Nearly every extreme sport has a hefty cost associated with it; specialist kit is needed for them all, then you normally have to pay to actually do whatever it may be – slope passes, water fees, etc.
When it comes to skydiving, you might be thinking, is skydiving worth the money? Solo jumps aren’t actually all that expensive, but when it comes to the training and equipment, what looks like a fairly cheap thrill ride has a high cost of entry.
Much like being a pilot, keeping up your proficiency is also highly advisable; that means you can be looking at upwards of 50 jumps a year just to keep your hand in. You need to be committed from the start to the sport and the costs involved.
But let’s look at why skydiving is worth the money.
Have you ever seen someone land after a tandem skydive and be miserable? Exactly.
Humans thrill-seek to get that rush of endorphins; it’s what drives people to take up the sport in the first place. Touch back down after that first tandem and they’ll be a feeling of relief, safety, and no doubt a huge great smile when you realize that you’ve overcome a fear, or a challenge that maybe you thought you couldn’t do.
Now think about being able to do that whenever you want to. Tapping into that euphoric sense of achievement every weekend for just a handful of bucks.
One of the biggest benefits of skydiving is the shift in mindset that can come about. Of course, most people have no intention of jumping out of a perfectly good, working plane, but you’re putting your faith in other things when you do.
Your kit for one thing, and maybe your chute packer – if you don’t yet trust yourself to do it. It gives you confidence in other things, which leads to a feeling of empowerment and even mindfulness.
The latter is hard to link to skydiving, but to jump out of that plane, be at one with the clouds, up where the birds are soaring, high above all that hustle and bustle that is life below. Those freefall minutes can feel like double as time slows, and you take it all in, almost like meditation.
There’s something of a comradery in the skydiving community; you all share that bond of knowing what it’s like to find that level of happiness and mindfulness we’ve mentioned above. It’s a bond that few others outside of the world of skydiving can understand.
Quite often, lifelong friendships are made at the drop zone when you turn up for a jump, and the nerves dispel with the excitement taking over as you gear up and get ready for the flight.
You wouldn’t think it, but skydiving is actually a damn good workout. During freefall, your back is naturally arched, which means you’ll build up strength and muscle memory. In addition, the traditional freefall position of arms out, back curved with hips flexed towards the Earth, gives your spine, core, glutes, and even your arms a workout.
That’s not forgetting the roughly 20kg of gear that you’ll be lugging to the plane and heaving across open ground when you land. If you’re doing multiple jumps a day, then forget the need for a personal trainer.
How much does skydiving cost?
Value is always in the eye of the beholder, so to truly answer the question of ‘is skydiving worth the money’, it’s helpful to know how much it costs in the first place. That way, you can make the decision on your own if the cost is worth it.
Tandem skydive costs
A tandem skydive costs around $250 – 300, depending on where in the country you want to jump. Of course, reservations will always be cheaper than just rocking up on the day, but it’s more than likely that you’ll book ahead for your first time at least.
For that price, you get a full brief and training where you’ll learn what to do in a tandem skydive as a student and the sort of things you can expect in the jump. All of the gear is included, jumpsuit, goggles, helmet, etc.
Then it’s off into the plane for a short flight up to the exit altitude; you’ll strap on to an experienced instructor before they push you both out of the aircraft. You’ll get around 60 seconds of freefall time with the Earth hurtling towards you before your instructor pulls on the chute, and you have five or six minutes of parachute flight before touching back down.
If you want to go up again that day, the majority of skydiving schools will let you go back up for a cheaper rate, usually $150 – 200.
You can also bag a discount by going in a group, the more people, the bigger the discount. This can range from between $10-20 each, or even include a free jump for one person.
Solo skydiving costs
Once you’ve learnt and are proficient at skydiving on your own, solo jumps cost a lot less. A typical 13,500 ft jump can cost between $25-30. If you want to jump from high altitude, 17,500 ft, or a HALO as it’s known, these will set you back between $35-40, a small price to pay, seeing as you’re nearly three miles up.
The majority of skydiving centres will also allow you to block book jumps, these can vary, but 50 or 100 jumps tend to be the norm. These are likely to be around $1,300 for 50 or $2,500 for 100 – again, where you’re jumping in the country means the price will vary.
Block booking will often knock a few bucks off the price, but it also means you’ve paid upfront, so your 50 jumps for that year are accounted for. You can then just turn up and jump whenever you like.
Skydiving gear rental cost
Purchasing all the necessary kit for skydiving can be incredibly expensive; if you’re going to take it up as a serious passion, then it’s obviously a worthwhile investment. But parachutes have a jump life and a shelf life, so it makes sense to at least rent your gear to begin with – both through training and once you initially go solo.
Renting all your gear can be an extra $30 – 40 per jump. Individual items like a suit, goggles, gloves, and even an altimeter can be purchased separately, so you start to build up your own kit. Going the used route for any of these is also perfectly fine and could save you a few hundred dollars in the long run.
Skydiving training costs
To become a solo, qualified skydiver, you have to take the Accelerated Freefall or AFF course. The actual license fee is under $40, but the training to get there can be a big commitment.
The Accelerated Freefall course starts with 6-8 hours of initial training with a written test and a jump with two instructors holding onto you, but you’ll deploy your own chute and fly solo with guidance given over the radio. You’ll then be debriefed once you’re down, then you can progress to the next level.
In total, there are eight freefall objectives; each one needs to be mastered before you can progress to the next one. All eight have to be completed and passed before you can gain your initial skydiving license.
These are the eight levels to the AFF course:
|Acclimation to freefall, altitude awareness, stable body position, and deployment
|Refinement of freefall body position, leg extensions, heading awareness, and parachute deployment
|Stable freefall after instructor release, hover control, solo deployment
|Unassisted Exit, Controlled freefall turns (90°, 180°, and 360°)
|Unpoised Exit, Recovery from instability (Barrel roll, front flip, back flip)
|Introduction to Tracking, emergency exit rehearsals
|Forward and backward movement, docking with another skydiver, adjustment of fall rate
|Diving exit, swoop, and dock with another skydiver, front riser control
In total, you’re looking at a minimum of 25 jumps to reach a solo level, occasionally you might have to retake a level if your instructors aren’t happy – this can cost extra – but a 25 jump package with everything included will cost $4,000 – 5,000.
If you need any extra tuition jumps, these cost $130 – 150. You can also take some indoor skydiving lessons to help perfect your technique.
Is skydiving worth the money?
We’ve covered the potential upsides in terms of physical and mental health that skydiving can bring to you as an individual. It may change how you see and overcome everyday problems, jump regularly enough, and that gym membership might not be needed.
There’s also a considerable cost to become fully solo and licensed. While this shouldn’t put you off if it’s your dream to fly and freefall on the regular, most will definitely need to consider the commitment and change in lifestyle to make regular jumps happen.
Tandem diving is a great way to experience the thrill to begin with; after their first jump, many people go on to tandem, again and again, never progressing to being fully solo.
Whatever route you choose, defining if skydiving is worth the money is up to you at the end of the day.