If you’re making your first skydive soon, you’re likely experiencing a whole spectrum of emotions, from excitement to fear. But as you will soon learn firsthand, skydiving is not scary — skydiving anticipation is the scariest part of the actual jump.
Here, we’ll do a play-by-play about skydiving so you can have a better sense of the order of events, and how you may feel during each part of the jump.
In Good Hands
First things first. Let’s talk about who will support you throughout your tandem skydive experience: your tandem instructor.
When you jump tandem, you’re strapped to a highly experienced instructor with at least (but often much more than) 500 jumps. They’ve been in the sport for at least three years, and they have completed a rigorous training program that is specific to their tandem rating. It is your instructor’s job to handle all of the equipment and procedures so that you only need to focus on enjoying the experience.
Anticipation about your first skydive begins to build the moment you schedule it! Your jump is booked, and it’s just a matter of time until you’re freefalling through the sky. It’s going to happen, just not quite yet … so the excitement and anxiety settle in.
As is natural when doing something new and out of your comfort zone, your mind starts flooding with possible “what if” scenarios. While there are obvious risks to skydiving, our industry takes safety extremely seriously. Advancements to skydiving gear and technology, as well as skydiver-training programs, equips every skydiving dropzone to take action and mitigate those risks.
In fact, according to the United States Parachute Association (USPA), 2021 is the safest year on record for skydiving. Of the 3.57 million jumps performed at USPA-member dropzones, 10 (0.28%) resulted in a fatality – including zero student fatalities. Statistically speaking, then, you are more likely to die from a lightning strike, bee sting, or dog bite than you are to be involved in a fatal skydiving accident.
As a proud member of the USPA, Skydive California follows stringent protocols and strictly adheres to best practices regarding safety.
Jump Day Jitters
When it’s finally the day of your skydive, reality sinks in. Up until this point, you could comfort yourself with the knowledge that your jump was not imminent … now it is. You’ve done what you need to do to prepare for your jump, but once you get to the dropzone you’ll likely feel more nervous by the minute.
At the DZ, you might notice that you’re surrounded by staff and licensed skydivers who don’t seem to be nervous at all. The reason they’re so relaxed is that they make hundreds of skydives per year, so skydive and scary are not words they utter together. The community on a dropzone is special, filled with people who are typically super nice and enthusiastic about first-time skydivers. Try to fully enjoy the experience by speaking to people around the dropzone and taking comfort in their passion and easygoing attitude about skydiving.
Time to Skydive
Even though your training session made it clear that your instructor will handle most every aspect of the skydive, chances are your anticipation skyrockets as you inch closer to go-time.
Disbelief may set in as you’re harnessed up with your instructor, who guides you to a much smaller plane than you’re probably used to riding in. As you head to altitude, you’ll be surrounded by other skydivers – first-timers and experienced alike – and your emotions will reach an all-time high. This is the adrenaline coursing through your body! It’s totally natural to experience all the feels. Try to take some deep breaths and enjoy the incredible view.
Taking the Leap
When the pilot gives the go-ahead, it’s time to shimmy toward the door and JUMP! Everything up until this point has been your expectation of what the skydive will be like, but the instant you leave the plane, everything falls away. There is this, and only this.
All of the anxiety you were carrying dissipates and you’re left only with exhilaration and freedom. It’s finally happening! You – YES YOU – are actually freefalling toward the earth, completely present in the moment.
Somehow, freefall simultaneously lasts forever and is over in an instant. Before you know it, your instructor deploys the parachute and you sail across the beautiful blue California sky before touching down, easy peasy, in the landing area in complete awe of what you just experienced. (Pro Tip: Get the video! Wait til you see yourself in action, meeting the moment, facing your fear, and soaring!)
Feelings of fear, anticipation, anxiety, and excitement are all normal before your skydive – because unless you’ve gone skydiving before, then you don’t really know what to expect. You can hear first-person accounts from friends and family, watch videos online, and do your research, but nothing can really prepare you for what you’ll actually feel.