Managing Door Fear in Skydiving
There’s this moment: the red-light illuminates, the door is opened, the green light glows, and it’s time to go. The second that door slides up is also the moment your heart catches in your throat. But why?
What can be simpler than a door? You open and close them every day. Generally, you have no trouble navigating these passageways from one room to the next and have no issue with stepping through. It’s as easy as could be…that is until it comes time to use one to exit an aircraft. So many jumpers, from tandem students to skydivers in our Accelerated Free Fall program and even newly licensed jumpers, seem to completely freeze when they get to the door.
Thankfully we’re not talking about a severe case of entamaphobia (that’s a fear of doors, for those of you who aren’t well versed in phobias), but rather, a manageable case of what we in the industry call “door fear.” So, what can you do about it?
1. See the door for what it is
“Door fear” affects first-time skydivers and pros alike, but honestly, it’s downright silly. And why is that you may ask? Well, think about what waits just on the other side of the aircraft: freedom from the stresses of your daily life, a place of peace and ease from monotony, and your portal to adventure. When you can recognize the door for what it really is, the threshold to your favorite place, you’ll realize there’s no need to be afraid.
2. Be Prepared
If you know what to expect, you are less likely to be thrown off guard. Don’t panic if the door opens, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is time to go. If it’s a stuffy day, sometimes after 1,500ft, we will open the door to let in some cool air. After checking around to make sure all seatbelts are off, up the door will go. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the nice brisk breeze.
When it’s actually time to go, your instructor will let you know. And you know what? You’re ready for this. You’re ready to go because you’re prepared. On the ground and in the aircraft, you received training and instruction. This training included how you would be exiting the aircraft. Trust yourself: you’ve got this. Make your way into position and exit. Welcome to the sky.
3. Know one way or another, you’re going to fly!
When students or newly licensed skydivers prepare to exit the aircraft, they are often hesitant of approaching the door. We’ve often heard, “What if I fall out?” Our retort is “well, so what?” While a nice clean exit with a perfect count is obviously preferred, flubbing an exit isn’t the end of the world. What happens if you fall out? Well, you fly. You’ve got your own parachute on your back or are attached to a licensed professional, and getting to skydive was the whole point!
Something similar also happens the first time a skydiver is asked to do an exit that requires them to hold on to the bar while outside of the aircraft. Tons of students are very wary and naturally, are worried about ‘falling off’. So, here’s the thing. It’s downright awesome to be outside of a moving aircraft. It’s some James Bond/Mission Impossible type stuff. Really, how many people can say they’ve done that? And if you fall off, so what? Like falling out of the door, you were trying to get out into the air in the first place.
5. Understand you’re not alone.
The door is a place that can challenge skydivers of ALL levels. Even experienced skydivers participating in large formation events can work up a little door fear. But guess what? With a little help, we all get past it.
Whether it’s prepping on the ground, practicing in mockups, or watching the tons of educational videos dedicated to proper exits and door safety, where there is a will there is a way and championing the door is well within the realm of possibility.
Remember, above all, the goal is to have a safe, fun skydive.
Ready to face the door? Call Skydive California and make your reservation today.