Published: August 19, 2017
All About Night Skydiving
What is night skydiving, anyway?
Technically, according to the United States Parachute Association, a skydive made from one hour after official sunset to one hour before official sunrise is considered a "night jump," even though it might not be perfectly pitch black when the jump is made. According to the organization's co-evaluations with the FAA, jumps falling within those hours are sufficiently removed from "day jumping" that special consideration must be made and special equipment must be used. (We'll get to that later.)
Can tandems go on a night skydive?
Nope. Sorry. The reasoning? Safety, of course.
Even for a very experienced skydiver, night jumps, (like snow, hot air balloon, and BASE jumps) provide an indescribable (but isn't everything in skydiving indescribable to the non-skydiver?!!) -unexpectedly surprising experience that feels unique even to the experienced skydiver for whom this is their first Night jump. While not comparing to the introduction our first jump gives us to the new environment of freefall, the environment on night jumps is very changed from what we experience on any daytime skydive.
What certifications do you need?
If you intend on participating in night jumping, you're going to need to present the valid paperwork for your USPA "B" (or higher) license. That, of course, means that you've completed at least 50 successful solo skydives and demonstrated skill mastery in landing accuracy, freefall maneuvers, completed a water landing practicum and passed a written exam. Even with all that, every night-owl skydiver has to undergo a comprehensive briefing (and drill) immediately prior to the night jump. If that sounds like a lot, it is--because a night jump is a pretty big deal.
Can you see your parachute?
You can, indeed. Night jumps are often scheduled for full-moon nights, so you're able to see your parachute looking all silvery and romantical above your head. (Also, that it's "there, square, and steerable," naturellement.)
How do you find the landing area?
When skydiving at night, dropzones make special arrangements to help skydivers point out the spot. Often, that little boost comprises of arranging a line of cars, headlights on, to illuminate the landing area. As you might imagine, however, the details of the ground at night look elementally different than the same details in the daytime, so it's still a challenge to find when you're hanging your head out the door at full altitude!
Is it scary?
Um, yeah. Even very experienced skydivers get at least a little peaky on a night jump. Some of it is biofeedback (from, like, exponentially lower jump-run temperatures that make even the burliest skydiver shiver), but much of the butterflies have to do with how damn different it is to jump after dark. As skydivers, we train our bodies to respond correctly to a set of inputs that become a habit over time; at night, our habits can't be relied upon in the same way, nor our senses. It all swirls up into quite a piquant mix of eek.
That said, it's natural to feel scared when you do something as landmark as an extraordinary skydive. If you haven't made your first jump quite yet--but you'd like to make a goal of hucking a night jump--we say go for it! Get in touch and we'll be there every step of the way.
...would go back again
» Bonnie M.