5 Tips to Choose the Right Skydiving Dropzone in Chicago

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You’ve made the decision to go skydiving — now the hard part is choosing which dropzone to trust.

There are a few skydiving centers and dropzones around the Chicago area, but how can you narrow down the contenders? 

Here are five things to look for when choosing a skydiving dropzone in Chicago:

1. Ask about the dropzone’s safety record

It’s the question on every jumper’s mind: “how safe is skydiving?” Of course a dropzone is going to say that their facility is safe, but it’s up to you to investigate how true that is. 

Here are a few things you can do to investigate a dropzone’s safety:

Ask if they are USPA and FAA compliant

The United States Parachute Association (USPA) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are the two big governing forces in the world of skydiving. 

Each has its own set of regulations and policies for jump safety, including rules around limiting skydiving under certain weather conditions, recommended equipment choices, and other safety protocols. 

You can contact them to ask how a certain dropzone meets or exceeds regulations.

Ask about their aircraft

Are you going to jump out of a reliable plane? Ask about each aircraft’s age and inspect the plane safety rating

Is it an aircraft specifically designed for skydiving? Specialized aircraft will display information about seat belt reminders, winds aloft, ground speed, and distance from the dropzone throughout the jump run from the pilots, which is not information offered by all dropzones.

Ask about their jump equipment

What brand of jump gear does the skyzone use? Some brands like United Parachute Technologies are popular in the skydiving community and have a reliable reputation.

Others may be new to the industry and require a little more research on your part to validate that they’re trustworthy.

Ask about both the jump harness and your parachutes, including how often they check the reserve parachute (this is your backup chute if your main chute can’t deploy). The reserve chute should be repacked every 180 days. 

Ask about the age of their equipment, too. Most dropzones will use gear for 15-20+ years before retiring it, but anything older than three could be replaced for optimal safety.

2. Research their staff

They say a ship is only as good as its captain. The same is true for a plane and its pilot. 

Check your pilot’s record and credentials when you can. In addition, verify your tandem skydiving instructor is trustworthy and competent to get you to your destination safely. 

Tandem instructors must go through rigorous training and testing, including jumping in the middle of the night, landing in water, and more. And while a lot goes into getting certified as a tandem skydive instructor, not all dropzones have seasoned staff or instructors with the same level of experience. 

Look at each dropzone’s staff page, and don’t be afraid to contact individual instructors to find a tandem jump partner you can trust. 

3. Don’t go for the cheap jump

We all want to get a good deal, but there’s a time and a place for a cheap price tag. Launching yourself out of an airplane is not it!

Skydiving is considered one of the more expensive sports because a lot goes into making sure everything works properly and safely. 

Think how much you pay for a flight. It includes the cost of the plane, fuel, insurance, facilities, employee time, and all of the prep time that went into getting that plane off the ground — and then some! 

Compare the prices of Chicago-based dropzones, keeping in mind that different rates will apply for both the altitude and time of freefall. 

Generally, any jump costing more than $300 may be overpriced, and anything under $150 is a little too good to be true. Here are typical skydiving rates in Chicago

4. See if they have resources for first-timers

If you’re a first-time skydiver, you may be nervous about taking the big plunge. Some dropzones are more accommodating for first-timers than others, and it’s always good to see how well the facility works with novice jumpers. 

Other than the dropzone’s “jump school” lessons for first-time skydivers, do they offer additional resources for you? Does their website have a page just for first-timers, or supportive materials like booklets, instructional videos, or blogs directed towards helping you prepare for the big day? 

At the bare minimum, do they at least have skydiving tips for you to start

A dropzone will give you the tools you need to prepare for a jump when they truly care about your experience. You should never feel rushed or unprepared when you’re going into a jump, especially if it’s your first. 

5. Check out what people are saying about them

Last, scope out the dropzone’s reputation. What are people saying about the skydiving center online?

If the dropzone lists reviews on their website, that’s a great place to start. But don’t stop there! It’s easy for skydiving facilities to filter the best reviews and the best reviews only on their own site. Branch out and check common review platforms like Facebook, Google, and more to learn more about others’ experiences. 

If the company has some poor reviews, see how they address disgruntled customers. If the dropzone has a lot of positive reviews, are there any common elements that customers mention enjoying?

Be sure to ask around the area and social media as well. Friends or locals will know the best places to skydive in the area, and they can help you narrow down your choice.

Skydive with us!

Here at Chicagoland Skydiving Center, we’re the real deal. 

Still not convinced? Check out why we’re considered one of the best dropzones in the entire country.



Douglas Smith is CEO/President, and Guest Relations Associate at Chicagoland Skydiving Center. He has owned and operated the business since 2000. He has been skydiving since 1994, and in addition to leading the CSC Team, is currently an instructor, videographer and pilot for CSC.

Topics: Skydiving Industry, Chicago