Tandem Skydiving Weight Limit Explained | Skydive Key West Skip to Content

Skydive Key West Posted by: Skydive Key West 1 year ago

“Can I skydive if I weigh 250 lbs?” is a common question we get, and the answer is yes! Skydiving weight requirements at Skydive Key West are a firm 270 lb max. There are a few key factors that determine the maximum weight for skydiving and it can vary slightly between dropzones. Let’s dive deeper into the specifics that determine skydiving height and weight restrictions.

Why Is There A Weight Limit For Tandem Skydiving? 

Along with every regulation and recommendation, the skydiving weight restriction is put in place to keep you safe! Skydiving is an extreme sport which carries inherent risk that we aim to mitigate whenever possible, like with a weight ceiling. 

Skydivers are able to make millions of successful jumps every year because we put safety at the forefront before, during, and after every single jump. The tandem skydiving weight limit isn’t in place to exclude anyone, but rather to protect everyone.

Man wearing white shirt and clear goggles tandem skydiving at Skydive Key West

The Student

Our #1 goal when you walk onto our dropzone is to make sure you have the best day of your life, which means keeping you safe and sound. While having washboard abs isn’t a prerequisite to skydive, being in decent physical shape is helpful.

Nearing the end of a skydive, your instructor will ask you to pick your feet and knees up (think: sitting on the ground with your feet in front of you, hips at a 90-degree angle) in order to come in for landing. Having disproportionate or too much weight or inadequate core strength to efficiently do this maneuver can result in a faceplant landing or even some damage to the lower extremities.

The Instructor

A tandem skydive entails a novice student securely attached to the front of a highly experienced and professional instructor for the entirety of the skydive. This means the instructor is in charge of scooching you both towards the door of the airplane, exiting, controlling the stability of the freefall, and smoothly guiding the parachute down for landing.

While instructors tend to be in tip-top shape (they have to have a Class III medical for cryin’ out loud!), they aren’t superhuman and their muscles will eventually get worn out. Who wants to go skydiving with an exhausted instructor? Not us!

Instructors have body weight, too! Their body weight, your body weight, and the weight of the gear (about 50 lbs) have to cumulatively be below the skydiving gear manufacturer’s restriction for weight. When the passenger gets heavier, the instructor generally gets lighter to compensate. While a 150 lb instructor may be fantastic at what they do, it is indubitably physically strenuous (and even dangerous) to control a canopy with someone twice their weight.

Female tandem skydiver wearing a white shirt with blue writing takes the leap out of the Skydive Key West airplane into free fall

The Gear

The three primary parts of tandem skydiving gear are the harness (for the student), the container (backpack that holds the parachutes), and the two parachutes, the main and the reserve. Each of these sophisticated pieces of equipment is made by our manufacturers and regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) – it’s serious stuff!

The FAA methodically conducts rounds of thorough testing to determine operational parameters around our gear and they classify the findings as a Technical Standard Order or TSO. Weight regulations and recommendations along with other gear particulars are included in the TSO. What the FAA says, goes.

But wait – how is it possible, then, that the military can drop literal TRUCKS  from planes? Good question! Although most tandem skydiving gear can endure a maximum weight of 500 lbs, military parachutes are designed to take on much more.

Civilian skydiving parachutes are designed for sport use, while the large canopies used for military equipment have one goal in mind: get this thing down in one piece! The rectangular parachutes that tandem and solo skydivers use allow us to fly in all directions, counteract forces from the wind, and control our rate of descent and forward speed. Simply put, civilian and military parachutes are made differently for totally different purposes!

Does Weight Affect Terminal Velocity?

Another good question! We won’t get into a science lesson here but, yes, terminal velocity (the maximum speed at which you can fall) is affected by a few factors, weight being one of them. In short, the heavier you are the faster you can fall.

So, if tandem skydiving has two adults under one parachute … do tandem skydivers fall faster? Not necessarily. Tandem skydiving rigs have a nifty piece of equipment, called a drogue, that looks like a mini parachute. The drogue is utilized during the freefall portion of the jump to cause a decrease in speed and maintain a safe terminal velocity to allow for an ideal deployment.

Tandem skydivers pose happily in front of Skydive Key West airplane before enjoying Florida Keys Skydiving

Being Height And Weight Proportionate Is Important

The tandem harness that is worn by the student must fit in a way that is snug and comfortable. Wearing gear that doesn’t fit properly can be detrimental while in the sky. While going skydiving doesn’t feel like riding a roller coaster, there are a couple of similarities in the safety measures taken. When the amusement park worker shoves the bar over your lap on a roller coaster, they make sure it’s secure, and they typically double-check if it’s too loose – same concept! 

Is there a minimum weight for skydiving? 

Typically, nope! The gear just has to fit in the way it is intended to. The only “minimum” that pertains to skydiving is being at least 18 years of age. If you’re concerned about harness fit, connect with us or stop by ahead of booking to try one on.

Skydiving is hands down the most empowering sport in the world! If you need to shed a few LBs before jumping over the Florida coast, use our tandem skydive weight limit as motivation, and then come celebrate your health achievement with us! In the meantime, feel free to come watch and see what we’re all about. We can’t wait to share the sky with you! Have other questions or concerns? Reach out! We’re here to support you. Blue skies!

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