First-Timer? Here's What To Expect

If you're a first-timer, you might be daunted by the idea of making a tandem skydive. We're here to tell you to go for it! We'd love for you to take that leap at Piedmont Skydiving, and we want you to know exactly what you can expect from your tandem skydiving experience with us. Here's the beta.

tandem skydiving

We'd love for you to take that leap at Piedmont Skydiving, and we want you to know exactly what you can expect from your tandem skydiving experience with us. Here's the beta.

1.YOU CAN PLAN TO BE AT THE DROPZONE FOR A COUPLE OF HOURS.

When you arrive, there's a bit of business to take care of before your jump. First, you'll fill out a waiver. Then you'll make payment and register. (Be sure to bring your ID!) At this point, you'll decide whether you would like to have pictures of your skydive, a video or both. Next comes a short ground-school session to orient you to the process of the skydive.

Don't worry! We have comfortable picnic tables near the landing area. From there, you can watch your friends and fellow skydivers land their parachutes. (Feel free to bring friends and family members to watch you jump. Spectators are very welcome!)

You're more than welcome bring snacks and non-alcoholic drinks along to make any waiting time more comfortable. If you forget, don't despair: Salisbury, about 8 minutes away, has lots of great food and shops.

2. YOU'LL MEET YOUR NEW BEST FRIEND.

Once you've completed your waiver, you'll be introduced to your licensed, eminently experienced Tandem Master (who will be the most important person in your life for the next hour or so). For your comfort, safety and confidence, every tandem skydiving instructor at Piedmont Skydiving holds a current rating with the United States Parachute Association (USPA). That rating guarantees that every one of them has made at least five hundred successful skydives, has completed rigorous training and follows the USPA's strict rules regarding tandem safety and methodology.

3. YOU'LL GEAR UP.

When there's approximately 20 minutes remaining until your load takes off, you'll be fitted into your jumpsuit pants, goggles and tandem skydiving harness.

The design of the jumpsuit pants are similar to that of a car mechanic, except that reinforcements have been added to the zippers and knees. After you've been zipped in, a Piedmont Skydiving staffer will help you into your harness. That harness attaches securely to your tandem master at four points. If you've opted for pictures and video, your instructor will attach the cameras and start recording a fun pre-skydive interview.

This is the point in the process when you'll first take a good look at the equipment system that will carry you safely to the ground.

The specially designed backpack that has the parachute system folded up inside of it is called the “container.” Inside are two parachutes. The first one is called the “main.” It's rated to be safe for the combined weight of two passengers. The second one is called the “reserve,” and it is only used in the extremely rare event of a main parachute malfunction. The reserve parachute is connected to an automatic activation device (“AAD”) that will deploy the reserve parachute at an altitude of around 2,000 feet if it has not already been opened.

Also inside the container is a “drogue.” The drogue is a small parachute that is designed to slow your fall rate to a speed that's safe for the deployment of the main parachute.

4. YOU'LL TAKE A BEAUTIFUL RIDE UP TO ALTITUDE.

You can expect the airplane ride to 10,500 feet to be (maybe) the prettiest 20 minutes of your life. You'll be treated to the incredible views of North Carolina! We cruise over the green hills, velvety hardwood forests and fields of our beloved southern landscape. It's jaw-dropping.

Bonus: On clear days, you can see the tall buildings of Charlotte in the distance. You can even get a selfie of your grinning face with the the Charlotte skyline in the background!

For the ride up, you'll be sitting in front of your tandem master. He/she will connect your harness to the secure points on his/her parachute at about 8,000 feet above ground level.

5. ONCE THE ALTIMETER READS 10,000 FEET, THE DOOR WILL OPEN.

This is a pretty amazing moment. It's really, really exciting.

As you start to move to the door, you'll feel all kinds of things. You'll be scared. You'll be elated. You'll be in a very different mental/emotional place than you may have ever been before. This is why we skydive.

As you're in the door, your tandem master will double-check that you're in the correct position over the drop zone. Then you'll perform the exit maneuver you were taught in ground school and the two of you will soar out into the sky.

Your freefall experience will last from around 45 seconds to a minute. It will feel like no time at all and forever all at the same time. It's incredibly unique, and deeply inspiring.

6. YOUR CANOPY RIDE WILL BEGIN.

Your tandem master will deploy your main parachute at around 5,500 feet AGL. Once the canopy is open, you and your tandem skydiving instructor will be able to hear each other speak. Depending on a number of factors, you might be able to ask to help steer the parachute -- or ask for a whirly spiral ride. The canopy ride will last from around 4 to 8 minutes (depending on how many super-fun aerobatics you get into).

7. YOU'LL SAFELY LAND.

You learned the landing position in ground school: legs up, arms in. Once the North Carolina ground is under your feet again, it'll be time to celebrate. You're a skydiver now!

If you got pictures and video of your jump, hang out at the dropzone for another 10 minutes or so -- basking in glow of your achievement -- and Piedmont staff will bring you your pictures and videos on a usb drive. Go ahead -- show off your skydive to all of your friends. You earned it!

I took my boyfriend here for his birthday. Both of us had a great experience! Thomas especially made our first jump fun and enjoyable. All the staff were professional and competent, and I would definitely recommend this place to anyone for their first skydiving experience!

» Ashley Ly