Have you ever wondered what it feels like to have rain hit your face at 120+ mph? Yeah, us neither. And we definitely aren’t about to find out! In short, skydiving in the rain is a big no-no. Not only is it legally prohibited, but it’s physically unpleasant and creates the opportunity for a potentially dangerous situation.
Imagine the romantically iconic movie scene from The Notebook. That rain makes the scene 10 times better, right? Okay, now imagine the exact opposite of that. Skydiving in the rain would make your experience 10 times worse. While it certainly would be unforgettable, we hope for you to remember your jump in a positive way. A light drizzle of rain will feel very different hitting your bare face at an extremely high velocity than it does when you’re sitting on the ground. It’s like getting pelted with tiny, little icicles. Ouch!
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the United States Parachute Association (USPA) are the two governing bodies that keep us skydivers in check. There are also dropzone owners and managers, safety and training advisors, pilots, ground crew, packers, and of course, fellow jumpers looking out for one another. The FAA strictly forbids skydiving when a certain amount of cloud coverage is present. While clouds don’t necessarily mean rain, rain always, always, always means clouds and lots of them.
“Can you skydive when it’s raining?” might be a common concern, but it’s really more about the wind and clouds. Technically speaking, licensed jumpers can choose to jump in any wind, but that doesn’t mean it’s smart to throw caution to it… we don’t want to end up at the will of the wind like Dorothy and Toto!
Solo jumpers who are not licensed are prohibited from jumping above 14 mph winds, and even if the winds are lower but gusty (say 3 mph, but gusting to 13mph), that’s not an ideal condition for a new jumper, or any jumper really. Gusty winds create potentially dangerous landings, and when there are really strong, unpredictable winds it’s possible to not even make it back to the dropzone to land. It might make for a good story later, but we want to aim for a happier ending.
Low visibility comes with the clouds. Flying into unknown territory is scary. If an airplane or canopy pilot gets trapped in or above a cloud, it is impossible to see what’s in front of or around them! Not only does this make the jump plain boring, but it’s dangerous! There could be another parachute opening, an aircraft, or other jumpers in close proximity, and you’d have little warning to do anything about your position.
While on the topic of positioning, let’s talk altimeters. Your instructor wears an altimeter on their wrist that tells the current altitude. They need to see their altimeter to know when to deploy the parachute… and they definitely need to see when coming in for a landing. The point is: if we can’t see with our own two eyes, we have no business flying through the sky. Safety first; always.
Parachutes aren’t designed to fly while wet. And while skydiving equipment can take on a LOT, it isn’t designed to take on water… or mud. Our gear getting wet can decrease its airworthiness, result in mildew, and the reserve canopy and small tripwire-like computer called an AAD can be compromised. An AAD, or Automatic Activation Device, is designed to automatically deploy the reserve parachute in the event the jumper is unable to – it’s something we definitely don’t want getting zapped by rainwater!
Skydiving goggles deserve a shout out too. While the temperature isn’t a big deal when you’re dry, it becomes a huge annoyance if you’re wet. Cooler air, water, and a warm body just do not mix well. Case in point – what do we immediately do when our glasses fog up? Wipe them off. Well, when you’re in a foggy freefall, your goggles steam up and get painted with raindrops, and there is no way to wipe them off! OK, let’s say you did manage to get your goggles off… then the wind and rain will make it impossible for you to open your eyes! This brings us full circle to the visibility issue that’s mandated by the FAA.
Skydivers will tell you… half of our fun is had during weather holds. Rain on the day of your jump isn’t to say that waiting out the weather on the ground will be boring; it’ll be anything but that. BUT, we still don’t want your first-jump experience to be dampened (literally). The same goes for our veteran jumpers. Safety is our number one priority, just ahead of having fun, so if it’s better to postpone jumping due to weather, we will.
So, can you go skydiving in the rain? Regrettably, no. However, there’s a saying among skydivers that goes: you can’t jump if you’re not here. This means the weather can be predicted but it is still unpredictable! Of course, if the weather truly is un-jumpable for the entirety of the day, we will gladly reschedule you for a time that works for you. And when the blue sky and sunshine return, we’ll be excited for you to jump with us!