A Day In The Life of A Skydiving Instructor

Monday, January 30, 2023

Your skydiving instructor is probably the person you will bond with most during your first skydive. They will be keeping you alive, after all! What does a skydiving instructor do? (More like, what don’t they do?!) A tandem skydiving instructor is responsible for everything associated with your physical skydive. They are the professional that you are securely strapped to from wheels up to touch down – they’re your plane buddy, your freefall instructor, your parachute instructor, and your landing gear!! Your safety and experience are their absolute top priority.

Not only have they achieved the highest USPA skydiving license, but they have also gone through rigorous training to be certified in conducting student jumps. Our instructors do this because they love skydiving. This isn’t “just a job” for them. WNY Skydiving is a family, and your instructor is here to welcome you home! 

What To Wear When It's Cold | WNY Skydiving

The Dream

Every single jump with a student is the fulfillment of a dream. This experience – your skydiving experience – is the reason they dedicated countless hours to studying, practicing, passing tests, traveling, and honing their skills … and it’s why they jump from sun up to sun down every weekend. Believe us when we say your instructor wants to be here making this jump with you. 

As mandated by the USPA (United States Parachute Association), tandem instructor requirements include:

  • Logging at least 500 jumps
  • Earning a USPA D license
  • Accruing a minimum of 3 years experience in the sport
  • Possessing a current FAA Class III Flight Medical Certificate
  • Completing the USPA Tandem Instructor Rating certification program

Up And At’Em

Now, switch gears – let’s say you are a skydiving instructor! Buckle up; this is what your day looks like.

First things first: set your alarm clock. We instructors arrive at the dropzone before sunrise to start preparing for the day. Being an instructor isn’t all about the jumping. Okay, it’s mostly about the jumping, but there are responsibilities to take care of on the ground, too. A quick staff meeting in the morning gets us all on the same page for the day. It’s a lot easier to give tandem students a good experience if we are a well-oiled machine. 

There’s also the matter of gear. Just as pilots walk around an airplane to make sure it’s ready for the next flight, we skydivers do the same thing with the gear we’re going to jump. And not just a quick once over, either. We thoroughly check every rig and piece of equipment to ensure it’s safe to fly. 

Once everyone (and everything) is ready to go, we put our customer-greeting faces on! 

The Warm Up

Here’s where the magic happens. As the first students start to show up, the dropzone comes alive. We jump headfirst into our tasks, training groups of students and laying gear out for the next load. 

In training, we aim to connect as much as teach. Sure, the information is important, but so is making our students comfortable. Throughout training and gearing up, we open up. We drop little snippets about our lives outside the dropzone and ask about the lives of our students. We might even have some light (or dark!) humor in our back pocket to help to ease their anxiety. 

As much fun as this part is, we instructors are also very focused. The procedure for gearing students up has been drilled into our brains thousands of times, and safety is the number one priority. A good skydiving instructor can balance warm rapport with serious technicality. 

As we guide our students to the plane, our goal is to make them feel comforted by both our skillset and our personality. We want them to know they’re in capable and experienced hands.

skydiving instructor-with afff student

Go Time

The jump: la pièce de résistance. The reason we’re all here. This is where skydiving instructors thrive. All of our hard work has led us to this moment. We finally get to turn all of our training – and the training we’ve given our students – into reality. The dropzone is churning, and we’ll be on that elevator, up and down, all day. 

The bulk of our day is taken up by jumping. Meet a student, gear them up, and throw them out of a perfectly good airplane. Each new person is a complete experience. Maybe we stop for lunch and then do it again. And again. On a busy day, 10 to 15 times!

Each jump is the same, but so very different. Every student comes with their own story, their own fears, their own reasons for jumping. We need to be able to adapt. We need to know how to give every individual their personal best experience. Maybe that means helping them relax so they get great video. Or being careful to avoid motion sickness. Or going full send on 360-degree turns. Every jump has its own flair. 

After the very last high five of the day, we feel the satisfaction of another day of great flying. 

Sharing the Sky

A skydiving instructor’s goal is to make each of their students fall in love with skydiving. Of course, we don’t think that’s very hard to do, but we might be a bit biased. 

Some instructors even take their students all the way to earning their very own skydiving license. However far you decide to take your skydiving adventure, rest assured that your instructor will make sure you love every single step of the way. 

We’d love to introduce you to our team of AMAZING instructors! Book now to come along on this wild ride. 

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