What You Don’t Know About Your Skydiving Instructor

What You Don’t Know About Your Skydiving Instructor

Published: April 10, 2017

When you meet your tandem skydiving instructor for the first time, they'll be a mystery to you. First off, the chances are good that you've never met a professional skydiver before. (Who does that with their lives, anyway?!) You probably have no idea what kind of education and professional training stands in the background of such an unusual career. (A Bachelor's degree in Very Quickly Downwards Physics?)

Since you're going to be spending the next half hour under the close, direct oversight of this new best friend, you'd probably like to have some idea of the person you're shaking the hand of.

They're really, really experienced.

A tandem instructor must have at least five hundred jumps and at least three solid years in the sport before he/she can even consider becoming an instructor. From there, the instructor hopefully has a grueling schedule of training jumps and classroom examinations before they can finally earn a tandem instructor rating from the United States Parachute Association. Instructors must then remain very current as skydiving athletes, as well as up-to-speed with both technological developments and training techniques.

They're kinda-sorta psychologists, in a really interesting way.

While most skydiving tandem instructors don't have any clinical training (but some do!), an excellent tandem instructor is much more than just a chauffeur of the sky. A great instructor guides the student with thoroughness and sensitivity while the student is experiencing what are, more often than not, very intense feelings. A great instructor expertly balances lightheartedness with detail orientation and seriousness of purpose. You can rest assured that a great tandem instructor has worked with students much more terrified than you are--and will do a bang-up job of getting you prepared to jump out of a plane.

Your instructor may be afraid of heights!

This one's kinda crazy, right? It might send your head spinning, but lots and lots of professional skydivers at least started out with a crippling fear of heights. Once you start talking to people on the dropzone, you soon discover that there are career acrophobics all over our sport. Honestly, the big difference between a non-skydiving acrophobic and an acrophobic skydiver is that the skydiver knuckled down to the challenge--and took a chance on the fact that their acrophobia wasn't going to get between them and freefall. For an acrophobic (or ex-acrophobic) skydiving instructor, the gamble paid off in spades. (Go 'head--ask!)

Your instructor works really hard.

At Skydive Long Island, we don't treat our tandem skydiving instructors like rideshare drivers. We don't focus on volume, we focus on quality. That said--even if a tandem instructor isn't saddling up with a new student every twenty minutes, a well-done job requires a lot of effort on the part of the instructor--from the physically demands of freefall (and carting around the heavy equipment) to the oh-so-essential intellectual and emotional demands of guiding each unique student through the challenges of the process. It ain't easy!

Sure, it's a challenging job--but at Skydive Long Island, we're really only interested in working with the best. We take our sweet time in choosing the instructors we hire to introduce you to the joys of the sky, and we're proud that our staff are the very, very best in the business. So: When you meet your instructor for the first time, your smile can be extra-wide--'cause you know the secrets of their awesomeness!

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Thank you, Skydive Long Island and your amazing staff for going over and beyond to help me accomplish this!

» Ji-Eun Kim

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