When starting on the journey of skydiving, there are a lot of questions from new skydivers. Thinking back to when I started, I also had a lot of random questions I was asking to my AFF instructors and new friends. However, maybe the questions we asked at the start are not so random after all. For example, asking about gear! There are many questions that new skydivers are frequently and consistently asking. Today we are going to go over 7 questions of new skydivers that are commonly asked.
So, can I wear a GoPro?
This is a extremely common question asked by new jumpers, and is it really any surprise? The internet and the skydiving community is flooded with awesome footage of skydiving. Naturally a new jumper is going to want to get in on that and start documenting their sweet new skydiving addiction. However, the answer is a strongly suggested NO. The USPA recommends a 200 jump minimum before wearing a camera while on a skydive.
Of course, you will run into situations where this rule is not being followed. Although, I really do not suggest you take this decision upon yourself to make. The USPA has this recommendation for a reason, and they have been around the skydiving world a while. You, new skydiver, have not been. Take the recommended advice. Reasons include, the camera is a possible snag hazard. You are still developing your skills as a new jumper. It is not wise to add something into the mix that could cause a malfunction that you are not ready to deal with. Furthermore, it has been seen over and over that new jumpers are distracted by cameras, in order to get a “sick shot”. New skydivers may become absent minded to altitude, and end up going too low with the intention of “awesome footage”. Say hello to your first AAD fire.
When you are at 200 jumps, and ready to jump with a camera, talk to some instructors at your DZ. Its always good to chat about safety and receive advice from experienced jumpers.
Do I need to do all my A-license jumps at the same DZ?
Theoretically, no you do not need to do all your AFF or A license jumps at the same drop zone. However, the following answer is my opinion and surely shared with others in the sport. Consistency in your coaching when learning the basics is a big deal. Being familiar with the area under canopy is also something to consider. You become comfortable with your instructors. They are familiar where you are as a new skydiver. while your progressing to your license. Especially with AFF, they know your strong points and weaker points. So going to a new DZ during AFF, might take you a step back, because they are not familiar with you.
When working towards your A license, if you choose to move between multiple drop zones, you may have to do coach jumps. Really it depends on the DZ, but if they see you are still working towards your A license. They might feel better having you perform a coach jump first. Which is going to add to the cost of getting your license. If you stay at your home/original drop zone, they will know you are okay to be performing solo jumps. Therefor, it would be my suggestion to knock out all your AFF and A license jumps at the same DZ and then you can travel after. However, if there is a valid reason, such as safety concern, and you wish to change drop zones, follow your instincts and do so.
Should I buy tunnel time before skydiving?
No, of course you do not need to purchase and fly in the tunnel before you start to skydive. Just think of how many skydivers started jumping before wind tunnels even became such a popular thing. It is not a requirement. However, it is a very good tool for learning body position and skill development at a more rapid pace. In fact, some drop zones are located so close to a wind tunnel, that they have tunnel time included in their AFF package! Your instructor can take you to the wind tunnel to work on flying in a stable belly position.
Personally, I think it is important to note here that body flight and progressing to be a ninja is not the most important thing when becoming a skydiver. During the beginning of your skydiving journey, you really should be focusing on the basics of skydiving. Drill in your emergency procedures, develop your canopy skills and focus on learning what is happening around you with other jumpers and canopies. In general, become more accustomed to this high adrenaline sport.
Can I just pay a packer? Do I have to learn to pack?
So of course paying a packer and never learning to pack on your own is always an option. If you are financially capable of doing this, then I suppose it is an option to not have to pack. However, really you should know how to pack your own canopy. This is a frustrating learning curve for many people at first. Trust me when I say many new skydivers had trouble learning to pack their canopy. Although, just like most things, practise makes it become easier. Soon you will be in control of that nylon!!
Learning to pack your parachute is an opportunity to have your hands on your gear and be learning more about it. You become familiar with your own gear. Also have this time during packing to take a look and make sure everything seems in good order. Of course if a packer notices something funny they will tell you. However, they are busy and go through pack jobs fast. Speaking of busy packers. What if one day you are really keen on getting on a load, but your friendly packers are super busy and will not be able to pack you up in time? Wouldn’t that be a shame to miss a load, because you don’t know how to pack?
If you can make a skydive, be responsible and learn how to complete the jump by packing your own gear. Of course you can pay a packer, and there is NOTHING wrong with supporting our packers! What I am saying is, you should not be oblivious to the technique and unable to pack for yourself.
Should I buy brand new gear?
