Skydiving FAQs

If you're getting ready to make your first skydive, you probably have a lot of questions about what to expect!

No problem. We've been skydiving Syracuse, Rochester and all of Central New York for almost 40 years and we've answered quite a few questions during that time.

Below you'll find answers to some of our guests' most frequently asked questions, and to make your skydive run more smoothly, we require you to read through this section prior to your skydive. If you can't find the information you're looking for below, please feel free to contact us and we'll do our best to answer any questions you have.

While some of our adaptations to the current pandemic can be found in the answers below, please read our Covid-19 update before booking your jump!

First Time Skydiver Questions

I've never jumped before; how does the whole process work?

In a nutshell, like this:

  • You book your reservation online or over the phone, and put down a $39 per person deposit. If you have a gift certificate, call us and we'll book you that way.
  • You'll get an email immediately with a link to your skydiving waiver, which you can complete at any point before you arrive for your jump.
  • The day before your jump, you'll get a pre-jump email with reminders of what you need to bring with you. We may also text/call you that evening if we have concerns about the weather or other pertinent information.
  • On the day of your appointment right before you plan to leave, you'll call or text us to confirm that conditions are good and that we don't need to delay your start for any reason.
  • When you get here, you'll fill out a couple pieces of paperwork, watch a short video (if you haven't watched it online) and pay the balance due after your deposit.
  • At some point while you're waiting for your jump, you will meet with the instructor who will be attached to you. They will do a one-on-one training that takes about 10 minutes.
  • After that your instructor takes over, because it's jump time!


Have you made any changes due to the Covid-19 pandemic?

Yes, we have. Skydiving is an amazing experience, but the health and safety of our staff, our customers, and our community is our first priority.

While there is no way to 100% prevent transmission, we are doing all that we can reduce the risk for everyone. We have restructured our process to keep customer groups separate, and will be sanitizing between groups. We are also reducing group size by allowing no more than two spectators per jumper. Masks are required for everyone while indoors, while within 6 feet of other people on the ground, on the plane and whenever requested by a member of staff. We sell disposable masks for $2 for those who forget their own. All jumpers will have their temperature taken by ear upon arrival.

Those who refuse to participate in our safety measures will be required to leave immediately. Please don't be that guy/gal/nonbinary pal! We're just trying to keep you safe.

Please read our entire Covid-19 update here before booking your skydive.


Do I have to wear a face mask during my skydive?

Yes, during parts of it! Here's how it works:

The face covering you bring with you is the one you're going to wear for most of your time with us. You wear it while talking to staff, while inside the building, and while you're hanging out waiting for your turn. However, that face mask probably won't survive the 120+ mph winds!

When your turn to jump is approaching, you'll meet with your instructor to get harnessed up and get briefed for your skydive. At this point, you're going to switch out your mask for a yellow buff/gaiter that we provide. You'll wear this new covering over your mouth and nose for the entire plane ride up. Just before you exit the aircraft, you'll pull the buff down around your neck so that it doesn't interfere with your breathing during free fall. After the parachute opens, pull it back up over your nose and wear it there until after you land; then you'll give it back to us along with your harness and goggles. Easy stuff!

If you'd prefer to bring and wear your own buff or neck gaiter, that's totally fine.


Do I still have to wear a mask at your facility if I'm vaccinated against Covid?

Thanks for doing your part to stop the spread! Yes, we will still need you to cover your mouth and nose properly during most of your time with us. You can never be too careful when it comes to deadly diseases, especially with new variants emerging.


How safe is tandem skydiving?

Compared to almost everything else that can give you a thrill, tandem skydiving is very safe indeed! In fact, it's safer than driving to our facility. On average during the last decade, there has been one student fatality per 500,000 jumps (none of which occurred at Skydive Finger Lakes, just in case you were wondering!)

We do everything in our power to keep skydiving a safe sport, including hiring skilled instructors that share our commitment to safety. We're a United States Parachute Association drop zone, which means we follow their strict safety regulations, and of course our aircraft are serviced to FAA standards.

For more information on safety in skydiving, we encourage you to check out the USPA's website here.


How old do I have to be to make a tandem skydive?

We will not take anyone under the age of consent in the State of New York (currently 18 years of age). In order to make a skydive with us you will be asked to sign a waiver and give up certain legal rights (an acceptance of risk agreement and a covenant not to sue), and a minor cannot waive those rights.


Can I skydive if I am under 18 and a parent or legal guardian signs on my behalf?

No, sorry. There are no exceptions: you must be 18 with valid ID to skydive.


Is there an upper age limit to skydive?

Absolutely not! We have taken people in their 80's on tandem skydives. However, fitness IS important. You must:

  • be flexible enough to maneuver in the plane
  • be able to support yourself on your knees and get into the door
  • be able to arch your body in freefall
  • be able to pick up your feet and hold them straight out in front of you for at least 20 seconds, to be prepared for landing.

If you can do all of the above but still have questions about your ability to safely make a skydive, please ask your doctor. None of us are licensed to make medical decisions.


