Are you feeling super nervous about skydiving? If that’s you, then welcome to the club – everyone feels nervous about skydiving. In fact, you may well be shaking-in-your-boots petrified! As you read this your heart rate may already be elevated, so before we get into the details, let’s slow everything down.
Breathe. Just because you’re scared doesn’t mean skydiving isn’t for you!
First things first, feeling scared isn’t an unnatural feeling. Truthfully, if you’re not feeling some level of anxiety then we’d be a little worried about you because it’s perfectly normal.
Fear is one of the most primal adaptive behaviors we have. It kept our cave-dwelling, plains crossing, hunter-gatherer ancestors safe. In those primitive prehistoric times, it paid to be appropriately hesitant: is that rustling in the grass simply the wind? Or something that will make a meal of me? It was almost always a toss-up. Anxiety began as an anticipation of those fears coming to fruition: an adaptive attempt to prevent scenarios where we would encounter fear-inducing experiences. Ergo, if you stayed out of the tall grass, you’d never have the dilemma of determining whether the rustling was a viable threat.
So, truth is, we’re stuck with fear. It’s human nature to feel disconcerted when you confront something unexpected or unfamiliar, but it doesn’t mean we can’t work through it. George Addair is famous for saying, “Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.” We think this statement couldn’t be more true. It’s likely you want to experience a skydive and all the benefits that come with it (it’s quite therapeutic), but can you overcome your fears enough to enjoy the experience?
In this article, we’ll be sharing our top tips to help you overcome anxiety.
Knowledge is one of the best defenses against skydiving anxiety. Manage those skydiving nerves by doing proper research. Become familiar with skydiving centers in the area. Utilize reviews on Facebook, Google, and Trip Advisor to help determine which facility may be the best fit for you. You can also check out the drop zone’s website or give them a call to speak with one of their customer service representatives and have your specific questions answered. Getting a sense of who your jumping with will give you confidence. It’s important that you skydive with a group that makes you feel comfortable and secure, so doing a little bit of research will help calm your nerves.
Speaking of asking questions, number two on our list of tips to help those nervous about skydiving is…
Ask away! Skydiving is a new world for you. You aren’t expected to know everything (or really anything) about it. Our staff aims to please, and we want to make you feel as comfortable as possible before your skydive. By asking questions, you can gain the knowledge you need to feel confident and comfortable with your skydive.
It’s likely one of the first questions you’ll have is “Will I die making a skydive?” It’s possible that you could die making a skydive, but you could die doing anything! What’s important is to evaluate the data to determine if the risk is worth taking. You can view the safety statistics from the United States Parachute Association here, but here it is in a nutshell: For the past decade the chances of dying while making a tandem skydive is 1 in 500,000. Based on this statistic, you’re more likely to be killed getting struck by lightning!
|Year||US Skydiving Fatalities||Estimated Annual Jumps||Fatalities per 100,000 Jumps|
Knowing the steps of the journey and what the day of your skydive will be like will help your first tandem skydiving experience be less nerve-racking. After all, it is uncertainty that breeds skydiving anxiety. It helps to understand that skydiving is a process, and there are several steps.
Here is what the day of your skydive is like at our facility:
When you arrive at check-in for your tandem skydive, we will review your paperwork. If you have not already completed a waiver, we will ask you to sign one.
Training and Gear Up
After check-in, you will go through a tandem training and briefing. This is to ensure you know what to expect and what part you will play on the skydive. Using a computer manifesting system, we will pair you with a licensed professional skydiving instructor while you’re in training. The training sequence begins with a 30-minute video that teaches you what will happen and your role during the skydive. The training is not overwhelming and your instructor will review everything you learned in the classroom before you make your jump! When it’s your turn, you will meet your instructor and begin gearing up.
Flight to Altitude
Once you’ve met your new best friend (your instructor), it’s off to the plane for your ascent to jump altitude which is usually 13,500’ (or 17,500’ if doing a high altitude jump). The flight to altitude is usually about 15 minutes. Once the aircraft levels off the pilot will use a light system in the cabin to get jumpers prepared. Similar to a small traffic light, the red light lets everyone on board know that the aircraft is nearly over the exit point above the landing area (the dropzone). The yellow light lets jumpers know it’s time to open the door and be in position to exit the aircraft. The green light is what you might expect – it’s GO time! As you can imagine, the flight to altitude is the nerviest feeling of the entire experience.
Most people think that skydiving is scary, but here’s the crazy bit that makes no sense at all – skydiving isn’t scary! The lead-up to exiting the plane is when your heart rate is pumping in overdrive, but once you leave the plane, it’s pure bliss. If you look at pictures of people skydiving, they’re always smiling because it’s so much fun. The freefall experience isn’t something that feels out of control – you’ll feel stable and supported and not falling uncontrollably through the sky.
As in most things in life, our fear is far more mental than it is physical.
Practicing mindfulness helps many people who suffer from anxiety. Mindfulness is achieved by focusing your awareness on the present moment. This technique often involves focusing on your breath. Inhale. Exhale. It sounds so simple, and yet, so often in high-stress scenarios (like your first skydive), we forget this basic necessity. As you begin to feel your stomach flutter or your skydiving anxiety rise, take a deep breath. You got this. Deep inhaaaaallleeee. Exhaaaaaaaaleeee.
Until you challenge your routine and step outside of your comfort zone, you will never know the extent of your mental and emotional fortitude. Without confronting your skydiving anxiety, you cannot grow past it. Just think, if you can do this, you can do anything.
Q: If I have a fear of heights, should I skydive?
A: We routinely host people who are legitimately scared of heights. It’s difficult to explain, but the sensation of looking out on the horizon at 13,500’ is much different than peering over the edge of a cliff. Many licensed skydivers are afraid of heights and still skydive.
Q: I really want to skydive, but am really scared to pull the trigger and make a booking. Despite all your tips is there anything else you’d recommend?
A: Yes. We recommend you come out to our facility and watch. Often when you see people skydiving who are just like you having a great time, it can reduce anxiety. Also, speaking with our instructors and skydivers about the experience will help as well!
Q: Will skydiving help me overcome my fear of heights?
A: Quite possibly, yes. Skydiving is an empowering experience. Once you can do this you realize there is so much more you can conquer. In a way, you could say that skydiving is like immersion therapy. Everyone is different, but it’s likely you won’t come away from this experience more afraid than you were before!
If you have more questions about skydiving, visit our faqs page, or feel free to call us with any questions you may have!
Step up and step out of the plane. Kick your skydiving anxiety to the curb, and book your tandem skydive today.
The largest tandem skydiving center near Northern Virginia, Washington D.C. and Maryland.