Tandem skydiving instructor spreading his arms as they jump from the airplane

How To Research a Skydive DropZone

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Ready to make that first jump? Awesome! Now, you have your work cut out for you: to choose the right skydiving center for your freefall initiation adventure.

It’s not as easy as it might seem, of course. Over the course of our 45 years as Skydive Tecumseh, we’ve heard lots of nail-biting stories from skydivers who picked the wrong one. We don’t want that to be you. If you’re looking for a some honest advice, we can help.

1. Don’t book based on price. Skydiving on a beautiful sunny day

Trust me: this isn’t a come-on. It costs money to run a safe dropzone, staffed by experienced, licensed professionals who have your best interests at heart. It costs money to keep an airplane in safe, comfortable working condition, and it costs money to buy and maintain the safest possible parachuting gear to convey you from the open door of that airplane to the ground.

Seemingly small price differentials can make a big impact on service level. Don’t let the cost of a chain-restaurant lunch come between you and the best tandem skydiving experience you can have.

2. Make sure the DZ is who they say they are.

There are a lot of online outlets that want to tell you where to skydive. These are third-party booking companies, and they’re bent on charging you a hefty fee for their not-so-great advice. Book directly with the dropzone to get the best deal (and the straight story). If you’re not sure if you’re talking directly to the dropzone, just ask.

3. Make sure they run in the right crowd.

Tandem skydivers falling through the airWhen it comes to choosing the right skydiving center, there’s a four-letter word you should know. Okay: it’s not really a word, it’s an acronym. It’s USPA. USPA stands for “United States Parachute Association,” which is an organization that sets and regulates strict safety protocols for all its member dropzones. If a dropzone isn’t a USPA member, they’re self-regulating…and they aren’t required to follow the USPA’s long list of (very important) best practices.

4. Get your Google-stalking fingers warmed up.

A quick look at Google to check out online reviews (and, heaven forbid, past tandem skydiving incidents) goes a long way.

5. Call the DZ and have a chat.

Speak with someone to get a sense of service. Are they dismissive? Do they seem overburdened? If the person you talk to seems cheerful, welcoming and ready to answer your questions, then you can already get a sense of the dropzone’s culture.

Tandem Skydiver in freefall at Skydive Tecumseh

Skydiving for the first time at Skydive Tecumseh was by far one of the greatest experiences of my life. No matter how high maintenance I was before the jump when I was scared, every single jumper employee did everything they could to make my experience unforgettable. I have already recommended here for many of my friends wanting to go with me for their first time on my next round!

Christine Kardel