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Frequently Asked Questions

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Operation Freefall

Who can participate?
You must be at least 18 years old, weigh less than 200 pounds, and not have any disabilities or health issues, which may, in the sole judgment of the drop zone operator, create any safety concerns. Some locations have less restrictive restrictions and weight limits. In past years people with certain physical limitations have been able to participate, so it’s best to ask. If you have questions or concerns, contact us immediately so we may address them.
I've never skydived before.
You need not be an experienced skydiver to participate. In fact, most Operation Freefall participants are first-time skydivers.
Do I have to skydive to participate in Operation Freefall?
Yes and no. Operation Freefall and the beneficiaries of the pledges you collect are very grateful for your efforts regardless of whether or not you skydive. But remember, Operation Freefall is an event to create awareness as well as raise funds. So, the more people Taking The Two-Mile High Stand Against Sexual Assault, the greater the impact. Please indicate your intention NOT to skydive on the application form, and the full amount of your pledges will then go to SOAR and the local host organization (if any).
What's the registration deadline?
Your registration form and pledges must be received by SOAR no later than April 1, 2014.
I missed the registration deadline. Can I still participate?
Because there’s a limited number of tandem skydives a drop zone can accommodate in one day, those who have registered by April 1 have priority. But, if there’s space we’ll do our best to get you scheduled.
How much does it cost?
To participate in Operation Freefall you must raise a minimum of $950 in pledges.
Do I have to raise pledges or can I pay the registration myself?

There are two reasons we ask you to raise pledges.

  1. Operation Freefall is about raising awareness of sexual violence. Each time you ask a friend or family member to make a pledge you are creating awareness of sexual violence. Most people are in awe of your commitment to your Cause (after all, you are jumping out of an airplane) that they in turn talk about it to their friends and family.
  2. Survivors are empowered by the amount of support they receive from people making donations. You don’t have to identify yourself as a survivor unless you choose to. Over the years we’ve received hundreds of emails from survivors who told us they never knew so many people cared about them, not to mention the encouraging comments written by donors on the pledge forms like: “You’re braver than me!” and “We’re so proud of you!"

So, those are the reasons why we ask you to raise pledges. Of course, if you’re still uncomfortable raising pledges, you may pay the registration fee yourself. Be sure to check with your tax advisor as to what amount is tax deductible.

I'm part of a Paratrooper Team. Can we share pledges?
Yes you can. And we encourage this type of organizing. As an example, students from Bucknell University had the most jumpers and pledges four years running. They accomplished this by organizing all sorts of events in their community leading up to Operation Freefall to help them not only raise pledges, but also to raise awareness of sexual violence on their campus. They walked dogs, washed cars, and organized bake sales and held an ultimate Frisbee contests to ensure every one of their skydivers was able to participate. Each event raised awareness of sexual violence in their community and ultimately culminated on Operation Freefall Day. The day of the event they all carpooled to the drop zone and spent the entire day (we're talking sunrise to sunset) cheering one another on. It was a great team effort and one we encourage everyone to follow.
Does my employer's matching donation count toward my $950 minimum?
It depends. We really like companies that match employee donations. However, in past years we've run into some unforeseen problems with matching donations…the biggest being we sometimes don't receive the matching donation. That means SOAR and the local host (if any) loses money, which is something we don't like to happen, especially since it is to help survivors with the healing process. So, a matching donation will count toward your $950 minimum if we receive it by April 1, 2014. It will count toward the 50/50 split (if you raise more than $950) between SOAR and your local host if we receive it by May 31, 2014.
What does the participation fee include?
The $950 minimum pledge includes the following: instruction and/or training, use of a student jumpsuit, the airplane ride to skydiving altitude, the tandem skydive, a DVD of your skydive, and an official Operation Freefall t-shirt.
Where does the money go, and what will it do?

Here's the breakdown of where it goes:

  • Between $275 and $395 covers the cost of your tandem skydive, which the drop zones provide at cost.
  • $50 goes toward event expenses such as printing, postage, t-shirts, promotion, etc.
  • Drop zones hosted by a local rape crisis program (officially registered with Operation Freefall) receive $325 for each Tandem Skydiver recruited by them. If there is no host the $325 goes to SOAR.
  • SOAR receives $180 - $300 for each registered Tandem Skydiver.
  • Paratrooper Teams not associated with an official local host designate an anti-sexual violence organization to receive 20% of the team's total pledges.
  • Paratrooper Teams associated with an official local host earn $100 per team for their local host.

