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Skydiving: What you need to know

If you don’t mind being strapped to somebody else, you’re an adult and weigh under 235 pounds, it is as easy as picking up the phone and scheduling a dive with Jumptown — located at the Orange Municipal Airport, right off of the Route 2 exit.

A tandem skydive at Jumptown can take only between two and three hours of total time. After signing legal waivers and forms, prospective jumpers will hear a short 10-minute briefing from the tandem instructor, who explains about equipment and proper jumping technique.

Then, the jumper will be strapped into a harness and board the small airplane for a 10-minute ride up to 13,500 feet.

During a jump, tandem instructors encourage you to calmly step out of the plane as if you were taking a step out of a bus — which is easier said than done.

The best approach may just be to let the instructor do the work. Stand at the edge of the door with your arms crossed and knees slightly bent. When the instructor shouts the command to jump, lift your feet from the plane’s surface and the instructor will lunge forward, throwing both of you from the plane.

If you remember to do nothing else during the jump, make sure you arch your back and put your legs straight out behind you. Otherwise, your limbs will flail around awkwardly and it will mean more work for both you and your tandem instructor.

There is obvious danger to falling from the sky, but with parachutes and back-up parachutes, there is probably more chance for injury during the landing.

The tandem instructor will tell you to lift your legs up in front of you in a sitting position, and then you’ll land that way — as if you were sliding down a slide. If you put your legs down too early, there is a chance you could twist or break an ankle, so it’s important to just relax and listen to the instructor’s directions.

Any clothes are fine to wear during a skydive. Jumptown employees suggested jumpers wear sneakers, athletic T-shirts and pants or shorts. Jumpsuits are available for colder months.

Skydivers who wear glasses or contacts will receive special goggles so that they can keep them in while jumping.

And employees recommend eating the same way one does before regular exercise. It isn’t advisable to go up with an empty stomach, but not the best idea to eat a meal right before take-off either.

Want to fly solo?

Prospective skydivers can skip right over tandem if they want, employees said. The Accelerated Freefall program (AFF) provides people with a progressive entrance to the sport.

Students will take a ground-school class for eight to 10 hours, where they will learn how to fly the parachute, deal with emergency scenarios and various landing strategies.

During the first three skydives, two instructors will hold on during the entire jump. Then, with each jump, instructors will gradually let go for portions of the dive. After eight skydives, the student becomes certified to jump solo.

How to sign up

Jumptown is open on Thursdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to sunset, and on Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. to sunset. It is also open on Monday holidays.

Jumps will go until late November and then resume in the spring.

Tandem jumps cost $210 on weekdays and $225 on weekends. Military discounts are available.

The first AFF jump, which includes the ground school and the skydive, costs $325 and occurs on Saturdays. Jumps two and three of the AFF program cost $200 each, and then the price decreases per jump.

To schedule a jump, call 800-890-JUMP or 978-544-5321 or email
skydive@jumptown.com.

— CHRIS SHORES

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