Why is There a Weight Limit in Tandem Skydiving?

Why is There a Weight Limit in Tandem Skydiving?

Published: June 15, 2016

Weight limits in skydiving?! C'mon now. Isn't this all about freedom and flying through the air with the greatest of ease?

Hang on for a second. Tandem skydiving weight limits might seem frivolous. In truth, they're anything but. Because we care immensely about your comfort and safety, Skydive South Shore diligently enforces those weight limits. After you check out these three must-knows, you'll understand exactly why.

1. Look At It Another Way.

Imagine that you discover a gorgeous painting in a shop window. It's big enough to look great over the couch, already done up in a nice, heavy frame. You're already imagining the way it's going to brighten up the room when you walk into the hardware store to get the hooks to put it up.

When you go to the hardware counter, what's the first thing they're going to ask you? How much the painting weighs, of course, because those hooks are rated by weight. If the store only carries hooks that are rated to 50 pounds and your painting clocks in at 70, you can imagine what's probably going to happen if you buy those hooks and try to use them--crash. There goes your beautiful painting.

So: would you trust one of those picture hooks to support your weight? Or cross a bridge with a clearly posted sign stating that it may break under more than a hundred pounds? Or bungee jump with a cord rating that doesn't quite cover your heft?

Probably not--and that instinct should certainly apply to skydiving.

2. Understand "Maximum Suspended Weight"--Really.

"Maximum Suspended Weight" is the maximum total weight that the tandem skydiving parachute manufacturer approves for use with the subject equipment. It's important to understand that "Maximum Suspended Weight" is a structural limit.

The Federal Aviation Administration issues safety ratings to the parachutes we use to skydive. This is called a "TSO," and it means that the canopy in question has been tested by the FAA and found strong enough to tolerate a normal deployment under the forces of that maximum weight. If a skydive exceeds this given limit, the tandem skydiving gear is much more likely to tear, to break lines or even to disintegrate during the course of deployment.

Because this weight is set out by the FAA, it is backed up by American federal law. Seriously.

3. Repeat After Me: It's Not Just You.

That maximum suspended weight factors in a lot more than the number you get from the doctor during a checkup, and it goes far beyond the scale you tip. Maximum Suspended Weight calculates your weight, the weight of your tandem instructor, and the weight of all the combined equipment and accessories you both have on the skydive: clothing, jumpsuits, main parachute, reserve parachute, tandem harness, instructor container, helmets, goggles, altimeters, gloves, automatic activation device, radio, cameras, loose change...even a pack of gum, if we're getting technical (which we are). This system of calculation must be applied in order for the TSO to accurately define safety.

4. Think About The Landing.

At Skydive South Shore, our instructors are some of the best in the world--but as skilled as they are at landing tandem skydives safely and comfortably, landing with over-the-weight-limit passengers is dangerous for both them and for you.

You can think of it like riding down a curvy mountain road on a scooter--even if you rode down the exact same set of mountain twisties every day, wearing a heavy backpack changes the game immensely. It becomes harder to safely maneuver even very familiar territory, it speeds up the system, it changes the balance of weight--and if that scooter goes down, both the rider and the backpack are going to get torn up.

Commitment To Our Guests

We want you to love skydiving, and y'know what? We'll be here, stoked and waiting, to make sure your first tandem skydive with Skydive South Shore is not only safe, but an amazing experience! If you have questions about our skydiving weight limit before booking your tandem skydive, view our FAQ or contact a member of our team.

Thank you, SSS and your amazing staff for going over and beyond to help me accomplish this!

» Ji-Eun Kim