I have started reading Nerd Fitness a few weeks ago, and the author is looking for an Epic Quest of Awesome. While it is on his list- I wasn’t sure how committed Steve was to making a parachute jump out of a plane. So I posted a comment, and now wish to expand on that with a little about my first jump.

I jumped tandem (the best way to experience it just once) back in 2001. One of the greatest things ever. I did not tell my parents that I was even considering skydiving until it was over. Have you ever thought about doing it? If you have any hesitation, let me tell you what I considered before finally doing it.

  1. A tandem instructor has a minimum of 3 years skydiving experience, and 500+ jumps. There are also certifications they must get from the parachute manufacturers, and FAA. Different drop zones might have additional rules for instructors, to keep a good reputation.
  2. There is no “typical” reserve parachute. Instead, there is a full-sized second chute. This makes the pack heavier, but keeps you safer. Safety is the key, no one is worried about the comfort of your instructor. Stay alive! So instead of a wimpy reserve chute, you have two strapped to your partner.
  3. The “$3000” computer. I jumped back in 2001, so the numbers may have changed- but the concept is impressive. On the tandem rigging, is a computer that costs about $3000. And the only thing this computer does, is monitor your altitude & speed, and deploy the reserve parachute. So if you are below a pre-defined altitude, and above a pre-defined speed, deploy. When you think of the amount of money to put into something that has very little to do (of course a very important something) – It makes you realize what the standards and quality expectations are.
  4. Be aware of the stats. From 1999 to 2002 (when I jumped) there was one student fatality for every 540,000 tandem jumps in the US. The overall stats for all skydives aren’t as nice, but that’s because “the vast majority of those accidents involved very experienced skydivers exceeding their own limits.” (Skydiving Risk)

I jumped at Skydive Green County, in Ohio. They were great. Explained everything very well, made sure we were comfortable, and didn’t take any unnecessary risks. Hey- they want you to come back and jump again!

If you do it- pay the extra money for the video. The video will probably cost as much, if not more than the jump itself- but it’s your first (and unless you have plans to get certified) and only jump. Even if you do jump a few more times, there is only one first-time. BUY THE VIDEO. I almost didn’t. My video is about 15 minutes long, and shows a lot of footage on the ground and in the plane. At the end of the edited video, they also provided the raw footage of the jump at full speed.