Skydiving Risks & Consumer Alert

Skydiving Risks & Consumer Alert

We pride ourselves on offering the public a first-rate skydiving experience that reduces as much of the risk as humanly possible. In order to maintain those skydiving safety guidelines and standards we charge the prices that are necessary to pay for professional staff, replace and maintain our equipment, and operate well-maintained and powerful aircraft that will take you to a full altitude of at least 13,000 feet above the ground.  We do offer a reduced price tandem jump that allows you to make a cheaper skydive from an altitude of 9,000 feet. Because that jump uses less fuel and staff time, so we can lower the price accordingly. In every case, we tell you up front what the altitude will be, and you are provided with an altimeter on your jump so you can clearly see what the altitude is during your skydive. We do not hide anything from the consumer, nor do we use deceptive tactics, telling you that you will jump from a higher altitude than we actually take you to for your skydive. Some operators in Virginia will only take you to 7,500 feet above the ground, but tell you differently. The altitude will not be mentioned, or the operator may tell you 10,000 or 11,000 feet, when in fact you will be taken to just 7,500 feet above the ground. Your freefall will be just 10-15 seconds! The aircraft used are standard powered Cessna airplanes, and they cannot climb higher with any efficiency. Do you really want to pay more than $200 for a 10 second freefall?

We do not use hand-mounted cameras (Handcam) on the tandem instructor to video your skydive. We only use a separate videographer who is responsible for filming your skydive. The tandem instructor’s job is to take care of each student throughout the entire skydive, not worry about filming the student. We feel it is a breach of safety to have the tandem instructor also using a video camera. Do you really want your tandem instructor to be distracted and fiddling with a camera, instead of focusing on the safety of your skydive?

Some operators have chosen to use Groupon, Living Social, 1-800-Skyride and other discount middle-men operators for 100% of their business, meaning all of their customers are paying close to half of the established rate for every tandem skydive the business conducts. These deep discounters do not pay the provider enough to cover the expenses that are necessary to properly operate a skydiving business. Operators using these services are forced to cut corners to make ends meet. Do you really want to make a jump where the instructors may be relatively inexperienced, paid poorly, the equipment and aircraft may not be maintained properly? Many of these operators have switched to using Handcam with their tandem instructors, because they cannot afford to operate using a separate videographer.

While we are exploring the marketing potential and testing the waters with a limited Living Social campaign in December, 2013, and early 2014, we feel that overall it is more harmful than good for the skydiving industry. We certainly could not afford to stay in business if we relied on middle-men and deep discounts for our advertising model. There are plenty of examples across the country of deep discount skydiving centers having to cut corners in airplane and equipment maintenance. So, if we do offer any discounts, it is on a limited basis, because there is no way that any skydiving operation can operate properly by selling you a skydiving experience that is less then half of the price that VSC and other reputable skydiving centers charge on a regular basis. Think about it-do you really want to put your life in the hands of the lowest priced skydiving operation? This is not Walmart, and we will not place our lives and our customers lives on the line by skipping maintenance, or using sub-standard staff!

Here is just one email we received:

“Good Afternoon, I am interested in booking 2 Tandem jumps (one for me one for my girlfriend). I originally booked two through Groupon at XXXXXXX. The Groupon offer was rescinded (after I made the purchase) due to XXXXXXXX not holding up their part of the bargain. The price was excellent, but I guess the old adage of “If its too good to be true, it is.” was accurate. Her birthday is at the end of the month and I wish to purchase two jumps, but I may not use them this month. How long, once purchased, will the purchase be honored? Thanks for saving my bacon.”

Be sure you are making a skydive where your safety and well-being are the priority. We will make every effort to take care of you and show you a great time, while placing safety and customer service at the highest level. Come out and see us! You won’t be disappointed with Virginia Skydiving Center!