Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Has anyone ever gone skydiving?

  1. Sep 13, 2009 #1
    Me and my roommates are looking to go skydiving next summer. The way I figure it...once you've jumped out of a plane what's left to scare you in life?

    Has anyone gone? What was it like? Any tips?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 13, 2009 #2


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I went a few years ago. I did the Accelerated FreeFall course (I think it has another name now), which gives you around 4 hours of training so you can jump solo on your first jump. You actually have an instructor on either side of you, holding on to you when you jump, but you pull your own rip cord and fly and land your own 'chute.

    If you're the kinda guy who doesn't go slowly into swimming pools but dives right in, I highly recommend doint it that way.
  4. Sep 13, 2009 #3
    I've done 6 jumps total, 2 tandem and 4 solo. It's an amazing experience! The first few seconds of freefall were a little disorienting, but after reaching terminal velocity it felt exactly like flying. It was similar to the experience of learning how to swim for the first time, moving around in a new environment for the first time. In freefall your legs are like rocket engines and your arms are like wings. Your back is like the keel of a ship that pivots at the waist. It takes some practice to get a good feel for it, but the thrill is awesome every time.

    On my first solo jump I forgot to arch my back on exiting the plane. I ended up in freefall facing the sky. Luckily, I didn't panic and remembered my training. After arching my back I flipped over and only lost some hundreds of feet. I still had time to complete the exercises before reaching the planned altitude for opening my chute.

    On my third solo jump I completed the exercises quickly and opened my chute about 2000 feet too high. Oops! I was being blown off target over the airstrip. I saw a small plane on the runway waiting for me I suppose. I saw some power lines past that. I had a radio that allowed the instructor to give me commands from the ground. He told me to begin some tight turns to lose altitude quickly so I could make the landing field. He kept saying more, more, more, and I kept turning harder and harder and harder. Then my chute collapsed and I started to fall. It was only for a few moments, but I was fortunate that my chute reopened without getting tangled up in my lines.

    You can expect about 45 seconds to a minute of freefall time, depending on your exiting altitude. If they are using a small plane like a Cessna you'll probably get around 45 seconds, but you might get to walk out onto the wing for your exit. If they are using something larger like a King Air then you can get around a minute.

    The most important things are to remember everything your instructors tell you and to stay calm and focused. Enjoy!

    Edit- It looked to me like the plane did a nosedive after everyone had exited. By the time I had landed my chute the plane was already on the ground. I always wondered what it would be like to stay on the plane when it landed like that. It's something to consider for someone thinking about chickening out.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2009
  5. Sep 13, 2009 #4
    One of my buddies is a retired Army Ranger. They typically jump at (I can't recall) either 300 or 600 feet - not very high for quick deployment.

    He talked me into a jump and I recommend you listen very carefully to your instructor's advice prior to trying it for yourself. It's probably best to do it George Bush style - attached to an expert.

    To do over, I'd practice jumping off the roof of my shed a few dozen times to build confidence for the landing.

    All in all, I think white water rafting is more dangerous.
  6. Sep 14, 2009 #5
    Had to try it at least once. It's a rush! My once and only was static line.
    Noisy plane, lots of wind and then you let go and everything changes.
    sudden quiet and falling, with nothing to grab!
    Never mind that arch thousand, two thousand, check thousand stuff for me.
    I inhaled till the chute opened. If it hadn't opened I think I would have inhaled till I hit the ground. hehehe
    Once the chute opened I loved the trip down. Saw some geese flying under my feet.
    Steering was much easier than I thought it would. I could have hit the target if I was allowed to but they wanted us to land a little way out in the field.
    Landing is unique the first time. All your life you have landed with acceleration and know when to flex or brace your legs. Because landing with the chute is constant speed your body just doesn't know when to react.

    I prefer hang gliding. I don't like the 'falling' part, but love the floating down part.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 14, 2009
  7. Sep 14, 2009 #6


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    How do you make that first step? I am sure I'll freeze in the doorway.
  8. Sep 14, 2009 #7
    It's a big step.
  9. Sep 14, 2009 #8


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I'm still contemplating the physics of vomiting while in free fall. Otherwise, it sounds like something fun to do...aside from the chances that your 'chute doesn't open, you break an ankle on landing, or completely miss the target and end up a big splat, like a bug, on someone's windshield.

    And, if whitewater rafting is more dangerous, what if you land in whitewater? Huh? Didya think of that? :biggrin:
  10. Sep 14, 2009 #9


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    I once caught a landing skydiver before he became impaled on a piece of farming equipment. He had landed in the field where we were having a barbeque. The area had been freshly mowed and there was straw lying in the field. A light breeze was carrying him toward the equipment and the straw made for a slippery surface, i.e. he couldn't get traction. So I stepped in front of the equipment just before he got there.

