This is the main FAQ with questions relating to skydiving in general. You can also read the IAD/PFF or Tandem FAQs for questions specific to those types of jumps. Please also check out our Cancellation, No-Show and Refunds policy.
The answer to this question is not easy, but the short answer is yes. There are statistics that show that skydiving is actually much safer than many other more common sports and other normal activities that we do every day but never question. For example you are more likely to get into an accident while driving than during a skydive itself!
In 2006 there were more than 148,000 skydives made in Canada and around 6.1 million skydives made around the world. There are more than 3,000 members of the Canadian Sport Parachuting Association (CSPA) and 30,000 members of the USPA. Not to use a cliché, but if skydiving wasn’t safe then there wouldn’t be that many people doing it.
However skydiving is not without it’s risks. At SWOOP we operate with the safest methods possible, and most of the risk has been eliminated. There are backups to every system and highly trained and qualified instructors to ensure that everything runs smoothly.
There are no guarantees in skydiving. Even though we have been operation since 1979 accidents can happen.
You must be aware that skydiving is a sport in which you could be seriously or fatally injured. The risk is extremely low, but it is present.
Is SWOOP a safe Dropzone?
Skydive SWOOP is a member of and adheres to the strict regulations of both the Canadian Sport Parachuting Association (CSPA) and the United States Parachuting Association (USPA).
In Canada skydiving is a self-regulated sport, and the CSPA has been our main governing body since 1956. SWOOPers are proud to maintain our association with the CSPA since 1979 and all of our Instructors and Coaches are CSPA rated.
Skydive SWOOP operates with an emphasis on “Safety First.” We train hundreds of first time skydivers every year, and since 1979 we have been teaching we have had very few accidents. In fact most of the accidents happen to experienced jumpers who are trying new things.
Will I be scared?
This varies from person to person, but it is common (and perfectly natural) to feel uneasy about jumping out of a plane! In fact many experienced jumpers still get a lump in their throat on each and every jump, but that’s part of the exhilaration, and you can take pride in conquering that fear!
In reality there is very little to be afraid of. Also keep in mind that we have all been there, so we know how you feel. We remember our first jump, what we felt, and because of that we know how to teach you and what methods to use to minimize the fear. So when the airplane door opens up, and you feel your heart in your throat, just breathe deeply and proudly tell yourself, “This is why I came here, to get the thrill of a lifetime, and I am meeting my challenge!” You will definitely feel a surge of adrenaline and nervous anticipation like nothing you have ever felt before. This is a normal part of the experience. Most first time jumpers say, without any question, “Skydiving is the most exciting thing I have ever done!”
But I’m afraid of heights!
Oddly enough it’s surprising how many experienced skydivers started out afraid of heights. The truth is that very few people who are afraid of heights have any problems with skydiving. One of first jump students said it best: “it’s like jumping out onto a map”. You’re so high up that everything just looks flat and the phobia doesn’t kick in. By the time you’re under canopy you’re so pumped full of adrenaline that nothing can scare you! Not surprisingly many students tell us that they are less afraid of heights after doing a jump than before.
But I hate that falling feeling!
Oddly enough you don’t get that feeling at all. It’s not like the “dropzone” ride at Canada’s Wonderland or stepping off of the high board into a swimming pool. The reason being that when you jump out of an airplane you’re moving at 90mph forward, terminal velocity is 120mph downward about 12 seconds later. You don’t get that “pit of your stomach” feeling any more than you do in an elevator. Really it just feels like you’re floating from the second you leave the airplane.
What happens if the parachute does not open?
This is a common concern, but it is extremely rare to have happen. Even if it does happen every skydiving rig contains two parachutes: a main and a reserve. A malfunction of the main canopy is extremely rare, and even if it happens it is not a big deal. We have never had an incident at our dropzone where there has been a failure on both canopies. All reserve parachutes must be inspected and packed by specially trained riggers after every use, and also every 6 months even if they haven’t been used, so you know that they’re extremely safe and reliable.
What is the safest way to do my first jump?
There is no “safest” way to do a First Jump. All of the methods that we teach have inherent risks, but are all equally safe. Each method has been thoroughly researched, and has proven over time to be a reliable and safe method for training first-time jumpers.
Will I have a good time?
We know that you will have the time of your life! There is nothing like it! It is completely indescribable in words. Odds are you will want to go right back up for a second skydive!
What kind of parachute will we use?
The parachutes used today bear little resemblance to the classic round parachutes of years past. Today, all jumpers use “ram-air” parachutes. These are rectangular in shape and, when open, act similar to an airplane’s wing. They are more like gliders in flight. The aerodynamics of the parachute provides it with exceptional maneuverability, allowing the jumper to land almost anywhere they wish. This wing shape is also what makes the tiptoe soft landings possible.
