12 Things You Need to Know If Skydiving Is on Your Bucket List

Nervous to take the plunge? Our expert tips will guide you through the entire skydive, from scheduling the jump to the adrenaline rush after you land.

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Skydiving is actually a sport

Skydiving is an activity that’s almost synonymous with bucket lists. But before you enter the wonderful world of skydiving, understand that jumping out of a perfectly good airplane doesn’t have to be a once-in-a-lifetime thrill. “People think that with skydiving, you just go do one jump,” says Nancy Koreen, director of sport promotion at the United States Parachute Association. “They don’t realize that it’s a whole sport that people do every week as a hobby and a lifestyle.” The number of annual skydives in America has been growing steadily since 2007, with an estimated 4.2 million jumps last year alone. Advanced jumpers can even compete in all sorts of skydiving competitions. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

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Here’s the basic skydiving lingo you should know

Drop zone: The skydiving center where you’ll make your jump. It may look like nothing more than a large grassy field with a random airplane hangar, but all USPA-affiliated drop zones are legit (there are 238 in America to choose from). Jumpsuit: The less-than-stylish full body suit you may wear over your clothes while skydiving. Jumpsuits can help control how fast you’re falling and protect you from the wind in colder months. If you jump in the summer, you may not need to wear one. Liability release: The form you sign before you jump that outlines potential risks and safety concerns. More on that later. Freefall: The best part of your jump, falling through the sky before your canopy opens. Canopy: A fancier name for your parachute.

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Anyone can skydive

Are you a human being over 18 years old? Ta-da! You’re qualified to go skydiving. There are a few exceptions (pregnant women and people with heart problems should stay on the ground, and drop zones have certain weight restrictions), but your age, height, occupation, or any other demographic factor won’t hold you back. “There are ways to take people who are paralyzed, disabled, even who have lost limbs, just with special precautions and adjustments to the equipment,” Koreen says. Basically, you don’t have much of an excuse not to try skydiving.

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You can jump wearing a parachute or without one

Okay, it’s not quite as extreme as that. Beginners can choose from two types of skydiving: accelerated freefall (AFF) or tandem freefall. In an AFF jump, you open the parachute by yourself and land by yourself. But before you even put on the parachute, you need to complete a ground course that can last several hours. While you’re in the air, two instructors hold onto your harness to give instructions and help with stability before you deploy. Most first-timers choose tandem, where you’re strapped to an instructor who opens the parachute and lands for both of you. There’s no extensive coursework or physical prep beforehand. All you have to do is enjoy the view. So technically, you really are jumping without wearing a parachute. You’re just attached to someone who is.

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Your chances of getting hurt are ridiculously low

Horror stories of parachutes not opening are what keep most people from even considering skydiving, but they rarely know the stats behind those numbers. Out of the 4.2 million jumps in 2015, 21 were fatalities. That’s 0.005 fatalities per 1,000 jumps, and the rate of tandem fatalities is even lower. “Every skydiver has two parachutes,” Koreen explains. “If the first one malfunctions, there’s a backup, and skydivers go through a lot of training to learn how to handle emergency procedures. Ninety-nine percent of skydiving accidents are human error, where the skydiver does something wrong. It’s not necessarily an equipment failure.” Plus, tandem instructors go through extensive training and certification programs to give you the best—and safest—ride of your life. “It is in such a controlled environment with such close supervision,” she says. “Your chances of getting hurt or killed are way higher driving to the drop zone than they are jumping out of a plane.” These tips can help you conquer your fear of flying.

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It’s a bit of an investment

Prices vary between drop zones, but tandem skydives tend to run from $200-$275, according to USPA, and AFF jumps are around $300, plus additional costs for photo and video packages. Some drop zones offer cheaper rates on weekdays and early morning jumps, for college students or military personnel, and for groups. The bigger the group, the bigger the discount. Always schedule jumps in advance, too. It costs less than paying full price the day of, and you’re guaranteed a spot on the plane.

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You’ll get cozy on the plane ride up

After watching an informational video and signing waivers, you’ll meet your tandem instructor, put on your harness, and board the aircraft version of a clown car. On the ride up, your instructor will put goggles on you and strap your harness to his. It may feel little too close for comfort—you’re sitting in someone else’s lap—but at least you know there’s no way you two could be separated on the way down.

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The most nerve-wracking part of skydiving? The anticipation

You’re falling out of a moving airplane. That’s not natural. That’s pretty terrifying. And you probably won’t be able to stop thinking about that during the 15 minutes it takes your plane to reach the proper altitude (typically between 10,000 and 13,000 feet from the ground). It might actually be concerning if you weren’t at least a little nervous. The scariest part is definitely the few seconds you spend sitting on the edge of the airplane. Thankfully, it doesn’t last longer than a few seconds. Here’s how to outsmart your nerves and hide your body’s most embarrassing nervous reactions.

