Here at Oklahoma Skydiving Center we get asked a lot about what it feels like to be in freefall, and one of the most common questions we receive is whether or not you can breathe while falling through the sky at 120 miles per hour. Good news! You can breathe perfectly normally throughout the whole thing. Here are a few skydiving breathing tips that should help understand why this is such a popular question:
Being nervous about your tandem skydive is perfectly normal. Jumping out of an aeroplane is a scary thing to do, and even if your brain fully understands that in reality it has been proved to be done successfully millions of times – your instincts will be doing their best to tell you otherwise. Humans are well designed to walk about on the ground and possibly climb up the occasional tree – not to fly about or descend at terminal velocity for over a minute relying and trusting your life to what looks to you like a bag of fabric and string. Back in the early days of skydiving when people were first figuring out how to fall from the sky, nobody was really sure how to do it or what would happen at those speeds. With a bit of practice and some good strong materials for our gear, we soon realized that human beings adapt pretty well to freefall and can jump again, and again, and again!
Air gets thinner the higher up you go. Your brain might be full of images of the oxygen mask demonstration at the beginning of a commercial flight, or of mountaineers lugging bottles of precious air up the highest of peaks to help them achieve the summit. Do not worry! Your tandem skydive happens from an altitude of fourteen thousand feet – a little under half the altitude of an airliner – which is well under the official limit of needing to have access to extra oxygen. Tandem skydiving from this high will still give you the full minute of freefall and several more enjoying your parachute flight – and although a the top of our ascent the air will be around 40% thinner than on the ground, that much is not enough to affect you. We are not staying up there – we are getting out!
Along with getting thinner the air gets colder as you go up. For every thousand feet of altitude gained you lose a few degrees – so even in Summer when it is hot on the ground it can be chilly at the top just before you jump. This is not something you need to worry about – our team here at the Oklahoma Skydiving Centre jump day in and day out, all year round and are very good at making sure you are correctly attired for your skydive. While on some days it can be entirely comfortable to jump in shorts and a t-shirt other times might require your limbs to be covered up or even to wear some gloves.
So these things can all add up to contribute to what is called Sensory Overload. It is normal to think that your tandem skydive will be an overwhelming experience – yet the surprising reality is that your brain will continue to work perfectly well throughout the whole thing. Physiologically there is nothing about what you are going to do that stops you from breathing – except that the awesomeness of tandem skydiving out of and and into the big blue sky might cause you to feel like the wind took your breath away for a couple of seconds. You may well be nervous when you join us at the dropzone and during the ride to altitude, but when you exit all of the fear goes away in an instant and what you are left with is the unique thrill of freefall and the experience of a lifetime!
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