Published: July 31, 2015
Choosing the Right DropZone
If you've never been skydiving before, you probably don't know what questions to ask when selecting the right place to go. Here are a few things to be on the watch for:
The first question one should ask a skydiving center is whether they're a member of the United States Parachute Association (USPA). The USPA is the governing body for skydiving in the US and sets the safety guidelines for skydiving in the US. It is not mandatory for all skydiving centers to be a USPA member, but the majority of dropzones are and as a result must follow the safety recommendations published by the USPA. It's a good idea to select a dropzone that's a member of the USPA.
Sad to say, but the aviation industry in general has a few scams out there. One of those is third party operators feigning to be a skydive center. Typically these third party operators have websites in every US market, but they're actually a call center and not a DZ at all. Be sure when doing your research that you can actually find a physical address for the facility... this is usually a telltale sign that you're not working with a real business.
Too often, the decision where to skydive is based exclusively on price and this isn't always the best option.
Anything aviation-related is expensive, so be sure to do your homework and be selective on where you decide to make your jump. This is not an activity where corners are cut to offer a low price, so do your homework. Usually the lowest price does not mean best.
To get a sense for a dropzone, find out what others are saying about it. Check a business' reviews via Google Reviews, TripAdvisor and Yelp. You'll get an inkling if that business is exceeding the expectations of their customers.
Most everyone receives online reservations, but it never hurts to contact the dropzone directly to get a better feel of the operation. If the person answering is rude, this may be your first red flag. Other questions to ask are:
a). Safety record - ask the operator about their safety record or about things you've read online. The response should match your research.
b). Experience - getting a sense for how long a company is in business does matter. Usually, those who have been in the sport a long time have good experience which is always an added plus.
c). Snack bar - not all skydiving centers have onsite restaurants - find out if you can bring your own food and what the alcohol policy is.
d). Arrival Times - Usually, the best times to book a skydive are as early as possible. Find out the earliest time available and book it!
With all these questions, you'll get a good sense of the operator. Trust your instincts... you're looking for professionalism!