Time and time again, we are asked by non-skydivers “what does it feel like to skydive?” Now, to be fair to both parties involved, it makes perfect sense for someone who has never made a jump to want to know what it is about the feel of skydiving that keeps people coming back time and time again. But, if your friends and family who have made a jump can’t quite articulate an answer, cut them some slack. They can’t answer because skydiving is an experience unlike anything else. It’s nearly as hard to describe as it is to forget. Even professionals like us struggle a bit trying to convey what it feels like to skydive, but we’re going to try our best.
We have found for particularly tricky descriptions it’s easiest to begin by explaining what it is not. So, that’s where we will start.
Quite a few people tell us they could never skydive because they hate roller coasters. While many assume that roller coasters and skydiving must go hand in hand, other than causing a little bit of an adrenaline rush, a roller coaster feels nothing like a skydive.
Because you are riding in a plane with a horizontal speed around 100 mph, as you exit the aircraft, in the transition to your vertical terminal velocity of 120 mph, your body doesn’t experience rapid acceleration or deceleration. In freefall, the force exerted on your body is close to 1 g and doesn’t stray much from that, so you don’t feel any force being exerted on you (i.e. that dreaded stomach drop).
If you imagine skydiving must feel like plummeting toward the earth in an endless head over heels fall—we have good news for you! It’s not. During freefall, you don’t really feel the fall. You feel suspended on air instead of rapidly descending (which, in the spirit of honesty, you definitely are).
Within seconds of exiting the aircraft, your body will reach terminal velocity. When this equilibrium of sorts is achieved, where the resistance of the air is equal to the force of gravity on your body, instead of incredibly wobbly you feel pretty stable. Until you reach the appropriate altitude to deploy the parachute, you’ll feel supported by the cushion of air pressing against your body.
Tons of people hate heights. In fact, acrophobia (the fear of heights) affects about 5 percent of the population. Naturally, you’d think making a skydive from 14,000 feet would certainly look high and definitely give you that dizzying feel that the top of a ladder or top floor of a building does, right?
This is why so many skydivers who have a fear of heights are able to skydive just fine!
The vantage point from the aircraft is unlike anything else. Because there are no static objects relative to you, your brain lacks the information it needs to triangulate your position. Aside from that, the ground no longer appears as you’re used to seeing it. The aerial view of the earth appears more like a patchwork quilt, and honestly, it’s pretty neat to see the world that way.
Seems silly, but just you wait. Skydiving leaves you feeling ahhhmazing. Here’s the science behind it: during and after a skydive, your body produces a powerful chemical cocktail: Adrenaline, Dopamine, and Serotonin. This thrilling trio settles your nerves, heightens your awareness and mental clarity, and doses you with euphoric feelings of happiness. After you land from a skydive, you feel like you can take on the world!
Speaking of the world—a skydive also feels like
Leave the stress of the hustle behind for a little peace of mind. Sure, taking the leap from 14,000’, freefalling at 120mph, and a 5-minute parachute ride, might not sound like the most relaxing time, but tons of people report the sky to be their “happy place.”
For most of us, skydiving is the best way we know to take it easy. The world around us is a hectic place. On a skydive, there aren’t a million things to focus on or different directions to be pulled in—there is just this one moment that has your undevoted attention. It’s a quick lesson in mindfulness and a great way to practice being present.
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