Are you a newly licensed skydiver who is looking to travel and try out a new drop zone? It can be an experience that makes you feel both excited and nervous! Jumping at a new drop zone other then your home DZ for the first time is an obstacle we all need to overcome at some point. Whether you are a new skydiver or one who is experienced, but has yet to travel to new DZ’s. It is important to think and plan ahead to make the experience as smooth and safe as possible. Lets take a look at some helpful tips that you can use when going to jump at a new drop zone for the first time.
First, go to manifest
When you arrive at a new drop zone, you are going to go to the manifest or office to check-in. Its best to organize yourself ahead of time to make the paperwork at manifest go faster. So, you should have with you and ready to hand over, your current skydiving license, identification, insurance (if not included in skydiving membership), reserve packing card and log book. If you are really keen, you can check ahead of time online to see if you can print the waiver and have it signed and ready. Otherwise, the staff will provide you with a waiver to fill out and sign. Next, manifest will help you to find a staff member who can give you a gear check and drop zone briefing.
Get your gear check
When you arrive at a new drop zone, they will want to check your gear. It is important for the drop zone to know who is jumping what and if it is safe. What the gear check will include is verifying the reserve pack job is in date, the gear is air worthy and safe and that there is an AAD. Once the staff have approved your gear, you will likely need to go back to the office staff to confirm your gear check.
If you are planning to rent gear when you arrive at the new drop zone, it might be a good idea to call ahead of time. Find out what gear they rent, what type of skydiving container, what canopies and what canopy sizes. Ask about prices to rent and daily rentals. Its much better to plan ahead and know what they have available. Also, you want to be sure that you can rent gear that is suitable for you. Obviously this is better to know before arriving!
Do not forget your drop zone briefing!
You must get a drop zone briefing before jumping at a new drop zone. Make sure to ask for one, if by any chance the staff forgot to provide you with a drop zone briefing. It is your responsibility to make sure you have received a drop zone briefing before making your first jump at a new drop zone.
Landing areas and patterns
During your briefing you will be explained the rules for the drop zone landing areas and patterns. For instance, there could be a high performance landing area and a regular landing area. This is important to know, so you do not fly your canopy into the swooping area. You will learn where you are suppose to land and which direction the landing patterns are. The staff will tell you of any obstacles in the landing area to be aware of, such as possible areas of turbulence, fences, electricity lines, etc.
I always love to see the aerial view photos that drop zones have. This is very important to look at and observe carefully. This is where you can get an idea of what the drop zone and landing area will look like from altitude. Here the staff can help point out to you jump run and directional landmarks. For example if there are mountains to the north, or there is a big barn with a red roof near to the drop zone. Basically you are looking for these landmarks to help you know your directions, spot the drop zone and landing area more easily. Which will help when you are under canopy and trying to find where you are meant to land!
This can be a very stressful part of jumping at a new drop zone. Finding the landing area in a new place can for sure be a stressful, but if you prepare ahead of time you will find ease when you recognize the view up above. So don’t under estimate studying the aerial view photos of the drop zone.
Learn your outs
During your briefing, the drop zone staff will show you where skydivers can land out. On the aerial photos they will be able to explain where the alternative landings are safe, and areas that should be avoided, when needing to make an off drop zone landing. Be sure to listen to what the staff tell you, so you can learn about hazards and obstacles in the area to consider when needing to make an off drop zone landing.
Before rushing to manifest on a load and make your first jump, consider asking for a little aircraft briefing. Find out what aircraft is being operated at the drop zone. You can ask about what altitude do you jump from, sitting arrangements, seat belt rules, how to operate the door, how the jump lights work. As well you will know what type of door you will be jumping out of. If it is different from your what you are used to at your home drop zone, ask if there is anything you should be aware of, such as a low wing. Check to see if there is any steps or handles and where they are, to help with a smooth and safe climb out/exit.
Observe the drop zone
Once you have completed your check in and briefings, take some time to obverse the drop zone and how everything is operating. Watch at least one load of skydivers land to see how the pattern looks and landing winds are. See where the air plane is loading skydivers. Take a look at the hangar and see where the packing area is for fun jumpers. Many drop zones have a separated packing area for tandems and drop zone packing staff. Be sure to pack in the right place, as to not leave a bad first impression!
Do not be shy to ask questions if you are unsure of anything. It is not a good idea to be guessing about something when it comes to skydiving. Not only could it put yourself in danger, but many other skydivers that are sharing the sky with you. Its much better to clear up any confusions and jump with confidence. This is the best way for you to feel, when making your first jump at a new drop zone.
Keep coming back
I hope that this article has help guide you in your first experience jumping at a new drop zone. When we are prepared we are best equipped to have safe and amazing day of skydiving. If this article has helped you make your first visit to a new drop zone, comment on this article. I want to know your experience! Blue skies and safe jumping.
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Hey, Cora! I have been skydiving for quite some time now but only got to experience two dropzones repeatedly. Even though I had my DZ briefing on my second drop zone, I was still anxious since It was a new place. It really helped when local skydivers gave me tips on landing areas and patterns. It also helps when you do your own research prior to going to a new place. Thanks for this!