jumpmaster strapped to you, there is very little that can go wrong. They will be in control of everything and all you need to do is enjoy the ride. Once you reach the correct elevation, your jumpmaster will pull the parachute, and you’ll start to glide much more slowly towards the earth. They will also control your glide, and bring you in for a safe landing on the ground.
If you’re feeling much more adventurous, and don’t want to jump for the first time with a jumpmaster strapped to you, then you could try a static line jump. This will require much more intensive training, as you actually will be doing everything yourself. Still, it’s entirely possible to go through all of the training on the same day as your first jump.
With a static line jump, you’ll jump at the same time as your jumpmaster, although they won’t be strapped to your back. Instead, they will be tethered to you by a long, strong rope. You will be responsible for pulling your own parachute at the correct altitude. In case you fail to do so though, the jumpmaster can take over, pull his own parachute, and the static line will cause you to slow your descent to match his. This doesn’t mean you should jump with no intention of pulling your own parachute – the jumpmaster is there simply as a backup.
You will also be communicating with a jumpmaster on the ground via walkie talkie. They will be able to talk you through your descent after you’ve pulled your chute, to ensure you reach the ground safely. Since the static line jump needs more extensive training, and requires at least two jumpmasters, it usually costs a bit more than a tandem jump.
Indoor skydiving in Las Vegas
In Las Vegas, aside from the traditional way of skydiving, you can also choose to partake in indoor skydiving. The concept of indoor skydiving sounds strange to most people, as they have trouble envisioning how a plane could take off indoors, or a building tall enough to allow you to skydive inside of it.
That isn’t what indoor skydiving is though. A better way to describe the concept of indoor skydiving is to call it a wind tunnel. Instead of boarding a plane, you will get inside of a tall, cylindrical contraption that has very high powered fans on the bottom of it. When they turn these fans on, they will lift you up off the ground, and you’ll be hovering in midair. Unlike skydiving, you won’t be falling, instead you’ll stay at the same elevation the whole time. It will be the wind that is passing you.
The reason it is called indoor skydiving, is because it very closely mimics the feeling of true skydiving. When you are elevated there in the air, it truly feels as if you are in free fall. It is very safe and can be enjoyed by both kids and adults. The heavier the person, the higher they turn on the fans, to ensure you’re still able to stay elevated.
Many people will choose to give indoor skydiving a try, before they decide to attempt regular skydiving. They perceive indoor skydiving to be much safer than regular skydiving since they don’t have to jump out of a moving plane. Since it also so closely mimics the feeling of skydiving, it is also able to prepare them for the full skydiving experience. After trying indoor skydiving, many people go on to try out the real thing.
There are a few things you should know about skydiving though, before you try it. The first is that indoor skydiving is usually more expensive than regular skydiving. The equipment used is very expensive and consumes a lot of electricity. This is surprising to many people, but the technology being used for indoor skydiving is more complicated than just using airplanes and parachutes. Also, if you’ve ever been skydiving before, you might be disappointed by indoor skydiving. While it can be fun, it’s nowhere near as exhilarating as traditional skydiving. If you’ve been skydiving already a few times, then you’re better off just continuing to skydive. On the other hand, if you’ve been skydiving countless times, while indoor skydiving won’t be more of a rush, it is a nice way to break things up.
Where to go skydiving in Las Vegas
Whether you want to try regular skydiving or go indoor skydiving in Las Vegas, there are many places to do it. Regular skydiving will require you to leave the city area of Las Vegas, although indoor skydiving operators can operate with very small amounts of space.
It’s also important to check into the safety of each facility. While we always say that 99.8% of skydiving operators in North America are completely safe, and would be shut down instantly if they had an accident, it still pays to do your homework. We always recommend calling the facility ahead of time and asking about their safety record and practices. Again, just about all facilities will check out to be safe, but when you’re putting your life into their hands, you want to be absolutely sure before making the leap.
To get you started, here are a few places we can recommend:
Skydive Las Vegas
1401 Airport Road
Boulder City, NV 89005
Phone: 702-SKY-DIVE (702-759-3483)
Vegas Extreme Skydiving
3565 Las Vegas Blvd South #380
Las Vegas, NV 89109
Vegas Indoor Skydiving
200 Convention Center Dr.
Las Vegas, Nevada 89109
So if you’re headed to Las Vegas, going skydiving while you’re there is a great way to make the whole trip memorable. With all the great facilities there for both regular and indoor skydiving, you’re bound to find one that offers what you’re looking for. Just remember to go easy on the partying the night before and show up ready to learn. Your jumpmaster will take care of you and make sure you reach the ground again safely.