Blue Sky Ranch in New York November 5, 2013 I can only give the perspective of a first time jumper and a student, since I'm still working on my A license at the moment. And maybe I'll modify as needed next year when I (hopefully) complete the requirements and begin fun jumping. The Ranch was the place I went on my first skydive, and I've stuck around it for the AFF progression and student solo dives. My first jump (tandem) was amazing. The tandem instructors here are a lot of fun to be around and really know how to turn the anxiety of a first jump into adrenaline and happiness, and how to teach you just enough so that you have an enjoyable experience without clouding your mind with the intricacies of skydiving that they take care of for you. The Student instructors are super experienced (several being in the "sport" for I think 30+ years, five digit jump counts, etc.) and approachable for even the dumbest of questions, so long as they're not busy briefing or debriefing another student. They are super attentive to each student they teach, and make sure that each student receives all the proper instruction, which they never rush, even in busy times. The student gear looks like it has been used to teach a great many students already. In popular jump times, there are sometimes backlogs of students waiting for instructors, and you may get fewer jumps in than you want. However, a lot of that is caused by students having a "favorite" instructor that for whatever reason blends well with their personality. To their credit, the student training procedures at the Ranch are super transparent, so you always know how many people are ahead of you, how many want the same instructor as you, etc. Once you are done with your level jumps getting on a load as a solo student diver is super hassle-free. Two twin otters (or a twin otter and a Cessna caravan) going at once means there is always an extra spot on loads and planes take off every ~15 minutes. I would suggest taking a day off from work on a good skydiving day or two (depending on how fast you progress) and coming up to the ranch to knock out your levels jumps. The other people are great. There is lots to do at the dropzone after skydiving ends with many people camping out in the adjacent woods. Bonfires, food, drinks, etc. I've met a lot of people there and they're all a ton of fun. From what I've seen, people don't clique up too much. The experienced skydivers are very helpful and approachable by students. The scenery is beautiful. Apparently there is some famous rock climbing mountain range just there. On a very clear day you can even see the Manhattan skyline off in the distance. The weather can be a pain in the ass as a student. There is no "great" weather forecast, even as far as weather forecasts go, for the area. They rely on data from Albany and JFK airport for winds aloft, both of which are a little ways away. I've come up on a clear day with what seemed as adequate winds only to be grounded as a student because of strong wind gusts. There is a "dive bar" that's basically a mini restaurant that serves pretty decent food at very reasonable prices and amazing homemade blueberry kombucha (if you're lucky enough to get some before they run out). No Michelin stars, but way better than anything I've heard of at any of the other area drop zones. All in all, the weather can be a bit frustrating at times, but the instructors and other jumpers back up the reputation of this place as the best to learn to skydive in the NYC area. As a side note, I've looked at the other drop zones in the area, and they all seem to have many fewer "fun jumpers" (experienced skydivers jumping for fun) and fewer spots in smaller airplanes.