Most people don’t think too much about the plane they will be flying in when going on a skydive (that is, until they see the size of the plane and stripped interior!) because they’re nervous about the jump itself, but the aircraft actually matters quite a bit!
The types of planes used for skydiving vary, but people definitely have their opinions on which ones they prefer. Some love the King Air, others want a Cessna 208 Caravan, and still others are all about Cessna 182 skydiving planes. There’s no real best plane for skydiving, but the experience of each depends on a few factors.
Types of Planes
There are many different types of planes used in skydiving. There are smaller planes that typically hold around 4 or 5 people, like the Cessna 182 (one of the most commonly used planes in skydiving) and the Cessna 206. Then there is the Cessna 208, also known as a Caravan, which is one of the most popular planes in the sport. Other aircraft frequently found at dropzones include the Twin Otter, King Air, Skyvan, PAC, and Porter. If you’re not an aircraft enthusiast, then these names probably won’t mean a lot to you, but they all have different features and advantages that make them good skydiving planes.
Height You Jump From
There are a few factors that affect the altitude from which you skydive: airspace limitations, weather and, perhaps most notably, the type of aircraft. Some airplanes can go higher than others, whether it’s for a certification or an efficiency reason. The smaller planes, such as the Cessna 182 and Cessna 206, typically go up to an altitude of 8,000 to 10,500 feet. The larger planes, however, are capable of dropping jumpers from between 13,000 and 15,000 feet. (If supplementary oxygen is provided, many of the bigger planes can go even higher than 15,000 feet!).
How Long You Freefall
Since the amount of time you’re under parachute is consistent regardless of exit altitude, the higher the altitude you skydive from, the more freefall time you get!
Jumping from 8,000 feet gives you around 20 seconds of freefall. If you jump from 15,000 feet, then you would have about a minute of freefalling towards the ground. Some people plan to only jump once and so want to maximize their skydive, and prefer a higher exit altitude. Others feel better about making their first jump at a lower altitude and then progressing higher on subsequent jumps. Either way, skydiving is about the entire experience and not just the amount of time that you fall!
Time on the Ground
The type of plane that the dropzone has also affects the amount of time you spend on the ground! Why does that matter? Well, some of the planes like the Caravan, the Twin Otter, and the King Air fly much more quickly. This means that they get up to the jump altitude faster, which results in a shorter amount of time on the plane, and they get to the ground faster too. It is not uncommon to have some wait time while waiting for groups to jump or weather to pass, but when jumping at a place with a quicker plane, the operation moves much more efficiently!
A Cozy Ride Up
Comfort isn’t usually the first thing that people think of when it comes to skydiving, but if given the option to choose being comfortable or not, it makes sense to choose the more pleasant situation!
Skydiving planes are frequently crammed full of people sitting tightly in a small space together. There is not a lot of room to move around on the ride up to altitude, and the smaller the plane is, the more stuffed it feels. Whereas the small Cessna 182 and Cessna 206 do not have a lot of space to move around or adjust, a larger plane provides a bit more breathing room and an open cabin feel.
Our Plane Upgrade
We recently upgraded our plane from a Cessna 182 to a Cessna 208 Grand Caravan and we are thrilled about the change! Our new Caravan holds around 15 skydivers, climbs to altitude in about 10 minutes, has a more comfortable seating arrangement, and has a bigger exit door. Yes!
The best plane for tandem skydiving really comes down to what your priorities are. Some are quicker, some are larger, and some can go higher, but they’re all fun to jump from. Ready to earn your wings? Come up with us – blue skies!