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Published: November 28, 2016
Everything you think you know about what skydiving feels like is probably wrong.
It's true! It might be surprising, though--since you likely feel as though you have a few experiential references to draw on. These references, however--like roller coasters, bungee jumping, and standing on the edges of high places--don't really have a lot in common with a skydive.
Of course, the only way to really know what it's like to make a skydive is to make a skydive--but here's the information you're missing, so you can frame it a little better in your head.
1. Skydiving Does Not Feel like a Roller Coaster. At All. Ever.
Y'know the feeling you get when you've rattled your way up to the top of the first big hill on a rollercoaster? You feel a little yank when the first car goes over the top, and then your stomach drops-- because you know that big, weightless drop is inevitable and you're going to be pinned to the harness for the rest of the ride.
During a skydive, we actually relax into the relative wind that pushes against us. That big ol' collection of friendly air molecules smoothes out our descent. It gives you and your tandem instructor a platform of stability and security. You'll feel the air cushioning you from the moment you exit to the moment the parachute opens. It feels really supportive and really, really nice. The result? No feeling of powerlessness, ever! If it weren't for the cushion of air we just talked about, you'd spend your skydive kicking around in nothingness, trying in vain to find a way to right yourself, as helpless as you are in a roller coaster, but in skydiving this just isn't the feeling.
2. Your Stomach Doesn't Drop When Skydiving.
It's the sensation of weightlessness that drives the feeling that your stomach drops or is rising into your throat. Since you don't feel weightless when you're making a skydive, your stomach stays put.
3. There's No Sensation of "Falling."
Visual depth equals falling, in a very real way. Skydivers don't experience visual depth until the very end of the skydive, so the falling feeling is conspicuously absent. Instead, the world looks flat, like a map. Because it's depthless, it doesn't trigger acrophobia. Ground rush doesn't kick in. In fact, our experience of falling is so mild that skydivers must wear precision instruments to track our altitude on every single jump, so they know when they need to stop falling and start gliding under parachute to land!
4. There's No Crazy Sensation of Speed.
Within a few moments of freefall, you'll hit terminal velocity. That means that the resistance from those air molecules will cap your downward speed at a zipper 120mph. That said, you aren't going to feel like you would doing 120 miles per hour on the open road. Without references around you, your brain can't calculate the speed. Coincidentally, the only way you'll notice your vroomy velocity is if you pass next to a cloud. (If you do, trust us--you'll feel it for sure!)
With all that information shared, it remains that the simplest way to describe what a skydive feels like is a word that comes up all the time on the dropzone. Awesome. Give tandem skydiving a try! You'll see what we mean.
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