Skydivers love a challenge, and skydiving at night certainly counts! Because night jumps are a significant step up in risk, they are not available for first-time tandem skydivers at most dropzones in America–but sport skydivers rub their paws together at the chance to work the edges off of their comfort zones.
For experienced skydivers, here’s why we think night time is the right time for some freefall fun:
1. The World Just Looks Different.
When you’ve been making eight jumps a day at a certain dropzone for the past two weeks, you start to get to know the terrain like the back of your hand. Even upside-down and backwards, you know immediately where you are–a baseball field over here; an L-shaped building there; the way two major roads cross each other at a certain point. You learn to triangulate the colors and corners of the map below and orient yourself accordingly. Don’t get us wrong–it’s nice to know where you are when you’re falling at terminal velocity, thousands of feet above the ground–but we’re skydivers. We like to change it up.
When the lights are out, it’s a whole different game. The contours of fields and waterways suddenly disappear, leaving you with a general impression of the picture, but without the detail. When skydiving at night, dropzones make special arrangements to help skydivers point out the spot–say, arranging a line of cars, headlights on, to illuminate the landing area–but it’s still a challenge to find when you’re hanging your head out the door at full altitude.
2. Skydiving At Night Works A Different Set Of Skills Than The Same Jump In The Daytime.
Skydivers are used to using their depth perception in order to land. Makes sense, right? Well: when you’re landing a skydive at night, your powers of depth perception are highly impaired. Especially when you’re landing a small, zippy parachute, these differences can equal a seriously challenging situation with quite a small margin for error. Night skydiving, therefore, tests the jumper’s inherent understanding of his/her equipment (and, hopefully, helps them become more skillful because of the extra brain exercise).
That’s not all, folks. There are other challenges to meet! Night jumps are infrequent, after all, and so skydivers are less familiar with (and less proficient in dealing with) the new environment. First of all: a jumper’s own shadow, cast by the moon, can look just like another jumper underneath you. (Confusing, much?) And–since the skydiver can’t physically take in the information as quickly and efficiently as in the daytime–it takes more time to react to each situation as it arises. Remember: skydiving maneuvers operate in fractions of a second.
3. Night Jumps Are Super-duper Beautiful.
So, how do people skydive at night? In order to be certain we see each other in the air, each skydiver is required to wear lights on the jump. As you might imagine, lots of skydivers get pretty creative with these! Curious? Here’s an example of what it looks like.
Want to try it out for yourself? Come and get your skydiving license with Skydive Perris! We’d love to join you in a jump by the pale moonlight.