The Tandem Skydive

The Most Popular First-Time Skydive

 The first and by far the most common way to make your first skydive is a Tandem Skydive. During a Tandem Skydive you are attached to a professional skydiver who is specially trained and licensed as a “Tandem Skydiving Instructor.”

Click here for detailed information on Tandem Pricing

Tandem Skydiving in Sacramento and Northern California
Tandem Skydiving in Sacramento and Northern California

The Tandem Skydiving School at SkyDance SkyDiving is an affiliate Group Member of USPA.  USPA stands for United States Parachute Association – which makes safety rules and training standards for sport parachuting.  (Not all drop zones are USPA-compliant.)

With over 140 reviews on Yelp  and from the fact that we get many repeat customers, SkyDance clients can rest assured that they will have as good a tandem skydiving experience as is possible anywhere.

The following describes what a typical tandem skydiving experience consists of – starting with arrival at our office.  

Checking In At the Manifest

Your tandem jump experience starts with checking in at the manifest and paying for your jump and video.  There’ll be a waiver to sign, a video to watch, and proper instruction.

The Tandem Skydiving Class

An instructor will now teach you everything you’ll need to know to make a safe, fun tandem skydive. This will only take about 30 – 45 minutes, depending on the class size.  You’ll no doubt enjoy our classes, and if you forget everything when it’s time to jump (it happens), SkyDance SkyDiving instructors ‘got your back’.

Tandem Skydiving in Sacramento and Northern California
Tandem Skydiving in Sacramento and Northern California

Your Altimeter, Hat & Goggles

One glance at your altimeter and you’ll know your distance (in feet) above the ground. We have two types of goggles – regular and ones designed to fit over glasses.   Now he will attach an altimeter to your left wrist,  and fit you with a form-fitting ‘hat’ that covers your ears and provides a mounting place for your skydiving goggles.

More about your altimeter, in case you’re interested:

It reads like a watch – a BIG one – at 3 inches in diameter. (You won’t need glasses to read this watch!) But instead of being in hours, it reads in 1000’s of feet.  But just like a watch it has 12 digits, except the top number is “0” – zero – instead 12 as on a clock.

When the aircraft takes off, the needle moves clockwise. When the airplane reaches 1000 feet the needle points to the number 1, when it’s climbed to 2000′ it points to 2, and so on.

When the airplane gets up to 12,000 feet, the needle is back on “zero” at the 12 o’clock position.

Tandem Skydiving in Sacramento and Northern California
Tandem Skydiving in Sacramento and Northern California

Should I get video for my first jump?

Of course it’s up to you, but nearly all first-time jumpers get the video and the ones who don’t are sorry they didn’t!

One of our professional free fall videographers can exit with you and your instructor.  The beautiful high-definition video and still photographs will make your experience unforgettable.  Before you leave the dropzone you will have a professionally-edited-to-music, high definition USB Flash Drive that includes high-def still photographs with the video.

Gearing Up

Now all you do is wait for your name(s) to be called to meet your instructors in the gear room. You will be asked for the little brown envelopes and to remove any hard objects from your pockets such as keys, wallet, cell phone.   (They would be uncomfortable pressed against your skin under your harness. We’ll give you a place to store these things, or you can leave them with a friend or in your car.)

Your Jumpsuit

SkyDance has a tandem skydiving jumpsuit that will fit you.  Your instructor will give you a blue, pink, tan, or purple jumpsuit to zip over your clothes. Besides the fashion statement you’ll be making in your suit, it will keep you warm and protect your clothes from potential grass stains on your butt (if you end up doing a sliding landing).

Your Harness

Next he will fit your harness snugly to you.  The harnesses are specifically designed to go with the instructor’s tandem parachuting gear as a system.  (After you are both seated in the aircraft, he will attach your harness to his own.)

SkyDance tandem skydiving rigs and student harnesses are the latest and greatest gear available in the world, and we replace it with brand new every other year. (Other drop zones buy our used gear!)

Tandem Skydiving in Sacramento and Northern California

The Pre-Boarding Review

Your instructor will now review your jump with you.  (He’ll review it again in the airplane as well.)  He’ll walk you through what has become routine for him – although for you it will be new and exciting!     …He will ensure you have a good grasp on what to do, even if you don’t end up doing it right.  Perhaps most importantly, he will work hard to keep you relaxed if you are feeling anxious.

