Published: August 22, 2017
Skydiving is a thrill-seeking, adrenaline-pumping sport. But trust us, you won't be uncomfortable or freaked out the entire time. You're going to have fun.
It's a valid question, though, and one we receive all the time. There are a number of different aspects to the skydiving experience that can cause you to feel uneasy.
We've listed and reviewed some of them here so you can be more aware of your feelings on the ground and in the air.
It's completely normal to feel butterflies as you're driving to the dropzone. Your brain is confused as to whether it should be excited or terrified. You've likely never decided to voluntarily jump out of a moving plane.
At certain points throughout your day at Skydive Carolina, your survival instincts will kick in, which at times can trigger a fight or flight response. This obviously occurs at the door of the plane, which we'll discuss in a minute, but it also occurs on the ground, especially when you're filling out waivers explaining the potential risks associated with the sport.
This smorgasbord of emotions will continue through the preparation process, particularly as your tandem instructor is giving you the jump rundown and fitting you for a harness. He'll then guide you onto the plane and this is the toughest part - trying to breathe and relax while you ride up!
Once the plane door opens, it grows very loud in the plane with the whooshing wind. All that peace and relaxation you felt on the ride up is replaced by another bout of anxiety. This peaks as you start to watch other skydivers before you exit the plane and just drop from sight.
At this point, your brain switches back into survival mode and you know you have just one more opportunity, a few seconds really, to save yourself by choosing to ride the plane back down. Resist this temptation! Deep down, you're really only afraid of the unknown.
At this point, you should try to take a few long, deep breaths. And then trust your equipment and your very experienced instructor, who has jumped from planes thousands of times.
Once you hit terminal velocity, which occurs after just a few seconds, you'll realize you're completely fine! Most people at this point end up grinning (captured by their videographer), and they realize all of that built-up fear was just that -- a build up.
After 60 seconds of fun, it'll be time to deploy your parachute and begin the second part of the skydive: the calm ride back down to the ground. This part is scary to a lot of people as well for several reasons. First, there is the obvious concern about whether the parachute will open (it will). Second, there's the fear that you'll get hurt on landing (just listen to the instructions from your tandem instructor and you'll be fine).
The best way to handle all of these moments is to just breathe and relax. Remember, skydiving is meant to be fun. It's so fun, in fact, that 40,000 people have memberships through the United States Parachute Association.
If you let yourself enjoy it, you might even fall (pun intended) in love with a new sport.