What is a Tandem Skydive and Is it scary?
Described by many as the ultimate thrill, a tandem skydive is when you are harnessed to the front of a qualified British Parachute Association Skydiving Instructor who does all the hard work for you.You don’t have to endure hours upon hours of extensive training before hand, just a short brief by your instructor and you are ready to go. You can sit back and enjoy the thrill of freefall and the serenity of the canopy ride knowing that your instructor will be guiding you through the whole experience and landing you safely back on terra-firma. But what does it feel like and is it scary?
It is the most fantastic feeling in the world. Unless you have skydived it is difficult to really explain the emotions and feelings that will pulse through your veins as you sit in the open door of an aircraft flying 2 miles above the earth, knowing that on the count of “Ready, Set, Go” you will be plummeting towards the ground a jaw dropping speeds of around 120 miles per hour.
It has taken 15-20 minutes to reach the jump altitude, and you have had all that time to really think about what you are about to do. Why you are doing it or which loving friend put you up to the task. When the door opens and you shuffle forward, the wind feels strong in your face; it’s cool, it fills your lungs and for a brief moment it takes your breath away. At this point you will either be incredibly excited or terrified. Either way, your heart will pound so hard that you can feel it trying to escape your chest, and your palms will begin to sweat as adrenaline fills your body.
It can only be described as euphoric. And then you’re out and you experience what it feels like to fly. It is the most surreal, beautiful and awesome moment! To really see what a tandem skydive feels like, watch our video “What Does It Feel Like to Skydive?”.
Does a skydive feel like a rollercoaster ride?
In short, No!
Many first time skydivers think that a skydive will feel like a rollercoaster ride, but we can assure you that you won’t get the uncomfortable feeling of your stomach “dropping” and then ascending into your throat as you speed down the first hill on a rollercoaster.
The reason you experience this stomach dropping feeling on a rollercoaster is due to speed change and the change in force experienced on your organs as you make the descent; When you ascend up the first hill on a rollercoaster, you will be travelling at around 3 miles per hour (it’s pretty slow), but then you are over the hill and suddenly gravity takes force and you hurtle down the hill at around 40 miles per hour. This sudden change in speed and force on your organs is what causes the stomach dropping feeling.
The reason why you won’t experience this terrible sensation when skydiving is because every part of you is accelerating at the same rate, which gives you a similar feeling to weightlessness.
When you skydive, the aircraft that you jump from is already moving forward at around 100 miles per hour. As you exit the plane you will quickly transition into terminal velocity, which is a stable feeling as you are flying on air molecules and there is very little change in force on your body. However, if you were to jump from a Hot Air Balloon, you would most certainly feel the stomach dropping feeling because the Hot Air Balloon is suspended in space, so when you jump out of the balloon and gravity pulls you towards the earth, you are suddenly travelling from 0 miles per hour to 120 miles per hour, a huge force upon your body. The way your body feels when you skydive all depends on the initial speed that you are going before you take the leap. For more information, there are plenty of videos to watch on YouTube, such as this one: Here’s why you feel that sinking feeling on roller coasters”
Are there any limitations on who can skydive?
There are really only 4 things that might prevent or delay your skydive:
Generally, anyone can take part in a tandem skydive as long as they are 16 or older and are relatively fit. If aged between 16 and 18, thrill-seekers will need parental consent. There is no upper age limit, in fact, we have personally seen people as young as 92 take to the skies. And what about 101-year-old D-Day veteran skydiver, Bryson William Verdun Hayes, who broke the world record for the oldest skydive earlier this year. So please don’t tell us that you are “too old to skydive”, you’re not.
Everyone that takes part in a tandem skydive needs to be relatively fit and will need a signed medical form before they are allowed to skydive. If you are lucky enough to be fit and healthy and haven’t suffered from any medical conditions in the past, you can self-declare by signing BPA Form 115A. However, if you have suffered from a medical condition in the past, please let us know as soon as possible so that we can guide you through the best course of action. Typically, all you will need to do is take BPA Form 115B to your GP to sign and stamp before you will be allowed to skydive. But if you are still unsure, check out the British Parachute Association’s page on Student Tandem Medical FAQs.
The upper weight limit for a tandem skydive is 16 stone for men and 15 stone for women, however your ability to take part in a tandem skydive will be on a case by case basis, and please let us know if you weigh more than 14 stone.
We live in the UK, which means we are cursed with rather unpredictable weather on a day-today basis. The weather is the one element that brings the most frustration in the sport as it can often cause delays. The ideal day for skydiving is minimal cloud, low winds, and good visibility. Parachute Centres are regulated by the British Parachute Association who have put strict guidelines in place in terms of the weather conditions that we can jump in. This is for your safety, so if the weather is marginal, please sit back, have a cup of tea and a good chin wag with a friend while you wait for your turn to skydive. It will be worth it.
For more information on weather and delays in skydiving, please read our blog “I’m sorry, you can’t skydive today, it isn’t safe. Why you have to wait…”.
We hope this article has answered your most burning questions about tandem skydiving. However, we know that jumping out of a perfectly working aircraft brings natural feelings of fear and apprehension, so please do not hesitate to pick up the phone to speak to our experienced skydiving staff; Sara will be happy to answer any questions that you may have. Just call 0191-369-2468