Skydiving Weight Limit: What You Must KNOW

Friday, January 28, 2022

Is there a weight limit for skydiving?

The answer, though unfortunate, is yes. At WNY Skydiving, the skydiving weight limit for tandem skydiving and our Accelerated Freefall Program is 235 lbs.

For many, the skydiving weight limit is a point of contention. They rightfully wonder: if our goal truly was to share the adventure of skydiving with everyone, how could we be so restrictive? We truly wish we could introduce everyone we know (and their friends/family and then the friends/family of those folks too) to skydiving. But the fact of the matter is not everyone meets the requirements to skydive.

Skydiving requirements, like the skydiving weight limit, aren’t instituted from a place of discrimination or made with any attempt to body shame others. The skydiving weight limit comes down to safety. Here’s what you need to know about the skydiving weight limit. 

1. The Science Behind Skydiving Weight Limits

Skydiving is a gravity-defying art: a balance between lift and the immutable force that pulls everything toward the earth. Naturally, weight plays a considerable role in navigating this delicate balance. 

Terminal velocity (the maximum speed reached in freefall; 120 mph) comes down to mass and surface area. Exceeding weight limits can increase the terminal velocity and put additional stress, in the form of snatch force, on both the gear used for skydiving and the bodies doing the skydiving. Additionally, when it comes to landing, too much weight on a parachute system tips the balance and can result in hard, crashy landings. 

We find it best to respect the science and operate with skydiving weight restrictions in place.

Two WNY Skydivers Landing Safely

2. Non-Negotiable Equipment Limits

After rigorous testing, parachutes and harnesses are issued a Technical Standard Order (TSO)  from the Federal Aviation Administration. Included in this TSO is the maximum amount of weight that the equipment can operate under.

Furthermore, this weight limit exists for both the main parachute and the reserve parachute. In addition to violating a federally-established order, if an incident were to occur where the reserve parachute was needed but the weight was exceeded, the consequences could be disastrous. This is why exceeding equipment weight limits is a non-negotiable matter. 

You may be wondering, why not just use a bigger parachute? And true, to carry more weight you could use a larger parachute. However, skydiving manufacturers have assessed the risks, and commercial skydiving parachutes are only made up to a certain size. 

3. We Have Your Comfort and Safety In Mind

An additional concern that arises alongside the skydiving weight limit is the fit of the skydiving harness. The harness is what attaches the skydiving student to the instructor and the parachute. This harness can only adjust within certain parameters. Outside of these parameters, the harness will be uncomfortably tight and could cut off the participant’s circulation. A too-tight harness can cause nausea or even loss of consciousness during the parachute ride. This is why for both comfort and safety, participants must also be height-weight proportionate. 

4. We Also Have Our Instructors’ Comfort and Safety In Mind

Exceeding the skydiving weight limit doesn’t just endanger the tandem student, it endangers the skydiving instructor as well. Taking individuals that exceed the skydiving weight limit puts greater physical strain on instructors and increases their risk of injury. 

At WNY Skydiving, our instructors are more than staff, they are a part of our skydiving family. Our commitment to safety simply isn’t worth risking their safety or yours. 

5. Skydiving Can Be Your Motivation

If your weight currently exceeds our skydiving weight limit, it doesn’t mean you have to ditch your dreams of skydiving. Many prospective tandem students have used the skydiving weight limit as a motivation to achieve their weight loss goals. 

Get inspired and make those dreams come true. We’ll be here ready and waiting when you do! Call us today!

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