Published: March 7, 2018
Should choosing the right dropzone be any different from choosing a doctor? When you select a medical professional, you want the best care possible. After all: You only have one body. You can think of selecting the right dropzone in the same way. You only have one life! You already know that skydiving is a much more premeditation-and-planning-intensive prospect than, say, going to the amusement park. They may not wear stethoscopes, but the professionals - and facilities - to whom you trust your skydiving experience need to be stone-cold experts with a caring touch. Here's how to navigate the search:
1. Determine which professionals are "In-Network"
In the same way as you check that a physician provider is "in-network" for your insurance, you should check that your chosen dropzone is "in-network" for the United States Parachute Association. USPA member dropzones uphold the world's gold standard for instructor professionalism, equipment maintenance and safety standards. (You might not imagine that it would be, but the difference in quality of experience is very noticeable.) To determine the status, check for your dropzone of interest on the USPA website.
2. Check for bona fides
As you are no doubt aware, most practicing physicians in the U.S. are board certified. Did you know that a similar standard is upheld within the community of skydiving instructors?
All skydiving instructors at reputable, safety-focused dropzones - like reputable, safety-focused clinics - employ a staff comprised of licensed professionals. Some of these pros are experts in a certain field of specialty. For example, in medicine, endocrinology or oncology - and in skydiving, accelerated freefall training or tandem instruction. Some are generalists. Others are support staff, trained to make your experience as excellent as it can possibly be.
In order to determine what sort of facility you're walking into, you can contact the USPA and check that the skydiving operation's licenses are in order, just as you can call the State Board to check on a doctor. The power is yours!
3. Find a professional with expertise that meets your unique needs
Along those lines: In much the same way that it's a good idea to check that the clinic you visit specializes in the kind of care you need, it's a good idea to check that the dropzone you're interested in visiting can offer you the experience you're looking for. For instance: If you're looking forward to earning your solo skydiving certification, you should know that not all dropzones are staffed and equipped to guide you through that challenge. Your solution: Always contact the dropzone first to check what's on offer. If they can't help you, they'll know who can.
4. Ask for referrals
At the end of the day, who's the best source for information to choose a sterling care professional? Your friends and neighbors! When you look to the trusted people in your life to send you in the direction of a great doctor, they rarely let you down - right?
In the same way, ask around for skydiving dropzone recommendations. You'll quickly find yourself on the receiving end of lots of great insider information on every subject from wait times to bedside (planeside?) manner. And, if you're in the greater New York area, we're quite sure that those roads of recommendation will lead you straight to our door.
So what are you waiting for? Don't put off that appointment any longer! Get your much-needed dose of freefall at the Long Island Skydiving Center. You owe it to your health.