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Published: August 6, 2019
Hollywood is certainly to blame for lots of the myths about skydiving that still make the rounds. (The round parachutes, that is! Ha! Get it? Get it?! Not funny? Okay.) After all, movies still haven't figured out how long freefall takes -- and they get the lingo all wrong (example: we never, ever, ever refer to our "chute") -- and, to add insult to injury, the movies all insist on referring to us, implicitly or explicitly, as "adrenaline junkies." Lawdy.
Wanna know what's actually real-life skydiving and what's just clueless screenwriting? We'll help you out.
1. Conversations in freefall don't happen!
Want a heart-to-heart chat? Cool. Do it on the ground. It's not gonna happen in freefall.
Imagine you're having a conversation with your mom. Ready? Now imagine having the same conversation, but now you're both on motorcycles, with your helmets on, going 120mph down the freeway. Now imagine that your mom's bike goes a little faster than yours. It's like that.
We do communicate up there, but it's done with hand signals, just like every other noisy job.
2. We don't jump round parachutes.
Round parachutes are, like, super old tech. They aren't steerable and they land like a bucket of nuts, neither of which are things we prefer. Skydivers have been jumping square, steerable, nicely-landable parachutes since the 80's -- so update your records, y'all. Nowadays, only cargo -- and a few unlucky soldiers -- come down under a round.
If you want to be yammered at about the multitude of ways that square parachutes are better than round parachutes, just ask. We'll be happy to explain.
3. You don't feel like you're plummeting to Earth!
You won't feel like you're falling. Not even for a moment! If there's any way to describe it, it's that you'll feel like you're hovering over an enormous fan. Skydiving basically supports your body on a mattress of air molecules, never letting you get the sense that you're plummeting out of control.
4. You can breathe in freefall!
And you sure-as-heck'd better, too. Play your breath-holding games in road tunnels like normal people, please.
5. Your freefall doesn't last for several minutes!
You may know that the average human freefall speed clocks in at around 120mph. However, you might be interested to know that a number of factors affect each tandem pair's actual fall rate: most noticeably, the weight of the tandem pair plus the skydiving equipment, and the amount of physical drag resulting from the jumper's clothing and general surface area facing downwards. Once you factor all that in, you have about a minute to spend freefallin', if you exit the plane at around 13,000 feet.
What does last a very long time is your incredibly good feels from your very first skydive. For many of us, we're still riding that wave, many years and hundreds of jumps later! If you're curious about something, just let us know--we've almost certainly heard it before, and it'll be our pleasure to educate you. Come and see for yourself!
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