Published: May 27, 2016
Across America, there are hundreds of skydiving centers that all offer skydiving, but unless you're paying attention, you'll find that each offers a different experience.
The key to selecting the right dropzone is understanding what elements make for the best experience and also knowing some insights to ensure you don't choose a lemon. Here's what you need to know:
Don't Select a DropZone Based on Price
Many dropzones cut corners to save on expenses. Typically, skydiving centers offering very low pricing (much less than their competitors) are the ones that do it the most. Think about this: skydiving is an aviation based activity. Everything in aviation is expensive. Maintaining aircraft, skydiving equipment and facilities all come at a cost. A skydiving center that offers very low pricing is worth scrutinizing. Often you may find that you pay just as much once after they upsell for every other thing from booking fees, packing charges, Homeland security fees, and who knows what. If shopping on price, do your homework. It's an expensive industry that mandates excellent maintenance.
Select a DropZone That's a Member of the USPA
It is not mandatory for any skydiving operation to be a member of the United States Parachute Association (USPA). The USPA is the recognized governing body of skydiving in the US as it's a member-run organization that sets safety standards for its members. Those that operate without being members of the USPA means that they can set their own safety standards. Some non-member dropzones, self-regulate just fine, while others are a disaster waiting to happen. Ensuring the skydiving center, you're visiting is a USPA member should be the absolute minimum you look for when selecting a skydiving center. To see a complete list of USPA member dropzones, click here.
If making a first-time skydive, any licensed skydiver will advise you to go with a 13,000-foot option. More time in free fall is the absolute way to go with skydiving. At 13,000 feet, the experience is already so quick (one minute of free fall). Anything less isn't quite as good. We do offer multiple altitude options (8000, 10000 and 13000-foot options) to cater to different budgets, but 13,000 feet should be your first choice.
Throughout America, there are skydiving centers located in the middle of the countryside, desert or coast. If you can jump from a coastal dropzone, this is a major plus. Having beautiful ocean views as opposed to urban sprawl or vast desert makes the experience so much better. We think this is our biggest point of difference over all others as the view of the Pacific Ocean really can't be beaten.
There isn't an official place to view a skydiving centers safety record, but the best way to do this is to Google the skydiving center you're thinking of visiting. Select the 'News' section of Google to see if the dropzone you're thinking of visiting is listed there.
The things that were most important to me were excellent, which is why my review is 5 stars. My criteria were safety, concern for my experience, a positive compassionate vibe from my instructor and a very supportive crew.