Can You Do a HALO Jump as a Civilian?

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Skydiving is definitely a thrill, but did you know that there are several types of jumps you can make? High Altitude Low Oxygen (HALO) jumps are well-known around the world. They're said to be among the most thrilling kinds of jumps that a skydiver can make. Typically, they're reserved for military operations and training. So, is it possible for civilians to take a HALO jump? If you're not in the military, but you'd really like to see what one of these jumps is like, here's what you need to know.

Short Answer: Yes

The shortest answer to this question is yes. Most civilians definitely can take HALO jumps, and you don't need to be a member of the military (or even a former member) to get involved with this type of jump. Sometimes, if you're really a high-octane thrill-seeker, you'll want to test the limits of your abilities. That means going higher up, and falling for much longer, than you'd be able to do with a more standard, conventional type of skydive. For some people, that's just what they need to fully enjoy their jump experience.

If you're in that thrill-seeking category, it could make sense that you'd want to take a HALO jump. It's often a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience, and something you'll never forget. It can also really deepen your love for skydiving, and add to the bonding experiences you have with your fellow skydivers, as well. But it's important to keep in mind that there are some stipulations when it comes to a civilian HALO jump, because it's very different from the traditional tandem jump.

Long Answer: What's Different About a HALO Jump?

If you really want to take a HALO jump, the first step is to understand what's different about it. The more you know about this kind of jump ahead of time, the more prepared you'll be to make the jump and experience everything it offers. Here are a few of the main differences to consider.

Difference 1. Altitude

The biggest difference between a regular skydive and a HALO jump is the height from which you'll actually be jumping out of the airplane. While a standard jump happens around 14,000 feet, HALO jumps can go all the way up to 30,000+ feet. There's only one dropzone that the Federal Aviation Administration has authorized for jumps that are at that height. It's not something you'll find just anywhere.

Difference 2. Oxygen Levels

Because you're so high up in the air, the level of oxygen available to you is dramatically lower than when you're on the ground. When you're in a pressurized aircraft, it's not a problem. But it's very jarring when you're jumping out of a plane. For that reason, you'll need to wear an oxygen mask when you make your HALO jump. Without an oxygen mask, you could lose consciousness and even put your health and safety at risk.

Difference 3. Temperature

The higher up you go, the colder the air gets. You'll need specialized gear to keep you warm as you descend. At 30,000 feet the temperature is around -40 degrees Fahrenheit, at the warmest. It's not something you can jump out into just wearing a jacket. Protecting yourself and your extremities from the cold takes a little time, but it's well worth it, so you can jump safely and really appreciate your HALO jumping experience.

Difference 4. Procedure

When you're taking a HALO jump, you'll climb to altitude exceptionally fast. That means your body doesn't have much time to get used to the changes in temperature, oxygen, and pressure. Because of that, you'll need to start "training" your body for that altitude. There are extra steps in the preparation process to help you do that. The most significant one is breathing pure oxygen for one full hour, before you make your jump.

Difference 5. Price

Fuel, planes, and people all cost money. That means you can expect to pay at lot more for a HALO jump than you would for a regular tandem skydive. Not only does it take more personnel, and more time, but the steep ascent and higher altitude are more costly. Additionally, you'll need a plane that can safely reach the HALO jumping altitude. Not all planes can do that, and the cost of planes that can reach higher altitudes is going to add to the cost of your jump.

Difference 6. Freefall

On a standard skydive of 14,000 feet, you'll likely be in freefall for around 60 seconds. If you jump from 30,000 feet, though, you'll be falling for an amazing 2.5 minutes. That's a very long time to look around and see all that this kind of jump has to offer. The world looks incredible from that height, and you'll have enough freefall to really take it all in. If you want to experience freefall for a longer period of time than you can during a traditional jump, a HALO jump could be for you.

Additional Differences

Depending on where you go to make your jump, your skydiving dropzone could also have additional regulations. Those are in place to help ensure the safety of their team and the jumpers. That means you'll be at the mercy of any regulations that company chooses to set. If a dropzone denies your ability to perform a HALO jump at any time during the process, don't take it personally. It will always be for safety reasons! They're doing their best to protect you, and to protect their personnel and planes, too.

Ready to Jump?

If you're ready to make your skydiving adventure a reality, take a look at all the great opportunities here at CSC. We can help you find the right type and level of jump that's going to be fun, enjoyable, exciting, and provide you with a memory you'll have for a lifetime. There's nothing like skydiving, and whether you want to jump for a special event or just because you can, CSC is here to help make your skydive adventure dreams a reality.

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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: Tandem