No such thing as a stupid question

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So you’re thinking of making your first ever skydive.  You’ve gone deep down the YouTube rabbit hole and watched everything from tandem skydives to wingsuits carving down mountain slopes inches above the terrain, and there are more than a few things that you’re not so sure about; so with that in mind, here’s answers to a few of the more common questions and comments we hear as professional skydivers.

“I really want to skydive, but I hate rollercoasters and don’t like the feeling of falling!”

  • Well, you’re in luck! As strange as it might seem, when you’re making a skydive, you either only briefly or simply never feel the sensation of falling.  “But wait” you say, “How will I NOT feel like I’m falling during a skydive?”. Funny enough, it’s a pretty simple answer. Most of you will be somewhat familiar with the phrase “Terminal Velocity”, but you might not know exactly what it really means. Terminal Velocity is the maximum speed you can reach in a given body position, which when falling belly to earth as you will on your first jump is around 120 miles per hour, give or take.  Just prior to jumping, you’ll be in an aircraft traveling at roughly 85-95 miles-per-hour, which means that you’re simply transitioning from a forward speed of 95mph to a downward speed of 120mph. Most of you accelerate more than that just punching it through the intersection on the way to work, and it's actually acceleration that gives you that falling sensation. For most of your skydive you’ll simply feel as if you’re floating on a cushion of air.

“I watched a bunch of tandem skydives and wanted to know how far back up you go when you open the parachute”.

  • We can’t lie, this one does make us giggle just a touch… So in the tandem videos or any skydiving video you’ve seen where you’re watching a parachute deploy, chances are that the camera person that shot the video has actually remained in freefall while the other skydiver or tandem pair have opened their canopy. It’s the camera person continuing in freefall that creates the optical illusion of the jumper or jumpers rocketing away from them apparently straight up when in reality they are simply slowing down as their parachute opens while the camera continues to fall.

“My good friend made a skydive a while back and said during the whole freefall they couldn’t breathe! How is that possible?”

  • The mind is an incredible thing to be sure, but every once and a while it decides to play tricks on us. Occasionally, this is one of them. The truth is, during a skydive you can breathe as normally as you can standing with both feet planted firmly on the ground, but when in freefall with the air rushing past your face more quickly than ever before it simply feels strange to some, and their brain tells them something is wrong… The easy fix? Let out that “YEEAAAHHH!!” waiting to get out! We promise you that as soon as your lungs are empty, they will fill up again!

Bottom line, especially in a sport as exciting as skydiving there is simply no such thing as a stupid question, so please never hesitate to ask us. Give us a call, or better yet come check it out in person. One of the things skydivers like almost as much as jumping, is talking all about it!



Douglas Smith is CEO/President, and Guest Relations Associate at Chicagoland Skydiving Center. He has owned and operated the business since 2000. He has been skydiving since 1994, and in addition to leading the CSC Team, is currently an instructor, videographer and pilot for CSC.

Topics: Tandem