Skydiving in Arizona is a year round deal, which is why this is the mecca of winter skydivers from around the world. With 300 25+ days of sunshine Arizona has the best chance for a skydiver to get his winter fix. But Arizona like most other states has it’s slow season. While the rest of the country is enjoying the fresh warmth of summer, Skydivers in Arizona prepare for the heat. Summer skydiving in Arizona requires early mornings and a few extra safety precautions to ride out the summer in this case.
The two elements that make arizona the skydive capital of the USA is heat and sunlight. Unfortunately, for the most part, those are the two arch enemies of parachutes and aircraft alike. modern parachute systems are made in large part of nylon, and nylon hates UV light. if we could sunblock the Arizona sky of UV rays, today’s parachutes would be the first to cheer. It is estimated that 70-80 percent of degradation of these skydiving lifesavers is a direct result of UV exposure. As the summer heat gets up early, expect to be skydiving before the sun gets to high in the sky. At Phoenix Skydive Center we start at 6am and our last loads leave the ground by 10:30 am. Be wary of skydive operations that jump in tems over 105, there are serious safety concern skydiving in extreme heat conditions.
One of the primary safety issues associated with extreme heat and skydiving is the aircraft. Skydive aircraft like all aircraft depend on a certain air density for there to be enough air passing over the wing to produce enough lift to get us to the proper altitude. In short, hot air is much less dense than cooler air and therefore takes more of it to get the airplane up. When temps exceed 110 most skydive aircraft do not have the proper data to calculate important things like take off and stall speed. It is not uncommon for airports in the Phoenix area to shut down due to extreme heat. That means skydive jumpships as well as the big metal Airbuses and Boeings are all equal on a 110 degree runway.
The easy answer is to get an early start, drink water, wear sunblock, minimize your parachutes exposure to the sunlight, and go home by 05 degrees. In a few short months skydiving will return as an all day event with mild temps and minimal rays, and the rest of the country will reverse to the deep freeze starting the skydive cycle again.