What Does it Feel Like to Skydive?

Time and time again, we are asked by non-skydivers “what does it feel like to skydive?” Now, to be fair to both parties involved, it makes perfect sense for someone who has never made a jump to want to know what it is about the feel of skydiving that keeps people coming back time and time again. But, if your friends and family who have made a jump can’t quite articulate an answer, cut them some slack. They can’t answer because skydiving is an experience unlike anything else. It’s nearly as hard to describe as it is to forget. Even professionals like us struggle a bit trying to convey what it feels like to skydive, but we’re going to try our best.

We have found for particularly tricky descriptions it’s easiest to begin by explaining what it is not. So, that’s where we will start.

Skydiving doesn’t feel like:

A Rollercoaster

Quite a few people tell us they could never skydive because they hate roller coasters. While many assume that roller coasters and skydiving must go hand in hand, other than causing a little bit of an adrenaline rush, a roller coaster feels nothing like a skydive.

how does it feel to skydive

Because you are riding in a plane with a horizontal speed around 100 mph, as you exit the aircraft, in the transition to your vertical terminal velocity of 120 mph, your body doesn’t experience rapid acceleration or deceleration. In freefall, the force exerted on your body is close to 1 g and doesn’t stray much from that, so you don’t feel any force being exerted on you (i.e. that dreaded stomach drop).

Falling

If you imagine skydiving must feel like plummeting toward the earth in an endless head over heels fall—we have good news for you! It’s not. During freefall, you don’t really feel the fall. You feel suspended on air instead of rapidly descending (which, in the spirit of honesty, you definitely are).

skydiving near Oklahoma City OK

Within seconds of exiting the aircraft, your body will reach terminal velocity. When this equilibrium of sorts is achieved, where the resistance of the air is equal to the force of gravity on your body, instead of incredibly wobbly you feel pretty stable. Until you reach the appropriate altitude to deploy the parachute, you’ll feel supported by the cushion of air pressing against your body.

Being on a scaffolding or other high place

Tons of people hate heights. In fact, acrophobia (the fear of heights) affects about 5 percent of the population. Naturally, you’d think making a skydive from 14,000 feet would certainly look high and definitely give you that dizzying feel that the top of a ladder or top floor of a building does, right?

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Wrong.
This is why so many skydivers who have a fear of heights are able to skydive just fine!

The vantage point from the aircraft is unlike anything else. Because there are no static objects relative to you, your brain lacks the information it needs to triangulate your position. Aside from that, the ground no longer appears as you’re used to seeing it. The aerial view of the earth appears more like a patchwork quilt, and honestly, it’s pretty neat to see the world that way.

Okay, so what does skydiving (kinda) feel like?

Skydiving Feels Like Walking on Sunshine!

Seems silly, but just you wait. Skydiving leaves you feeling ahhhmazing. Here’s the science behind it: during and after a skydive, your body produces a powerful chemical cocktail: Adrenaline, Dopamine, and Serotonin. This thrilling trio settles your nerves, heightens your awareness and mental clarity, and doses you with euphoric feelings of happiness. After you land from a skydive, you feel like you can take on the world!

Skydiving Feels Like Walking on Sunshine!

Speaking of the world—a skydive also feels like

IT feels like a well-deserved vacation from the hum drum of the day to day

Leave the stress of the hustle behind for a little peace of mind. Sure, taking the leap from 14,000’, freefalling at 120mph, and a 5-minute parachute ride, might not sound like the most relaxing time, but tons of people report the sky to be their “happy place.”

For most of us, skydiving is the best way we know to take it easy. The world around us is a hectic place. On a skydive, there aren’t a million things to focus on or different directions to be pulled in—there is just this one moment that has your undevoted attention. It’s a quick lesson in mindfulness and a great way to practice being present.

Does Skydiving Feel Like Falling?

It is probably quite reasonable to think that hurling yourself out of airplane and zooming towards the ground at 120mph feels like falling, right? Well, it both does and does not all at the same time. Skydiving contains a lot of feelings and sensations that all add up to make it one of the most amazing and thrilling experiences available to us humans. Let’s have a look at a few of the important things to know about how it is going to feel when you jump…

Does skydiving feels like falling

Speed

The terminal velocity of a human in freefall is most commonly stated as being around 120mph. With practice, you can manipulate your body to fly at different speeds – but for a tandem pair (instructor and student harnessed together) or a solo skydiver falling on their belly (how you are likely to be picturing a skydive) this number is right. The important thing to understand about the speed of skydiving is that it feels like the fastest thing ever. Sure, it is possible to go faster than 120mph in various motorized ways – but there is something pure and unique about the velocity you generate using only gravity.

