It is easy to want to do something in the abstract. I always said I wanted to go skydiving. It sounds really cool, right? But when I was faced with the actuality of going, it scared me! I’m pretty sure others feel the same way.
My biggest concern about skydiving was simple. I was afraid I would chicken out at 10,000 feet. I did not want to be the person who came back down in the plane! I know it happens to people, and I don’t blame them one bit, but I know I would have regretted it every minute of every day if I didn’t jump out of the plane – if I made it in the plane.
So, to help you get over your fear of skydiving, I prepared a list of 10 things to know. The person who walked me through my skydive was amazing, as were my jump advisers. If I had known these things before the day I jumped, my anxiety levels would have been much lower. Below are a few items I learned right before and right after I jumped from 10,500 feet.
- More people die each year from operating a toaster than skydiving. In fact, you are more likely to die driving to the airport. I cannot verify the accuracy of the toaster comment, but I did research after I jumped (no way was I looking up skydiving safety before I went!) and found it really is one of the safest recreational sports you can do.
- Make an appointment early in the day. Sometimes the weather seems perfect, but then the wind picks up. There are many times the early morning appointments get to jump but the later ones do not. You don’t want to reschedule unless you absolutely must.
- Be sure to wear clothes that are comfortable and athletic shoes. I wore and old pair of running shoes and they said those were perfect.
- When tandem jumping you are strapped to a trained professional with four thick metal hooks. These hooks are designed to hold up to 5,000 pounds each! One of my jump advisers said he couldn’t get rid of me if he wanted to. This tidbit of information would have been nice to know before jumping.
- I’m sure this point varies depending on which skydiving organization you go through, but be prepared to jump from a very tiny plane. I didn’t realize it would be so small and more importantly, that there wouldn’t be any seats. It did have a buckle to strap me to my spot on the floor. As it turned out, this added to the experience.
- There are two really scary moments. I only had one moment of mild freak out, but I could see where the other could also be an issue.
- When the plane takes off. This did not bother me. I actually thought it was much better after the plane left the ground.
- When the door opens. OK, this one did freak me out a little. I was sitting right next to the door, so when it opened, I felt the need to hold on to something.
- Arch! I practiced arching several times before going on the jump, but I hear others were not so fortunate. The arch is just like a back bend from when you were little, except this time you are doing it at over 110 miles per hour. If you are short, you can also (with your tandem jumper’s permission) pull your knees up to your chest so you free fall on your back a few seconds to watch the plane disappear.
- Listen to your tandem jumper. He or she is an expert and wants to get on the ground safely just as much as you do. You
will likely not know when your tandem jumper pulls the parachute, but you will when it happens! You may get to steer once you’re under canopy, but follow his or her instructions.
- Be prepared to buy the video of your jump. It may be included in your price, but mine wasn’t and it will be something you will want to keep forever.
- Relax and have fun! It is an amazing experience that you won’t soon forget!
As a bonus, you might want to think about what to do with your hair. I began my jump with my hair in a ponytail, but did not end that way. Somewhere in the fields of green you might come across my favorite hair tie.
Do you have tips to add to my list? Share them in the comments. I want to hear from you!