Do you skydive out of a plane or helicopter? Most skydiving operations are out of skydiving airplanes, especially for first-time tandem skydivers. While there are some skydiving centers around the world that offer helicopter jumps for tandem skydivers, you’ll most likely have to leave the United States to find them.
Skydiving airplanes are not the normal commercial airplanes that you’re used to seeing. Skydiving airplanes are significantly smaller. So, what planes are used for skydiving? You can find about 8 different types of aircraft in the skydiving industry: the Cessna 182, Cessna 206, Cessna 208 (Caravan), Twin Otter, King Air, Skyvan, PAC, and Porter. But which are the top skydiving airplanes? Here, we’ll cover just that and explain the pros and cons of the most popular skydiving aircraft.
If you’re not an airplane enthusiast, you may be wondering – “what’s the big deal?” Well, for starters, skydiving can involve a lot of weather-related waiting around – so you usually want an airplane that gets you to altitude quickly and comes back down quickly. A fast skydiving airplane not only means less time waiting around, but it also means more jumps in a single day – which is good for business, great for tandem students who don’t want to wait a minute longer for their highly-anticipated tandem jump, and essential for fun jumpers who want to jump again and again! It’s just a win-win for everyone! Let’s dive into the top four skydiving airplanes in the US and why they are so popular amongst skydivers!
The King Air is among the most favorite, if not THE favorite of all skydiving aircraft. Why? Because just like our beautiful, twin-turbine King Air at Skydive Monroe, this jump plane can get you to 14,000 feet in under 10 minutes! This equates to more jumps and shorter wait periods. Not to mention, with a 14-person capacity, there’s more room for friends AND less wait time if the load manifest fills up fast. Skydive Monroe is proud to fly one of the most desirable skydiving airplanes in the industry!
The Twin Otter is one of the most classic, reliable skydiving airplanes and another one of the favorites amongst skydivers. This particular skydiving aircraft can seat 21 skydivers comfortably (depending on the interior set-up) due to its wide cabin. The Twin Otter can reach 14,000 ft in around 15 minutes, which is pretty good! The downside to this skydiving aircraft is that it is a bit pricey, therefore, the dropzone won’t send the airplane unless there are enough skydivers on the load to meet the minimum.
This boxy, loud but bold, and vivacious aircraft is almost like a unicorn in the skydiving industry. What’s so great about it, you ask!? The Skyvan is unique in that you exit out of the rear door that opens ALL OF THE WAY. Oh yes, this means you can stand up and just walk out of the plane to exit – there’s less awkward crouching, kneeling, and the potential for exit door injuries. This plane is perfect for skydivers who want to get creative with large group jumps, cartwheels, and flips! It’s a real treat to get to jump out of a Skyvan, even for tandem jumpers. While the climb is slow (arriving at 14,000 ft in about 20 minutes), and the plane is extremely loud, it’s that large exit door that makes the Skyvan extra special.
Can you skydive from a Cessna? Why, yes, you can and it’s actually one of the most commonly used (and smallest) skydiving aircraft. Its affordability, accessibility, and quaint quarters deliver a more personal skydiving experience, which is what attracts most dropzones to this particular aircraft. The Cessna 182 can carry 4 skydivers at a time, which is why it’s perfect for couples, besties, or anyone you want to share the experience with. This creates a more intimate, low-key experience that some people prefer. The Cessna 182 can reach up to 10,000 feet in around 20 minutes, which is pretty good for tandem jumps, student jumpers who are learning to skydive, and low altitude jumps (or “hop & pops”) for licensed jumpers.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and United States Parachute Association (USPA) regulations are in place to minimize the risk of skydiving and aviation injuries or collisions. Thanks to these Federal Aviation Regulations and something called the circle of awareness, airplane/skydiver collisions are extremely rare.
Some skydiving operations choose to lease their aircraft rather than purchase their own. Regardless, of whether a dropzone leases or purchases, skydiving airplanes are EXPENSIVE! Jump planes cost between $230,000 to upwards of $3 million! Not only are the airplanes themselves expensive, but the cost of maintenance and fuel are exorbitant. Put these expenses within the context of the cost of general operations and the engagement of best-in-class instructors, experienced pilots, and top-notch manifest and ground crew, and you can see why the price of a tandem skydive is actually reasonable (and totally worth it).
Now you know all about jump planes — and can appreciate how awesome it is that we have one of the most desirable skydiving airplanes in the game — book your jump with us at Skydive Monroe! Blue skies, friends!
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