Are you thinking about skydiving in Chicago? Are you looking for the best dropzone in Illinois?
On this page, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the Chicago skydiving scene from picking a date to saving for a payment.
Let’s dive right in.
If you’ve been thinking about taking the plunge and trying skydiving for the first time, give us a virtual high five! We know it can be a nerve-wracking decision, but a little jitters are normal before your first freefall, and certainly no reason to skip this exciting experience altogether.
Here are just a few reasons why skydiving rocks:
We all have a list of things that scare us, and falling 18,000 feet is on a lot of our lists.
That’s what makes skydiving more than just a “fall.” It’s an opportunity for you to take a daring, adrenaline-pumping escape from your routine to experience something that very few others have ever done.
Once you’re on the ground, you have that experience for the rest of your life! When others say they’re afraid of heights, you can say that you jumped out of a perfectly good airplane and fell for a full 90 seconds through the air.
There’s nothing quite like conquering a fear, especially when you can have fun while doing it.
No first-time skydiver is jumping out of the plane alone. You’re always strapped to a certified tandem instructor.
Tandem skydiving instructors go through insane levels of training and testing to get their tandem instructor certification, including jumping 500 times, spending a minimum of three hours in freefall, jumping in the dark, landing in water, and passing pen-and-paper exams.
Most long-term instructors have safely landed with thousands of people. While you’ll certainly go through some training before jumping with them, these teachers have you covered in case you forget anything or get nervous. They’re literally strapped against you during your fall and have your back, both literally and metaphorically!
For you, your skydive could be the experience of a lifetime. For your tandem instructor, it’s just another day at the office!
Get a glimpse of the tandem skydiving experience for yourself!
Often, when you ask someone who just went skydiving how it felt, they could be at a loss for words. They may say it’s indescribable. But eventually, they’ll find the words.
For those who take the big leap, they share how the experience truly changed their lives — whether it made them feel invincible, gave them a new appreciation for the world, made their everyday problems seem manageable, or just became their new favorite bragging rights.
If you’re stuck on a gift idea for that special thrill-seeker in your life, skydiving shows that you’re creative and thoughtful. Gifting an experience instead of an item is a terrific idea in general, especially if you know anyone who prefers a minimalist lifestyle of fewer possessions and more experiences.
It’s also a no-brainer in terms of the impact it can have on someone’s life. Your best friend may forget the present or card you gave them on their 30th birthday.
But they’ll never forget the time they jumped out of an airplane!
Whether you’re in Illinois on vacation or a resident of the state, Chicago is an exciting spot to jump out of a perfectly good airplane.
But out of all the places in the U.S. to skydive, what makes Chicago stand out?
There’s a reason that people flock to the city of Chicago for vacation — there’s so much to do!
Luckily, Chicago’s skydiving centers are a reasonable drive from downtown, making it easy for you to duck out of the hustle-and-bustle and out to the dropzone.
We recommend booking accommodations just outside of downtown for lower rates, closer proximity to dropzones, and easier access to the outskirts of Chicago.
When you’re choosing the place to skydive, it’s important to know that dropzones operate according to the same protocols because skydiving is a largely unregulated industry. Training, equipment, aircraft, instructor experience, and ground crews all contribute to a safe jump.
You can usually find the best skydiving centers by reading their reviews online. Just like anywhere, Chicago-based dropzones’ vary, but certain centers — like Chicagoland Skydiving — stand out from the rest by repeatedly earning high reviews.
Some dropzones are awarded for their safety culture, using the best equipment and aircrafts on the market, and choosing verteran tandem instructors (among other qualities) to excel in all things safety.
Is it better to skydive around Chicago during a certain season? Is there an ideal time of the day to skydive? Does weather influence my ability to jump?
Yes, yes and yes!
There are few factors that can influence planning for a jump. We’ll start with choosing the time of year.
Chicago is right next to Lake Michigan. As a result, it’s not possible for dropzones to operate year-round because of the chillier winters.
Instead, the Chicago skydiving season lasts from around April to October, which tend to have the safest weather and temperatures for jumps.
During the winter, Chicago-based dropzones will close because ground temperatures may be at 30 degrees, but it’ll be dramatically colder 18,000 feet up.
You can still book a jump during the winter to plan ahead, but it’s just not safe to skydive in Chicago between November and March.
In a skydiver’s perfect world, every day would be sunny and warm with clear line-of-sight and comfortable temperatures — even 18,000 feet in the air.
Unfortunately, that’s not always the case, and inclement weather can make skydiving impossible.
Heavy rain, thunderstorms, and exceptionally-strong winds can all derail a day of skydiving. This is always frustrating when it happens, but keeping instructors, pilots, and jumpers on the ground is the only way to guarantee their safety.
Otherwise, there’s simply too much at risk to go skydiving.
You can learn more about how to prepare for weather by downloading our Tandem Skydiving Checklist.
Is it safe to skydive when it’s windy? Chicago is nicknamed “The Windy City,” afterall.
Wind gust and speed can drastically affect a jump, and there are certain conditions where skydiving is off-limits for optimal safety.
How windy is too windy? Winds that exceed 29 miles per hour make skydiving impossible. Some dropzones offer handy tools for jumpers like a Wind Gust Tracker or Winds Aloft to forecast wind conditions at a specific longitude and latitude, but the skydiving professionals always have the final verdict about whether they’ll go up.
