In life, there’s plenty of stuff people include in their bucket list: visiting an exotic location, swimming with sharks, and of course, skydiving. This outdoor activity is considered to be one for those adrenaline junkies, and while it can be one of the most fun adventures of your life, there are many considerations to take before you go through with it. These are the things you should know about skydiving as a first timer:
1. Is it Safe?
Sure, skydiving is a thrilling outdoor activity that most people wouldn’t dare to do because it seems like a dangerous hobby. But the truth is, skydiving only has a death rate of .0007%. Compared to the chances of dying in a car accident (0.0167%), it’s pretty safe to say you’ll be just fine. When people say it’s a scary activity that doesn’t mean it’s unsafe, just be aware that it includes VERY high altitudes and, well, a free fall.
The equipment used to strap you to your instructor or to your security equipment is tested many times. Every instructor and skydiver has two sets of parachutes on their back — the main one and a backup one used for emergencies. In fact, 99% of all skydiving accidents happen due to human error instead of equipment failure. You’re at higher risk of getting hurt while riding the aircraft than while falling back to the ground!
2. Do You Need Lessons/Training before Skydiving?
It really depends on how you wish to do the drop. Most people just want to cross “skydiving” off of their bucket lists, and in this case, you’ll probably be fine to just “tag along” with a certified instructor. You’ll be completely and firmly attached to him/her, so you’ll only need a couple of hours to learn all about the basic landing and falling positions and some other instructions you might get while in the air. However, if you’re interested in doing your fall all by yourself it could be trickier. Although you’ll be accompanied by two instructors in their own parachutes, you’ll still need to take a day-long training in the ground, learning all about the equipment you’ll use, the freefall positions and what to do when landing’s close.
3. There are Very Few Restrictions
If you are over 18 years of age you’ve got 90% of what it takes to do skydiving safely. Since this is a pretty “standard” activity, it doesn’t matter what your height is. As to your weight, as long as you are under 250 lbs. you are OK. Even physically handicapped can participate because it doesn’t depend on your ability to walk or move correctly. The most common restrictions provided by the skydiving company are pregnant women and people with serious heart conditions.
Other considerations that might seem obvious for anyone but will still be mentioned to you before the jump are to have a hearty meal the morning of the jump so you’ll be energized, under no circumstances can you take personal devices such as cameras or cell phones and of course no scuba diving a day prior to your jump.
4. Ways to Do Skydiving
There’s more than one way to enjoy your first skydiving experience:
This is the most popular type of skydiving. It consists of a jump where you’ll be attached to an instructor, and he’ll pretty much do the work. The only thing you need to memorize is how to position yourself for landing and enjoy the ride.
AFF (Accelerated Free Fall)
This is where you get proper training to do the fall on your own, accompanied by two instructors. The training can take a big portion of your day and you’ll be taught how to use your safety gear, how to activate your own parachute and how to read your instructor’s signals.
Formation Skydiving (FS)
This skydiving modality is where a group of people fall with their bellies pointing to the ground and hold hands to form shapes. It’s great fun and makes you feel a little safer.
It is a form of skydiving where the person changes positions and does twirls in the air while falling. The fact that you change your position allows you to reach much greater speeds while falling. Because of this, free flying is a more dangerous type of skydiving and one that requires you to master all other types of skydiving first.
5. How to Prepare Mentally for Skydiving
More than preparing mentally for skydiving it’s all about controlling your anxiety. If you’re not really sure about jumping off an airplane, you probably shouldn’t be doing it in the first place. But even if you do want to go through with it, it’s completely normal to feel a little scared. If you want to fight the pre-jump anxiety; take a few deep breaths, go through the instructions in your mind and remember this is a completely safe outdoor activity that could turn out to be the best experience of your life.
6. How Long does the Fall Last?
This may surprise you, but even though you’ll be very far from the ground (a typical altitude is 13,000 feet or 4,000 meters) the free fall typically takes between 45 and 60 seconds before you or the instructor activate the parachute, this happens around the time you reach the 2,500 feet mark (760 meters). This time can fluctuate depending on factors such as your weight and your position against the wind. The entirety of the fall, from the moment you exit the plane until you hit the ground, takes about 5 minutes. Since the fall is actually pretty brief, in contrast with what you had in mind, make sure to enjoy every little second of it.
Since you’ll be jumping from a noticeable altitude, weather conditions play an important part in your experience. Factors such as low clouds, fast winds or rainy days can really affect your scheduled activity. You could even be already on the aircraft, ready to jump, and the crew could let you know it’s not the ideal time to do the jump. Thankfully, most skydiving companies have insurances to reschedule your jump to another day or it could simply be a condition that sets back the jump for a couple of hours.
We hope that after reading this article most of your fears about skydiving have faded. Whether you feel adventurous and want to try it on your own or you’d just like to enjoy the view while someone else does the work, this is an experience you can’t miss. So start filling your coin jar and look for the closest skydiving company, the fall will be worth it all!