Let’s set the scene: you’ve scheduled a reservation for your FIRST skydive and you are SO excited to head to the dropzone. You eat breakfast and start getting dressed, then boom – you get a phone call from the dropzone letting you know that you’ll have to reschedule your skydive because it is too cloudy. “What the heck?!” you think … “it’s not even raining! Ugh!”
We’re here to say that we are also never stoked about canceling reservations. But, unfortunately, skydiving is a weather-dependent sport. While you may already know that skydiving in rainy weather or a high-wind situation is less than ideal, it may be news to you that cloudy weather is downright dangerous (and illegal!) for skydiving.
Ummmm, well … the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) – that’s who! Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) 105.17 states that “no person may conduct a parachute operation, and no pilot in command of an aircraft may allow a parachute operation to be conducted from that aircraft: 1) into or through a cloud” or 2) within set distances from clouds. Violating a FAR is a federal offense. And we are certainly not in the business of breaking laws.
While skydiving may seem like a wild and crazy sport (OK, it is a little wild), it isn’t a lawless wasteland of sky-bums. Both the federal government and a non-profit organization called the United States Parachute Association (USPA) work together to make sure that skydivers and dropzones follow the rules and don’t take unnecessary risks.
While skydiving through a cloud might sound fun, in all actuality: it isn’t. In fact, it would be pretty darn scary. And there are quite a few reasons why! You could:
Before exiting an airplane, licensed skydivers are responsible for locating their landing area. If you don’t see where you’re planning to land before you exit, you might end up landing somewhere unsafe (like open water, the woods, or power lines).
While jumpers use altimeters to tell them the altitude they are while skydiving, it’s always a good idea to have a backup – in the form of your own two eyeballs – in case this piece of equipment malfunctions. In a cloud, you are unable to see around or below you, which causes a huge deficit in your situational awareness.
If you’re jumping with other people, or even near other people, the situation becomes even more dangerous with the addition of clouds. You could collide with other jumpers while moving around during freefall or even under canopy, knocking you unconscious – or worse.
Yikes. There’s a reason skydivers are always wishing for blue skies!
Actually, yea! A few little puffies will probably be just fine for the day of your jump – it doesn’t have to be clear blue skies as far as the eye can see. But it *could* require some extra navigating on behalf of your pilot to find a “hole,” or spot, where you can skydive safely.
There are people at the dropzone whose job it is to monitor the sky and make decisions about sending up the airplane load. It is also the job of the pilot to help make this call, and of course, skydivers themselves are encouraged to voice their comfort level as well.
No one intends to sit on the ground – but sometimes that is the safer choice.
If you wake up on the day of your skydive and it is cloudy at your home, it never hurts to call the dropzone to get a status update for the day. Don’t just assume we’ll suspend operations for the day, because:
If it is deemed to be too cloudy to jump for the entire day, you will be able to reschedule your reservation for a time that is convenient for you. If this does happen, try not to be bummed. One of the best parts of skydiving is the breathtaking view, and too much cloud cover can disrupt that. Save your jump for another day when it is beautiful outside, safe to do so, and the PERFECT weather to catch it all on video.
Like many jumpers, we’re always wishing for blue skies at Western New York Skydiving. Book a skydive or purchase a gift certificate so you can enjoy your beautiful bird’s eye view of New York! Cheers!