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Published: September 24, 2020
Tandem skydiving has now been a thing for a long time. Many decades of practice and technological advancement has refined and streamlined the process of jumping out of an aeroplane for the first time into a fine art. With just a small amount of information and practice on the ground, practically anyone can do it.
It is correct to be nervous about your first time, but you should find that as you head to the dropzone to meet the people there and prepare for your jump, any nerves you have will dissipate to be replaced by excitement as you prepare. It is hard to be really scared about something when the people landing before you are the most thrilled they have ever been about anything.
The briefing you will receive is concise, containing only the most direct information you need about how to successfully skydive - before it is off you go! This is entirely normal, as over the years we have gotten very good at doing this. However, there are a few things to remember - and landing all cool and smooth in front of your friends and family is very important. Let's have a quick look at how to nail it...
A tandem pair consists of an instructor and a student, joined by harness from the front of the instructor onto the back of the student. This allows them to freefall together in a traditional belly-to-earth skydiving position - with the student as the bottom part experiencing freefall in the most unimpeded way possible. After deployment, both instructor and student are now hanging upright by the shoulders from the same parachute - student in front, instructor behind. For landing, the goal is to slide in and land on your bums both together. Other ways are possible, but more likely to involve landing in an ungraceful pile - so you will always be briefed for the slide which involves picking your legs up on final approach and holding them there. This is important enough that you might be tasked with practicing it in a harness on the ground first. The idea is to lift them from the hips, keeping your knees straight - to present a large comfy surface on which to connect with the ground.
Listen To Your Instructor
Your instructor will probably have been super cool throughout the whole process. The reason they can act all casual is that they are highly experienced and will likely have done a lot of tandem skydives - quite possibly many thousands of them. If you watch and listen carefully, you will notice the difference between the bad jokes and the professionalism. Tandem instructors want you to have the best experience of your life. Part of this is being entertainingly casual, but also that you recognize that they know exactly what they are doing.
If your instructor has to use their business voice on you, it will most likely be during landing when you need to pick up your legs. It is easy to get distracted on final approach by what is happening around you and on the ground, and if you miss their initial request to lift up your legs - you will very quickly get another, much more teacherly command. You may notice this business-like attitude also while flying about once your parachute is deployed. As long as you are flying in the right direction your instructor may let you steer for a bit - but as soon as it is time to land they will once more be focused and professional.
Tandem instructors are often at the very top of the experience pile - doing many other things in the sport of skydiving as well as tandems. If you listen to your instructor you can learn many things, even during the seemingly packaged process of your first jump. All skydivers want other people to experience skydiving and become skydivers themselves. Tandem instructors are no exception to this, and often are the most passionate about getting others to join this amazing and life changing sport.
On the day of your tandem skydive, it pays to arrive early. Not only will you relax more once you are in the environment of the dropzone - you will also witness other people landing before you and can learn from this. A great deal of progress in skydiving is about spending time in and around the sport. We are a talkative bunch, so don't be shy about asking questions.
Getting your landing right is easy, just stick on some sensible shoes that lace up nice and tight (boots and other ankle support is fine if you want it) and head on over.
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