Bombs Away: A Guide to Skydiving

Equipment, Price of Admission, and Insurance
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Equipment
After 10 to 20 jumps, if you continue with the sport, you'll want to purchase your own equipment. As with any risk sport, choose top-quality gear. Here's what you'll have to pay for quality new equipment: primary parachute, $800-$1,000; reserve parachute, $400-$600; harness, $500-$600; altimeter, $140-$175; jumpsuit, $150; helmet, $25; goggles, $25. Used equipment is available, but you should have it thoroughly inspected and certified before you purchase.

The use of an AAD such as Airtec's sophisticated CYPRES sytems is now manditory at many of the more progressive parachuting centers. The ADD is a backup system that is installed on a parachute rig. These devices have been around for 30 years or more and have proven valuable in saving lives. They work by sensing the airspeed and altitude of a free-falling body. In the event the person passes through a preset altitude (usually 1,000 feet) or at a minimum safe altitude (no less than 750 feet as calcuated by air pressure, rate of descent, and other factors) at a high rate of speed, the AAD activates the reserve parachute. Recent refinements have made this important safety device more reliable than ever, ensuring safe canopy deployment even if a jumper is unconscious or injured.

Price of Admission
Skydiving is not an inexpensive sport. However, once you've completed your initial training and can jump without instructor assistance, the cost is comparable with other action sports such as rafting or scuba diving—about $50-$100 per day, depending on the number of jumps. Once you're certified to make solo freefall jumps, expect to pay about $1.25 per thousand feet of altitude, which translates to $15-$20 per jump. At organized jumpfests, this can drop to as little as $10 per jump. Add to this the cost of rental equipment which can range from $15 to $30 per day.

Insurance
Virtually all formal first-jump programs include a 90-day USPA membership, which offers $50,000 insurance for liability and property damage plus $100,000 in medical coverage for an additional fee. To qualify you must be a USPA member at the time of the loss and students must jump under the supervision of a certified USPA jumpmaster at a USPA Group Member Drop Zone. You should check your own medical insurance to see if it covers minor injuries such as sprained ankles that are not covered by the USPA group policy. Before you jump, check to see whether skydiving is an excluded activity on your own medical or life insurance policies.


Paul McMenamin is the author, editor, and photo director of the original Ultimate Adventure Sourcebook.

Published: 8 Oct 2001 | Last Updated: 14 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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