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Published: September 25, 2022
We get asked a lot, "what does skydiving feel like?" When people imagine going skydiving, they are often picturing themselves falling through the sky with that roller-coaster feeling in their belly. Despite literally plummeting through the sky toward Earth, there is none of that sensation you would expect. Why is that, and what does skydiving actually feel like?
People want to know: does your stomach drop when you skydive? Most people assume that because you are falling, it feels like you're falling and that that funny tummy feeling is inevitable ... so the relief is significant when they learn that skydiving doesn't actually feel like falling!
Some say skydiving feels like flying, while others would describe it as akin to floating. Floating is pretty spot on, considering you are literally riding a column of air thanks to terminal velocity (more on that below). Skydiving feels like flying because you're super high up, a view that you could otherwise get only if you were a bird.
As crazy as it sounds, there are tons of experienced skydivers who have a fear of heights. When you're jumping from way up high, there is no depth perception during freefall - the Earth below looks like a map! You can see the ground slowly getting larger as you fall toward it, but there's no feeling of ground rush, or really any indication that you're falling except for a few stray clouds whooshing past. This is why those who fear heights can fall in love with skydiving!
You are falling when you go skydiving and when you drop on a rollercoaster ... so, why do the two activities create such different sensations? The reason has to do with terminal velocity, relative wind, and good old fashioned gravity.
Terminal velocity is the maximum constant speed an object reaches when falling. In the context of skydiving, this means the speed at which gravity is pulling you down is equal to the air resistance pushing you up. Once you hit terminal velocity - which is about 120mph for a tandem skydive - you will no longer accelerate. The air feels like a cushion beneath you, and it seems as if you're floating! Sounds amazing, right? It is!!
Even as you exit the plane, there isn't much of a falling feeling. This is because the plane is already moving mega fast, and when you enter into the relative wind you begin to fly faster. No major shift. On a roller coaster, on the other hand, you go up a hill - sometimes super slowly - while the seat supports your body. When you suddenly plummet, you not only move crazy fast from a slow speed (or no speed), but you also momentarily fall forward and feel weightless. A major shift! Ground rush sets in, your stomach drops, and your heart jumps into your throat!
Although that stomach drop feeling isn't a worry when you skydive, there are a lot of other things you will most likely feel. Excitement, anxiety, lightheadedness, exhilaration, and nausea are all sensations you could potentially encounter. While most of these are part and parcel with the adrenaline rush that accompanies jumping out of a plane, there are some things you can do to prepare for your jump.
It's good to have a bit of food in your stomach for your skydive. Even though you might not be hungry because of nerves, it's good to have a light meal in your belly. Does this mean you should start the day with a heavy breakfast of pizza and burgers? Probably not. Just eat food that makes you feel good, like you normally would.
It is also important to stay hydrated prior to your jump. Avoiding things that dehydrate you, like alcohol the night before your jump, can help - and definitely drink water regularly throughout the day.
As for feeling mentally prepared for your skydive, it can be beneficial to picture what you'll feel like on the plane ride up, exiting the aircraft, in freefall, and under the parachute. And if you really want to experience what freefall feels like before you jump, visit an indoor skydiving center (the nearest one to us is iFly Westchester). A wind tunnel is a tall, clear tube with a giant fan underneath a net. The simulated experience is so close to the real thing that experienced skydivers actually use these wind tunnels for training.
Ready to try freefall for yourself? Come jump with us at Skydive Long Island! Blue skies!
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