I am over your weight limit (210lbs) but I am really fit, can I skydive with you?

If you are height/weight proportionate and under 240 lbs we will probably be able to work with you, but you must call us to discuss before booking. The weight limit reflects our ability to conform to the safe operating parameters of the parachute system and is not necessarily meant to be a reflection of your physical condition, so please don't take it personally. As always, safety is our first priority.


I am under the weight limit, but I am out of shape and significantly overweight for my height, will this affect my ability to make a skydive?

Skydiving is a sporting activity that demands coordination and a reasonable level of fitness, and if your height/weight ratio is significantly out of proportion we may still not be able to take you even if you weigh under the 210 lb limit. Ultimately the instructors have the final call, and we will honor their decisions. Please call us to discuss your ability to jump safely. 315-220-0052


Can my friends and I all jump at the same time?

Our Cessna 182 aircraft holds two tandem pairs at a time. If you make a booking for two skydivers, you guys will almost certainly be going up together (dependent on staff availability). If you book more than two, you'll be split up.

That's not the worst thing in the world, though! Skydiving planes are noisy and usually crowded on the ride to altitude. Your ability to talk to, and often even make visual contact with, your friend will be severely restricted. Only one tandem pair exits at a time. While your friend is leaving the plane you will be busy following your instructors commands and by the time you even get to the door your friend will be about a mile away. It's really fun to have a welcome party waiting on the ground for you, so if you've got more than two jumpers, don't stress!


Do you have any group rates?

Yes! Groups of 5+ tandem students are eligible for an additional $10 discount per person.


Is it customary to tip my instructor?

Tipping your instructor is never expected but always appreciated! After your jump we'll give you a quick survey to see how we did, and that survey doubles as a tip envelope if you'd like to leave something extra for the person who just jumped out of a plane with you. You can leave cash, use the venmo QR code on the envelope, or we can charge your credit or debit card.

There's no "right" amount to tip- personal finances vary wildly, and skydiving isn't cheap! But if you leave a gratuity your instructor will be appreciative no matter the amount.


Can my friends/family/kids/dogs come and watch me skydive?

Ordinarily we would say "The more the merrier!" but unfortunately that can no longer be the case. We encourage you to keep your entourage as small as possible, and bring no more than two spectators per jumper. One of the wonderful things about skydiving is how it brings people together from all over, but during a pandemic that becomes a danger. Please consider sharing your experience with your loved ones remotely. We capture wonderful videos and pictures that are easily shared online.

If any children are included in that number, please keep in mind that skydiving is an adult sport and the drop zone is an adult playground. Swearing and nudity are commonplace; you have been warned. Please also ensure that any children are kept under strict control as an airport is a dangerous environment and unsupervised children present a danger to themselves and others.

Friendly and leashed dogs are welcome, so long as you bring a non-skydiving friend who can be responsible for them on the ground at all times. We have a poop scoop- keep an eye on your dog and use it!


I made a tandem skydive at another center, do I qualify for your second tandem rate?

Our discounted rate structure is meant to reflect a loyalty bonus for customers returning to our facility. The discounted rates apply only to successive skydives made at our drop zone.


How hard will the skydiving landing be?

As long as you follow your instructors commands and pick your feet up for the landing it should not be hard. On light wind days we often slide the landings in, which are really smooth as long as you follow instructions and pick your legs and feet up, in other (windier) conditions we will usually do a "stand up" landing, but again you will be expected to have your feet up and simply put them down at the last second on command.


What time should I book?

We highly recommend booking a morning or midday spot for your skydive. In very general terms, earlier appointments tend to go more smoothly and quickly. That's because small delays throughout the day stack up into big delays at the end.

That said, we do not recommend booking an early morning spot if you are coming from far away! As a rule of thumb, don't book an appointment that requires you to start your journey before the sun comes up. We require all students to call us to check weather conditions before you leave. If you're leaving when it's still dark, we have no true idea what the weather will be doing when you arrive.


My appointment time is 12 noon - what time will I actually jump?

While we ask you to be punctual and arrive at your appointment time, we cannot tell you exactly when you will jump. A good "rule of thumb" is approximately 1 to 1-1/2 hours after your appointment time, but there are many variables that can affect this. We will, however, try to get you in the air as quickly as we can.


Can I get an Uber to your facility?

Maybe, but you probably won't be able to get one for your journey home! We're in a very rural spot, and there don't seem to be any Uber drivers in our area at all.

For those coming from the Ithaca region, past students have had success joining and using Ithaca Carshare. If that's not an option for you and you must take an Uber, please make arrangements for the driver to wait for you in the area so that you aren't stranded.


What if I change my mind at the last moment?

First of all, this seldom happens! However, if you change your mind prior to getting in the plane there will be no charge and nobody will force you to go. Once you are in the plane and the plane is in motion (even if still on the ground) there are no refunds if you decide not to skydive. If you are actually sitting in the open door of the plane, on jump run, and decide that you don't want to skydive the instructor may have to make a call on which is safer, taking you anyway or trying to get you back in the plane. None of our staff want to take a student that absolutely doesn't want to go, but sometimes getting back into the plane can be more risky.


