It’s pretty safe to say that we all have probably imagined what it would be like to lay on a cloud, or what a cloud might feel like. Is it puffy like a pillow? Is it as soft as cotton?
Humans are inquisitive creatures, especially when it comes to looking up in the sky. Just like the stars, the moon, and planets – clouds keep our curiosities going. It’s the intangible wonder that drives us to want the chance to experience this wonder up close and personal.
With your skydive on the horizon, maybe you’re hoping to finally get the chance to touch a cloud!!
The three main weather factors that can impact your skydive are: wind, rain, and clouds.
Dangerous wind gusts can impact the steerability of the canopy making it hard to perform a safe landing, while rain and clouds can impact visibility for the skydiver. We need to be able to see where we’re going in order to have an accurate landing and to have a full view of our surroundings while in the sky.
For safety reasons, skydiving only takes place when weather conditions are just right – blue skies with winds around 5 mph is what we want to see!
WHAT IF IT’S CLOUDY ON THE DAY OF MY SKYDIVE?
If clouds roll in, we will go on a weather hold until things start to clear up. This is usually determined by the pilot or the Safety & Training Advisor (S&TA).
Clouds move and can sometimes appear out of nowhere. There’s a chance that the skies could be clear to skydive, you board the plane and all of a sudden clouds start building around you. In this case, the pilot is responsible for assessing the clouds to determine if they should just ride back to the ground or if you’re good to go.
According to Federal Aviation Regulation Part 105.17: “No person may conduct a parachute operation, and no pilot in command of an aircraft may allow a parachute operation to be conducted from that aircraft –
Into or through a cloud, or
When the flight visibility or the distance from any cloud is less than that prescribed…”
HOW HIGH DO CLOUDS NEED TO BE TO SKYDIVE?
To keep things simple, we usually say that we just “need to be able to see the ground from the plane.” Here, the FAA provides a detailed table of the flight visibility and clearance from cloud requirements:
Flight visibility (statute miles)
Distance from clouds
1,200 feet or less above the surface regardless of MSL altitude
This doesn’t completely crush your dreams of seeing a cloud up-close – we can still skydive below clouds and sometimes even in between clouds.
Pilots and the S&TA will work together to check the weather forecasts with the automated weather observation system (AWOS) and also by using their eyes to determine the altitude and if the clouds look like they’re moving or building in the area.
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU SKYDIVE THROUGH A CLOUD?
Entering a thick cloud can be extremely dangerous, especially if you have no idea how deep the cloud is or what is on the other side.
Pulling your parachute inside of a cloud is a big no-no because skydivers falling above you won’t be able to see you deploy, and you risk having a mid-air collision. It is best to wait until everyone has exited the cloud before deploying your parachute.
You can see how being inside of a cloud at the time you needed to deploy your parachute would be stressful! Skydiving through a cloud can be quite a frightening experience and honestly, not all that exciting.
Don’t get us wrong, getting a view of puffy white clouds against the blue sky in the distance is a fantastic sight to see – a real treat! However, skydiving through a cloud isn’t actually as glorious as one might expect. It’s gray, foggy, and misty! If you’ve ever gone through fog, it’s exactly like that – so, rest assured that you’re not missing out on anything. Don’t let that stop your imagination though!