Skydiving facts are often shrouded in mystery and intrigue. Jumping out of a plane with a parachute has been portrayed in countless movies, viral internet videos, and even tall tales, so answering “what is it like to skydive?” with any confidence can be a bit tricky.
Understanding skydiving safety and the history of skydiving can help to answer questions about what the sport is really like. And understanding the sport will make actually jumping out of an airplane a little less intimidating.
So what are some important facts about skydiving and skydiving history? Read on to learn what is fact and what is fiction when it comes to jumping out of airplanes!
1. You Can Have Conversations During Freefall: FICTION
We’ve all seen the movies where the two heroes are screaming at each other in freefall, arguing over who is going to open their parachute first. Or where one skydiver dives down to someone careening through the air and talks them through their harrowing rescue.
Despite what Hollywood would have you believe, it’s not possible to talk to other skydivers in freefall.
Imagine how loud the wind would be if you stuck your head out of the car window while driving down the highway. Now double that noise. That’s what it sounds like when you’re in freefall! Flying with 120 mph wind in your ears will block out any words someone is trying to shout at you. It’s like the world’s loudest white noise machine. But instead of calming you to sleep, it’s accompanied by the greatest shot of adrenaline of your life!
Skydivers don’t need to be able to talk to each other in freefall to communicate. A beaming smile and a high five are more than enough to connect over this amazing thing we all love. Besides, sometimes it’s nice to have a minute to enjoy nothing but the zen in your own head.
2. You Can’t Skydive After SCUBA Diving: FACT
This one is real, and it’s a matter of safety. Most people are familiar with the pressure-related condition called ‘the bends’ and how it relates to SCUBA diving. But what people don’t realize is that the threat of the bends isn’t over when you get out of the water.
Extreme changes in altitude (and pressure) can cause the bends during an extended time period after SCUBA diving, even once the SCUBA diving has ended. When it comes to SCUBA diving and flying, FAA guidelines state:
The recommended waiting time before going to flight altitudes of up to 8,000 feet is at least 12 hours after diving which has not required controlled ascent (nondecompression stop diving), and at least 24 hours after diving which has required controlled ascent (decompression stop diving).
Skydiving usually takes place from 10,000 feet or higher, so it’s important to schedule your water dive and your air dive on two different days. Or, if you really want to do both in one day, go skydiving first!
3. Skydiving is a New Activity: FICTION
Skydiving has actually been around longer than most of the people who do it! Yeah, even that one wizened instructor. The organization that sets the rules and regulations for the sport, the United States Parachute Association (USPA), has been around since 1946. So that tells you just how long people have been jumping out of airplanes for fun.
Skydiving started as an offshoot of military airborne operations, and quickly grew as a civilian activity. But the sport as we know it today looks a bit different than the skydiving days of yore. Decades of experimentation, research, and development have resulted in the disciplines, training, equipment, and safety that we all enjoy today.
Skydiving is a constantly evolving sport. New ways of flying, new gear, and new safety techniques are being developed all the time. Skydiving is a long established activity, but our ways of doing things are always getting better!
4. Skydiving Rigs Have 2 Parachutes: FACT
Does having a backup plan make you feel a little better about jumping out of an airplane? It does for us! So is it true, do skydivers use 2 parachutes? We sure do!
The two parachutes that are in every skydiving rig are called the main and the reserve. As its name suggests, the main parachute is the one that is used on every single jump. The reserve parachute, or backup parachute, is there in case of an emergency, and is only used if there is an issue with the main parachute.
And, technically, tandem rigs have THREE parachutes! Tandem rigs are equipped with the main and reserve parachutes just like all skydiving rigs, and they also have a miniature parachute called the drogue.
Two people falling through the air together could pick up some serious speed, so the drogue is there to keep the tandem pair at a safe and comfortable speed. The drogue trails behind the tandem pair in freefall and then actually pulls the main parachute out when it’s time to deploy.
5. It’s Hard to Breathe While Skydiving: FICTION
Anyone who’s been outside in extreme wind knows that windy situations can sometimes take your breath away. So it’s natural to assume that skydiving would do the same thing.
Breathing during a skydive is actually a lot easier than you might think. In fact, you’ll probably be so distracted by all the amazing things you’re experiencing, you won’t even notice your breathing.
But what if you do have a hard time? Can you breathe through your mouth while skydiving? Yes! That’s actually often the best way to breathe during a jump, especially if you’re having a hard time catching your breath. Breathing out of your mouth gets more volume of air moving in and out of your lungs, and you can even let out a scream for a little kick start.
6. Skydiving is Awesome: FACT
This one goes without saying, but we love skydiving!! And we think you will, too! Whether it’s the physical experience, the mental challenge, or setting goals and achieving them, skydiving has so much to offer those who choose to participate.
Even going skydiving one time will change your outlook on life and give you confidence you never knew you could have. Jumping out of an airplane is something special, and it brings everyone who experiences it together in magical ways.
Why does skydiving make you happy? If you’ve jumped before, share your story with us – and if you haven’t, we can’t wait for you to fly over Key West and find out! Blue skies!
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