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Frequently Asked Questions

 

You may laugh, but the question we get asked most often is in response to our greeting when we answer the phone 'Good morning, Parachute School'. The question is: 'Do you do parachuting there?'. Ho, hum...

 

One important thing:
YOU MUST EAT NORMALLY BEFORE SKYDIVING!
People who don't eat, or just have a 'cereal bar' or similar, are always the ones that feel sick; that's what adrenalin does to an empty stomach.

 

What is Tandem Skydiving?
What is Accelerated Freefall (AFF)?
What does 'Static Line' mean?
What is 'RAPS'?
How long does it take to learn how to skydive?
Can I go solo freefall on my first jump?
Will I be scared?
So what is it like in freefall?
Will I be jumping with my friends?
What time will my flight be/What time will I jump?
How fast do you fall?
How far up does your parachute go when it opens?
Can you breathe in freefall?
Can you talk in freefall?
Do you black out in freefall?
What should I wear?
How high can you go?
Can I have my jump video'd and/or photographed?
Can we get one video for our whole group?
What are the age, height, and weight restrictions?
I have a disability. Can I still skydive?
Do you offer discounts for groups or students?
Do you offer special discounts for charity jumps?
What happens if my parachute doesn't open?
Is skydiving safe?
How hard is the landing?
Why is the sky blue?
Why am I doing this?!?


What is Tandem Skydiving?

Tandem is a method of trying out skydiving without undergoing a lengthy training course. It involves being securely attached to the front of a highly qualified instructor, who wears a parachute built for two, and controls the whole skydive for you. Full details are here.

 

What is Accelerated Freefall (AFF)?

Accelerated Freefall is an intensive training course designed to take you from absolute beginner to qualified solo skydiver in as short a time as possible, starting with a full day of classroom and practical training. It's your learning curve that is accelerated, not the freefall - you'll fall the same speed as anyone else does! Full details are here.

 

What does 'Static Line' mean?

A 'static line' is a method of automatically opening a parachute as soon as the wearer leaves the aircraft. Basically, one end of the static line is attached to the aircraft, and the other to the opening system on the parachute. This gives us the ability to allow you to jump solo - you just have to leave the 'plane! Of course, it's a little more involved than that, so our Basic Skydiving Course gives you a full day of classroom and practical training, with a view to jumping the following day. Full details are here.

 

What is 'RAPS'?

This stands for Ram Air Progression System and was the rather high-flown and confusing name originally given to the teaching method approved by the British Parachute Association for becoming a qualified solo skydiver by starting with static-line jumps. It's now just called the Static Line System. Our Basic Skydiving Course uses this. Full details are here.

 

How long does it take to learn how to skydive?

Tandem Skydives require only a short briefing beforehand, because you will be attached securely to an experienced instructor who does all the skillful stuff on your jump. You will still need to be prepared to give the whole day over for your Tandem, as we all have to contend with the weather! The training for both Accelerated Freefall and Basic Skydiving (static line) courses takes up the first day of your course, around 6 to 8 hours. Starting with either of these courses, it takes a minimum of about 18 jumps to become a qualified solo skydiver. How long that actually takes depends both on the weather and your persistence!

 

Can I go solo freefall on my first jump?

No. Skydiving is a lot more difficult than you think! You would not expect to learn, say, ski-ing by being taken to the top of a black run and being allowed to get on with it. The skills required for safe and successful solo freefall cannot be gained without a good deal of practice (e.g. our Basic Skydiving course with static line jumps) or direct assistance (e.g. Tandem Skydiving or Accelerated Freefall training).

 

Will I be scared?

Yes, of course! That's part of the fun: the sheer difference between the fear before and the relief afterwards. It takes quite a few jumps before people start to lose the fear, and even then only a complete idiot would claim not to be a bit apprehensive.

 

So what is it like in freefall?