Don’t be afraid to ask the skydiving center what their wind limit for tandem skydives is and how they determine when to reschedule appointments. You can always call the dropzone before your appointment to check on weather conditions.
The right dropzone will have a clear threshold for when they cancel freefalls, and a flexible rescheduling policy for wind-related delays.
If it’s cloudy, can you still jump? Sometimes.
Excessive cloud coverage can hinder your tandem instructor’s line of sight. Skydivers are required to follow The Federal Aviation Administration’s Visual Flight Rules (VFR) at all times, and poor vision can cause tandem partners to land miles off course.
However, visible cloud-coverage from the ground doesn’t always mean you can’t skydive. Sometimes a front will roll through, or a cloud layer is high enough above your exit altitude to jump without interruption.
Some Chicago dropzones — like CSC — use aviation weather programs to check cloud coverage (which are more sophisticated than conventional forecasting) to more accurately judge jump safety.
While you can still jump under certain cloudy conditions, rainfall is usually a hard no for skydiving. During a 120 mile per hour freefall, those tiny droplets can hurt!
When should you schedule your jump? On a good day, you can choose to jump during the morning, afternoon, or evening.
Many first-time jumpers guess that midday would be the best skydive appointment window. Afterall, it’s probably the warmest point in the day. However, we believe the morning is the best time to freefall in Chicago.
In the morning, winds tend to be calmer than the afternoon and evening. This is because the sun hasn’t yet warmed the Chicago area as much as it will throughout the rest of the day.
That lack of warmth translates to more predictable wind patterns, fewer clouds, and better jumps.
While this of course varies by the forecast for the day, you’re probably wise to stick to the mantra, “the earlier, the better” when scheduling your jump.
Out of all the places to skydive, is Chicago safe?
It’s not actually possible to skydive over Chicago itself because of Air Traffic Control regulations for O’Hare and Midway International Airports. They’re two of the busiest airports in the country, which is why Chicago’s dropzones are located at safe distances from airspace occupied by commercial aircraft.
As we mentioned previously, tandem instructors are trained to recover from jumping into water or in dim light.
Even so, different dropzones have different procedures, standards, and safety records.
Because any dropzone in the area is going to say that their facility is safe, it’s up to you to perform due diligence. Here’s how you start assessing a dropzone’s safety:
Any good dropzone will be compliant with USPA and FAA standards. They’ll also be able to tell you how often and to what standard they maintain their aircraft.
Every dropzone should also be able to give you a solid answer about the age of their equipment. For example, all jumping equipment at CSC is younger than three years old.
In addition, dropzones should be able to talk to you in detail about their staff and instructors.
Finally, dropzones will tell you about any accidents that they’ve had at their facility. You’ll find that some dropzones, like CSC, have a perfect student safety record.
Skydiving is considered one of the more expensive sports because a lot goes into making sure everything works properly and safely.
There’s the plane, fuel, equipment, payroll, and a lot more that goes into a single jump.
We all want to get a good deal, but there’s a time and a place for a cheap price tag. Jumping out of an airplane is not it.
The price of your Chicago skydiving experience will vary based on:
Various Chicago dropzones may offer various freefall heights. At CSC, you can jump from one of three exit altitudes with different freefall times:
We offer these jumps at competitive prices that allow us to maintain our perfect safety rating without breaking your bank.
Be cautious of a skydiving center that offers substantial deals on freefalls. While rates can fluctuate, the cost of skydiving generally remains consistent for a dropzone.
While group discounts aren’t available everywhere, a few dropzones offer better rates when arranging a group skydive adventure. CSC is one near The Windy City who does, granting unique deals to those who leap in groups of 3-5 people, 6-10 and 11+.
Ask your Chicago dropzone if they offer any special offerings. For instance, at CSC, we have birthday specials, student and “hero” discounts and more!
Be cautious of skydiving centers who offer deals on Groupon and other discount sites. They may fall into that “too good to be true” category that we mentioned earlier.
You’ll remember your skydive for the rest of your life. But it’s a huge event — you want to share it with others.
That’s why dropzones like CSC offer photo and video services, which allow you to leave with documented bragging rights!
For safety reasons, you are not allowed to freefall with your own capturing equipment. Cameras can be distracting for first-time jumpers and instructors alike, so it’s best not to use them! Plus, with the wind pressure and movement, you need a steady-cam to do the job right.
Paying for a professional photographer to capture you mid-fall will give you memories to look back on for years to come.
Multimedia packages will vary by dropzone, but, the price tag will vary based on if you are getting exclusively photos or video vs. both, the quality of the footage, if you want printed or digital copies and if you will get raw, unedited stock or ready-to-share, final clips.
Don’t forget the “hidden” cost of canceling a jump! If weather is the issue, most dropzones will reschedule your jump without any fees or reimburse you if you’ve paid in advance.
However, if you are the one to cancel your jump, this is a different story. Not all dropzones have accommodating rescheduling or refunding policies like we do at CSC.
We ask for at least 48 hours notice should you need to cancel a jump. Should you decide on the ascent that you can’t go through with the exciting freefall, you can wait on the plane until we land. However, the dropzone will surely charge a fee for your tandem skydiver’s time.
Now that you know a few things about skydiving in Chicago, are you ready to take a leap of faith and jump out of a perfectly good airplane with Chicagoland Skydiving Center?
Simply pick your date and tell us who is jumping. The booking process is smooth sailing from there. Geronimo!