When most people hear the word “skydiving”, they tend to react with immediate fear, as if someone is threatening to throw them out of a plane right then and there.

In other instances, they express their intention to try it “someday”, followed by a myriad of excuses as to why it hasn’t yet occurred.

These emotional reactions are quite normal when confronted by the thought of doing something counterintuitive to staying inside an airplane that is flying 12,000 feet above the earth.

It can sometimes help to remove the mystery around the event and delve into exactly what a skydiving experience entails.

Once you take that first giant leap over what may feel like a mountain of fear, you’ll probably find a nearby drop zone and book your adventure online or on the phone.

On your scheduled day, you’ll head out to the drop zone. As you get closer, you may catch a glimpse of parachutes in the sky. It may make the nervous butterflies in your stomach a bit more active, but it’s a beautiful sight.

Upon arrival, there should be signs directing you to an office where you’ll go to confirm your skydive appointment and receive a packet of papers to sign.

Afterward, you’ll usually watch a movie explaining what to expect on your first skydive, and then get fitted for your harness once it’s time for your slot on the jump plane.

This phase may involve quite a lot of waiting time if the weather is cloudy or windy.

Safety will be the most important focus, and you can rest assured that the drop zone will be diligently monitoring all weather conditions to make sure your skydive, and you, are as safe as possible.

Throwing out of a plane
© Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash.

“When most people hear the word “skydiving”, they tend to react with immediate fear, as if someone is threatening to throw them out of a plane”. 

When your harness has been fitted to comfort, your Tandem Instructor (TI) will come to meet you and go over some instructions about what to expect on the way to your jump altitude of approximately 10-12,000 feet.

He or she should discuss how you’ll be hooked into his/her harness at 4 points, ensuring the most secure attachment for a safe and smooth exit and freefall.

Your TI may have you practice putting your head back against his/her shoulder, so as to prevent any accidental bumps and bruises upon exit.

You should also have instruction on what will happen in freefall with emphasis on arching. You’ll most likely practice your arch at least once or twice since that will be the most important factor for a stable and safe jump.

On your scheduled day

Once you take that first giant leap over what may feel like a mountain of fear, you’ll probably find a nearby drop zone and book your adventure online or on the phone.

On your scheduled day, you’ll head out to the drop zone. As you get closer, you may catch a glimpse of parachutes in the sky. It may make the nervous butterflies in your stomach a bit more active, but it’s a beautiful sight.

Upon arrival, there should be signs directing you to an office where you’ll go to confirm your skydive appointment and receive a packet of papers to sign.

Afterward, you’ll usually watch a movie explaining what to expect, and then get fitted for your harness once it’s time for your slot on the jump plane.

This phase may involve quite a lot of waiting time if the weather is cloudy or windy.

Safety will be the most important focus, and you can rest assured that the drop zone will be diligently monitoring all weather conditions to make sure your skydive, and you, are as safe as possible.

When your harness has been fitted to comfort, your Tandem Instructor (TI) will come to meet you and go over some instructions about what to expect on the way to your jump altitude of approximately 10-12,000 feet.

He or she should discuss how you’ll be hooked into his/her harness at 4 points, ensuring the most secure attachment for a safe and smooth exit and freefall.

Your TI may have you practice putting your head back against his/her shoulder, so as to prevent any accidental bumps and bruises upon exit.

You should also have instruction on what will happen in freefall with emphasis on arching. You’ll most likely practice your arch at least once or twice since that will be the most important factor for a stable and safe jump.

Your first skydive

Once you’re prepared for your jump, you’ll wait for your “load” to be called.

This is the way the drop zone keeps track of how many times the jump plane flies up to jump altitude, and how many jumpers are on each load. When it’s your turn, your TI will come to you and walk you to the plane.

With your instructor keeping you safe from the propellers, you’ll be directed to stairs that lead into the airplane door, or you’ll climb into the door itself if it’s a small airplane.

Depending on the size of the airplane and the number of people jumping that day, your ride to altitude can sometimes be a tight squeeze, or very roomy.

Regardless, your tandem instructor should make sure you are comfortable.

He/she will also most likely point out the altitude as you ascend and ask you questions and thoughts for your skydive video.

You will be able to feel the energy level in the airplane change as you near altitude.

Fun jumpers, who are usually sitting closest to the door, will begin checking their gear and getting into position to open the door.

Your TI will do exactly as you’ve practiced and slide together with you so he/she can connect the 4 points of your harnesses together.

The straps will be pulled and tightened until there is no space between you and your instructor. Once your instructor has guided you to put on your goggles, you’ll begin scooting towards the door together.

If you are not the first tandem pair to exit, you’ll even get to watch another tandem passenger take that leap into the sky!

One of  the purest moments in your life

That paused second in the open doorway of your jump plane is one of the purest moments you’ll experience in this life.

If you can, breathe slow and remember it. Most first-time jumpers have the same expression on their face in that instant. It is almost always a raw expression of fear.

However, it lasts only a fraction of a second before your instructor plunges you out into that perfect freedom!

It will take some time after the entire experience is over, to recall all the overwhelming sensations you felt during freefall. In those 60 seconds (which will seem to pass in a snap of a finger), the greatest sensation will be of the wind.

It will hit you hard and fast, and some people find it a bit hard to breathe.

It’s okay.

You will still be able to breathe just fine. You’ll also notice an absence of the stomach drop feeling most people expect.

Rather, it simply feels like you are flying.

Your instructor may do some turns and have you smile or give a thumbs up to the camera.

You’ll be showing this video to all your friends! You can try to look cool, but most first-time jumpers don’t succeed.

“That paused second in the open doorway of your jump plane is one of the purest moments you’ll experience in this life.”

The moment when all is quiet, peaceful and calm

At 6,000 feet, your instructor will wave his intention to pull, and he will reach back to his hip and pull the small pilot chute that will catch the air and open your main parachute.

Once it’s inflated and flying, you’ll notice an amazing difference. You’ll be vertical to the ground again, and it will feel immediately quiet, peaceful and calm.

You’ll be able to take in the view, notice how high you are and how fast you’re flying.

Your instructor may do some turns under the canopy with you, point out where the drop zone is and where you’ll land. You won’t feel a rush of ground coming up at you until the very last seconds.

At that time, your TI will instruct you to lift your legs and he or she will use the toggles (parachute handles) to pull the parachute down and slow your flight as you land.

You may land softly, run out the landing or slide in together for a soft, easy landing.

When you have your feet firmly back on the ground, you’ll feel a rush of emotion and elation that will undoubtedly last many hours.

It’s almost a guarantee that you’ll need to tell your skydive story to everyone you talk to for the rest of the day!

The real sound of skydiving

© Video by Peter Kennett

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