First Commercial Skydiving Center in the United States
Published: August 16, 2016
The basic components of a dropzone are the same the world over. Take an airstrip, add a plane, sprinkle in some staff, throw some parachutes in a locking room, file a metric ton of paperwork and you've got yourself a skydiving center.
As you can imagine, every single dropzone is different. Some differences are subtle and some are glaring, but there are a myriad of distinctions between these facilities--and they have a direct impact on your experience as a tandem skydiver. Here's the inside scoop on what to look for when you're shopping around.
This one seems like a no-brainer, right? Unfortunately, it's not. Third-party booking agencies have spent a lot of time and money to create websites that look for all the world like a skydiving dropzone--but they take the money of the unsuspecting, add a colossal markup and often send that innocent would-be skydiver on a wild goose chase trying to redeem an often valueless "voucher."
It's shocking. Yeah. We know.
How do you tell the difference? It's actually pretty easy. Make sure the website you're on gives a physical street address that corresponds to an airport in that area. Then, make sure that the number on the website doesn't send you to a call center. Both are dead giveaways.
You'll want to jump with a member of the USPA--trust us on this one. The USPA is the United States Parachute Association, which has been deep in the trenches of skydiving gear development, safety and industry-wide optimization for seventy years.
USPA members pledge to follow the stringent operational guidelines set forth by the USPA. As such, they don't self-regulate, as non-member dropzones do. Instead, their equipment, skydiving staff and aircraft are all held to the USPA standards of safety, licensing and maintenance. The best part is that there are a lot of USPA member dropzones, because most of us in this business are very passionate about the sport and deeply invested in keeping it as safe as possible. (To see a list of USPA member DZs, view their Drop Zone Locator.)
Depending on the market you're shopping in, the price range for a tandem skydive is disconcertingly all over the map.
If a website is listing a price of over $300 for a tandem skydive, you can be pretty sure you're looking at one of the third-party sites we talked about before. If the prices are startlingly low, beware: You're going to get what you pay for. Safety in aviation is a high-cost phenomenon; if the dropzone is skimping on maintenance and passing those savings on to you, you could be in for a rough ride.
Much like Goldilocks discovered through her extensive research, the middle pricing is likely to be juuuust right.
You can get a pretty good feel for a dropzone by scouting reviews. Check out the usual suspects--Yelp, Google, Facebook and TripAdvisor--to see what people say about their experience. You'll find some wacko reviews out there, of course, but you'll definitely be able to suss out a general trend.
Finally, get it from the horse's mouth. Call the dropzone itself and ask your questions. If the person you talk to is open with you, friendly, inviting and thorough, you're quite likely to meet the same reception in person when you show up for a jump. The phenomenon of company culture is alive and well in the dropzone industry, after all.
If you've done your homework, let your instincts lead the way. Your gut knows if you're dealing with professional, kind people who place safety and customer service at the top of their priority list, and that's who you want to introduce you to this beautiful sport. (Which--y'know--we do!)
If you're researching options for skydiving Boston we hope you will consider Jumptown. Located 70 miles west of Boston, Jumptown is the first commercial skydiving center in the US. To learn more about tandem skydiving with Jumptown, contact a member of our team or view our first-time skydiving FAQs.