Can You Pass Out While Skydiving?

Monday, August 29, 2022

A question that troubles many first-time skydivers is “can you pass out while skydiving?” Strictly speaking, yes, passing out while skydiving is possible. Thankfully, though, it is pretty uncommon. Before you start having second thoughts about this whole skydiving thing, allow us to give you a little more information on passing out while skydiving, how unlikely it is you’ll experience the sensation, and, just in case, we will also cover what happens if you faint while skydiving. 

Passing Out While Skydiving

As we acknowledged above, yes it is possible to pass out while skydiving. That being said, Skydive Tecumseh has been in operation for over 50 years and, across those decades, there have been only a handful of folks who have actually fainted while in freefall. 

In the event an individual does lose consciousness while skydiving, there are three primary explanations.

  1. An undisclosed medical condition (such as chronic hypotension/ low blood pressure)
  2. Low blood sugar
  3. Acrophobia*

*A quick note on the last item: while many people have discomfort with heights, a true case of extreme acrophobia, which results in a person losing consciousness, is incredibly rare.

How To Prevent Passing Out While Skydiving

skydiving experienceThe possibility of passing out while skydiving is kind of a mortifying one! Luckily, passing out while skydiving is a) very unlikely, and b) in most cases, entirely preventable! In fact, proper preparation for your skydive reduces the probability of passing out while skydiving to nearly zero! 

Avoiding passing out during your skydiving comes down to three key things:

  1. Eating Right & Hydrating
  2. Getting Enough Sleep
  3. Breathing

Your body is a grand, organic machine. And, like any machine, it needs to be maintained, and, maybe, even get a little fine-tuning before you go leaping from an aircraft in flight. 

Eating Right & Hydrating

Loading up on sugary or fatty foods before skydiving is a bad idea. Rather, it’s important to enjoy a light breakfast and/or lunch before your jump. It’s also wise to pack a couple of snacks and to bring along water in the event you experience a longer than expected wait.

Many people assume that they should not eat or drink before skydiving. However, this is woefully incorrect. Skydiving will cause the adrenaline levels in your bloodstream to spike, and if you have not eaten anything, it can cause you to feel ill, or, worst case, the adrenaline coupled with low blood sugar can cause you to lose consciousness. 

Similarly, dehydration can absolutely ruin your skydiving experience. Be sure to drink ample water and keep alcohol consumption for after your jump. Don’t forget: eat right AND hydrate!

Getting Enough Sleep

passing out while skydivingYou might be tempted to “live it up” the night before your skydive. However, skipping the zzz’s and arriving to skydive without a good night’s sleep will do naught but set you up for failure. Sleep is critical for the body’s biological functions, so be sure to get plenty of rest before the big day!

Breathing

Remembering to breathe might sound like common sense, but it is possible for someone to become so overwhelmed by the stimulus of skydiving and their own anxiety that they pass out. This is why mindful breathing is so effective. 

Slow, deep breaths signal the parasympathetic nervous system to calm the body down, decreasing anxiety and heart rate. Channeling your breathing allows you to better enjoy the experience of skydiving and will help you to lower your possibility of passing out while skydiving.

What Happens If You Faint While Skydiving?

If you are on a tandem skydive and faint, rest assured that you are in good hands. All of our instructors are licensed and highly-trained professional skydivers. It also may be a relief to learn that, generally, those few individuals who pass out during the freefall portion of the skydive, awaken shortly after the canopy opens. 

Furthermore, in the event you were to faint while skydiving solo, every piece of student equipment (including tandem skydiving equipment) includes an Automatic Activation Device (AAD). The AAD is an uber precise computer that uses barometric pressure to calculate altitude and speed. In the event that someone has passed out and the parachute has not been deployed by the preset parameters, the AAD will deploy the reserve parachute automatically.

Have more questions about what to expect while skydiving, or looking for more information on passing out while skydiving? Feel free to reach out!

Tandem Skydiver in freefall at Skydive Tecumseh

I've been wanting to skydive for a number of years and on September 3rd for my 50th birthday, I jumped with Skydive Tecumseh. The staff were amazing and the experience was unbelievable and I will be back!

Jeffrey Gee