Tips For Your First Time Skydiving Experience

Tips For Your First Time Skydiving Experience

Trying just about anything for the first time can be nerve-wracking (hello first day of school, first date, first new job); your first time skydiving is no different. First time jumpers ask us all the time: what can I do to prepare for my first time skydiving and make the most of my experience? We’ve been around a while, so we’ve got quite the handle on the top tips for your first time skydiving, and with these, we aim to help first time jumpers handle their skydive just like the pros. Here’s your all-inclusive beginners guide for first-time jumpers.

Tips for Before Your Skydive

Tips for your first time skydiving start before you even make your way to the drop zone.

The day of your skydive eat a light, healthy breakfast. Your tummy might be in knots from nerves, but forgoing meals is a no-go. Your body needs the calories to keep you alert and feeling your best.

Before you leave the house take a look in the mirror. Are your clothes well fitted and comfortable? If you’re wondering what to wear, athleisure wear is a favorite of skydiving pros around the globe. It’s breathable, non-restrictive, and perfect for skydiving. If the weather is taking a turn for the chilly side, be sure to pack a few extra layers.

Tips for While at the DropZone

After you check-in with one of our customer service representatives, you may have some downtime. Before your tandem skydiving training brief, take a stroll around our world-class facility and take it all in (of course be sure to keep an ear out for the announcement that it’s your turn to receive your tandem skydiving briefing). While you wait, step outside and watch the sky fill with canopies. Over the years, we’ve noticed watching jumpers land and stroll in from the field, with grins from ear to ear pasted on their faces, can do a great deal to assuage the natural stirrings of anxiety you might be feeling.

When it’s time to sit through your tandem skydiving class, focus. While a tandem skydive is a more passive experience for the tandem jumper, you still have a part to play, and it is imperative you pay attention to help ensure things go as smoothly and safely as possible. 

Tips for the Plane Ride

The ride to altitude can go a few different ways: you’ll be pumped it’s finally happening, you’ll be in disbelief you’ll soon be jumping from this “perfectly good airplane,” you’ll be buzzing with anticipation (and a slight side of nerves), or honestly, any combination of the scenarios listed. The way you handle these feelings will be entirely up to you. If it helps to talk, talk. If you’re the quiet type, sit and reflect. There’s no right or wrong way to manage those pre-jump jitters. 

Tips for When It’s Time to Fly

Alright, this is what your day has been leading up to: freefall. This is also the place where our tips for your first time skydiving come most in handy. Your tandem instructor will have explained exactly what is expected of you during this time—your job is to follow through. 

Tips For Your First Time Skydiving Experience | Skydive Chicago

Though, to help first time jumpers we do have a bit of advice. One of the best tips for your first time skydiving is to breathe! You’d be surprised by the number of people that try to hold their breath. When you’re in the door of the aircraft, take a deep breath in. As you exit, let out a yell. This serves two purposes: if you can yell, you can breathe, and a good holler helps to release the pressure valve for all of the built-up anticipation you’ve amassed. 

Another tip to help ensure an excellent first time skydiving experience is to master the skydiving arch! For a good arch, flex and tighten your glute muscles and push your hips out. The idea is to have your body resemble the shape of a banana. A nice arch helps to ensure optimal stability throughout the freefall portion of your skydive. 

You’ve done it!

After you land and the skydiving portion is done, stick around. Enjoy the energy of the dropzone, chat with some of the locals, and maybe even grab a bite to eat at our deli Eat Up!

Top 7 Things You Didn’t Know About Skydive Chicago

Top 7 Things You Didn’t Know About Skydive Chicago

Skydive Chicago’s original founder Roger Nelson was passionate about skydiving from the training techniques to equipment advancement, that he quickly became one of the sport’s pioneers in the early 1980s and on. His commitment to the sport led him to build one of the largest and most progressive skydiving resorts of its time called, Skydive Chicago. If you’re new to skydiving or looking for a place to make your first jump – there’s so much innovation and history about this Mecca in the Midwest, that we invite you to discover the top seven things you didn’t know about Skydive Chicago!

