A fresh and unique twist on the sport of skydiving, helicopter skydiving is sweeping the community with more and more people making plans to partake in the activity. Skydiving itself isn’t for the faint of heart and jumping from a charter helicopter is even more of a challenge but according to individuals who have recently taken the plunge, it’s equally as addicting and thrilling.
The same as is recommended for traditional skydives, those who have never done it before often start with a tandem jump in which they are harnessed throughout to a seasoned professional. The gear is essentially the same and the process is the same in its simplest form, you elevate to jump altitude, you jump, your canopy deploys, you land. However, to provide a more detailed description to see if helicopter skydiving appeals to you, we’ll take this opportunity to expound upon the experience by detailing the dive from a helicopter as it usually unfolds.
Once participants arrive at the location of their jump, they will be briefed on what to expect during their skydive and how to approach the aircraft (the tail rotor can give the appearance of being invisible when its in motion, therefore, it’s safest to always approach from the side, never from the rear).
Once you have received your safety briefing, you may be instructed to watch a video or will simply await being outfitted in your gear. If you are jumping tandem, your instructor will help to suit you up and then you’ll board the aircraft together.
The ride to the elevation at which you will skydive takes at least half the time (roughly 5-7 minutes) in a helicopter as these skydives are generally commenced at lower altitudes than general skydives from a jump plane. When jump altitude has been achieved, your instructor will position you sitting on the edge of the open doorway and after a count to three you will simply fall out. The helicopter will be in motion at the time so there will be no need for you to literally leap from the aircraft.
From there participants will experience several seconds of free-fall (the actual time frame regarding the free fall portion will vary dependent upon your altitude), then your tandem instructor will deploy the canopy and you’ll glide softly to earth while enjoying the scenery around you.
To provide some perspective on how your view will alter between a helicopter skydive versus a jump from a plane, if you were to be jumping around mountainous terrain in a helicopter you will view the mountains as they are around you even closer to you; following leaping from a plane, you will view the mountains from beneath you and may in fact see the entirety of the mountain range.
There are a couple elements to consider that up the danger factor when helicopter skydiving. One of which is should the tail rotor or propeller become engaged with anything, an accident could ensue, furthermore variations on the helicopter skydive make the experience even riskier, like bungee-ing from a helicopter where a cutaway may be necessary and is hard to achieve correctly at such low elevations or if you elect to wingsuit skydive from a helicopter.
That said, if participants do their due diligence and research the activity, and listen intently to their tandem instructors, there’s absolutely no reason they shouldn’t be able to have an incredible time during their helicopter skydive. It is imperative however that individuals not engage in the riskier options without the proper gear or experience level necessitated by the difficulty of the type helicopter skydive.