In this video, Operations Manager, Tyson Harvey covers the simple steps of what to expect when you make a Tandem Skydive at Skydive Snohomish.
Hi, welcome to Skydive Snohomish. My name is Tyson Harvey. I’m the Operations Manager and certified instructor here at Skydive Snohomish. I’ll be going over the simple steps involved in making a tandem skydive and showing you why Skydive Snohomish is one of the best places to skydive in the world!
History of Skydiving at Skydive Snohomish
Skydiving has been going on here at Harvey Field since the early 1950s when skydiving first evolved into an organized sport. Snohomish played host to many skydiving meets and competitions in those early days and it was a place that many of the pioneers in the sport called home. Today we’re still a full-service skydiving operation that is excited you are here to experience this amazing sport! We hold safety as our number one priority from the equipment we use to the staff we employ. It’s our goal for our clients to have a high level of confidence in us so they can relax and have an exciting adventure that will always be remembered. As we begin our training remember these 3 rules:
- Rule Number 1 – Smile and have fun.
- Rule Number 2 – Arch.
- Rule Number 3 – Feet up for landing.
Tandem skydiving really is that easy!
Tandem Instructor Qualifications
In tandem skydiving you’ll be accompanied by a certified
tandem instructor. Your instructor will help coach and guide you throughout the entire experience and you can have confidence your instructor is an experienced and highly skilled skydiver. To qualify for a tandem instructor rating a skydiver must have a minimum of 500 freefall skydives, 3 years in the sport, and passed the same medical examination as the captain of a commercial airliner.
All clothing and equipment provided today is well-maintained, state-of-the-art, and specifically manufactured for skydiving.
The helmet is a layer of protection for you and your instructor when you exit the airplane and when your parachute is opening. The jumpsuit provides another layer in cooler temperatures, protects your clothing when you slide in for
landing, and is the uniform that makes you look like a professional skydiver!
The harness you’ll be wearing is exactly the same as your instructors except there are four points of connection that lock directly into the parachute system.
Skydive Snohomish uses parachute systems designed specifically for tandem skydiving. These parachute systems have been chosen based on their track record of reliability and safety. The system includes two modern, highly maneuverable parachutes that are packed and maintained under the direct supervision of FAA licensed parachute riggers. The system also includes an automatic activation device or AAD. The automatic activation device is a computer that measures speed and altitude. It automatically opens the parachute in the
event your instructor is unable to do so.
All parachute systems at Skydive Snohomish are equipped with top-of-the-line Cypres AADs. Though we have never had a situation requiring the use of an AAD, these computers are an additional safety device we want you to be aware of. Once you leave the airplane you will need to establish a body position that promotes stability.
We call this position the arch. You will physically practice this with an instructor prior to your skydive. Notice the hips are the lowest point, head is up, knees and shoulders are higher than the hips, below the knee legs are slightly extended. Your elbows are at 90-degree angles. At first it requires some effort to establish the arch but after about 10 seconds in freefall you can relax a bit because the resistance of the wind will actually help you in maintaining it.
You will be skydiving out of aircraft that have been modified specifically for use in skydiving operations. Our aircraft hold between 4 and 18 passengers and climb to a skydiving altitude in 10 to 20 minutes. All aircraft are maintained by FAA licensed airframe and powerplant technicians. Once you are geared up your instructor will walk with you to the aircraft.
Approach from the side and behind the wing, and do not enter the aircraft until your instructor gives you permission. When you enter the aircraft you will climb 5 steps. Be careful not to bump your head and follow your instructor. Once you are seated your instructor will secure your seatbelt. Also take note that the quarters in the aircraft can be tight.
For the ride up, you will be sitting in between your instructors legs and someone will likely be sitting between yours.
This arrangement allows for orderly loading and efficient seating in the aircraft. In these seats you will get the best view. Also when you sit down in the aircraft your harness will appear to be loose. This is normal. Your instructor will further tighten the harness shortly before exit.
Taxi Out and Flight to Altitude
At a thousand feet, you will see skydivers taking their seatbelts off. It means you have reached an altitude that is high enough for skydivers to jump out if necessary. Three to five minutes before exiting the airplane your instructor will go through the whole routine with you one more time.
After reviewing the routine they will have you put on your helmet and goggles. The helmet strap should fit securely beneath your chin. The goggles should be as tight as possible without being uncomfortable.