No-one call tell you! And when you've done it, you won't be able to tell anyone else! It's an indescribable feeling, and as we're short of skydiving poets, nobody has ever managaed to explain it to anybody else. The one thing we can say is: whatever you think it will feel like - you're totally wrong. Oddly, although it's scary sitting on the edge of the aircraft ready to go, the feeling once you are falling is curiously comfortable, and not scary at all. Just nice. And exhilarating. And fun!

 

Will I be jumping with my friends?

Yes, our aircraft take up to 16 jumpers, so we will always try to get Tandem Skydivers on the same aircraft as their friends. If you are jumping solo, several people jump from the same aircraft so small groups of friends will be together wherever possible. Occasionally, operational considerations such as the availability of instructors or particular aircraft may prevent this, but we will do our best!

 

What time will my flight be/What time will I jump?

It really doesn't work like that! For one thing, any sort of jumping has to fit around the good old British Weather - this can mean that we jump on a 'stop-start' basis as conditions change throughout the day. Also, on any given day, while we book in a known number of, say, Tandem Skydives, the number of other customers (those people who are already trained and/or qualified) who just turn up to jump is a bit unpredictable. On a good weather day in summer there can be hundreds of people here, and everybody must get their turn, so we have to work the aircraft and instructor resources around whatever is happening at the time. What this means is that we can't timetable a given day, so on the day you are here to jump, you must be prepared to spend all day at the centre, and to wait your turn patiently. It's all done as far as possible on a first-come-first-served basis - we try to be fair with all our customers.

 

How fast do you fall?

In freefall, about 120 mph. After exiting the aircraft it takes 12 seconds or so to reach full speed, and then you're falling one thousand feet every 5 seconds! This does vary a bit from person-to-person: a heavy and compact person will fall a bit faster than a light skinny one. Once the parachute is open, it descends at about one thousand feet per minute. For a Tandem Skydive from 14,000 feet with an open parachute from 5,000 feet, you'll spend around 50 seconds in freefall and about 5 minutes under the parachute. For a solo jump with an automatically-opened ('static line') parachute, you fall about 300 feet while the parachute opens, and then it will take 3 to 4 minutes to reach the ground, depending on how high you got out of the aircraft, normally 3,500 to 4,000 feet.

 

How far up does your parachute go when it opens?

It doesn't go up at all, it just slows you down dramatically. The effect you see on the TV happens because the camera keeps falling (the person with the camera is in freefall, too, of course), which creates the illusion that the opening parachute goes upwards. You appear to go 'up' only in relation to the camera; actually, you are just not going down as fast as you were.

 

Can you breathe in freefall?

Yes, breathing is easy in freefall - it is a natural function which your body generally insists on. It is a touch windy at 120 mph, so that can feel a bit odd to some. A few first-time jumpers say that they couldn't breathe: this happens when they take a deep breath before getting out of the aircraft and try to hold it for the whole freefall. That's difficult!

 

Can you talk in freefall?

You can if you like, but nobody will hear you, as it is very noisy. If you scream as loud as you can when there is a cameraman close to you, the camera will sometimes pick that up!

 

Do you black out in freefall?

No. Your survival instincts require consciousness, so even if you are terrified your brain will insist on you staying aware!

 

What should I wear?

You should wear comfortable loose clothing and good training shoes. Track suit bottoms, sweatshirts, that sort of thing is fine. In the colder months wear several thin, warm layers - it gets cold up there! And wear some socks. Army boots are not required - you are not going into combat. Walking boots (or any other type of shoe with hooks for the laces) are totally unsuitable. Please don't wear street shoes or the wilder forms of 'fashion' trainers - platform soles, for instance, are not compatible with jumping. You are engaging in a sport, so proper sports footwear is the right thing. We will provide you with a suitable helmet, goggles, and a jumpsuit to go over your clothes.

 

How high can you go?

For a Tandem Skydive we can often go as high as 14,000 feet. Solo jumps on automatically-opened ('static line') parachutes take place from 3,200 to 4,000 feet. Accelerated Freefall (AFF) training jumps take place from 12,000 feet or more, usually 14,000 feet. The thing that varies this is usually the weather, and sometimes the capabilities of the aircraft in use. We don't often go higher than 14,000 feet, as the air gets too thin to breathe safely. Higher jumps require oxygen in the aircraft, and that's expensive, so that's for very special events only, like big formation record attempts.