What should I wear?
Wear comfortable clothing appropriate for the weather, casual fit, roomy, and athletic shoes (no boots, sandals, or speed-lace hooks permitted). On warm sunny days, you may choose to jump in shorts and a T-shirt. On colder days, long pants and a sweatshirt may be more appropriate. Skydive SWOOP will provide everything else you need to enjoy your skydive.
What happens with bad weather?
If you are scheduled for a Tandem and there is inclimate weather then you can call ahead and reschedule. IAD and PFF ground school classes are held rain or shine, but you may need to reschedule the jump. Rescheduling in this manner must be done prior to the scheduled jump time, is done free of charge, and must be set for within 60 days. Unfortunately Skydiving is a very weather-dependent sport and we are occasionally grounded due to winds, clouds and rain. It is not unusual for it to be raining in the morning when we conduct the training, and then a few hours later it is a bright sunny day. If after your training your jump does get cancelled, you would already have completed all of your ground training, and when you return, you will be able to get in the air without delay. It is impossible for us to jump in rain, high winds, or through solid clouds.
Can I bring my own camera with me on the jump?
Unfortunately no, you are much too busy with your skydive to look after your camera. It is very easy for it to get lost or broken and we cannot risk dropping it in freefall or under parachute. We do however offer a service where another jumper with professional cameras will take pictures and/or video of you during your freefall.
Can I get video and pictures of my jump?
Yes. The video will be about 9 minutes long and includes music, a pre-jump interview and walk-around of the DZ, some footage from the climb to altitude and you in the plane, the exit, freefall, some footage from the canopy ride and your landing and any last words you have for the camera. This is professionally edited and packaged together and placed on a USB flash drive or by special request on a DVD. Additional copies of your video and stills can be made for a small additional fee. There will be many pictures taken, a few on the ground with you gearing up, the majority during freefall, a few with landing and a few after the jump. All pictures are digital with high resolution for a crystal clear image suitable for printing large sizes. They will be provided to you on the same USB flash drive as your video and provided after your jump.
What type of payment do you accept?
Visa, MasterCard or Cash. Cheques permitted but require a credit card backup.
Why is there a $100 non-refundable no-show fee charged?
When you commit to come and jump with us we reserve a spot in the class and ensure that all the required instructors are there and available for you to do your jump. It’s not fair to the club, instructors, or potential students that we have to turn away once the class is full, so if you don’t show up or cancel at the last minute then we will charge the no-show fee in order to keep the costs down and prices for everyone reasonable.
What is the credit card number for when I book?
The credit card is used to reserve your place in the class. No charges are made until you either come in and take the class, or don’t show up/cancel in which case the $100 no-show fee will be charged.
Is my booking an appointment?
The booking is not an appointment. Unfortunately we cannot control the weather and if there are too many clouds, too high winds, or rain then students cannot jump. We will do our best to accommodate you and ensure that you are not waiting too long and get to jump as soon as possible.
How long do I have to book in advance?
Usually at least 2 weeks, but some dates fill up quicker than others. Check the secure online booking form for currently available dates.
Is the skydiving centre open every day?
SWOOP operates, from late April to late October. Our office opens at 8:00 AM and we jump right until sunset during weekends and holidays and by special appointment during week days. We accept bookings everyday by phone , email, or webpage.
What altitude do I jump from and how long is the freefall?
Your jump altitude will be between 10,500 and 11,000 feet (roughly 2 miles up) and your freefall will last approximately 35-45 seconds. After your parachute is opened your ride under canopy will last approximately 5-6 minutes during which you will enjoy a breathtaking view of South Western Ontario.
Why don’t you jump out any higher than that?
We have found, by both experience and from feedback, that the first jump experience is almost identical regardless of jumping from 10500ft, 12000ft, or even 13500ft. Since the plane climbs slower the higher it gets it requires disproportionally more time and fuel to reach the higher altitudes. Based on feedback from other first jump students and in order keep the price down we feel that 10,500ft offers the optimal jump experience in the least amount of time.
Are there any age or weight restrictions?
Yes. All jumpers for PFF jumps must be between 18 and 50 years of age and weight at most 225 lbs. Anyone over 50 years of age may do a TANDEM jump. Any one over 225 lbs and interested in doing a tandem should call first, as the decision is considered on a one to one basis. This is for both for liability and practical reasons. Our parachutes and harnesses are designed to support a certain body size and weight and unfortunately we cannot accommodate anyone over 225 lbs. **Please note that being younger than 18 with parental consent is not valid.**
Got any other questions? Please contact us and we will be happy to answer any and all questions.