Next your instructor will lock and confirm all four connection points into the parachute system, then perform a final gear check. Once you’ve reached the correct altitude over Harvey Field the pilot will give a signal and you may hear skydivers yelling out “DOOR”. This means the door is about to open and it’s time to skydive!
Once the door is open, you and your instructor will orderly scoot toward the door. Once you’ve reached the door you will need to put your feet outside and touch your heels under the aircraft. Next place your arms in the safety position by crossing them and holding on to the jumpsuit grips. Lastly, tilt your head back so you are looking up the sky.
You will need to establish the arch immediately upon exiting the aircraft. Remember to hold the safety position until your instructor signals you to release. If necessary your instructor will help you into the proper body position. Stay loose and work together with them.
The normal freefall rate for a single skydiver is a 120 miles per hour. Two jumpers attached in tandem fall at roughly 180 miles per hour. Shortly after exiting your instructor will release a small parachute called a drogue. The drogue decreases your fall rate to 120 miles per hour just like a solo skydiver. We recommend that you keep your eyes out on the horizon. You will see so much more than just staring at the ground, and your head needs to be up to properly be in the arch position. This is especially important if you are being video recorded. It will ensure we see your face rather than the top of your head during your skydive.
Sometimes people experience difficulty breathing. Often it’s because they have taken a full breath and are holding it. Try exhaling. Think Rule Number 1 – Smile and breathe in through your teeth. When your instructor opens the parachute it can take five full seconds to inflate.
The feeling that comes with the parachute opening is indescribable!
“I feel amazing! I feel so free!”
“That was INSANE!”
“Welcome to my office!”
You will likely need to equalize the pressure in your ears. This can be accomplished by swallowing or by pinching your nose, closing your mouth, and gently attempting to exhale through your nose.
Once your instructor has checked the parachute, he or she will adjust your harness, helmet, and goggles for comfort. Just as the equipment can be adjusted, so can the parachute ride. We can make it fast and exciting… or slow and calming. It’s up to you. This is your experience! It is not common but if people get sick while skydiving it’s because of turns under parachute, so be sure to let us know right away. If you start to feel nauseous we can often times help.
Landing and Post Jump
We plan for the safest landings possible which is to slide in on our backsides. To perform this landing properly it is very important that your instructor touches down first. About five to ten seconds before landing your instructor will have you lift your legs up and in front of you. This improves the probability of a safe landing for you and your instructor, so lift and hold those legs way up until touching down.
“Show me how good you feel!”
“Awesome! This is awesome!”
“You’re the newest skydiver on the planet!”
“Definitely want to do that again!”
Wait! The skydive is not over yet. Stay by your instructor side and wait for their direction. When you are walking back to the tandem staging area, remember to look both ways when crossing the taxiway and yield to any moving aircraft.
Once you have returned to the tandem staging area, your instructor will need a moment to take off the parachute. During this time, remove your harness and jumpsuit and replace them on the equipment racks. After you have geared down, your instructor will return to congratulate you and present you with a personalized skydiving certificate.
You are currently in the Main Building in the Classroom. Also in the main building is the Inside Manifest at the counter where you checked in. In the back of the room is the Lounge Area. Just to the right of the Lounge Area there is a sliding glass door that leads you outside. The Tandem Staging Area is located under the hangar in front of you. This is where you will meet your instructor for gear up. To your right you can find the restrooms and the Outside Manifest window. Just beyond the tandem staging area is the Observation Area.
Here you can wait for your turn to gear up and where spectators will get the best view of your entire experience. If you had your skydive video recorded, it will be delivered via email within 24 hours where you can relive the experience and enjoy the excitement with your friends and family. If you have any questions the Inside or Outside Manifest staff can either answer your questions or direct you to the person that can. The load order is posted near the tandem staging area. You can refer to the load order for your load number. Flights leave every 15 to 20 minutes and you will begin your gear up as soon as the flight before yours takes off. When it’s time to gear up, you will need to empty your pockets. A location will be provided for your belongings in the tandem staging area. You will also want to use the restroom so when your instructor arrives there are no delays in the gear-up process. If you are not on the first load we want you to relax and make yourself at home.
While waiting for your gear up time, feel free to play any of the games and activities available at the drop zone. Be careful though, some of these activities can be more dangerous than your skydive! Remember the three rules –
Rule Number 1: Smile and Have Fun!
Rule Number 2: Arch!
Rule Number 3: Feet Up for Landing!
Thanks for coming out to Skydive Snohomish! We’ll see you in the air!