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Skydiving speed

Falling

It is common to think that when you skydive from an airplane there will be a sensation of falling that you feel in your stomach – kind of like when you drop on a rollercoaster. Lots of people don’t enjoy this feeling, so it should be reassuring to learn that this doesn’t happen when you leap from an airplane. When you skydive, you are jumping out of a flying machine that is actually traveling along forwards at around 100mph – so instead of dropping away from the door, you are actually flying forwards to start with and then gradually transitioning into vertical freefall over the first ten seconds. The skydiver term for this is ‘going down the hill’ – as you can think of it as a big arcing slope rather than a sheer drop.

Tandem Skydiving

Flying

While skydiving is very fast, you don’t really feel like you are falling. Skydivers apply their bodies to manipulate the ‘relative wind’ so they can move around. This takes some practice, but by using your body, arms and legs to create movement – you feel like you are simply flying. Flying your body takes a lot of time, effort and practice to master, but you can start right away. Whether you are doing a tandem jump for your first skydive or have joined a course to earn a license of your very own, you will be instructed from the outset how to fly properly. The first step is to fly stable, which is done by arching your body with your hips down towards the ground and your head up looking forwards. This position acts like a shuttlecock – keeping you the right way up with your parachute pointing upwards where it needs to be. Once stable, you can then think about learning to move around – and the best way to do this is by asking your instructor. They will probably tell you lots of terrible jokes, but we all do this work because we want as many people as possible to experience what skydiving is like – and will happily teach you about what is involved.

There is no way to fully understand what skydiving really feels like until you try it for yourself, and you definitely should. If you have never jumped before then your head will be full of questions as you build up to the big moment, but what you need to know most of all is that when you are in freefall – it feels like it is exactly the right place for you to be.

What Skydiving Feels Like

What Skydiving Feels Like

Everything you think you know about what skydiving feels like is probably wrong.

It’s true! It might be surprising, though–since you likely feel as though you have a few experiential references to draw on. These references, however–like roller coasters, bungee jumping, and standing on the edges of high places–don’t really have a lot in common with a skydive.

Of course, the only way to really know what it’s like to make a skydive is to make a skydive–but here’s the information you’re missing, so you can frame it a little better in your head.

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1. Skydiving Does Not Feel like a Roller Coaster. At All. Ever.

Y’know the feeling you get when you’ve rattled your way up to the top of the first big hill on a rollercoaster? You feel a little yank when the first car goes over the top, and then your stomach drops– because you know that big, weightless drop is inevitable and you’re going to be pinned to the harness for the rest of the ride.

During a skydive, we actually relax into the relative wind that pushes against us. That big ol’ collection of friendly air molecules smoothes out our descent. It gives you and your tandem instructor a platform of stability and security. You’ll feel the air cushioning you from the moment you exit to the moment the parachute opens. It feels really supportive and really, really nice. The result? No feeling of powerlessness, ever! If it weren’t for the cushion of air we just talked about, you’d spend your skydive kicking around in nothingness, trying in vain to find a way to right yourself, as helpless as you are in a roller coaster, but in skydiving this just isn’t the feeling.

2. Your Stomach Doesn’t Drop When Skydiving.

It’s the sensation of weightlessness that drives the feeling that your stomach drops or is rising into your throat. Since you don’t feel weightless when you’re making a skydive, your stomach stays put.

3. There’s No Sensation of “Falling.”

Visual depth equals falling, in a very real way. Skydivers don’t experience visual depth until the very end of the skydive, so the falling feeling is conspicuously absent. Instead, the world looks flat, like a map. Because it’s depthless, it doesn’t trigger acrophobia. Ground rush doesn’t kick in. In fact, our experience of falling is so mild that skydivers must wear precision instruments to track our altitude on every single jump, so they know when they need to stop falling and start gliding under parachute to land!

4. There’s No Crazy Sensation of Speed.

Within a few moments of freefall, you’ll hit terminal velocity. That means that the resistance from those air molecules will cap your downward speed at a zipper 120mph. That said, you aren’t going to feel like you would doing 120 miles per hour on the open road. Without references around you, your brain can’t calculate the speed. Coincidentally, the only way you’ll notice your vroomy velocity is if you pass next to a cloud. (If you do, trust us–you’ll feel it for sure!)

With all that information shared, it remains that the simplest way to describe what a skydive feels like is a word that comes up all the time on the dropzone. Awesome. Give tandem skydiving a try! You’ll see what we mean.

Curious and want to learn more about tandem skydiving? Read about the safety of skydiving & tips to improve your skydiving experience.

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