Training Innovations

Skydive Chicago’s founder was the pioneer behind updating the industry’s standard training which was developed in the early 1980s. It is traditionally called Accelerated Freefall or AFF and it consists of only seven jumps. Roger was unsatisfied with this as there was much more to learn, and many students would quit after the AFF program. He was bound to discover a way in which to engage students longer while giving them more knowledge about body and canopy fight. 

Thus, the 20 jump Advanced Freefall Program was designed in the mid-1990s. This program is continually updated to evolve with the newest training techniques so students get an in-depth program that sets them up for success in the training and staying in the sport longer. That is one reason why Skydive Chicago is proud to say many of its students have gone on to become instructors, competitors, and even world record holders. 

A Place for Jump One to Jump 100, 1000, or 10,000, and BEYOND

Seriously! As we’ve said, we have an incredible student program that will set you up for success. We take you from a newbie tandem student to our AFP solo program, to your first A-License – then set you up with choosing the direction you’d like to take in the sport. Skydive Chicago is chock-full of professional coaches and mentors that can help you take your skydiving to the next level. Go from zero to hero here at Skydive Chicago!

Equipment Innovations

Just as training was important to Skydive Chicago’s founder, so was the equipment used. Our founder was one of the first to start using square main and reserve parachutes for students (which was considered crazy decades ago, but is now industry standard), he started using modern parachute deployment techniques so students did not need to transition to different equipment once licensed (which was also considered crazy, but is now industry standard). 

Skydive Chicago also cycles out its equipment every few years to students are using the most current equipment available. 


Skydive Chicago is a private airport built just for skydiving, and our facilities reflect that! We sit on roughly 250 acres of land – most of which is open space for many parachutes to have space to land. And we have a custom-built hangar to house our aircraft, parachute packing, classrooms, offices, team rooms, cafe, pro shop, restrooms, an auditorium (for events) and more! We are also fortunate enough to have great land nestled up to the Fox River and have tent camping and cabins with a shower house, and a swimming pond so you can unplug from the city and enjoy a camping trip with your skydiving trip!

Aircraft Fleet

Skydive Chicago works alongside a sister business to support a large aircraft fleet. What does that mean? We can accommodate large groups for tandem skydiving and large groups for experienced jumper events! 

Our most popular plane is the Twin Otter – a high-winged, turbine-powered aircraft that seats 23 jumpers. Our Twin Otters have been upgraded to the largest engines which means the climb to altitude is super fast! We are happy to boast we have the fastest jump planes in the midwest!

All Level Events To World Class Events

We are so fortunate to have a facility that not only supports our regular weekend and weekday jumping and local events, but we are big enough to host world records, USPA Nationals (which is the sport’s largest skydiving event in the nation), the World Meet (which we held in 2016), and our long-running ‘boogie’ Summerfest which draws nearly 800 people each year. 

What is a Skydiving "Boogie"? | Skydive Chicago

Our Culture

To some, this may sound overwhelming and sometimes intimidating because we are quite big. However, once you walk through the doors, you become like family because we are! From every tandem student to licensed jumpers, to the pros, you are welcome! 

Skydive Chicago Mission Statement

As our Mission Statement says: Skydive Chicago’s team is dedicated to excellence in customer service, facilities, and safety. Setting the standard through an evolving culture where goals become achievements, moments become memories, and friendships last forever. 

Join us to discover not only more about why Skydive Chicago is the place to learn to skydive but discover more about the journey of skydiving! 

5 Reasons to Try AFP Skydiving

5 Reasons to Try AFP Skydiving

Skydive Chicago does things a little different – we always have. We have made waves in the name of the progression of the sport, including how we train people. Grab a seat to discover the top 5 reasons to try AFP!


Steps To Earn A Skydiving License

Steps To Earn A Skydiving License

The dream of flight is real. From the sketches of Leonardo DiVincci flying contraptions, the Wright Brothers first flight, to the first moon walk. If your heart beats faster and your eyes grow wide with anticipation watching YouTube videos or following our Facebook page of skydiving, then you have the gene, the desire, the willingness to step outside the comfort zone and do something that few dare to dream – earn your skydiving license!

We make the process of earning your skydiving license in Chicago easy in just a few simple steps:


How To Get Into Skydiving

How To Get Into Skydiving

Over the last year, you may have seen incredible images and epic videos on social media of some amazing skydives from our Summerfest event, Upright World Record, teams training, and more, right here at Skydive Chicago. Skydive Chicago is not only host to these incredible events that draw skydivers in from around the world, but we are also a training facility that can guide you into this sport. So how can you get into skydiving?


Skydive Chicago’s August 2019 Newsletter

Skydive Chicago’s August 2019 Newsletter

A Letter From Rook Nelson…

Change is on the horizon.  Let me elaborate. During Summerfest, there was a group doing an angle jump.    The jump was somewhat uneventful until break off when one jumper tracked into another knocking himself out.


Skydive Chicago and The Golden Knights: ‘Tandemed’ in Excellence

Skydive Chicago and The Golden Knights: ‘Tandemed’ in Excellence

This past week, the Golden Knights descended upon Skydive Chicago for yet another residency of tandem skydiving. The U.S. Army’s Golden Knights occupy a unique role in the armed forces as one of three Department of Defense-sanctioned aerial demonstration teams, alongside the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. The Knights perform regularly at public demonstrations, compete at national and international skydiving competitions, and—in the Tandem division—share their love of the skies by facilitating tandem jumps for educators, government officials, other fellow soldiers, and even selected celebrities, including local ABC-7’s meteorologist Cheryl Scott, who just made her first tandem at Skydive Chicago last week.

For nearly twenty years, the Tandem Orientation Program (TOPS) has enjoyed overwhelming success in helping the general public understand the training and professionalism of Soldiers while making the sport of parachuting more accessible. The drop zone staff, especially DZO Rook Nelson, couldn’t have been more thrilled to welcome the Knights back again this year.

“We have lots of military contracts at SDC,” Rook explained. “But this is a long-standing partnership that allows us to give back to our country in a unique way.”

The Knights’ focus on tandem parachuting is a particularly resonant common bond with Skydive Chicago, as is their passion for safety. Tandem examiner SFC Noah Watts and S&TA Anthony Ebel collaborated throughout the week to discuss the latest equipment, technological advancements, and strategies to make tandem skydiving safer.

“[Anthony] is so well-informed and is constantly seeking ways to better uphold safety protocols,” SFC Watts commended. SFC Adrian Hill,  who has been on the Golden Knights for almost 10 years, shared a similar sentiment about the dropzone as a whole. “The quality of Skydive Chicago’s facilities, the efficiency and caliber of their staff, and the observance of safety regulations is beyond reproach.  We’ve been many, many dropzones getting to come to such a top-notch facility makes the week of tandem jumping that much better for our team and for the tandems we have with us.”

SFC Chris Acevedo, who has been training with Golden Knights since 2008, recently ‘came home’ to Skydive Chicago for this tandem camp.  “I’ve been jumping at Skydive Chicago since 2010.  I’ve competed on multiple teams, including the Golden Knights Vertical Formation Team Video Slot, and I’ve been lucky enough to be on world record attempts at Skydive Chicago.   As a fun jumper, SDC is one of my favorite places to jump and the people here are like another family to me.  To come here to ‘work’ as a Golden Knight doesn’t even feel like work at all.  I love skydiving and I want to share that passion with everyone and I get to do it at Skydive Chicago this week. It’s fantastic.”

Upon completing their week of training, it was time for the Knights to fly. The SDC staff, particularly Events and Marketing Director A.J. Johnson, was sad to see them go.

“When the Golden Knights are here, the hangar buzzes with energy ” A.J. explained. “We get to see our old friends on the team, meet new ones, and have the opportunity to help more people enjoy the sky with us.  They are welcome additions to Skydive Chicago and we are so happy to have them here each year.”

Rook Nelson on Rookiefest

Rook Nelson on Rookiefest

“The expert in anything was once a beginner.” – unknown 

The walls of Skydive Chicago boast about the newly licensed skydivers, and the names of all graduates since the skydiving center’s inception in 1993 are recognized on a plaque. The halls of Skydive Chicago are full of world-class athletes – local, and from around the world – and you’d most likely never know it as everyone works and plays together! 

When you’re new, it can all be overwhelming on how to fit in. Lucky for us here, there are a plethora of coaches that specialize in bringing up newbies like SDC Rhythm XP, the A-license club, and of course, Rookiefest – the mega rookie event of the year!