Our instructors are constantly being thanked by our tandem skydiving students for keeping them calm so they can really enjoy their experience.  One BIG advantage to making your jump here at SkyDance is the very high experience level of the instructors, in combination with the fact that we very carefully screen our applicants for tandem master positions. The average jump experience is well over 4000 jumps per instructor.  You are in good hands here!

Time To Board The Plane!

Now it’s time to board the airplane. Yeehaa!  The fun is about to begin.  Last minute hugs with friends and family members, a couple of last minute photos, and now you and your instructor get seated and seat belted in your jump ship!

The airplane takes off and the excitement wanes for a bit as the aircraft climbs to your jump altitude. But it’s not all boring because you have windows everywhere and your instructor will be pointing out scenic features like lakes, mountains, and so on.

You won’t have time to get worried because the trip up to jump altitude only takes 10 to 15 minutes.

Time To Jump!

As a tandem skydiver, you will not actually have to “jump” out of the airplane…  Your instructor does the ‘jumping’ with you attached to him; whatever he does you do because you’re attached to him!

He’ll step off or push off and all you do is move your body to the “arch” position:  The moment you leave the airplane, all you do is put your head back (as if to look up at the airplane you just departed) and feet & knees back behind you.  Very simple.  And if you screw it up he’ll cover for you!

Tandem Skydiving in Sacramento and Northern California
Tandem Skydiving in Sacramento and Northern California

Who Opens the Parachute?

“I thought YOU were going to open it!”

You are not responsible for opening the parachute, but we encourage you to – it’s fun.  And it’s also recommended if you are using your tandem jump to prepare you for learning to skydive on your own through the AFF (Accelerated Free Fall) program – you would have already practiced with your instructor on the ground.

“What if I can’t find the handle or am not strong enough to pull it?”

Both these things happen routinely, and routinely your instructor will deploy the parachute with his own deployment handle (located at a different place on the gear than ‘your’ deployment handle).

…Bottom line, the tandem canopy will be deployed at the same altitude – about 5000′ – whether you deploy it or your instructor deploys it.  So no worries!

Info on your awesome safety gear

In the unlikely event the main parachute does not open properly (pretty rare indeed), the instructor will deploy the backup (also called the “auxillary” or “reserve”) parachute.

It’s interesting to note that as reliable as the main parachute may be, the reserve parachute system is far more reliable than the main parachute; great effort has been made to ensure the reserve parachute system is about as close to “fail-safe” as any mechanical system can be.

…Bottom line, the chances of BOTH parachutes not working properly are so slim that you’d probably have a better chance of getting struck by lightning. (Or perhaps more to the point, getting in an automobile mishap driving to or from the drop zone!)

What If My Instructor Passes Out?

Another safety device I might mention for those who may be wondering:  What happens if your instructor has a heart attack in mid-air or somehow gets knocked out or simply loses track of the altitude and does not open the parachute?

…All of these scenarios have been thought of and addressed:  A computerized automatic activation device will deploy the reserve parachute if you and your instructor are still free falling below 1,500′ above the ground.

In addition to this mandatory safety device, all tandem instructors must wear an audible altitude warning device next to an ear, as well as their own wrist altimeter.

Gliding Gently Down

You are now gliding effortlessly through the air under a beautifully-colored parachute, like a sailboat on the water. In fact you ARE sailing on the air.

Steering the parachute yourself!

At this point he will offer you the “steering toggles” so you can steer and turn the parachute in circles if you want – this can be sooo fun! Don’t be timid – there is no way you can screw it up – the canopy is more forgiving than ANY vehicle – ground or air – that you have ever ridden in.

Tandem Skydiving in Sacramento and Northern California

The Landing

Somewhere around 1000′ AGL (Above Ground Level) or higher, your instructor will take the steering toggles back from you and steer you in for a soft landing, within close walking distance of SkyDance.

Your instructor may have you lift your legs up just prior to landing.

…And just like that, it’s all over! The time it took you read this page is about all the time it will take to leave the airplane and land safely on the ground.

Your Skydiving Logbook

You will receive a student skydiver logbook. It’s for keeping track of your progression from student to licensed skydiver.  But it’s also great for recording your jump experience(s) like a journal!

SkyDance is the only drop zone we’re aware of that fills out and gives you an official parachuting logbook.  It documents your jump with your instructor’s official license and signature.  He’ll also make a comment or two in your logbook – sometimes funny comments.

All jumpers – just like pilots logging flight time – log every jump. It’s like a journal or diary of your experience. And it is fun to go back and read in the future.

(It’s also required for tracking your progress from student to licensed skydiver!)

Tandem Skydiving in Sacramento and Northern California