Yes, there is a weight limit for skydiving. It’s a real thing indeed, and the skydiving weight limit often stops people in their tracks when they first start investigating the idea of making their first tandem jump. Here at Skydive Chicago, the weight limit is a firm 250 pounds. Certain body types may be subject to further evaluation and there are no exceptions, and you’ll be weighed when you arrive for your jump.
Sounds harsh? It could, if you don’t know the whys and wherefores. This is the simple fact of the matter: We don’t enforce our skydiving weight limit out of any kind of “weightist” prejudice. We do it because enforcing a strict maximum weight for students who complete a tandem skydive with us remains an essential part of keeping Skydive Chicago as safe a dropzone as possible. See: If we exceed the maximum amount of weight our parachutes are rated to carry, then you, your instructor and everyone who counts on you ends up at risk. No bueno!
1. Everything that flies has a weight limit.
Gravity is a law, dear friends. Parachutes, like everything else that takes off and lands, operates under strict weight ranges within which they’re safely able to do their magic. If those weight ranges are tossed aside, landings get pretty ugly. As a thought experiment, just picture what would happen if you tried to land in an overloaded airplane. Now imagine that the landing gear involved isn’t aircraft wheels; it’s your legs. OW. And it’s not just landings that suffer for overloading, either. Exceeding the equipment’s weight range can have similarly painful consequences in the air. Overloaded parachutes can deploy dangerously fast. Parachute lines can even break. We aren’t about to risk that nightmare.
There’s another thing, too: skydiving harnesses have size limits, and can only adjust up to a certain point. If you can’t fit into the harness properly, why would you want to throw yourself out of a plane in it?
2. The parachute paradox.
Guess what? Parachutes are heavy. Especially big tandem parachutes that are large enough to carry two people to the ground. (Mindblown? Yeah, we know.) It follows that adding to the amount of material in the system only increases the total weight we’re dealing with. In part because of this fact, tandem parachutes are only available up to a certain size. The skydiving weight limit is really the only way to solve this decidedly self-exaggerating problem and keep new jumpers (and our world-class professional staff) as far out of harm’s way as humanly possible.
3. Our professional instructors are like family to us.
Along those lines: When we’re talking about the skydiving weight limit, we’re protecting our people as much as we’re protecting you and your people.
Our professional skydiving instructors have a crazy-challenging job. Every day, they meet a great many brand-new, nervous skydivers and get them from the airplane to the ground with grace, kindness and a watchful eye fixed on safety. And they love it. They’re passionate about this work, and do their very tough job incredibly admirably. We choose to show our gratitude by respecting the rules that allow them to stay in the sky and out of the hospital. When tandem students over the skydiving weight limit are allowed to jump, it creates conditions that make a nice landing almost impossible, which places our family of instructors in a compromising position with gravity. We can’t do that to them and the people who care about them.
Over the skydiving weight limit? We’ll be here when you’re not! If you’re really determined to jump — and of course you are! — then use skydiving as a tool. Make it a project to nudge that scale under 250. What a reward for reaching a goal weight, right? The whole world will be at your feet!