 

Can I have my jump video'd and/or photographed?

Tandem Skydives and Accelerated Freefall jumps can be video'd and photographed. Our camera people will create an 8 to 10 minute video covering your whole jump from setting out for the aircraft, climbing to altitude, exiting and freefalling, and will get down to the ground before you in order to capture your landing - and your reactions! They also take digital still photographs - it's all part of the deal! We cannot video or photograph static-line jumps on the Basic Skydiving course.

 

Can we get one video for our whole group?

No. Our camera people are amongst the best, but even they can't be in two places at once! Two tandems getting out of the same aircraft will be several hundred metres apart in freefall.

 

What are the age, height, and weight restrictions?

You must be at least 16 years old. Those under 18 require the written consent of a parent/guardian. There is no real upper age limit, although anybody of age 40 or over must have the consent of their doctor (we will provide a form with information for the doctor to help in assessing you). Over 55 years old, you will only normally be accepted for Tandem Skydiving. There are no height restrictions, although we might struggle if you are eight feet tall. You should not be overweight for your height (those who are overweight stand a higher risk of injury). We have maximum weight limits for each activity, details are given with the information for each course. Parachutes are designed and tested to carry maximum weights, and the limits are dictated by the equipment we use - so no exceptions.

 

I have a disability. Can I still skydive?

Skydiving is one of those few sports in which the majority of people can participate in some way.  Tandem skydives allow even quite severely disabled people to jump. There are medical conditions which will prevent you from skydiving, but each individual must be assessed on their own merits, so to speak. Talk to us, and we'll do our best to work something out for you - we can provide something for almost everybody. You can read more detailed information here.

 

Do you offer discounts for groups or students?

See our Full Price List

 

Do you offer special discounts for charity jumps?

No, but charity jumps are normally funded out of the sponsorship money collected by each jumper, so that everybody benefits. Click here for more information.

 

What happens if my parachute doesn't open?

The law says that anybody making an intentional parachute descent must be equipped with two serviceable parachutes. They are known as the 'main' and 'reserve'. If your main parachute doesn't open on a Tandem jump, the instructor will use the reserve parachute. If the main does not operate correctly on a jump where you are wearing your own parachute system, you will use your reserve, as per your training. The likelihood of both parachutes failing is incredibly small, but it is possible. In which case, you can work out the possible consequences for yourself without difficulty.

 

Is skydiving safe?

Parachuting and skydiving are potentially dangerous activities. Although every precaution is taken to eliminate risk from our sport, there is always the possibility of injury or even death. Our staff are fully qualified as required by the rules of the British Parachute Association, the sport's governing body in the U.K. Appropriate training is given to all participants, and to minimise the risk you must apply that training diligently and fully. The equipment provided is carefully maintained, all our parachute systems are equipped with additional safety devices and, when used properly, will make your skydiving as safe as any other extreme activity. If you cannot accept the risks, you should not participate.

 

How hard is the landing?

The modern gliding parachutes we use are capable of very soft landings. The landing is affected to some extent by the wind conditions (it's easier to land gently on your feet when there is a bit of wind). When the winds are very light you may find yourself sliding in to land on your rear end after your Tandem jump. When you are in charge of your own parachute (Accelerated Freefall or Basic Skydiving courses) you may well find that you fall over on some jumps, but you'll even be taught how to do that safely, too!

 

Why is the sky blue?

It's because sunlight hits the molecules in the air and is scattered in all directions. The amount of scattering depends on the frequency (i.e. the colour) of the light. Blue light (high frequency) is scattered ten times more than lower-frequency red light, so the "background" scattered light we see in the sky is blue. It's called Rayleigh Scattering. So there. Now you know. Be nice if it was blue more often in this godforsaken land of ours!

 

Why am I doing this?!?

Because it's the most fun you can possibly have, with or without your clothes on!