Oh, man. We know. That is a bummer.
So you own a GoPro (or another sports camera–but let’s face it; it’s a GoPro, because GoPro). You have all the mounts for it. You sucker it to the window when you’re on a road trip. You stick it to your motorcycle when you’re shredding around in the dirt. It rides with you on the ATV you take to the dunes. It sits patiently at the front of your surfboard as you paddle out. It clicks into your helmet at the skate park; on the downhill mountain-biking trail; through the off-piste areas. You even have the line mount to fling it merrily around overhead when you go kitesurfing.
It’s like a friend. So, can you bring your GoPro skydiving?
We are so sorry that your beloved GoPro can’t go with you on a tandem skydive. We really, truly are. In order to get footage of your tandem performance, you’re going to have to leave the camera in the capable hands of one of our talented aerial videographers.
The “no-student-cameras” law may seem like a sneaky way to net a little extra from every jump, but hear us out: This is not a rule we made up to make money. It’s on the books of the United States Parachute Association, who set this rule: No skydiver with fewer than 200 skydives should jump with a camera. Because this is, well, skydiving and not a roller-coaster ride, your presence on the skydive makes you, as a tandem student, a skydiver, not a “passenger”–so you’re bound to skydiver rules. Before you start stamping your feet, listen up: Here’s why.
Your friend the GoPro might seem innocuous–and in lots of situations, he is–but in the sky, he’s a huge liability. The history of cameras getting in the way of skydiving safety, in fact, goes way-the-heck back, since cameras of some form or another have been part of skydiving since essentially the beginning.
They weren’t always cute little black squares, of course. In the very earliest moments of the sport, “sports cameras” were World War II gun cameras shaved off the fronts of planes and strapped to the (oh so very) brave skydivers who founded the art of aerial videography. These cameras were nonsensically heavy, they spun through actual celluloid film like nobody’s business, they interfered with pretty much every facet of the parachuting equipment, and they generally acted as a hazard in every way they possibly could. Those camera flyers had legitimate concerns since their cameras were heavy enough to snap their necks if they opened wrong.
But my GoPro isn’t like that, you say. Rightly so. The gun-camera days are over. However, the hazard of a camera sure ain’t. There’s more to the story than just the size and weight.
Since those early years, the USPA has made careful note of how cameras affect skydiving. In the modern era, camera considerations are a little subtler, but they’re just as important.
Parachutes are suspended on lines. Even the smallest camera can cause a huge malfunction if it snags those lines. Even a single snagged line can stop the parachute from being able to properly fly. That puts you and your tandem instructor at severe risk. According to the cold, hard statistics that the USPA used to develop their rules, line snags due to cameras are very common when the person holding the camera doesn’t have sufficient skydiving experience to know where his or her camera should and shouldn’t be. (To reiterate: On a tandem skydive, make no mistake: You are officially a skydiver.) Tandem instructors come complete with the skydiving-specific camera mounts (and the know-how) to keep all of that parachuting equipment well clear of the camera.
Another thing that the USPA has noticed over its years of attention is that cameras are very distracting. The presence of a camera can (and often does) get in the way of proper response to emergency situations, especially when the skydiver has fewer than 200 skydives in his or her logbook. The wisdom at play here is that someone with less experience can’t safely handle a camera and a skydive at the same time. (If that sounds a little nuts, just wait until you make that skydive. It’s a lot more everything than you think it’ll be.)
At the end of the day, the reason you can’t take Mr. GoPro on your tandem skydive is simple: it’s safer, more satisfying and more fun when you’re just focused on the task at hand: having the time of your life jumping out of a plane! Our talented videographers will make sure you walk off with the footage you’re aching for, so you can edit that magnum opus with confidence…and your GoPro can greet you on the ground, manned by a friend of a more human persuasion.
Oh, and by the way: Make sure to tag us when you post that sucker! We’ll ‘like’ it like crazy.