Oh look at all those shiny pretty new rigs!! They are beautiful right?! Do you need a brand new custom container as a new skydiver? Likely, this first rig will not be long term gear for you, so its generally suggested you go for some used gear on your first skydiving kit. Don’t be afraid to buy used gear. Talk to your instructors and DZ rigger. Surely they will know of, or be able to keep an eye out for something that is suitable for you. There are many great, fully set up starter gear on the market, with container, canopy, reserve and AAD. Remember to use the help and advice of experienced jumpers when making this purchase, as they know a thing or two! 🙂
Container and canopy
Depending on how much you are jumping, you will probably be downsizing your canopy once or twice in the somewhat near future. Your first container may fit the canopy sizes you are on now. However soon you will progress to a more comfortable and suitable canopy size that you will jump with more long term. This more long term canopy may not fit in the container you were jumping with the larger canopies you were previously jumping. Which is a reason a starter rig is good to be used gear. It may not stay with you for too long!! Soon you will have an idea of your progression and know what container size and canopy size you will use for more long term. Now is a more practical time to get a custom fitted, expensive and beautiful new container!
Buying a starter rig, usually you will have a larger canopy in it. The container can fit a downsize or two while you progress. Although, while these canopies you may not have for too long term, its a good idea to be very mindful when buying used canopies. Speak to your rigger or instructors. They will be able to help you make these purchases and ask the right questions regarding used canopies.
In the future, once you have found a canopy size you are comfortable on, for sure consider buying new. You will probably have it much longer and for more jumps than the previous canopies.
So helmet is something you will not be trading out. Its fine to buy used, in fact there is a lot of helmets for sale that have been hardly used at all! You can possibly find one at a slightly reduced price for sale. Ask around your drop zone too, and someone you might know could be selling one. Although, for just a bit more money, you can buy new. Now you will wear a helmet that no one has ever sweat or had their saliva all over! Yes, skydiving helmets are expensive, but you could use this helmet for YEARS! So buying new straight from the start is for sure a good choice in my opinion. Are you now deciding between open face or full face helmet? Check out my previous blog post comparing the two skydiving helmet styles.
Probably a good idea to grab a used jumpsuit at first. Soon your skills will develop and you can change into a more tighter fitting suit. However at first, for skydiving and tunnel flying, if your suit is more loose, it can benefit you and offer some forgiveness while learning the basics. Before long, you will be in a better place in your development to purchase a new fitted suit. Also, maybe at this point, you will have a skydiving direction you are interested in. Perhaps you want to focus on RW or free fly. So now that you have a focus, you can get a proper fitted suit perfect for your skydiving goals.
In my personal experience, you can get lucky finding a used altimeter on sale for a good price. The only downside is with digital altimeters, you don’t always know if the seller is telling you the truth in its functionality condition. Perhaps its been in water, or is just on its end of life, and now you are buying someone’s problem. Perhaps someone you know is selling one and you can save a bit of cash and know the altimeter is reliable and in good condition. Also, if you want to buy new and have the cash, this piece of equipment can last you for many many years.
Should I lose weight/be in better shape?
Listen, there are skydivers in all shapes and sizes. There is gear for all shapes and sizes. However, yes drop zones do have weight limits. I believe in US, there are some DZ that accommodate slightly heavier weight limits, but yes still the limit does exist. Skydiving is a physical sport. You need to be to have the mobility and flexibility to deploy your parachute and deal with potential malfunctions and emergency procedures. Skydiving equipment also has weight limits. Larger people require larger canopies. Which in turn, will require more strength to manoeuvre a larger canopy. If you are on the threshold of being to heavy to skydive, but you have made it so far to get your license. Why not do yourself a favour and get into better physical health? I wont go into details of why this will benefit your overall life, but at least do it for the love of skydiving. You will have more stamina and probably be able to jump more throughout the day if in better physical condition. As well as having more options for gear and downsizing.
Can I wingsuit now?
Alright, so we have all heard this from new skydivers. No harm in it, but it is for sure common. “When can I start to wingsuit? I seen some really amazing footage on Youtube and THATS what I want to do!!” Of course wingsuiting is amazing, and no doubt you want to try as soon as possible. Although, there is actually a minimum jump number requirement to get into a wingsuit. It is 200 jumps in most federations around the world.
Basically you will progress in your skydiving and work on nailing down the fundamentals. While building your jump numbers you are increasing you’re knowledge of greater safety aspects of the sport. Giving yourself more knowledge of different things to consider and look out for when skydiving. While working towards your jump number requirement, you can still be preparing for your first wingsuit flight. For example, training by developing your tracking skills.
It would actually be a great idea to find an instructor or worthy wingsuit mentor at your home drop zone. They can then guide you on the path of skill building for your future career in the wingsuiting discipline! They can help you with safety and gear knowledge, because wingsuit flying is a whole other chapter of the skydiving world. Its great to talk and learn from people who already have a great amount of experience!
Keep coming back
Do you know of any other really typical questions of new skydivers? Maybe you have had some very unique and funny questions also! Let me know, I would love to hear your stories!
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