    Skydiving is on my list of things to do.
  11. Sep 14, 2009 #10
    I made a few bungee jumps, and had an opportunity to skydive over the rocky mountains, but the weather wasn't favorable. Floating in air is the only time where you can be truly free.
  12. Sep 14, 2009 #11
    The first step is usually taken by the guy strapped to your back. You just got to hold onto your knees and let him roll you out. It can get cold up there, but I don't think you'll freeze. Take deep breaths if you need them.
  13. Sep 14, 2009 #12
  14. Sep 14, 2009 #13
    Fear of heights is one of my biggest fears. Although I managed fight it pritty well working in 18 story high building construction. I think i would freeze or would run into panic before jump like that. The guy next to me would have to slap me hard.
  15. Sep 14, 2009 #14
    It's usually the experienced divers that end up getting killed. I don't think it's just a chance/jump that something will go wrong and cause their death, but is more dependent on the risks they take in their maneuvers. First time skydivers won't be trying any risky maneuvers.

    If it is a concern for someone considering their first jump then ask the company for their safety record before paying. If there is any hesitation to provide that information then just don't jump.

    Most of the injuries new skydivers recieve are minor landing injuries. They stop the chute too late and land too fast, or stop it too early and fall from about ten feet. They can also misjudge their velocity in comparison to the wind and mess up their approach. Mistakes are made in their compensations like a driver oversteering after losing control of a vehicle. New divers sometimes have problems hitting their landings. Until they are licensed they should be guided in with radio commands from someone on the ground. If the diver is calm and attentive they shouldn't get anything more serious than a grass stain, if that.
  16. Sep 14, 2009 #15


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I have never jumped out of a plane, though I always wanted to. My right ankle was very badly sprained in a skiing accident years ago, so it's not in the best shape, and that always gave me second thoughts.

    White-water rafting is actually very safe as long as you use the required floatation, helmet, etc, and wear a wet-suit when the water is very cold. We have some really nice class IV-V rapids, and for years I spent many of my spring-though-fall weekends kayaking and canoeing those rivers. As long as you can eskimo-roll or at least self-rescue it's pretty safe. The most dangerous times are when you're fooling around in the rapids and flip. For a second or two (before rolling back up), you're upside-down with rocks sailing past (hopefully!) your head.

    My younger brother worked as a photographer for a business that sold video-tapes, slides, etc to rafters and as soon as the water level came up, he'd jump in the river with his waterproof gear box and run the Kennebec Gorge rapids with an inner tube to get to a good vantage point to take pictures of tourists in some big rapids. Eventually, the rafting outfitters made his boss forbid him to do that. The rafters had often paid $75 or more each for what they thought was a thrilling dangerous ride down the gorge and it kind of blunted their experience to watch a teen-ager run the gorge with an inner tube and a life jacket.
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2009
  17. Sep 14, 2009 #16
    That is one of the commands they use while jumping. Before the exit they will ask you if you are ready. During a tandem exit you will be balled up and asked to remain in that position until slapped on the leg by your tandem instructor. Then you move to a freefall position so the instructor can better control the decent. The instructors I spoke to said that people often don't feel the first slap on the thigh so they have to slap them pretty hard to get them to respond sometimes. Voice commands during freefall don't work well at all even when the guy is strapped right to your back.
  18. Sep 14, 2009 #17
    NOT correct. There are different methods. I was static line. NO other person was near me. I fell the first 10m till the chute started to open. I fell another 30m or so till the chute opened, I landed alone from a 1500m jump height.

    be careful with presumptions about the sport.
  19. Sep 14, 2009 #18


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    While skydiving is on my bucket list; I have no intention of ever bungie jumping.

    Of course. That's my chance to be able to do it without flipping out.
  20. Sep 14, 2009 #19


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I have 4 jumps, 3 tandem and 1 solo. I decided to go ahead and do the third tandem since my first jump had been 4 years prior.

    The first jump is by far the best, and I highly recommend going with a tandem. I'm a serious adrenaline junkie, and like to dive right into everything, but I'll tell you that the first jump is almost pure sensory overload. Your awareness of your surroundings is seriously numb, and it's a lot more fun to simply enjoy the ride and let a professional worry about the rest. Don't get me wrong, I've enjoyed all my jumps (except for hurting my back on a really hard opening for my solo), but the first is by far the biggest rush, so my suggestion is tandem.

    It's been over a year since I jumped (due partly to the injury, partly to bitterness about the opening) but I'll probably be starting to jump again within the next couple months.
  21. Sep 14, 2009 #20
    I wasn't talking about static line. You get no freefall time that way. I was talking about tandem jumps, which are pretty common for first-timers. Static line misses half the experience.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook