What’s in a wait? Unfortunately, for many first-time skydivers, a lot of frustrated feels. We want to change that!

The sheer number of factors at play makes the sport decidedly more unpredictable–even for tandem skydivers–than, say, a theme park experience. You’re going to be along for that ride when you come out for a jump. A great many of our first-time tandem skydiving customers think that they should be gearing up and getting into a plane right away, just as they would board a roller coaster at a theme park, and the fact that isn’t the case can be uber-irritating for the unsavvy.

Luckily, if you’re forewarned (and forearmed), there are ways to make that wait time work for you, not against you. With a little prep, you can be comfortable and entertained through it all. Here’s what you need to know.

this is the way it is

Truth #1: This is the way it is everywhere.

If you read online reviews of skydiving dropzones, you’ll notice a theme: When you’re looking at a negative one, it’s probably going to talk about a long wait time. We understand! It’s hard to wait, especially when you’re nervous. In skydiving, however, you often don’t have a choice: any skydiving dropzone on the planet has to put together a complicated puzzle to get its planes in the air. There are loads of ways in which we’re unique, but this ain’t one of ‘em.

lots of variables at play skydiving wait time

Truth #2: There are lots of variables at play.

Curious to know how that complicated puzzle fits together? Here’s the 101: in skydiving, we refer to the open spaces on a plane as “slots.” Slots are divided between several different types of skydivers: sport skydivers, jumping both alone and in groups; tandem students, their tandem instructors and their videographers; big, pre-arranged training groups; teams; etc.

You can try to plan this out, but it’s always a surprise to any skydiving operation who’s going to actually show up on any given day. Despite the fact that vastly different numbers of skydivers might show up on a given day than what you’ve planned for, there are only ever a certain number of spaces available on the planes. There’s timing, too: When people happen to show up a little late for the class times reserved before yours, you’ll feel the butterfly effect down the line.

Weather, of course, is our very biggest variable. We refuse to put our tandem students and our team at risk by exposing them to dangerous weather conditions, period end. Waiting for winds on a clear sunny day to calm or clouds to clear can take some serious chin-in-hand time.

wait time fun in your hands

Truth #3: Your wait-time fun is in your hands!

Here’s the part that a lot of first-time tandem skydiving students miss out on: You have the power to convert wait times into awesome times! Just come prepared. If you do, you can magically spin the straw of any wait time into the gold of a perfect day. At Skydive Chicago, our facilities are second-to-none for this kinda thing. We have an extensive campground (with electric hookups), trees spaced perfectly for a slackline, immense lawns for lawn games and sunbathing, a swimming pond (usually stocked with a few inflatables), a volleyball court and a great restaurant. Bring your games, your swimsuit, your reading material, your friends, your sun loungers, a blanket, and a day with just one plan on the calendar: to make a skydive! If you plan to be at the DZ for a few hours, you’ll either be pleasantly surprised or perfectly prepared.

Sure, skydiving is unpredictable and there’s bound to be a wait–but there’s one aspect of this business that we have absolute control over. That, of course, is the the world-renowned quality of our equipment, our team and our commitment to your experience. It’s worth the wait! Just one jump and you’ll agree.