Skydiving; it’s like trying to explain sex to a virgin. The skydiving experience is one of the craziest and most amazing experiences that a human can have and one that I think everyone should try (if they can afford it) at least once in their life. Whether you’re strapped to an experienced skydiver in a tandem jump or you decide to do a course and take the leap yourself, experience skydiving!
A few years ago I managed to tick skydiving off my bucket list and the Adrenalin bug had dug it’s pincers in deep. I kept jumping until I couldn’t afford to any more and I miss it every day. I managed 35 jumps in a year and a half and only just reached the first level of qualification but since my first jump I’ve wanted to encourage other people to try this incredible experience as well. This post is to encourage you to find a local dropzone and give skydiving a try!
If adventure sports are your thing, also check out this post on getting your open water advanced scuba qualification in Bali. And if you love off the beaten path experiences then check out getting traditional Sak Yant Tattoos in Thailand.
The Skydiving Experience
Crouched in the door of a plane, soaring 12,000ft above the ground, many thoughts may be rushing through your mind. One big thought is how surreal this entire experience is. The world is so far below you that only the biggest landmarks are visible. It seems laughable that you’re actually going to leap out of that door and plummet for nearly a minute towards the earth.
But jump you do and in that moment you realise that it is one of the most freeing experiences of your life. The rush is impossible to put into words and once you’ve had it you will be counting the seconds until you can experience it again. As you reach terminal velocity (about 195 km/h) the air feels like it has solidified around you. You actually feel like you are flying.
When you’re under canopy and the rush of free-fall has ended, you have the sky to yourself. Only the wind and the flutter of your slider can be heard. You glide back to the ground and wonder how quickly you can be back up in the sky, throwing yourself out of an aeroplane door.
I have had 3 skydiving experiences that were truly out of this world for an amateur like me. First was jumping when the clouds closed off completely at about 3000ft. It felt like moving between 2 worlds as I burst through the clouds to see the real ground below. The second was after I had finished my most basic free-fall course and I could jump without having an instructor present for the first time. I had a backwards exit and fell for a while just watching the plane fly away before flipping over and having some free-fall fun. Just lying back in the wind I have never felt so relaxed and at peace with life.
The third experience was when I really felt like I was flying. I was going through some training moves which put me quite far from the dropzone (DZ). With only a short time before I needed to deploy my parachute I needed to get myself closer unless I wanted a hellishly long walk back on the ground. So I tracked (making your body surface area as large as possible so you can get more horizontal distance while losing as little height as possible) towards the DZ. In my mind I could have been Superman, it was incredible watching the DZ come closer while losing minimal altitude. I can only imagine what a wingsuit must feel like and I hope to one day get a chance to try one out!
But enough about me, how can we get you to have your own skydiving experience?
How to get the skydiving experience
Depending on where you go to skydive you are probably going to be presented with a variety of options to get into the sport. You can try a tandem skydive where you’re just hanging along for the ride, you can start a Static Line course, or you can do an Accelerated Free-Fall course.
With a tandem jump you will have a brief ‘training’ session on the ground to explain what will happen before you get taken up to jump. You will have a qualified tandem instructor take you for your jump and mostly you just need to try and fall correctly. This option is great if you just want to try skydiving once, get some fun videos and photos and move on with your life. A tandem skydive will be more expensive than taking a course because it is once off and several people are involved in the experience.
The second 2 options require a little more in terms of ground training and these courses are what you will need to do to become an actual skydiver. You will be operating the parachute by yourself so you need to understand what you’re working with. This can usually be done in one day but expect to learn some very important theory.
The static line course is aimed at teaching you to first learn how to exit a plane and control your own parachute before you worry about free-fall. Your parachute is connected to the plane via a static line (hence the name), so when you jump the parachute is pulled out for you. As crazy as this sounds, after your first few jumps things can get a little repetitive and boring and you will be wanting to experience proper free-fall. This is the route I took as it is generally the cheapest option.
Finally you can do Accelerated Free-Fall (AFF). If I ever go back to skydiving, this is the option I would choose. You get to experience free-fall right from your first skydive. Your first jump will be with 2 experienced instructors who keep you steady in the sky and throw out your parachute for you. You then pilot yourself to the ground. This is much more expensive than a static line course because you have to pay for 2 other skydivers (your instructors) to jump as well. But you can get the true skydiving experience from your first time, so if you can afford this option I’d say, go for it!
What to wear for your skydiving experience
There is nothing fancy in the clothes you need to wear skydiving. If you are a beginner jumper or doing a tandem skydive you will be required to wear a jump suit so wear clothes that will fit comfortably under that. Your best option is just shorts or tights and a t-shirt. Obviously also take the weather into account but don’t wear thick clothes that make movement difficult or a dress that will cause problems putting on a jump suit.
Wear comfortable shoes, trainers are best. Don’t try and be cool and wear big army or hiking style boots. They make landing uncomfortable and they often have hooks for the shoelaces that can potentially get caught up in your parachute lines.
If you’re still nervous about what to wear skydiving then get in touch with the dropzone you plan to use and ask them what they recommend.
How safe is the skydiving experience?
Skydiving is actually a surprisingly safe extreme sport and most fatalities are due to human error and not equipment malfunctions. You may ask that cliched question, ‘Why would I jump out of a perfectly good aeroplane?’. Well, honestly, for 2 reasons. You have 2 perfectly good parachutes in your rig that are constantly checked and packed by professionals, and planes only crash when they reach the ground so getting out before then means you shouldn’t die in a plane crash.
Obviously accidents do happen and what makes skydiving such and exciting experience is that there is a degree of danger involved. But here is a graph showing a rough difference in risk between skydiving and other activities:
Stats from besthealthdegrees.com.
Where can I get the skydiving experience?
Skydiving dropzones are all over the world and you may be surprised at how close one is to you. Check out this extensive list of places to skydive all around the world to find your nearest DZ.
If you want to tie in a skydiving experience to an awesome holiday then have a look at Red Bulls 9 most insane places in the world to go skydiving.
Go out and find your skydiving experience!
There is nothing quite like the experience of skydiving, it will change your life. You will never look at the sky the same, flying in a aeroplane will be changed forever and even just walking around will feel different. If you’re afraid to try it on your own then treat yourself to a tandem jump, just get into the air, I can’t recommend it enough.
Push your limits, spread your wings, and see that you can fly!
Happy travels and blue skies!
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