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We know this about you: You’re a smart cookie! You do your homework. You never enter into anything without giving it a good Googling, and you already know that no two skydiving centers are the same. We heartily respect your approach, dear reader! We’d love to help you in your quest because it’s a little trickier than it might seem.
So this is a very strange phenomenon, so bear with us: but the top problem you’ll run across when you’re looking online for a place to skydive is that a lot of the advertised dropzones aren’t, actually, um, real.
Let’s say you’re on Google and search for, say, “places to skydive near me.” Those top search results aren’t necessary dropzones at all–just third-party resellers, hiding behind websites and keywords and a national call center. Those resellers charge a huge markup, charge you ahead-of-time and sometimes send you to an airport that doesn’t even accept the voucher they charge you so much for. It’s a bad scene.
As you can see, these guys are sneaky. You’re gonna need a little help identifying a real DZ from a third party site. To separate the wheat from the (expensive, frustrating) chaff, check the website for the following:
Not into the idea of sleuthing around? Want to make it easier? We have a shortcut for you.
The USPA (United States Parachute Association) is the regulatory body for our sport. The USPA sets stringent safety requirements for all of its member dropzones, but it isn’t mandatory for skydiving centers to be part of the USPA. This is important, because non-USPA group member DZ’s can set their own rules (or have no rules at all), which isn’t a great idea.
You can quickly check whether a skydiving center is a USPA member by utilizing the DZ locator on the USPA’s website. You will definitely see us there.
Advertising is all well and good, but you don’t have to swallow the DZ’s marketing hook, line, and sinker. You can suss out a lot about a dropzone’s culture from the reviews left by previous jumpers. Poke around on Facebook, TripAdvisor, Yelp, Reddit and the Googlesphere to hear about personal experiences from actual humans.
Each dropzone has its own unique style–a culture that goes beyond cookie-cutter “customer service” and extends into a sense of general personality. Some dropzones are big and corporate; others have a machismo, ‘cowboy’ sensibility; others are frantic and understaffed; still more are sleepy and laissez-faire about the business. It is pretty easy to tell what kind of dropzone you’re looking at by making a quick phone call–and, since you’re probably going to be spending 3-4 hours there, you’ll want to know if their style suits you.
A good way to get a feel for a dropzone’s unique personality is to give them a call–or, if you’re phone-averse, to reach out on social media. Note how they respond to your questions–to the tone of their communication–and decide whether or not you feel like a good fit for them. Are they stoked to have you as a potential customer? If not, you can be pretty sure that the customer service won’t be any better when you show up for a jump.
As for us: we’d love for you to ring us up and say hi. We love to answer questions, and we love to meet new people. Even if you don’t have a reservation to jump, we’d love for you to c’mon over to Wisconsin Skydiving Center, watch some of the goings-on and introduce yourself. Don’t be shy!