As soon as you have decided that now is the time for your first skydive, your head will fill up with many questions. What should I do? What do I take with me? How does it all work? While there are some logistical and procedural questions that will be answered as your jump approaches, the most important thing you really want to know is – what does freefall really feel like? There are a few things involved in freefalling from an airplane, so here is a bit of detail.
Here at Skydive Tecumseh we regularly jump from 14,000 ft – which is the most common altitude skydivers want to jump from. This is because it is the highest you can go in an unpressurized aircraft before needing supplemental oxygen, and jumping from this high gives you a skydiving freefall time of a whole minute. It is possible to go higher than this if you have the right equipment, and we do! You have the option available to skydive with us from 18,000 ft – something that you definitely don’t find in many places. A skydiver in freefall travels at approximately 1000 ft every five seconds – so going up to 18,000 ft will give you a whopping one minute and twenty seconds of freefall time.
Free-falling through the air at terminal velocity does not feel like you are falling. Terminal velocity for a skydiver or tandem skydiving pair (student on the front, instructor on the back) is approximately 120 mph – and you would be forgiven for believing that this would cause a sensation similar to descending on a rollercoaster – when your stomach gets left behind and makes you feel funny inside. When you go skydiving, this doesn’t happen – there is only the awesome sensation of flying through the air. Also, any fear or anxiety you had about the idea of leaping from a plane immediately evaporates as soon as you are outside – leaving only the enjoyment of possibly the most exciting thing people can do.
When you fall through the air it causes an effect called the ‘relative wind’ – which skydivers use to move around in three dimensions. By deflecting the rushing air over your body, it is possible (with practice) to have very precise control over what you are doing up there. The easiest way to understand what this is like is by sticking your hand out of a car window while going along quite fast, then moving it about and wiggling your fingers to feel the power and force of the air – and ultimately how it can be manipulated to your advantage. During your very first jump your priority will be holding the correct position for good stability, but if you are interested in learning how movement works then feel free to ask your instructor – it is what they are there for and will happily talk your ears off about how to get involved.
Skydiving is simple and complex all at the same time. All you have to do is jump – but this opens up a whole new world of adventure. Although we are land animals, the weightlessness during free-falling from an airplane is something that can speak to us in a deep and meaningful way. Skydiving is considered by many to be a bucket list essential, but it is also a hobby, a lifestyle, a career, and a competitive sport. It all begins with that first one, and it is not only how you feel during the freefall part that is important – it is how you are before and after that can change your life. That feeling is accessible again and again.
Skydiving is an amazing experience that you will treasure forever, and we are here to make your first one the best it can possibly be. We cannot wait to meet you!