How to Parachute at Night

by Emma Rensch
Parachuting at night requires much training and experience.

Parachuting at night requires much training and experience.

Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images

Parachuting at night isn't as unusual as it sounds. Call it an adventure. Just understand it also requires more careful preparation and precautionary methods than a standard day jump. FAA regulations consider jumps that take place one hour after sunset and one hour before sunrise as night jumps.

Items you will need

  • USPA B license
  • Light attachment for the parachute
  • Illuminated altimeter
  • Un-tinted goggles
  • Flashlight
  • Whistle
what is a fallback
Step 1

Hire a guide service or parachuting company to host your night jump. Individuals in this company, as well as those involved in your training, must have USPA Safety and Training Advisors' certification. Check their credentials.

Step 2

Attend at least one preparatory course on parachuting, even if you have jumped before. You should review skills in case you have forgotten something.

Step 3

Familiarize yourself with the following techniques: how to avoid disorientation in the dark, how to use identification lights and flashlights and how to communicate with the ground crew. If, after your training, you do not understand all of these elements of a night jump, take another course to prepare further.

Step 4

Keep a log book of the preparations you make for your night jump. Take notes of important things you learn. Document training sessions you attend and obtain a signature from instructors to protect yourself legally. In case of an accident, you can demonstrate to insurance companies that you made all legally-required preparations for a safe jump.

Step 5

Obtain a USPA B license upon completing your training. This represents the basic skydiver's license required for a night jump and confirms your completion of all necessary training.

Step 6

Complete a drill that covers standard procedures necessary to complete a night jump. Do this immediately before jumping so the information stays fresh in your mind. When choosing a company to host your jump, confirm that they offer a final drill.

Step 7

Spend at least 30 minutes in the dark in the plane at the altitude from which you will be jumping before exiting the plane. Your night vision can decrease due to reduced oxygen in the air at altitudes as low as 5,000 feet. Feel certain that your body has adjusted to lower levels of oxygen and your night vision has returned before attempting a jump.

Step 8

Check that your instructors have installed all required gear and taught you to use each object before your jump. Use your altimeter to monitor your altitude so you know when to release your parachute, a flashlight to ensure that the lines of your parachute haven't tangled and a whistle to alert others of your location after landing. Your jump coach will explain the use of each piece of equipment and jump protocol.

Tips & Warnings

  • Take as many training courses as possible before attempting a night jump and review information until you have memorized all procedures. The better prepared you become, the lesser the likelihood that you will panic or make a mistake.
  • Never participate in a night jump that requires you to land in a dark area. Landing areas should be illuminated so that you do not collide with large objects. The ground crew should ensure the use of appropriate lighting.
  • Confirm that the light attached to your parachute has a three-mile visibility.

Resources

  • "Parachuting: The Skydiver's Handbook"; Dan Poynter; 2007

Photo Credits

  • Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images