Here's what the money does:

  • Increase local support and outreach services, such as counseling and other healing programs, for survivors of sexual violence.
  • Provide recovery, risk-reduction, and prosecutorial information to tens of millions of people, including many in your local community, each year.
  • Enhance SOAR's outreach to assist victims of sexual violence throughout the healing process.
  • Educate lawmakers, police officers, students, the public, and the media on the personal impact of sexual violence on survivors.
Can I continue collecting pledges past the registration deadline?
Yes! All pledges beyond the minimum $950 must be received by SOAR no later than May 31, 2014 in order to be shared with the local host, if any, or the designated charity for Paratrooper teams.
Will Operation Freefall refund my pledges if I change my mind and don't skydive?
All pledges are non-refundable. Remember, you aren’t raising pledges just so you can skydive. You are raising pledges to support victims and survivors of sexual violence as well as the work of anti-sexual violence organizations across the country.
How do I find a drop zone location near me?
Check out the Find a Drop Zone page on our website. If you want to skydive at a specific participating drop zone (e.g., to be with friends) be sure to mark that on your registration form.
Why is the drop zone so far away?
Most of the drop zones are about 45 minutes to an hour outside of the city, and some are as far as 3 hours away. The drop zones are operated out of small, privately owned airports and must be away from larger airports.
There's a drop zone closer to my home. Can I contact them to schedule my skydive?
Only the drop zones listed on the “Find a Drop Zone” page are official locations for Operation Freefall. Operation Freefall contracts with the drop zones to ensure the lowest possible discounted price (usually at cost) for each skydive, allowing us to raise more money for the Cause. Plus, part of the impact of Operation Freefall is having as many people as possible skydiving at each official drop zone.
How do I find out what time I'm scheduled to jump?

About one week prior to Operation Freefall you’ll receive your jump time from Operation Freefall. We do all of the scheduling directly with the drop zone. Please do not contact the drop zone to schedule your skydive yourself. We do our best to accommodate special requests, but cannot guarantee you will receive the time you want or that you will jump at the exact time you are scheduled. ?

It’s best to plan on being at the drop zone at least for half of the day, and better yet to plan on being there the entire day. Be supportive and respectful of all the participants! It’s no fun being the last person skydiving when everyone has gone home. Everyone needs a cheering section.
My friend and I want to skydive together.
Let us know the name of the person(s) you want to skydive with and we'll do our best to accommodate your request. Ultimately it is the drop zone that has the final determination. Many factors, such as available staff and weight, contribute to who jumps with who and when.
The date doesn't work for me. Can I jump on a different day?
No. Operation Freefall is always the last Saturday of April. The impact of Operation Freefall is having people all across the country skydiving on the same day for the same Cause!
I've heard of a similar event in my area. Is it connected to Operation Freefall?
There’s a well-known saying, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” Don’t be misled. Only the drop zones and local host organizations listed on the “Find a Drop Zone” page are officially connected with the original, and only, Operation Freefall.
Is it possible to create my own t-shirt for Operation Freefall?
No. If you register by the deadline (April 1, 2014), you will receive your official Operation Freefall t-shirt before the event and be able to personalize it as you choose. Once again, it goes back to creating awareness and having an impact?if everyone has on the same t-shirt people are going to notice and ask you about it. Please note that “Operation Freefall,” “The Two-Mile High Stand Against Sexual Assault,” “Speaking Out About Rape,” “SOAR,” the Operation Freefall logo embodying the parachutist graphic and the SOAR Speaking Out About Rape logo embodying the wavy line graphic are trademarks or servicemarks which have been Registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and may not be used without the express written consent of, and an express written license issued by, Speaking Out About Rape, Inc. © All Rights Reserved.
Can my friends come and watch?
Absolutely. Friends and family are all welcome—bring as many as you like (tell them to bring binoculars and a camera). There's no fee for anyone not skydiving. But it can be more fun if your friends skydive too!

