You hear the word ‘skydiving’ and it triggers your brain to generate adjectives like ‘scary’, ‘thrilling’, or even ‘crazy’. Yes, the act of jumping out of a “perfectly good airplane” may seem insane and terrifying, however, skydiving isn’t really scary at all – it’s the anticipation that is the scariest part of skydiving.
Neither the physical act of jumping out of the plane and freefalling nor the parachute ride are the scary parts of skydiving (it can actually be euphoric), but everything leading up to the big moment can definitely feel daunting. That’s right – it’s literally your mind that conjures up the anxiety and creates false expectations about what’s to come.
You are not alone!
Feeling freaked out is totally normal for first-timers – especially when you are about to embark on an adventure without truly knowing what to expect. Forcing yourself to swallow the fear, excitement, and unsettling uncertainty is absolutely the hardest part of your first time skydiving.
We’re going to explore some of the aspects of your upcoming experience that may be fueling your jitters so you can rest assured that there is nothing to fear (but fear itself, right!?).
We’ll set it straight for ya, the plane ride to altitude is the scariest part of skydiving because of the “no turning back” feeling bubbling right under the surface. You’re fully committed now. You’re here, geared up, and on your way to do the thing you’ve been waiting all day (or maybe even weeks, months, or years) to do!
The plane ride usually takes about 15 minutes or so, but it feels like forever when you’re climbing in the sky to 13,500 ft. Your instructor and fellow skydiver friends on the plane will do their best to keep you calm and collected. The best way to keep your anxiety in check is to switch your perspective: this won’t last forever.
Take this time to embrace this moment … the excitement … the challenge … the fear; all of it. Own your decision. Overcome your fear! Remember you’re in good hands. Relax. Breathe. Impossible as it might feel while riding up, once you’re out of the plane, you’ll wonder why you were so nervous in the first place!
The time has come. Finally, the moment you’ve been anticipating! The door opens, you feel the cool air brush your skin, and then suddenly all the fear dissipates and the excitement takes hold. Walking down the plane towards an open door gets your fight-or-flight response going … and yet you keep on, withholding the instinct to avoid the open door at all costs! Your heart is pumping, your instructor is whooping, and before you know it you’re doing it! The scariest part is over and all that fear you felt is left in the airplane. So long, scaries!
Freedom. This is your moment of complete surrender. Some first-time skydivers may expect to feel their stomach drop during freefall (like on a roller coaster) or feel like they are falling crazy-fast for a long time. The truth is, you might not even notice that you’re falling at 120+ mph!
We won’t get too ‘science-y’ on ya, but due to something called terminal velocity, it doesn’t actually feel like you’re falling at all! It feels more like you are floating on air. (Psst! Thanks to incredible technology, we can simulate the feeling of freefall in our indoor wind tunnel facility. Give it a try before your skydive as a way to prepare!)
Even though your rational brain knows that skydiving is going to be mind-blowingly awesome, it is totally normal for your reptilian brain to jump in the driver’s seat and feel straight-up scared. Experienced skydivers still get butterflies from time to time! The best thing to do is to just do it. Come jump with us at Skydive Paraclete XP! Blue skies!