WHY IS THERE A SKYDIVING WEIGHT LIMIT?

Friday, September 30, 2016

 

Why Is There a Skydiving Weight Limit?

Hi there. I’m Bo, and I’m the owner of Wisconsin Skydiving Center. We answer this question a lot, and I want to make sure you get my honest, personal perspective, to help you understand why we have skydiving weight limits and how weight actually affects a skydive.

The biggest person that I have ever taken on a tandem skydive was in Europe, back in the day, he was 6’7″ and 310 pounds. On that skydive, I learned a lot, and definitely pushed my personal and equipment limits. First of all, it was a bear to get out of the airplane. After that, freefall was, well, fast. The parachute opening was rough, the landing was really not great. We were both okay, but when the dust settled (literally), I understood that I had been in uncharted territory and I needed to back off a little.

We, at WSC have been taking new jumpers up for tandem skydives for 21 years. Over the course of those years, we have experimented, safely, with caution, and determined that we are able to skydive with a safety margin with people weighing up to 260 pounds.

That being said, students that weigh 200 pounds and over, need to be aware of two things: altitude restrictions and a moderate surcharge (for tandem students from 200 to 230 pounds, we assess a $50 surcharge; for students over 230, that charge is $100).

Why Is There a Surcharge?

As consumers ourselves, we’re not fans of having to pay more for a service, so we think it’s important to address the reasons for the surcharge. First of all, heavier students put more strain on our airplanes and parachute equipment. Secondly, jumping with a larger student is much more demanding on our instructors during exit and opening, and especially for landing. Our instructors are experienced enough to safely skydive with heavier students, however, we are sure that you will agree that it is fair to pay them more for a higher workload.

The reasoning behind the altitude limitation is just scientific. Students over 200 pounds will exit the airplane at 8,000′, because with increased weight comes faster terminal velocity. Therefore, the parachute deployment is harder, which in turn increases the possibility of parachute damage. By limiting altitude, we are minimizing this risk: The lower the altitude, the slower the speed, the slower the opening. (Your tandem instructor has discretion to waive altitude restriction based on weight/height ratio and the density altitude on the day of your skydive.)

It’s Physics

Skydiving has been my lifelong passion and I am committed to do everything in my power to support everybody who dares to dream of flight. However, all the passion and desire in the world does not change physics.

That said, we are proud to have the experience, expertise, and top-notch equipment, to support the skydiving dreams of heavier people than other skydiving centers in the area and hope this gives you a better understanding of our skydiving weight limit and applicable surcharges.

As we celebrate our 21st year of operation, we are grateful to the community for embracing our business and in turn want to be transparent about our procedures and pricing. Thank you for trusting us to be your skydiving center of choice… we look forward to introducing you to the sport!

A lady smiles while in free fall during a tandem skydive.

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