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Published: August 21, 2020
Jumping from an airplane has its obvious risks and you would think we would receive queries about parachute malfunctions and their likelihood of occurring or our safety record, but that's not the case. The most common question we receive is "Does your stomach drop when you skydive?"
In other words, do you get that sickly feeling whereby your stomach enters your throat as you race down that first hill on a rollercoaster-type feeling? Let's break it down:
Skydiving should not be compared to a rollercoaster as the sensations felt are completely different. That "sick" feeling of your stomach may be felt for about a second, but most people don't feel it at all.
It's natural to think that the physical sensation of a skydive is similar to a rollercoaster because it's the most similar thing one can compare it to, but it's completely different and the reason for this is speed or rather the building of speed.
Think of that slow click-- click-- click-- clicking of the rollercoaster as it slowly trundles up that first hill. The excitement builds as you know what's coming as you see the entire layout of the amusement park reveal itself as you get higher. The stomach-in-throat sensation is getting ready to happen and you're already bracing for it! As the coaster crests the vertex and each cart races down the hill, the sensation hits. The acceleration from 1mph to 45+mph sets your core into a strain as you fight your stomach from entering your throat giving you that "green" feeling that we all hate, but kind of love!
The reason the sick feeling hits is because of that building of speed as the coaster races down the hill. The reason this isn't felt as much with skydiving is because of the speed of the aircraft when it's time to jump.
When sitting in the airplane preparing to jump, you'll have little idea that the aircraft is moving at approximately 100mph. You're actually humming through the sky at a pretty fast rate, but because there are no fixed objects in the sky (like trees on the side of the freeway), you don't have a concept of speed. Top speed for a tandem skydive is about 120mph, so as you exit and descend, you'll be accelerating from 100mph to 120mph and it happens very quickly! Because the acceleration happens so quickly, most people never feel that stomach in throat sensation. For those that do, it's very brief and not nearly as dramatic as what's felt on a rollercoaster as the building of speed is actually less.
The sensations felt during a skydive really can't be compared to very much - it's not like bungee jumping or riding a rollercoaster - it's a feeling unto its own and its glorious. If you're worried about your that "stomach drop" affect, have no fear - you'll be just fine!
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