Why I Can’t Jump My GoPro
Welcome to the digital age, where we are uniquely able to capture nearly every experience, no matter how extreme, in a variety of forms. The favored configuration of the ability to relive an experience being video. And you have just the thing to take along to taste freefall on your tandem skydive, your GoPro. It tags along everywhere else: as you shred powder on the slopes, tackle crashing waves on your surfboard, or paddle your way through pretty wicked gullies. Basically, it is your adventure buddy and the diary of your daring exploits. We get it. Really, we do. But, when it comes to getting epic footage of your tandem skydive, you are going to have to let a professional aerial videographer have the directors seat. Your GoPro will have to sit this one out, and before you start to pout, hear us out on why.
It is not because we want to make more money.
Sure, it may seem to suspect that students cannot bring a camera on their tandem jump. You might feel fairly confident in your camera skills and ability to operate it and wondering what makes a videographer any more qualified. You might even think we are just trying to wring a bit more money from you for the jump. This just simply is not the case. The hard and fast rule that a student cannot bring a camera on a tandem jump is a regulation put in place by the United States Parachute Association in the Skydiver’s Information Manual. A skydiver should have 200 skydives before jumping with a camera. Skydiving is an extreme sport and one that requires a bit of your active participation. Skydiving isn’t a ride. Your presence on the skydive, even as a tandem student, makes you a skydiver, not a passenger. As a skydiver, you must follow the same rules all skydivers follow.
Skydiving with a GoPro Can Exponentially Increase Risk
As innocuous as your GoPro may seem, in the sky, it is a pretty nasty little liability capable of wreaking a fair amount of havoc. In certain situations, things are amplified and even small things can have a large impact. This would be an accurate description of the presence of a GoPro on a skydive. Skydiving is about mitigating risk and carefully managing the ones we are aware of. A camera can exponentially increase risk.
Keep in mind that parachutes are suspended on lines. During the very dynamic, swift event of a parachute opening after a freefall of speeds around 120mph, a person who is not a trained skydiver may not be aware of exactly where their body is in space relative to those emerging lines and canopy. What happens if that neat little gadget you brought to capture video of your skydive gets tangled in those lines in the deployment process?
A pretty messy situation that prevents the parachute from being able to properly fly and puts you and your instructor at risk. In the industry, we call that a malfunction and a small camera can cause this even if it only snags on a single line. The following video shows a test skydivers did to see what would happen if skydiving gear became tangled up with a GoPro.
The USPA has used statistics to develop their rules. Line snags are unnervingly common when the camera operator does not have sufficient skydiving experience and spatial awareness to know where the camera should and shouldn’t be. Your videographer, or tandem instructor if they are the one using the gear, are professional and experienced skydivers who will be using skydiving specific mounts and have the ability to keep your parachuting equipment clear of the camera.
Certain choices are made with safety in mind. From all the data and experience amassed over the history of the sport, we can assure you it is a safer and more fun experience to make a skydive when you aren’t distracted by that cute little black box and instead, are focused on one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. Though, that does not mean the footage has to be missing. It will be ready, wonderfully edited, and waiting for you when you land because our professional videographers will make sure it is! Plus, you can’t get this amazing shot with your own GoPro, leave it to the professionals. Ready to start your adventure at Skydive California, then book your tandem skydive!