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Published: January 27, 2023
You just booked your tandem skydive and now you're wondering what in the world you got yourself into!! Do you really want to strap yourself to a random person who probably has a goatee and lives in tie-dyed shirts, and jump from an AIRPLANE?! Heck yeah, you do!! We're here to give you the lowdown on skydive instructors, what their purpose is, how they reached supreme tandem instructor status, and how they'll ensure you have the best experience of your life when you choose to skydive with us. Let's get into it!
What is tandem skydiving?
The word tandem means to have things (usually a pair) that are placed one in front of the other, so let's apply that to skydiving. During a tandem skydive, the back of the student (you) is attached to the front of the instructor for the entirety of the parachute descent. Tandem parachuting allows the general public to do a full-send from a perfectly good airplane with minimal training and instruction. The invention of the tandem jump in the 80s has totally transformed the skydiving world by making it much more accessible for the average Joe. It's a plain-sailing way to introduce people to the sport.
What is a tandem instructor?
Tandem skydiving instructors are super-cool humans with an unquenchable passion for skydiving. They prioritize the safety of others and themselves above all else - although they're almost guaranteed to tell you that "safety comes second to having fun!" Not only does your tandem instructor enjoy jumping for themselves, but they're zealous about introducing others to the true freedom that comes with making a skydive. A first skydive (and your 2nd, 3rd, and even 300th) is an incredibly special experience that your instructor cares about sharing with you.
How do you become a tandem instructor?
Tandem instructor requirements are nothing short of demanding, and for good reason! Their primary role is to get the pair of you safely back to Earth. Think of it this way: your instructor wants to be in tip-top physical and mental health because not only are they saving your life, but theirs, too! The United States Parachute Association (USPA) is one of the governing bodies for skydivers, and as a proud member, all of our instructors act in accordance with the USPA requirements for tandem instructors. Your skydive instructor will have done the following:
- Celebrated their 18th birthday
- Performed at least 500 skydives
- Achieved a USPA D-license
- Accrued a minimum of 3 HOURS of intentional freefall
- Actively skydived for 3 years (this ensures currency in the sport)
- Obtained a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) class-3 medical certification (or military or foreign equivalent)
- Received their Skydiving Instructor Rating through an accredited instructional rating school
What are candidates taught at this specialized school? A skydiving rating school for tandem instructors serves the purpose of demonstrating that your tandem instructor can efficiently avoid and safely get out of unwanted situations that may occur. To even apply to get a tandem rating, the jumper must have verifiably done at least 100 skydives in the last 12 months and have the aforementioned credentials. During training, tandem instructor candidates take experienced tandem instructors (their "students") on multiple skydivers, putting the candidate through various scenarios. It's pretty intense!
Why do you have to jump with an instructor?
Skydiving is an incredible and awe-inspiring experience that presents a million points of stimulation to your brain all at once. The first time you skydive, you're immersed in a lot of unknowns, and we don't want you to feel like you're drowning. Jumping with an instructor allows you to experience soaring through the sky without any worries, just the wind in your hair, sick views below, and your cheesy grin smiling for the camera! While your instructor will agree that the jump is super sublime, they won't be battling those first-jump-jitters like you are. It is generally recommended to do at least one tandem skydive before pursuing a solo skydiving course to make sure that you can handle the rush!
Do you tip skydiving instructors?
We know that fiscally committing to a tandem jump can be a lot, so if tipping isn't in the budget, leaving your instructor a raving review will surely make them smile! But if you're truly wondering, "Do you tip your skydiving instructor?" It's not expected, but is always greatly appreciated - and don't forget about your videographer!
Still have a question about our instructors? Give us a shout, we're happy to answer anything and everything! Ready to commit and take the leap of your life? Reserve your spot today!
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