You’re getting ready to book your first skydive! What amazing fun you’re about to have! Let’s help you get the best skydiving experience and the best deal possible. There are a few different factors that can affect the price you pay for a skydive and the experience you’ll have. Don’t worry, though–it’s not too complicated!
First and foremost, there is no absolute recipe for the perfect skydiving deal for everyone, just like there is no perfect pair of shoes for all people. There are a few factors to consider that will have different importance for different people. Following is a list of those factors so you can make the best decision for you!
The Big Things
- Jump Altitude
Maybe Bigger (but less tangible) Things
- Facilities and Equipment
Scroll down to learn more!
More Information: The Big Things
How high above the ground you exit an airplane is one of the biggest factors affecting the price. Why? Freefall is free, but the plane ride up to your exit altitude is definitely not. Airplanes are expensive and wonderful machines, and generally speaking, the higher they climb, the longer it takes and thus the more they cost. In fact, many skydiving centers advertise a low-price skydive (from a relatively low altitude) to get customers in the door, then upsell you to get more money for a higher altitude skydive that some skydiving centers just consider normal.
So how important is altitude, really? Let’s look at some numbers.
Legally, in the U.S. we can’t fly higher than 15,000 feet above sea level in a non-pressurized aircraft (that includes jump planes) without pre-breathing oxygen first. Most tandem skydives start deploying their parachute around 5500 feet. After accelerating to terminal velocity, a tandem pair falls 1000 feet in about 6 seconds, so getting nearly 10,000 feet of freefall will take just under 60 seconds. It doesn’t sound like a long time, but there’s more energy and excitement packed into that 60 seconds than you may have ever experienced!
Most people wouldn’t notice a freefall that’s a few seconds shorter than this, but let’s say you exit the plane at 8000 feet. You’ll get only up to about 15-20 seconds of freefall instead of 60. Is that difference important to you? Your call. Just make sure when you’re pricing skydives at different centers that you consider this factor to compare apples to apples.
A few skydiving centers offer skydives from above 15,000 feet, which tend to be significantly more expensive both because of the extra aircraft time it takes to fly higher and because of the oxygen system you’ll need to use for that altitude. If your primary goal is to get maximum freefall time, seek out one of these centers, and dress warm as it can be quite chilly up super high!
There are two things to consider regarding location. One is like real estate: What location is convenient for you to get to? That’s pretty easy; driving distance is easy to estimate from the drop zone’s address. Keep in mind that most skydiving centers, especially the bigger, busier ones, will be located a little drive from any major city due to our obvious need to operate in areas with light air traffic. For example, you won’t find a busy skydiving center operating close to a major airline base such as Atlanta-Hartsfield, Houston Intercontinental, Dulles, or Los Angeles.
The other factor is the premium you’ll pay at more “exotic” locations, such as jumps onto or near a beach, or foreign locations such as Dubai, UAE. Is that premium worth it? Maybe. To be honest, a skydiving experience is so much more than just what you see from altitude, and much of that you’ll get no matter where you skydive. I mean, you’re jumping out of a freakin’ AIRPLANE for fun and freefalling at 120mph with some crazy fun humans! The view is kind of secondary to the amazingness that is skydiving, but a nice view is good for sure. Sometimes it’s actually pretty darn cool to see your home area from the sky (for example, we can see both Florida coasts from exit altitude at Spaceland Florida!).
The lion’s share of drop zones operate relatively small aircraft such as a Cessna 182, which can hold up to 4-5 jumpers sitting on the floor depending on the model. Larger skydiving centers operate larger turbine aircraft such as Cessna Caravans and/or DeHavilland Super Otters that can carry up to 18 or 23 skydivers to a higher altitude much more quickly than smaller aircraft.
How does the choice of aircraft affect your jump? Especially if you want to jump with a larger group of friends, that’s much more fun at a place with a larger plane that can fly you all together and get you jumping sooner! You may pay a little more than you would at a small dropzone with a small airplane, but you may find yourself much more comfortable in a larger plane with more space and speed. You’ll also get more of an opportunity to see experienced skydivers at play–and they can be very creative!
