Is it Hard to Breathe While Skydiving?

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Curiosity or concern about breathing while skydiving is pretty common. Based on what is involved – including freefalling at around 120mph – it’s normal to wonder, is it hard to breathe while skydiving? There’s nothing to worry about, though. From the ride up to the flight down, there isn’t any part of the jump that makes breathing during skydiving tricky. Here is a bit more information to help dismiss the whole “can you breathe while skydiving” question:

Know Before You Go

breathing while skydiving

Skydiving aircraft are unpressurized, meaning that the air you breathe is exactly the same as what is right outside. The pressure of air is dictated by the weight of the air pushing down on top of it because of gravity, therefore the higher up you go the thinner it becomes. Humans are designed to live on the ground, and although it’s possible to acclimatize your body to life at higher altitudes, it’s a process that takes months not minutes – and it takes only minutes to get to skydiving altitude.

Most skydivers aim to jump from as high up as possible before the need for supplemental oxygen. The United States Parachute Association (USPA) mandates that oxygen must be provided to all on board at 15,000 feet and above – which is why most skydiving happens between 9,000 and 14,000 feet. Here at Skydive Tecumseh, we routinely jump from these altitudes and are also set up to offer jumps from 18,000 feet for those who want the most freefall time possible. We have everything you need to breathe at this higher altitude; no need to worry if you sign up to go way high.

Before You Exit

Skydiving is an amazing and intense experience; it’s totally normal to be nervous about it. The excitement and anticipation start building before you arrive at the dropzone… and continues until the moments before you jump. The best approach is to focus on breathing normally and trying to stay relaxed. Once at altitude, the door will open, and gorgeous, fresh cool air will come rushing in. Take a few nice full deep breaths before you jump – not because you need extra oxygen, but because it’s calming and helps you take a perspective check.

For many skydivers, new and experienced alike, the first few seconds after exit are the best part of the jump. The world suddenly feels huge, any fear is gone, and the view is spectacular. There’s a lot going on in these first moments, and sensory overload is common – including unwittingly holding your breath for a few seconds. Don’t worry about this though, you’re not likely to notice it at the moment and your body knows exactly how to achieve normal respiratory function in short order. 

Breathing In Freefall

Freefall is mega fun, and comfortable. You fall at terminal velocity, but you don’t feel like you’re falling at all. You feel supported by the rushing wind from below like you’re floating. Breathing in and out during freefall is not a struggle and doesn’t feel strange – just as breathing while on a speedboat is not difficult. A great way to release the anxiety about breathing when skydiving, or anything else, is to scream! Not only does it give an outlet for all of that holy-moly-what-am-i-doing energy, but it also makes you take a big old inhale first!

can you breathe while skydiving

Knowledge is Power

So, now you know definitively. Can you breathe when skydiving? YES! Is it hard to breathe while skydiving? No! Is skydiving the best thing ever? It sure is! Should you worry about doing it? No, you shouldn’t! When should you go? As soon as you can! Woohooo! Liberating right? See you soon.

Tandem Skydiver in freefall at Skydive Tecumseh

I've been here 2 times now and both times have been the experience of a lifetime! I plan on going again next summer as well. When people ask "why jump out of a perfectly good airplane" I reply with "because it's a perfectly good plane to jump out of!!" The people here are amazing and every time someone is looking for a good place, skydive Tecumseh is the only place that I recommend. I also like the fact you can donate the little bears too!!

Kelly Bishop Bono