What should I wear for my skydive?

Wear comfortable, sport-appropriate clothing for your skydive. Use common sense and dress for the weather of the day- you'll be spending a lot of time outdoors. No tank tops/sleeveless shirts, no collared shirts, no short shorts. You will most likely be sliding in on your butt for landing, so be prepared for a small grass stain.

More important is what you wear on your feet. Sneakers or tennis shoes are required! Please do not wear boots with hooks or large heels, slip-on shoes, sandals or flip-flops.


What should I bring with me for my skydive?

Let's start with what not to bring. Alcohol, cannabis, and chewing gum are not allowed at the airport. If we see you chewing gum we'll require that you dispose of it in our trash can. If we see you drinking, or smell alcohol or cannabis on you, you'll be asked to leave and may not be welcomed back.

Okay, enough stern warnings! Here's what you need to bring for your skydive:

  • Face mask or buff/neck gaiter
  • Photo ID to prove you're 18 or older
  • Sneakers (see "What should I wear for my skydive?")
  • Sporty clothes (see above)
  • Flexibility. Skydiving is a sensitive, weather-dependent sport and does not always run perfectly.The more rigidly you're trying to control your experience, the more you'll stress out. Plan to be with us for up to 4 hours so that you're not pressed for time.

Other suggested items:

  • Water and other non-alcoholic beverages, and snacks (Please do not litter the drop zone- there are trash cans and recycling bins inside)
  • Sunscreen
  • Camping or folding chairs, especially for spectators
  • Sunglasses and hats, especially for spectators

This stuff will also be in your confirmation email and your pre-jump reminder email, so don't stress!


I have a 10:00 am booking time, what time should I arrive at the drop zone?

10:00 am. Arriving 10 minutes early will help us get you checked in and in the air as quickly as possible but please don't arrive any earlier. We stagger the booking times to give us time to sanitize between customers, and to reduce your wait time. You should expect to be here for around 2-4 hours (longer for a larger group) and your booking time is not the time of your jump, just the time we would like you to arrive. If you arrive late for your booking we will attempt to work you back into the schedule, but if people with a later booking time are here ahead of you, we will honor their appointments first.

New: Please call when you arrive at the airport, and stay at your car! A staff member will come to take your temperature (if you're skydiving) and tell you where to go next.


Will I be able to breathe in freefall?

Yes. The rush of air into your open mouth at 120 mph can make it tricky to catch your breath, so you may find it easier to breathe through your nose. If you feel like you can't breathe at any point during the free fall, SCREAM! It'll help, we promise.


Is it cold at altitude?

A little bit! It is about 30 degrees colder at 10,000 ft. On cold days, that can be pretty chilly. Some people don't even notice it through the waves of adrenaline washing over them, some will want to make sure they layer up. On a hot day, nothing feels nicer than being at altitude!


How long is the tandem skydiving instructional class?

Tandem skydiving allows us to introduce you to this exciting sport with a minimum of training. There is no formal class, but rather a briefing that takes around 10-15 minutes.


If the weather is too bad to skydive, will you call me to save me a wasted trip?

If we know we won't be jumping, we will definitely try to get in touch, but often people give us a work number, or a cell number and may be in an area of bad coverage. That's why it is your responsibility to call or text us before driving to the dropzone to make sure that the weather is suitable, and that there are no delays in our schedule.


What weather conditions can prevent me from skydiving?

We cannot jump in precipitation (frozen or otherwise) or in high or gusty winds, or if the cloudbase is too low, too solid or too thick. Basically, ours is a sensitive sport! Don't forget to call or text the dropzone 15 minutes before you head out for your appointment to make sure that the conditions are suitable. If the weather is not good we can reschedule your appointment. If no other time is suitable for you, your deposit is refundable.


How does the video work? Can my friend and I share one?

Our videos are generally taken using a wrist-mounted camera worn by your instructor. This gives you fantastic footage of you, your instructor and the incredible views we offer. You and your friend will be jumping about 20-30 seconds apart, so there's no way for one camera to get footage of both of you in the sky. We can definitely include you in the pre-jump ground interview and the plane shots, though!

Video and Photos are uploaded to PicThrive and a link will be emailed to you usually that evening but no later than two days after your jump. Your media is available on that site for one year and downloadable/shareable from anywhere you access the internet. If you bring a USB drive we will be happy to give you the raw (unedited) footage of your purchased video.


If I give you a credit card number for the deposit, when will you run it?

We require the deposit to hold your reservation. We will run your credit card for the deposit when you make the reservation. The deposit is refundable if you cancel three days or more prior to your reservation. If you cancel or change your appointment 1-2 days prior you can use the deposit towards the new reservation. Our full policy on deposits can be found here.


Can I pay with a check?

No, sorry, we accept cash and credit cards (Mastercard, Visa and Discover).


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