Skydiving

Do I have to be 18?
Yes. You must be 18 to be able to sign the waiver and contract required by Operation Freefall, the local hosts, and the drop zones.
Do I have to sign a waiver?
Yes. Everyone signs a waiver of liability for Operation Freefall and the drop zones.
What weight do I need to be?
You must weigh less than 200 lbs to do a tandem. It can be at a much higher risk and can be very uncomfortable for the ride down to take heavier people. Many factors determine whether the drop zone can take you for a tandem skydive. Some drop zones have higher weight limits, so it's best to check with us if you have questions or concerns.
What if I have a physical disability?
The drop zones look at people individually to assess their ability. They may not be able to take you if your weight exceeds 220 pounds or if you are in poor health. Although it varies from drop zone to drop zone, some have taken people as old as 93 years of age and many have experience with paraplegics and quadriplegics. It’s best to contact us immediately so we can check with your drop zone. Skydiving is a very physical activity, and the drop zones will not let you jump if they do not feel it is safe for you to do so.
Do I need to bring anything with me?
Yes. You need to bring a valid picture ID (driver's license, passport, military or state-issued ID card) with you to the drop zone. You won’t be able to skydive without one. Here are a few other items you may consider bringing: sunscreen, bug repellant, sunglasses, hat, blanket and/or beach chair, camera.
What should I wear?
You should wear sneakers or running shoes. Shorts and your Operation Freefall t-shirt on a warm day are fine and if it is a cooler day, long pants and a comfortable long sleeve shirt. The drop zones have jumpsuits and goggles available for you to wear during your skydive.
What if I wear glasses or contacts?
No problem. The drop zones supply goggles that fit over your glasses and keep your contacts in.
Do you jump in all weather?
No. The drop zones do not skydive when it is raining, very windy, or when the clouds are lower than 9,000 feet. Weather can cause delays, so please be patient.
What happens if the weather is bad?
If the weather is bad, call the drop zone that morning. If the weather is expected to clear, they may advise you to come out, go through your instruction/training, and wait for blue skies. If the weather precludes skydiving on April 26, 2014, the event will take place on the scheduled rain date, which is May 10, 2014. If the weather causes the event to be cancelled on the scheduled rain date, please make arrangements directly with the drop zone to reschedule your skydive. All participating drop zones agree to honor your prepaid tandem skydive with a rain check valid for up to six months. All rain checks must be booked directly with the drop zone, are non-transferable, and are valid only at the drop zone issuing the rain check. No exceptions.
Is it safe?
Skydiving is an ultra-hazardous sport. As with all extreme sports, there are risks to skydiving, and you should inform yourself of them prior to skydiving. Injuries, including death, can and sometimes do happen. For more details on the risks of skydiving visit www.uspa.org.
Who is responsible for my safety?
THE OPERATOR OF THE DROP ZONE, AND YOU, ARE SOLELY RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR SAFETY.? The individuals and organizations organizing Operation Freefall have no expertise in skydiving. SOAR and the local hosts are simply beneficiaries of your charitable efforts. Members of SOAR assist with certain administrative aspects of the event, but cannot accept any responsibility in connection with your skydive.
What if I have motion sickness?
Some people get a little motion sickness during the parachute ride, but not the freefall. If you are susceptible to motion sickness check with your doctor about possible remedies.
What is the training for Tandem?
You will be briefed on a normal tandem jump, on the equipment, the freefall, canopy control, and landing.
What exactly is a tandem skydive? What will I experience?

On a tandem skydive you experience the excitement of freefall without a lengthy training course. The skydive is performed with an experienced instructor, called a tandem master. A special harness connects you and the tandem master throughout the skydive. A third skydiver videotapes the skydive so you can relive the skydive with your friends as many times as you wish.

Before your skydive you go through a short instruction period. Then you put on a jumpsuit and harness and take a plane ride to at least 10,500 feet (which is around 2 miles high!). Once you've reached skydiving altitude your tandem master gives you final instructions. Before you exit the plane a video camera operator steps out onto the strut of the plane to film you in the moments before your skydive (this is your queue to smile!). On the tandem master's instruction you exit the plane.

Next comes the most adrenaline pumping, exciting 60 seconds of your life: THE FREEFALL. During freefall you are traveling at 120mph! It's an experience that can hardly be described, except to say that most people who try it find it totally exhilarating.

Once you've free fallen about a mile, it’s time to deploy the parachute. Your tandem master has an altimeter that shows when it's time to pull the ripcord. The parachute is actually a giant tandem canopy, extra large and sturdy enough to support 500 pounds. Opening the chute is simple: just a short tug on a handle. Then you'll have one of the calmest experiences of your life: floating in the sky while looking out over miles of countryside. After the rush of the freefall it's an amazing sight.
What if the parachute does not open?
All tandem parachute systems contain two parachutes, a main and reserve. The Tandem Master is highly trained on the use of the system and while a parachute malfunction is rare, it can and does happen.
How hard will I land?
"Ram-Air" (square) parachutes these days fly like airplanes or gliders and sail through the air. They can slow down a great deal; so most of the landings are soft, stand-up landings and sometimes you ‘sit-down’ when landing. Very hard landings are rare and injuries are even more rare, but they certainly are possible and do happen. It’s extremely important to listen to and follow the landing instructions given by your Tandem Master.
After I have completed my tandem skydive what's next?
The videographer will edit your video and transfer it to either a DVD or VHS. While you're waiting you can hang out with your friends and cheer for the other skydivers and Operation Freefall participants.
How long will this all take?
With the training, preparation, aircraft ride, jump, and video dubbing, you should plan on being there for about ? a day, sometimes longer if the drop zone is experiencing any type of weather or equipment delays.
Are participants expected to tip their Instructors?
No. Tipping is not required nor expected, but of course, it is always appreciated if you feel they did a great job.
What if I get there and then decide I don't want to skydive?
No problem. You are under no obligation to skydive. You can change your mind at any time, right up until the moment before you skydive. If you're uncomfortable for any reason, just say so and the plane will take you back down the traditional way. Please understand that although you are not obligated to go through with the skydive, your participation fee and pledges cannot be refunded.
I have a question that isn't answered here. Who do I contact?
Please call SOAR at (321) 278-5246 or email jump@operationfreefall.com.


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