Skydiving Weather

How do we observe weather, understand it and forecast it?

Unfortunately, skydiving is a sport governed by the weather. Skydivers need to have an understanding of the weather –if the weather is no good, then we cannot skydive! To gain an understanding of the weather, we can look at forecasts, satellite pictures and other predicting methods. The pilot will also be able to tell us what strength the winds are at certain heights. However, no one owns a crystal ball and even the experts can be proved wrong from time to time. During the freefall part of the skydive we are subject to being pushed in whatever direction the wind is going even though you may not notice it. The strength and direction of the wind affects the run in, spotting and amount of time left between groups on exit. Whilst under canopy we are even more subject to the wind direction and strength and therefore we have to adjust our landing patterns to compensate for this.

What to do when the weather is bad

During the cold UK winter you may be able to get some jumps in, but be warned as it will be cold. However, there are other skydiving related activities you can do to keep busy. If you are new to the sport then ask at the DZ about learning to pack. You will then find that when you purchase your own equipment you will save money on packing. Also, for your licenses you will need to get certain briefs, eg jumpmaster brief, flight line checking brief. If you are really interested in the equipment side of parachuting you might even look into doing a rigging qualification like your Approved packers which allows you to pack reserve parachutes. Other alternatives are a trip to the wind tunnel, or a skydiving trip abroad, there are many boogies in Europe over the British winter and this is also a good way to stay current whilst experiencing new aircraft and jumping at new DZ’s.

Cold weather (warm up, stretch, insulation, thermal clothes)

Of course it is possible to skydive in cold weather, however as you might expect, you may want to wrap up to keep yourself warm. There are jumpsuit manufacturers that specifically make thermal suits or ‘warm wear’ to wear underneath your normal jumpsuit to keep your body warm. Some skydivers suggest wearing silk inners inside their gloves, or even surgeons gloves, in order to keep their fingers warm. It is especially important to keep your fingers warm as losing sensation may cause you trouble when finding the toggle when it comes to pull time. Full face helmets are warmer than open, however the BPA enforces a 50 jump limit with B License. Other alternatives are neck warmers made from fleece material. In addition to protective clothing, you may find it beneficial to warm up and stretch your body before skydiving. As well as improving your arch, or reducing the risk of pulling a muscle in freefall manoeuvres, this will warm your body for the skydive.

BPA Regulations

Cloud
The BPA Operations manual states the following about cloud limits:
“Parachutists may not leave the aircraft if, at the point of exit, the ground between the opening point and the intended landing area is not visible.”
It also states that the minimum flight visibility must be at least 5 km.

Rain
Skydiving in the rain or through a rain cloud is not considered a very nice experience as it stings your face. Usually, if there are rain clouds in the sky, the wind may also be over limits and there will not be visibility of the DZ from jump altitude.

Wind
BPA regulations state that the maximum ground speed limits for student skydivers is 15 knots and for intermediate and experienced skydivers the maximum is 20 knots. The BPA Operations manual also says the following:
“Suspension of parachuting will be ordered for the designations of parachutists concerned after two gusts above the limit have taken place within five minutes. After parachuting has been suspended it will not be resumed for at least thirty minutes during which time no gusts above the limit have occurred.”

For more information on skydiving visit www.freefalladdicts.com