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We hear the question all the time: Can you breathe in freefall? The answer is an unequivocal yes. Not only can you breathe in freefall, you should definitely breathe in freefall. You can reliably expect that your first skydive will take your breath away–but not literally!
Even when you’re rocketing towards the earth below at speeds up to 160mph, you can easily get plenty of oxygen into your lungs. Not being able to breathe is a common misconception of skydiving. Here, we’ll unpick some of the most common misconceptions of skydiving. In fact: Breathing in freefall is one of your most sacred responsibilities when you take on a tandem skydive, so we’re here with the best advice we can muster about this much-mythologized aspect of the experience.
Part of the hard-to-breathe myth probably arises from the fact that the air up top is about 40% less rich in oxygen than the air on the ground. If the ground is at higher elevation, the total numbers drop correspondingly. (Skydive Tecumseh is at about 804 feet above sea level. Compare that to Mile-Hi Skydiving in Longmont, Colorado, which sits up at 5,055 feet.) Since skydiving exit altitudes above ground level are pretty standard, you can see how jumpers at higher-elevation dropzones could feel a little lightheaded up there.
Even if you’re not at those dizzying heights, your body is likely to feel the reduced amount of oxygen. Our solution: If there’s 40% less oxygen, try to breathe 40% deeper. This just requires you to put more thought into it–which will have the knock-on benefit of being meditative.
Oh: And use a hack. One of our favorite tricks to encourage breathing in freefall is to take a deep breath before exit and a whooshing exhale as your feet leave the plane. Works every time.
There’s a funny reason that first-timers have trouble breathing during their skydive: They simply forget! To jog the ol’ memory, we actively encourage our tandem students to scream as loud as they can as they leave the aircraft. The exhalation required to pull off a truly epic holler kick-starts breathing and reminds them that they can indeed breathe while hurtling through the celestial sphere at 120mph.
Your first time skydiving is likely to be quite overwhelming. It’s supposed to be! That’s how it does its magic.
For those of us who jump as a hobby, the freefall space feels like a second home, and is as comfortable for us as being on the ground–which we certainly couldn’t do if it were actually impossible to breathe up there. The trick to breathing in freefall–and, in general, enjoying your first tandem skydive to its greatest extent–is really just relax into it and let yourself sink into each moment. If you’re able to do that, then you can rest assured that the breathing will come with the package.
Are you ready to take your first lungfuls of freefall-energized oxygen? We’re looking forward to hearing your very best shriek! Book your tandem skydive with us today.