Tandem skydiving is by far the most common way people experience jumping out of an airplane for the first time. Jumping tandem means you are harnessed together, piggy-back style, with a suitably qualified instructor. It allows for new skydivers to get up in the air for the first time as efficiently as possible, with just a small (but important) amount of training to complete beforehand. Tandem skydiving is a very accessible way for people to start skydiving, as the instructor handles much of the work that you need all the training and experience for – allowing tandem students to relax and really savor the sensations of their first time in freefall. However, although tandem skydives allow for modest input from the student, there are some things that are important to get right for the best possible time. Here they are…
Jumping out of an airplane is not the same as off a diving board or some such. When you exit an aircraft, it is going forwards at around 100mph – so you don’t just drop off the side but are flung forwards by your momentum. The ‘relative wind’ of freefall does not come from underneath you, but horizontally from the direction, the plane is flying. Due to this, it is important to exit the door in a controlled manner for which you – the student – are definitely required to help. Tumbling off the door is not a problem, and can even be done for funzies – but it is better to execute a nice clean and stable launch. To get this done properly your instructor will ask you to keep your arms folded across your chest, and your chin up looking forwards towards the horizon.
Parachutes are very good at doing their job. When operated correctly you can land exactly where you want to, with the perfect grace of someone hopping down from a little step. For a tandem skydive landing, it is a little bit different, as being harnessed together requires most often sliding in on your bum. Landing a parachute is best achieved into the wind – meaning you land with less forward speed. With zero wind you likely have to run a bit when you ouch down, something that is not possible with two people harnessed together lest you end up in a big pile of tangled legs – hence the sliding. The main things you need to do to get this right are…
For a smooth landing slide you need to pick your legs up at the hips so they stick straight out in front. You might be asked to demonstrate this during your pre-jump briefing to be sure of the technique. On final approach your instructor will very clearly indicate when to lift them up.
Your tandem instructor will probably seem quite laid back about this skydiving business, but that is down to the fact that they are very highly experienced. It is likely they will tell you terrible jokes about it being their first day etc. – but when it comes time to the important stuff they will be all business. Tandem skydiving is a method designed to be very accessible – but throughout the process you are definitely more of a student than merely a passenger. If you are keen to know more, ask your instructor – they know many things and are always keen to share.
Arriving at the dropzone early is a good idea for many reasons (including it being a cool place to hang out) – but few are as good as watching some other people landing before you go up. Doing this will give you an idea of what to expect, but also fill you with excited confidence about what you are about to go do, as you witness the smiles, hugs and massive joy of people arriving back on the ground.
Tandem skydiving is an amazing adventure, and here at Oklahoma Skydiving Center we have everything you require to have the very best experience possible. The more you engage with our sport the more you get out of it, and we look forward to having you jump with us soon.
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