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Why is There a Weight Limit in Skydiving?

First Time Skydiving

The weight limit in skydiving can be a frustrating sticking point. When people see skydiving weight restrictions, they often get the wrong idea. They think these restrictions are irrational, unfair and based on the whim of prejudice.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The skydiving weight limit exists for reasons of safety alone, and it is by no means casual. In fact, it hurts us to be the enforcers, because we want everyone to be able to make a skydive and experience the wonderment of our enormous blue playground. We don’t want any factors to stand in a would-be skydiver’s path. Unfortunately, this one is a hard-and-fast, inflexible edict over which we have no effective control. Here’s what you need to know to understand the skydiving weight limit (and how it might affect your jump).

1. Defying gravity is a delicate business, and it all comes down to weight.

Everything in aviation has a weight range. Take, for example, an airplane. You already know that exceeding an airplane’s weight range can prevent the plane from taking off. In the same vein, landing a too-heavy airplane also presents a litany of dangers. To prevent injury or tragedy, no plane may venture out onto the runway if it comes in over its stipulated weight range.

The same is absolutely true in skydiving. Exceeding the parachute’s listed weight range can result in injuriously fast deployments, snapped parachute lines and freaky, crashy landings. To carry more weight, you need a bigger parachute, the additional weight of which adds even more total weight to the system. For this reason, parachutes are only even available up to a certain size.

2. The harness that connects you to the parachute needs to fit.

The weight range parachute is only part of the equation when it comes to working out a skydiving weight limit. There’s the harness, too. The harness that keeps you, the tandem student, safely affixed to your instructor and parachute, is only able to adjust up to a certain point. Past that, the harness becomes difficult to put on, uncomfortable to wear and tight enough during freefall and under canopy to cut off blood circulation.

The straight story is this: If you finagled a way to skydive over the weight limit, it wouldn’t be a good time. If would be way less comfortable and way more dangerous. Your skydive would be over much more quickly, the opening forces would be painfully harder and the landing would almost certainly hurt. That’s certainly not how you want it to go.

3. It’s not just your safety we’re concerned about.

Our professional, eminently experienced tandem skydiving instructors aren’t just our team. They’re our friends. We care about their safety and well-being, too…and tandem students over the weight limit make a healthy jump and a soft, safe landing pretty darn near impossible to pull off. It’s not worth the profit to us to put our friends in danger because they trust us to support them and uphold safety as our priority. When we face hard choices, we always come back to that commitment.

4. Our weight policy at the The Skydiving Company isn’t as strict as most.

Our weight limits at The Skydiving Company are more accommodating than most. Most dropzones in the US strictly limit tandem student weight to 220–but Texans are larger-than-life, and we get that. We have to assess fees for women over 200 pounds and men over 220, but we can accommodate customers up to 250 pounds, based on availability. For safety reasons, tandem students must be height-weight proportionate and able to bend, stoop, kneel and lift the legs from a sitting position, which sometimes requires an on-site evaluation. (In simpler terms, we may need to see you in person to determine if a jump will be safe.) Note: We reserve the right to refuse service, and can offer no refunds if we discover you’re over the weight limit when you arrive.

5. We’ll be waiting for you when you’re ready to jump.

If you tip the scale at over 250, it’s not the end of the world. We’ve been around for many years, and we’ll still be here waiting for you when that number dips back into that elusive weight range.

Here’s an interesting idea: Do as a great many of our students have done and set skydiving as your health goal. When you make it, you won’t just emerge lighter and healthier; you’ll emerge inspired. Speaking of inspiration: We’ve known one tandem student who lost four hundred pounds to make a skydive. If he can do it, so can you. We’re looking forward to celebrating your success with you!

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