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The freefall isn’t like a roller coaster

I am no adrenaline junkie. I can’t cross a street without whipping my head back and forth looking for oncoming cars, even when the walk sign is on. But freefalling through the air is one of the most peaceful experiences I’ll ever have. There’s no stomach drop like on a roller coaster. Honestly, it just feels like a bunch of cold wind hitting your face while the ground slowly gets bigger beneath you. The speed at which you fall can vary anywhere between 100 and 200 miles per hour. Koreen says it all depends on your weight and size, what you’re wearing, and how you’re positioned in the air.

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Make the most of your time in the air

Freefalls are only about 45 to 60 seconds long, and then your canopy opens. You are allowed to ask for a longer freefall beforehand, if you’re up for it. The entire jump—from the time you exit the plane to the moment you’ve reached the ground—only lasts about five minutes, so take in your surroundings as you coast to the ground. Some instructors will ask if you want a few tricks during the canopy flight, like spinning around or moving side to side. Say yes. You can always ask to stop if the sensations are too intense.

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The minute you land, you’ll want to go skydiving again

You never fully recover from the rush of adrenaline and ecstasy that skydiving brings because it always leaves you wanting more. You’ll probably annoy, shock, and even scare people by talking about it so much. You may even include it as an interest on your resume. But skydiving can also stir up a life-changing confidence in many jumpers. “For a lot of people, it makes them feel like other traumas or problems in their life are small,” Koreen says. “It gives people confidence like, ‘If I can jump out of a plane, I can handle this relationship problem or this job problem’ or other challenges in their lives.” Here’s how to boost your confidence, according to science.

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If you’re hooked, consider getting a license

Nearly 33,000 people in the US have at least one USPA skydiving license, so they can jump at any drop zone by themselves whenever they like. Sound intriguing? The program for an A license (the first of four licenses) consists of 25 AFF jumps, each covering a different skill and technique. It’s yet another way to become part of the diverse and tight-knit community of skydivers—and cross another item off your bucket list.

Top 5 Skydiving Myths Explained

Top 5 Skydiving Myths Explained

Ever wondered what it’s like to go skydiving? You’ve probably heard lots of stories, maybe discussed it with people you know who’ve done it before. Perhaps you’ve seen skydiving on TV or in a movie.

Here at Ozarks Skydive Center, we make thousands of skydives each year, so we know what we’re talking about! Here, we expel some common myths about skydiving to help you better understand what skydiving is all about.

Myth #1: Skydivers pull ripcords

You hear it quite a lot when people talk about skydiving; they discuss ‘pulling the rip cord’ and whether they’d be nervous of pulling their own ripcord.

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Rip cords are, in reality, a thing of the past. Today’s skydivers use more advanced equipment where, unlike the ripcord which deployed a spring which then opened the parachute, they use a pilot chute attached to a hackey.

The hackey is a small ball or handle which sits to the bottom right of the skydiver’s equipment. It can easily be reached when it’s time to deploy the parachute and by pulling that out, the pilot chute is released. So no rip cords, just pilot chutes!

Myth #2: You Can’t Breathe During A Skydive

Skydiving is a high adrenaline sport and jumping from a plane often causes our heart rate to increase, making us catch our breath.

Some first-time jumpers report not being able to breathe at all. But there is actually no reason for this, and it’s more a case of mind-over-matter needed to get that first breath despite the information overload you can experience when you haven’t jumped before.

We encourage people to scream as they leave the plane, as this reminds you to breathe and proves that you can.

Myth #3: You Ascend When You Pull Your Parachute

Have you ever noticed how skydivers appear to ascend when they pull their parachute? If you’ve watched skydiving videos, you’ll likely be familiar with this phenomenon, and many people believe that the release of the parachute does indeed make you ‘go up’.

This isn’t the case. The truth is that the camera person continues to fall at their terminal velocity while the person they are filming slows in speed as their parachute opens. They don’t ‘go up’, but they do slow down.

Myth #4: You Can Speak To Each Other In Freefall

Point Break was a great movie! Entertaining, fun, and Patrick Swayze in his prime.

You may recall the skydiving scene in Point Break where the lead characters manage to have a conversation mid-fall.

As entertaining as it was, this is far from accurate. There’s simply too much wind rushing by you for you to be able to hear your own voice, let alone other people’s. Instead, we communicate through eye contact and hand signals.

Myth #5: We All Fall At The Same Speed

You’ve probably seen the cartoon where the coyote drops an anvil and then falls at the same speed through the air. Scientifically, this makes no sense! The coyote and the anvil have very different weights and surface areas, which means they wouldn’t fall at the same speed at all.

The same applies to skydivers – we don’t all fall at the same speed. Typically, people fall at around 120mph at terminal velocity, but this varies depending on the weight and surface area. Tandem skydivers will fall faster than a solo skydiver because there are two people.

We actually use this to our advantage in skydiving, as we are able to change our fall rate by changing our body position or, at times, wearing weight belts to speed us up.

Are there other skydiving myths you have questions about? If so, our friendly staff is happy to help! Give our team a call or you can learn more about the sport of skydiving on our blog.

Source https://www.rd.com/list/skydiving-facts/

Source https://www.ozskydive.com/about/skydiving-articles/top-5-skydiving-myths-explained/

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