How to Skydive for the First Time

There's nothing quite like rushing to the earth at 120 miles (190 km) an hour after jumping from a perfectly good airplane. There are no perfect airplanes, however. Skydiving is an exhilarating and intense adrenaline rush that can't be described, you've just got to do it! Here is some advice on how to go about it the right way for your first jump, and hopefully many more.


  1. Image titled Skydive for the First Time Step 1
    Go to the United States Parachute Association's website to locate the nearest affiliated drop zone. Alternatives for other countries:
    1. Canada : The Canadian Sport Parachuting Association
    2. UK : The British Parachute Association
    3. Australia : The Australian Parachute Federation
  2. Image titled Skydive for the First Time Step 2
    Call the drop zone to ask about their hours and schedule a skydive.
  3. Image titled Skydive for the First Time Step 3
    Get all of your questions answered before you pay for the jump. Don't be afraid to ask whatever is on your mind because they've probably already heard your question before from someone else.
  4. Image titled Skydive for the First Time Step 4
    Choose the method of your first jump.
    • The vast majority of people choose to make a tandem jump. This involves jumping out of the plane while attached via a harness to an instructor who wears a parachute big enough for both of you. It requires very little training and you can just "sit back and enjoy the ride" while the instructor handles all the technical parts of the skydive.
    • Another type of jump called an AFF (Accelerated Free Fall) Level One jump is offered at most drop zones. The training for this skydive involves a ground school course taking approximately 5-6 hours followed by a jump with your own parachute. On this type of jump, you will have two experienced instructors holding onto you during your exit from the plane and subsequent freefall in order to assist you with proper body positioning as well as initiating the canopy opening. You will also have the assistance of an instructor on the ground who is in communication with you via radio to assist with your landing pattern and proper "flaring" for landing.
    • One additional option you may encounter is a "static line" jump. This jump includes the same training as an AFF Level 1 jump however upon exiting the plane, your parachute is automatically deployed by a "line" attached to the aircraft. Static line jumps have generally decreased in popularity in recent years, and most first-timers end up making either a tandem or AFF Level 1 jump.
    • The remainder of this article describes steps related to making a tandem jump which is the most common first time jump.
  5. Image titled Skydive for the First Time Step 5
    On the day of the jump, dress for the weather on the ground and wear sneakers. Bring an extra layer if you want but part of the fun is feeling the rush of air and although it is colder at high altitudes, you probably won't notice the difference because of all the adrenaline.
  6. Image titled Skydive for the First Time Step 6
    Arrive before your appointment time but be prepared to wait for instructors to become available, the weather to break, etc. Even though you'll only be free falling for a minute, plan on being there for the entire day just in case.
  7. Image titled Skydive for the First Time Step 7
    Pay attention. Before your jump, you will get a briefing and meet your instructor; this will help you enjoy your skydive much more. They will fit you into a harness that will connect to the instructor and the parachute.
  8. Image titled Skydive for the First Time Step 8
    Board the plane and just soak it all in. Before you reach the jumping altitude (between 9,500 feet and 17,500 feet) the instructor will clip your harness onto theirs. At this point you are literally joined at the hip.
  9. Image titled Skydive for the First Time Step 9
    Exit the plane. Listen to your instructor on how they want you to do this because every plane and every instructor/student combination is different.
  10. Image titled Skydive for the First Time Step 10
    Enjoy it! Enjoy the feeling of falling at 120 miles (190 km) an hour and feeling free as a bird. The sensation is like no other, it feels like you are floating but the rush of air tells you that you are falling
  11. Image titled Skydive for the First Time Step 11
    Enjoy the view. Once the instructor deploys the parachute you have a 360 degree view of the beautiful earth from about 5,000 feet (1,524.0 m). Your instructor may loosen your harness at this point for your comfort. Don't worry, they won't drop you!
  12. Image titled Skydive for the First Time Step 12
    Land safely. Once again, listen to your instructor on how to land. Sometimes you'll stand up for the landing, other times you'll slide in softly. It depends on a lot of factors.
  13. Image titled Skydive for the First Time Step 13
    Brag. You just did something that most people don't have the courage to do. Enjoy the accomplishment.
  14. Image titled Skydive for the First Time Step 14
    Get certified. If you enjoyed your first skydive and want to do it again, talk to the instructors and the people at the drop zone about how to get certified. It takes a lot of time, money, and effort but you'll find that skydivers are among the happiest people on the face of the earth.


  • Always do what the instructor says - they are the boss. Skydiving people are fun-loving, awesome people who love to teach but they are also serious about safety. They will tell you everything that you need to know.
  • Skydiving is very weather dependent - you generally need mostly clear and blue skies with no precipitation and not too much wind. No matter where you jump, you should have a backup date or two in case the weather doesn't cooperate.
  • Realize that there is no such thing as a "100% safe skydive" and anyone who says otherwise is wrong. People die while skydiving and you have to accept that fact before you jump. However, tandem deaths are exceedingly rare for a lot of reasons- most people quote the chances of death to be 1 in 250,000 to 500,000 jumps for a tandem. On average, there are about 30 skydiving deaths each year out of over 2 million jumps and the vast majority of these deaths are solo skydivers. A saying among skydivers is that "Skydiving is safer than walking across a Wal-Mart parking lot."
  • Get a video of your first jump. It will cost up to 100 dollars more but it is totally worth it to be able to show off to your friends and family. More than one person has regretted not getting a video of their first jump. Don't be afraid to mug for the camera! You'll get to relive the excitement of your first jump time and time again (and show it off to all your friends!)
  • Also on is a "Learn about skydiving" section that can answer any additional questions that you may have
  • Approximately 5 in 6 skydiving fatalities that do occur are with experienced skydivers performing aggressive maneuvers that they know are dangerous, but "think" they're good enough get away with it. On your first skydive (either tandem or AFF) every effort is made to make sure everything is as safe as absolutely possible. Skydiving is very safe to experience, but like anything else, there are always some people that will push the limits of safety.
  • While on, check out the dropzone's aircraft. They may jump anything from small Cessnas to a large "Otter", "Skyvan", or "Caravan." Although skydiving is just as safe out of a Cessna versus a large Otter, the larger planes are a lot less cramped and get to altitude faster.
  • A few common skydiving myths/student questions:
    • When you are freefalling you can still breathe- you don't absorb oxygen from your skin no matter what people say.
    • If the main parachute doesn't work, there is a reserve. If the reserve doesn't work then just follow the white light. No one does low pull contests like in the movie Point Break and there is no one on this planet who could pull off a 5 way skydive their first time out of the plane.
    • Additionally, unlike Point Break, you CANNOT talk in freefall - hand signals maybe, but you cannot hear (unless the other skydiver was right next to your ear, screaming) or talk/scream, unless joined as a two-way and screaming into the other person's ear.


  • Don't make reservations with anyone connected to "Skyride" or 1-800-SKYRIDE. This company has been investigated for numerous complaints of fraud and unfair business practices for taking people's money. Use and contact the dropzone directly- do not go through a "reservation service" who does not tell you exactly where you will be jumping before they get your credit card information.
  • Skydiving has been made a lot safer through the years with better equipment and safety, but if the very small chance of dying outweighs what you think you will get out of it, don't do it.
  • Don't let your friends/family members pressure you into making a jump. If you've always wanted to skydive, great! Otherwise, the cost and the risk just aren't worth it.

Things You'll Need

  • Running shoes

Sources and Citations

Article Info

Categories: Air Sports