Going to jump out of a plane?
If you’re thinking of going skydiving, you need to read this.
If you’ve already been, you’ll probably be able to relate to this. This is a detailed description of exactly what a Tandem skydiving experience feels like. A Tandem skydive means a skydive in which you’re attached to an instructor, and he/she controls the parachute.
You’re flying with someone else, and not on your own, in case you were wondering.
In early 2013, I did a Tandem parachute jump for charity. It was one of the best experiences of my life. The feelings and sensations involved are beyond words, nevertheless, I will try to explain them here.
What a Tandem Skydive actually feels like
You get to the drop zone usually sometime in the early morning to be sure you get on the first few flights up, but it doesn’t matter too much. You get to the drop zone and check in, fill in all the forms, your heart starts racing a bit and you look around at all the other people about to jump out of planes.
You’ll fill in forms such as insurance and things like that basically meaning that if you should die the company isn’t held responsible. Not to scare you or anything, but they get you to pay well in advance!
First you meet a tandem skydive instructor!
Next you’ll go into a room where there is music playing and an instructor will tell you lots of things about skydiving, crack a few jokes and generally pump you up for it. You’ll watch a video of someone else skydiving along with some pump up music.
There may or may not be a group of young girls screaming or getting all hyper, maybe they were dared or challenged to come today? Who knows.
After that, you’ll have a bit of a wait around the drop zone, just watching people moving around getting ready, you might see a couple of plane loads go up and fall before you do. When watching them, you’ll think that they’re falling fairly slowly, until you go up.
Then when your name is called up to the rigging tent, you’ll meet your personal tandem instructor and shake their hand, but you’ll be sort of distracted by all the people running around and all the equipment In the place.
He’ll kit you up and make sure your skydiving harness is on properly. Right, now you’ll go towards the plane. It’s at this point that you realize that you’re genuinely going to jump out of a plane 10,000 feet in the air and hope that the parachute works.
It really starts to dominate your thoughts until all you can think about is the present moment.
Where you are right now, it’s really powerful when this happens as you’re so connected with ‘now’ that nothing else matters. So everyone will load into the plane and you’ll pack right to the back, and no matter how small the plane is, they will somehow squeeze everyone into it, so it will be a tight fit.
They will be talking or shouting amongst themselves, looking at their altometers from time to time.
Now the plane will climb for a bit and after what feels like 20 minutes you look out the window and think this must be high enough, better get ready to jump, and then your instructor will shout in your ear, we’re not even a quarter of the way yet.
This is when you realize just how high 10,000 feet really is. It’s very high.
So after another 10 minutes or so, the plane will start to slow down a bit and level out. The instructors then start the process of throwing everyone out of it. Now they’ll do their final checks on the equipment and their altometer, and then..
Then they open the plane door
This will be loud.
But no amount of description can convey to you just how loud this will be until you do it, so just for now accept that the door opening will be loud. If you’re not going first, you’ll see the first person go to the edge of the door and disappear outside.
You may hear them screaming and it will slice through the screaming. They’ll scream on the edge and then as they are pulled out of the plane the scream slices in half and you don’t hear it any more.
They just vanish and almost the second after that, your instructor will tell you to get on your knees and slide over to the door. You do so, and when you get to the edge, you are filled with adrenaline like nothing you’ve experienced before.
You will be euphoric.
All other thoughts vanish and you’re left with a few seconds. These few seconds are possibly the most amazing seconds you will have experienced so far in life, the seconds where you lean forward and leap out of the plane. they feel like forever, and at the same time, a brief moment.
Time seems to just freeze while you’re in freefall
This is no exaggeration when I say that it feels like time freezes, you fly almost in slow motion out of the door, and the overload on your senses that you experience is indescribable.
You’ll then start to accelerate, fast and within a few seconds you’re falling at about 140 mph.
Although it doesn’t feel like you are cause you can’t see things moving past you. It feels very intense and the force of the wind pushing up at you is very strong. You can’t hear anything, as it’s literally so loud, and yet at the same time, utterly peaceful and serene.
The camera man will now come into view and start floating around you, he might give you a high 5 or something.
Now after a few more seconds, the instructor will pull the chute, and you’ll dramatically slow down. Sometimes the force at which you slow down can make people slightly dizzy or maybe wind them a bit.
Now your parachute is open and you float to the ground
The chute will spiral and steer towards the landing zone, and it’s at this point that you may feel a bit dizzy or feel your ears pop.
This is normal and won’t last. Enjoy the view, there is such an amazing view from that high up. Now you’ll come into the landing, and the chute will level out and you’ll slide forwards into some grass. Bring your feet up and knees to your chest and slide into the landing.
Now what follows this is a state of disbelief and shock. You won’t know what’s just happened until you sit down and it really sinks in.
You won’t get the same feeling from indoor skydiving, because it’s not as intense, you get the rush of air and it feels like freefall, but it’s not the same, the air isn’t as cold, you don’t get the view, the realization, and the experience that you do from real skydiving with an indoor skydive.
It’s almost the same, and they put you through a wind tunnel, so you get the rush of the air, but don’t take my word for it, try both and then see what you think.
I want to skydive now!
Hopefully I’ve just pumped you up and you’re ready to go skydive right now! If so, here are some tips to help you get the most out of the experience –
1 – Make sure you’re not tired. Being tired will mean you can’t focus as well, and you’ll sort of miss important sensations and feelings because you’re so tired.
2 – Don’t eat much before. The spirals the chute does on landing can make you feel a bit sick if you’ve got a full belly of food!
3 – Take pictures! I find that pictures are better than video because you can pick the best looking ones and publish them on Facebook. Video is FAR less flattering, believe me.
What you may find is that the day after you are instantly addicted to skydiving and already want to go again. That’s what a tandem skydive feels like.