5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Choosing a Skydiving Center

1. Is this actually a skydiving center (dropzone)? 

Unfortunately there seems to be many third-party internet sites that are popping up lately.  They sell you a tandem at a marked up price and then make the reservation for you at the skydiving center.  Make sure that you can find a physical address for the company and that it is located on an airport.

2.     Is this skydiving center a USPA member? 

The United States Parachute Association (USPA) is the only nationally recognized governing body for parachuting activity in the United States.  As a group member, the skydiving center pledges to follow the training and safety standards set by the USPA.  While USPA membership is not mandatory, it can be an indication of how seriously the skydiving center believes in safety and training.

3.     What altitude will I jump from? 

The answer to this question is directly related to how much freefall time you will receive: more altitude equals more time in freefall.  Smaller skydiving centers generally employ Cessna 182 aircraft and will climb to about 10,000 feet.  Turbine aircraft, like our Cessna Caravan, are able to climb higher and the current industry standard is 13,500 feet.  If a skydiving center is promising altitude above 14,000 feet then the pilot must have access to supplemental oxygen, and if you are going to 15,000 feet or higher then all aircraft occupants must receive supplemental oxygen to combat hypoxia, according to federal regulations.

4.     What sort of video services do you offer? 

With the arrival of the GoPro camera it has become easy for instructors to strap one onto their hand and offer a “hand-cam” video.  While the quality of the video can be decent, we don’t believe that it matches what can be done with an outside videographer.  Also, hand-cam videos can require a lot of attention from the tandem instructor to ensure that you remain in frame…attention that can be better spent by the instructor on doing the necessary equipment checks and keeping an eye on altitude.

5.     What will the experience be like? 

Many skydiving centers have succumbed to the pressure to offer Groupons or other such coupons.  We know because we tried it too.  Ultimately, low priced jumps lead to low quality jumps.  In an effort to eke out a profit with such coupons skydiving centers are forced to think about quantity over quality.  Make sure that you are willing to sacrifice a personalized experience before pressing the purchase button at a discount site.  At Skydive Palatka we pride ourselves in making sure that every individual receives a unique experience as we welcome you to the world of skydiving.  

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