The questions that come up to your head when you think of starting to skydive at 40 is like a long and never-ending list. And because I might not be the only one who might have asked himself those questions or had the wrong ideas, I thought that I would share them with you.
First of all, it is not entirely true that I started Skydiving at 40, but at 38. Which is pretty close anyway. I started about 2 years ago, and it all began with a Tandem Jump which I was dreaming to do for a very very long time. It happened that I got the chance to do my first jump at my bachelor party.
Now many people have asked me since: Why did you wait so long before to start skydiving?
I would reply: The main reason was that I had the wrong assumptions about the sport.
Skydiving must take forever to learn!
After my tandem jump, I asked my tandem instructor how long he was into Skydiving and to my surprise, he told me 4 years. I then asked him how long it takes to learn to skydive. He told me about the AFF Course, that depending on your commitment and many other factors, basically, you could learn to Skydive in 1 or 2 weeks if you do it intensively.
He told me about the AFF course:
It is an 8 hours ground course, and a minimum of 9 jumps.
The term AFF stands for Accelerated Freefall. The point of the course is to learn by doing with the help of two instructors to guarantee your safety. The first 3 jumps are done with 2 instructors. If your progression level is good, you move to the next level where you do our last 6 jumps with only one instructor. Depending on your skills, after those 9 or more jumps, your coach will tell you if he is confident that you can start to jump alone. And from then you can enjoy learning new skills and continue to perform your security checklist routine.
© Photo Karura Sports. AFF Course with Born2fly.
Do you need to be very athletic to Skydive?
This question is very tricky because it is all about how you feel in your own body. But you don’t need to be a marathon runner to be able to Skydive. On the other hand, being fit is somehow very important. You will realize that jumping at the beginning can be very tiring, and to be able to arch properly, a minimum of flexibility doesn’t hurt.
But if you are not a yoga practitioner you don’t need to worry. Depending on what you plan to do and how many jumps you want to do in a day, you will realize that if you start actively to do some sports, you will be able to do more jumps daily without being too exhausted.
It will help to increase your stamina level; therefore, you will be able to jump more :D .
What my wife, family and friends will say?
They will think that you are crazy. They might worry about you or even try to talk to you out of it. Or not at all and to your surprise, they might support you. But what I found important for me to work this out with my wife, is to make her feel that I was safe. In good hands with my instructor. She came with me to the first courses, she met my instructor, she saw that I was surrounded by professionals. She understood that the message that was carried all the time was “Safety, Safety, Safety!”.
I guess when she saw that I didn’t become crazy all the sudden, but that I made some sound judgment. For example, when I was too tired to jump, I wasn’t afraid to say stop; she realized that from the inside this sport is safer than what it looked like from the outside. And she also got to meet the people from the skydiving world, to be welcomed and integrated as part of a very big family with “normal” and funny people.
Is it an expensive sport and does it cost a lot of money to learn?
I think this question is related to many factors. Compare to what I thought, to learn to Skydive is not as expensive as I imagined. The AFF course cost about 1600 Euro for the ground course and the 9 jumps. If you perform the 9 jumps correctly, you are then able to jump in your dropzone alone. If not, then you might have to repeat one or two times a jump together with a coach which is about 150 Euro per jump. Once you can jump alone, you might have to rent a parachute. If you put the price of the rental, the packing of the parachute and the ticket for jumping you arrive at a total of 45 to 50 Euro per jump.
Now, where this sport becomes expensive is when you start to buy your own equipment. A brand-new parachute can easily cost around 5.000 Euro, plus you add to this the helmet, the altimeter, the gloves, the suit and the list goes on. But if you are smart in investing, and don’t rush into buying everything right away. You can be smart about your investment by renting at the beginning. Getting more experience in the sport will help you to take the right decision in what equipment to purchase.
But for sure, this is a sport like no other. The sensations, the thrill you get and the lessons you learn that you apply in your everyday life are so unique. It worth every cent of investment.
What about the work, family and life balance?
This is something you will have to learn to deal with. For many skydivers, it is still a challenge until today because they have a hard time to find the right balance. Simply because once you started to jump, the biggest chance will be that you’ll be craving for one thing: To get back up there. And your loved ones will know it because you’ll spend most of your time talking about skydiving, and how amazing it is to be up there.
And to be honest, if they haven’t tried, they might find it boring with time and maybe even annoying. That’s where you will learn to contain your joy, but you also get a chance to try to get your spouse or family a little bit more involved by taking them with you at the Dropzone. Maybe they’ll get a taste and will want to try. But there will be some days, where you will have to learn to make some sacrifice.
Where you would love to go out jumping because all the other mates from your group will go jumping, but you won’t be able to go because you have some family plans. Or you won’t be able to go because you’ve already spent all your Skydive money in the last weekend. This is part of the life balance, but in my personal point of view, it is a good exercise if you are willing to learn.
Will I be addicted to Adrenaline?
This might sound ridiculous, but when I was still an outsider to the sport I had a total misunderstanding of how adrenaline works. I thought that if I would get a taste of adrenaline, I might not be able to stop. And that if I would not able to stop, then I wouldn’t be able to know my limits.
Now that I am in the sport, I realize that those were some false assumptions. Simply because after some jumps, you are not high on adrenaline anymore. You are fully conscious of what is going on and aware of what you have to do stay safe. The real danger that you face is that you might get overconfident sometimes and that because of this overconfidence you might omit some checklist or some practice. Never, ever underestimate a checklist, even if the item is a small one or simple. But to get back to the adrenaline, I wouldn’t use that word. Instead, I would call it the thrill of falling and flying. Because besides the fact that you are falling, you are in control of your freefall. You can turn, make some flips, back flips, go to another skydiver, make some formations and then split.
This is really the closest feeling you get to flying.
© Photo Karura Sports. Do your AFF from a Helicopter.
Oh! And by the way, if you wonder that you are having your 40 years old crisis, then who cares?
Some people have a crisis at 20, at 30 or even at 50. So now that you have your own questions sorted out, you can go and jump!!! Hopefully, we’ll meet sometime someday at a DZ and you’ll tell your story!!!