We joke that if it’s not on video, it never happened. 🙂 But seriously, what’s more fun than skydiving? Skydiving AND getting to wow your family and friends with your awesome video/photos! Seriously though, it’s not just marketing hype to call your first skydive the experience of a lifetime, and having that captured to relive it later is not a small thing. There is always an additional charge for video/photos, and it varies according to a few factors.
It’s often less expensive if the dropzone offers handcam video/photos (shot with a hand-mounted GoPro or similar small camera on the instructor), but not all drop zones offer this. Handcam is great for capturing your face as you skydive, but not always as good for capturing the sheer awesome big-sky perspective of skydiving that an outside videographer can capture. This is an experienced skydiver who jumps along with you and films you from a short distance, and who is able to back away from you a little to show you in that big sky and give you a high-five at 120 mph! This costs a little more but has a great value also. Some drop zones, including Skydive Spaceland Florida, offer both perspectives in a combined ultimate package.
You may also have the option to get your video/photos on DVD, on a Flash drive, and/or delivered to you electronically. A Flash drive is usually the most expensive, yet most flexible and portable/easily playable on more devices.
Maybe Bigger (but less tangible) Things
Checking online reviews for a business is standard operating procedure for most of us these days. Why would you want to trust your life to a business without checking reviews first?
Most skydiving centers enjoy pretty positive reviews because the experience itself is just so amazing that people almost can’t help but give the provider a great review. That said, if you look a little more carefully at the reviews, you might find hints of things that sound great or awful. Having several reviews that talk about poor customer service or rude staff might steer you to another drop zone, or having a lot of reviews that talk about how passionate the staff are about skydiving and teaching others their passion might steer you towards that location.
Almost any licensed instructor can take a person on a tandem skydive safely. However, not all skydiving centers approach that skydive the same. Many treat it like an amusement park ride, where you’re just a passive passenger along for a thrill. However, training centers consider this to be both the most fun you’ll have with your clothes on AND the first step in a longer-term skydiving adventure. You’ll have a great time at either type of place, but you might be surprised at how much more there is out there at a training center where you start by deploying your own parachute and helping fly it back home. You mean you could learn to do this yourself? In only a week? Yes. Yes, you can, at the right training centers with the right people. This brings us to the next point…
This isn’t your everyday neighborhood association. The worldwide community of skydivers is a bunch of very diverse people from all industries and walks of life, united by a shared passion for human bodyflight. That might seem like a thin basis for picking new friends, but really, what better basis is there? We all love the same amazing thing, and we are ALL very passionate about our sport. The best dropzones are those where there are a lot of people skydiving for fun all the time, both first-timers and instructors/experienced jumpers playing in the sky with their friends and enjoying evening meals and shenanigans together. Your skydive doesn’t have to be just a skydive; it can be your entry into a sport and community that change your life. It did for us, for sure!
Facilities and Equipment
As a first-timer, you won’t have much of an idea of what defines “better” skydiving equipment and whether it’s worth a premium price. However, you can see the facilities at a given drop zone and determine if it seems to be a shoestring operation or a professional facility that takes your experience seriously. For example, if the drop zone has only a small shack for running their business and no running water to flush toilets, it may not be the same caliber of experience as a skydiving center that’s successful enough to have invested in higher-volume, aesthetically pleasing facilities and creature comforts.
At Skydive Spaceland, we pride ourselves on operating world-class drop zones in several states, and on being the country’s busiest civilian skydiving training centers. We operate 7 days a week in most locations (Thursday-Monday at Spaceland Florida) and our family-owned company has been operating major skydiving centers since February 2000. We keep your first-time skydiving experience simple and awesome by always flying as high as we can, treating all of our customers like the valuable people you are, and welcoming new friends like you into our awesome community of friends daily. Visit www.skydivespaceland.com to find the Spaceland nearest to you, or call Spaceland Florida at 1-863-983-6151 to learn more!
Get the best experience and the best deal here at Skydive Spaceland!