I recently wrote and gushed unabashedly about how much I loved my first skydiving experience. Well, I loved it so much that I think everyone should try it at least once. So, here are a few tips if you’re thinking of jumping from a perfectly good airplane anytime soon.
Choose Your Skydiving Preference:
For your very first skydive, it’s usually suggested to go tandem where you are harnessed to an instructor. You could choose static line if that’s an option. In static line, your parachute automatically deploys within 5 seconds of exiting the aircraft, but then you don’t experience freefall. I highly recommend doing tandem for your first jump to get the full experience of skydiving. You could then do a static line jump if you want more focus on guiding a parachute by yourself. For tandem, expect to be at your skydiving location of choice for two to three hours… maybe a half day. For static line, it seems you’ll need almost a whole day.
Preparing For The Jump:
We were actually set back a day due to high winds on our scheduled day. So, if you’re feeling anxious or nervous and trying to pump yourself up or keep calm, etc., please keep in mind you may have to reset your inner emotional roller coaster due to bad weather. It happens.
Do not get drunk the night before. You don’t want to jump out of a plane with a hangover. Do not drink the morning of either to calm your nerves or whatnot. If the place is reputable, they will not allow you to jump if they can discern you’re under the influence of alcohol or drugs. (If they’re not reputable, don’t go there to jump out of a goddamn airplane!) And besides, you want all your senses at full throttle. Trust me.
Eat a normal size, healthy breakfast or lunch beforehand. (Don’t do as we did and get McDonald’s breakfast… *groan*) Also, stay away from anything you could and sometimes eat if it’s something that usually upsets your stomach. Like, if I eat eggs by themselves or drink strong coffee without eating something biscuit-y to soak it all up, it’s never a good time for me three to four hours later.
I wasn’t too concerned about nausea during the actual jump, but the plane you’re going up in is pretty damn small. If you get motion sickness, I suggest taking something for it. I took Dramamine because I wasn’t sure, and I didn’t have a problem at all with nausea. I don’t know if I would have if I hadn’t taken it but better safe than sorry.
Dress for the weather and wear light, comfortable layers (nothing too bulky) and athletic shoes that lace and fit well. If it’s chilly, I highly recommend bringing your own gloves that fit well. The ones they gave me to wear were way too big for me, and my fingers were frozen by the time we landed.
Stay hydrated, and have snacks on hand while you’re waiting your turn. Don’t stuff your face right before jumping but also don’t jump on an empty stomach.
For tandem skydiving, your training will be surprisingly… short. Seriously. Once you sign the paperwork and acknowledge your awareness of what you’re about to do, it’s go time! Some places may have a short video for you to watch, but for us… they suited us up in jumpsuits, goggles, gloves and harnesses. Each instructor then went through a brief explanation of the basics with their assigned student.
Know that if you fuck up or forget something, it will not mean your ultimate doom. You’re essentially just along for the ride with an experienced and professional skydiver. They’re wearing the parachute, and they are the ones in control. However, they are also there to teach you in case you want to continue your journey into skydiving. So, be courteous, show respect and for fuck’s sake, pay attention.
Once you are on the plane, you’ll be climbing to an altitude anywhere from 10,000 to 14,000 feet. It can take about 20 minutes or so to reach altitude. During this time, your instructor will go over everything again and make sure he is securely attached to your harness. Be prepared to get physically cozy with your instructor… like junk to butt cozy. Even if it feels like a weird, awkward situation for you, just know that it’s not weird for them. They’ve done this many, many times.
Once you reach altitude, each tandem pair will jump from the plane a few seconds apart. Some instructors will ask if you’re ready. Others will just go. I think it just depends on their style of teaching and their interpretation of your body language. If it seems you’re insanely anxious, they’ll offer more words of encouragement and try to calm your nerves, I assure you.
Be prepared for a thrill like no other! Freefall will last anywhere from 30 to 60 seconds depending on your jump altitude. Be sure to look up at the horizon and not down at the ground. For one thing, you’re going to feel like you’re flying not necessarily falling. And secondly, you don’t want to miss out on seeing the world around you during freefall.
If for some rare reason, the main parachute does not open, there is a reserve as well as an automatic activation device that will deploy the parachute if it detects the skydivers are still at freefall speed below a certain altitude. So, no worries there!
Once you open the parachute (the instructors wear altimeters, by the way), you’ll glide around for another five or six minutes enjoying the view while the instructor shows you how to spin, turn and land. And then… woohoo! You will be among the elite skydiving badasses! I hope you love it. ♥