Drop Zone

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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For skydivers and parachutists, a drop zone is where you learned how to jump out of an airplane voluntarily, float some 10,000 feet to the ground, and land safely. If you're anyone else, a drop zone is where you will learn how to do these things. There are many reputable skydiving schools where you can learn how to fly with the best of them, and most have websites where you can learn about what the process entails.

The Low Down on a Drop Zone

There are 251 drop zones in the United States and 33 in Canada. California has 20, Florida 17, Texas 14, Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania 11 each, Michigan 10, and Washington and New York States nine each. The remainder are scattered. Odds are, you won't have too much difficulty finding one within range. You will want to learn what each offers, what the costs are, what airplanes they use, and what your priorities are. You need to have confidence in their ability to teach you and make you feel safe.

Affiliation with the United States Parachutists Association, the oversight body for skydiving and parachuting, is good but not mandatory. It does not guarantee a good drop zone. The sport is not as regulated as hang gliding, which is overseen by the FAA. However, the USPA does develop training, offer insurance, and the like.

The first thing you'll do at a drop zone is choose among the three training methods: tandem jumping, static line, or accelerated freefall. In each, you'll be taught by USPA certified jumpers about what's involved. There's a lot to learn. Take one step, and jump, at a time.

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