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Most common tandem skydive questions – answered!

Updated March 2022

Before your first tandem skydive, you’ll probably have a ton of questions. We’ve rounded up the most frequently asked, most common questions about tandem skydiving to (hopefully) answer all of your questions before you arrive. If your question about tandem skydiving wasn’t answered here, you can also check out our frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) or email us at [email protected].

I have a terrible fear of heights. What does that mean for skydiving?

A fear of heights related to skydiving means something different for everyone. Some use it to conquer their fear, and find skydiving helps with their fear of heights. If you ask many “fun jumpers” (licensed skydivers that only jump for fun), many actually have a fear of heights, but still skydive. In many cases, you’ll hear them say that “skydiving heights” and the fear of heights are very different experiences that cannot be compared. If you have a fear of heights, you can only jump and see for yourself!

Is tandem skydiving safe?

Skydiving is an extreme sport – with it comes some level of risk, so there are no guarantees. However the entire sport of skydiving is centered around safety and takes safety into consideration first and foremost.

To minimize risk as much as possible, at Skydive Santa Barbara we frequently have safety reviews, safety procedure updates, use the best gear possible and are a member of the USPA (United States Parachute Association).

The USPA’s primary goal is to promote safe skydiving through training, licensing and instructor qualification programs. USPA dropzones must comply with basic safety requirements as outlined by the USPA, use instructors that have specific and comprehensive training, and provide equipment as required by the USPA.

What age restrictions are there to tandem skydive?

Since Skydive Santa Barbara is a USPA dropzone, all tandem students must be 18 to jump – no exceptions, even with parental consent. If you’re wondering why you’ve heard or seen of younger skydivers jumping out of an airplane, that’s because there are certain dropzones around the world that are not USPA members and therefore can allow younger jumpers.

There is no upper limit to skydiving age restrictions. We’ve had plenty of tandem students in their 80s, 90s and 100s come out to skydive with us.

What is physically required to tandem skydive?

Although older age isn’t a factor, physical health is. After all – good physical health is a plus in any sport. If you are taking prescription drugs for an illness, you are required to have a doctor’s certificate stating that no adverse effects will result from you making a parachute jump. Over the years, we’ve even introduced tandem skydiving to paraplegic and quadriplegic students, so the limits might surprise you. Not sure? Call and ask!

Will I get that falling feeling? Or that “stomach drop” feeling?

There is no sudden drop feeling associated with freefall. The feeling is not what you would expect — it’s not like on a roller coaster. Since the plane you are in is moving forward in excess of 100mph, the horizontal movement of the plane creates a cushion of air when you jump out that supports your body and makes it feel like you are flying (as opposed to falling).

How high do I jump from?

At Skydive Santa Barbara, located just outside of Los Angeles, you can choose which altitude you jump from with your choice of three: 8,000 feet, 13,000 feet, or 18,000 feet. Most tandem students choose the higher altitudes, as you get to experience more freefall. From 18,000 feet you even get to use supplemental oxygen (read more here about 18,000 foot skydives). Skydive Santa Barbara is the only place in Southern California to offer a drop from 18,000 ft!

Are there weight restrictions to tandem skydive? Why?

There are certain restrictions for guests that weigh over 200 lbs. There are several factors taken into consideration in this instance. Most notably, the equipment manufacturer defines the limits for the gear use, which includes the total weight of the tandem pair. Also depending on wind conditions, we need to ensure the instructor you are paired with is set up to land the tandem canopy safely.

What do I wear?

Loose fitting clothes and athletic shoes are ideal. We do recommend you dress for the weather for your tandem skydive to make sure you have the best experience possible. Keep in mind that the higher altitude, the lower the temperature is. If it’s 85 on the ground, you’ll probably be pretty comfortable skydiving in shorts and a t-shirt. In California, if it’s 55 degrees on the ground, between the speed and altitude, you’ll want to wear long pants, a sweatshirt or jacket, and probably a jumpsuit provided by our dropzone. For every tandem skydive, we will provide you with goggles and an optional jumpsuit. If you have questions about your potential jump attire, feel free to call us and ask! 

I have glasses. Can I wear them during my jump?

Yes! We have specific goggles that you can wear over your glasses for your jump. This allows you to still clearly see the breath-taking view of Santa Barbara and Los Angeles! Just ask!

Can I eat or drink anything before skydiving?

Light meals are recommended before your skydive! Try to avoid a lot of caffeine. People under the influence of alcohol or drugs will not be allowed to jump.

Can I be on the same plane as my friends/family/other people in my group?

Yes. Just make sure to let us know in advance so we can pre-arrange the manifest to accommodate your group. How large your group is, how many instructors we have on the day of your jump, and what airplane we are using, will determine how many people can go in the plane at the same time. At Skydive Santa Barbara, we do our best to accommodate groups, but there are no guarantees.

What if the parachute doesn’t open?

This is definitely one of the most common questions that we hear quite often! Overall, it is extremely rare that a parachute has a malfunction of some kind. As we’ve mentioned, the sport of skydiving is centered around safety. Per the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration), all skydiving parachute rigs are equipped with a main parachute (primary chute) and a reserve parachute (secondary chute). There is also a device in the parachute container called an Automatic Activation Device (AAD) which is designed to deploy the reserve parachute if it senses a skydiver(s) is still in freefall at a certain altitude. All parachutes are packed and maintained according to the standards of the FAA and parachute manufacturers.

Can I wear my own GoPro (or other camera) on the skydive?

At Skydive Santa Barbara, we do not allow tandem students to wear their own GoPro or other camera during the skydive. This is for safety reasons, as all gear worn by instructors (including GoPro mounts and casing) are made specifically for skydive use with safety as the top priority. Also, the United States Parachute Association doesn’t allow any skydiver with under 200 jumps to exit an aircraft with a camera.

If you’d like photos or video of your jump viewing Los Angeles and coastal California, let us know and we’ll be happy to provide you with all options available.

How fast do I fall in freefall?

On average, tandems fall at about 120mph when in freefall.

Do I need reservations to skydive?

Reservations aren’t required, but we do recommend reserving your spot to help secure your jump. At Skydive Santa Barbara we do accept walk-ins if there is space available, however anyone who makes a reservation does get priority over walk-ins.

More tandem skydiving questions?

If you still have more questions that you want answers to, visit our frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) page here or email us at [email protected].

Now that you have all the answers you need, book your tandem skydive with us at Skydive Santa Barbara now! As mentioned in this post, we do recommend scheduling in advance to secure your spot. If you have any questions about booking your skydive or gift certificates, feel free to call our office any time at 805-740-0000.

We look forward to seeing you soon! Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to see if photos from your skydive are featured sometime soon.

Blue Skies,

– The Skydive Santa Barbara Team

2 thoughts on “Most common tandem skydive questions – answered!”

  1. Valerie Victorio February 9, 2024

    If you can, please call me 323-670-1664. It’s regarding the 200 pounds question. Thank you!

    • Hello Valerie! I left you a message to call us when you get the chance. I’ll gladly answer any questions and explain our policies regarding weight and weather conditions. You can call us at 905-740-0000.

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