You’re a smart cookie. You know that the same pressures that smoosh on your ears when you’re taking a commercial flight have an affect on you when you’re skydiving. They must, right? After all: You’re going up; you’re going down. Your ears are surely going to notice. Well, you’re one hundred percent right about that. You should also know that the proportionally teensy aircraft that we use in skydiving aren’t pressurized. (If they were, there’s no way we’d get the door open, and that’s totally necessary to make a skydive!)
The air is thinner, the higher up you go. That means that the pressure outside your ears is less than inside. As you move up in altitude from thicker to thinner air, the pressures mix and try to equalize, which means that the difference between the two creates a push from the inside to the outside. When you’re on your whooping way down, that push makes a 180 and pushes from the outside in.
That’s a lot of pushing on your ears. When you’re healthy, your ears just brush their shoulders off and get it done — but, in order for these changing pressures to be painless, your ears need to be clear. If you were to decide to make a skydive while you’re in battle with the sniffles or troubled sinuses, you’d come up against blockages that prevent that equalization and could cause some icky (and potentially serious) problems for you.
Icky? Well: Skydiving with a cold that’s a simple sniffly nose means that you’re practically doomed to an embarrassing outcome: the mucus hanging out in your nasal passages emptying in freefall or under canopy, pushed out by your equalization-hungry head. It’s gross for you, and it’s gross for your poor Tandem Instructor (who will likely be covered by it, too).
If it’s stuffiness you’re suffering, there’s a painful outcome lurking: backed-up pressure strong enough to blow out an eardrum. This is as awful as it sounds, and it’s just not worth the risk.
Some folks don’t have to have a cold to experience spotty equalization. Every head is different! Often, our new skydivers will feel the subtle changes in pressure on the long climb to altitude, and notice more significant changes on the much-quicker ride down. Descending quickly from thin air to thicker air can feel a little funny — like phantom earplugs, in some people — and it might feel better to help yourself out of this (totally temporary) odd feeling. To do so, just pinch your nostrils closed, close your mouth and gently breathe out as though you were breathing out through your nose. Easy-peasy.
So, there you have it. If you take note of these three little rules, your ears (and the front of your shirt) will have as just as sweet a jump as the rest of you. Bonus: you’ll be able to hear us cheering as you land! Make your reservation today — and if you end up coming down with a cold, don’t you worry. Rescheduling is a snap!