As much as skydivers like to joke – skydiving is a big thing. It’s important to be prepared.
While the nerves are all part of the skydiving experience, being mentally ready for the day helps give you more confidence before the big jump.
The shortlist for things you should do to be prepared is understand:
- The Safety
- What to Prepare
- The Weather
- The Food
- The Feeling!
- The People
- & To Smile
I’ll cover each of these in more detail below.
If that sounds good, let’s dive in!
The 8 Things To Know Before You Skydive
Let’s get safety out of the way first.
I know it looks insane – but skydiving is very safe. Especially for beginners.
I’m working on a very detailed article to really prove this. But in short, here’s a chart from the USPA ## which shows the number of fatalities per 100,000 skydives:
This means that in 2020, 1 person died per 250,000 skydives or so. There’s even more upside here – skydiving incidents tend to be from advanced skydivers pushing the boundaries of the sport. Beginner level jumps, especially when done with proper instruction, are extremely safe.
Tandem jumps in particular are the most safe. In the UK, there hasn’t been a tandem skydiving fatality in over 20 years and around 750,000 tandem jumps!
So the first thing you need to know is that skydiving is safe.
(Just don’t go doing anything stupid!)
#2 What To Prepare
In the run up to the big day, it’s important to get a few things prepared.
You need to make sure you’re packing the right clothes, good snacks, and a few distractions to help you get through weather delays.
Check out our handy skydiving fashion guide for details on clothes. Food-wise, try to avoid big heavy meals and focus on ‘boring’ healthy snacks like bananas and granola bars. These will help give you slow-release energy. Sugar spikes do nothing to help anxiety or nerves!
Lastly, cards, books, laptops, and a positive attitude to make friends all help to pass the time when waiting for your flight. It’s just like a normal airport, except replace bored passengers with fun-loving skydivers!
#3 Beware of the Weather
Skydiving is one of the most weather-dependent sports in the world.
Especially for beginners. If you’re a newbie pilot you’re not allowed to jump in anything above a mild wind – as it makes landing harder. As a tandem this is similar, but mostly because all that weight makes the canopy harder to fly.
Clouds can also means you can’t get to the altitude you need, and skydiving in heavy rain is just a no-go.
You need to know that weather may delay your jump. This is fine if you come prepared with distractions, or if you call ahead on a bad-weather day to move your jump date.
#4 The Food
We all gotta eat!
It’s important to eat the right stuff when you’re jumping for the first time. Your stomach will be a little more ‘awake’ than usual when you’re leaping out of a plane!
As I said above, try to avoid big meals that could make you a little travel sick. While flying through the air is total freedom, being couped up in a little plane isn’t. Opt for a good healthy breakfast and snacks to keep you going.
One other note is that you should eat. Nerves can take away appetite, but do your best to have a healthy snack to keep your strength up.
#5 The Feeling!
Skydiving can feel different to what some people expect. Knowing what’s coming can sometimes help reassure people, or let you embrace it and enjoy the experience more.
I’d recommend checking out my full account of what skydiving for the first time feels like ##. It really is a rollercoaster of a day, and I go through it in detail there.
In terms of skydiving itself, the main things to know are:
- There’s no butterfly or ‘falling’ feeling. It’s not like a bungee jump.
- There’s no fear of heights. You’re too high up for your brain to recognize what’s going on.
- The wind is real. Your whole body is going to be in 120mph of wind. Think of sticking your head out the window on a highway… then double that. It’s that fast.
- The plane is the scariest part for most. Your brain’s going to start questioning everything from your sanity to your parachute to your instructor’s weird haircut. Expect this, and stick with it.
- It’s so, so worth it! No one can ever put into words the feeling of a skydive, and especially once the canopy opens and you’re sitting there in the sky. Then when you’ve landed, and suddenly the whole airfield wants to high-five you!
#6 The People
Skydivers are a unique sort of people.
Believe it or not, people turn up and do this every weekend. Sometimes, every day! Your instructors will have had thousands of jumps, and it’s a certain type of people who are attracted to the sport.
While there’s a few egos out there, most jumpers are fun-loving, welcoming, and open. They also tend to share quite a dark sense of humor. Expect jokes about things not going so well, or trying to scare you a little for fun.
One of my favorite scares was two tandem instructors in a plane with their students, who are white as sheets with fear. One of the instructors loudly asks the other “Hey Billy, did you remember to take your pills today?”. Billy replies “Oh S**t! Oh well….”
Be aware that skydivers can have a dark sense of humor!
#7 Record It
If possible, getting a recording is always worth it for a first skydive.
You’ll never go through that ride of emotions again. Although many people find the first jump scarier than the first (you have more time to feel what’s going on), your face in the plane and when falling through the air will a real picture. You’ll get endless laughs from it with family and friends – especially if you keep jumping and get confident later on!
Last up, just a little note to smile!
Skydiving is an amazing experience, but the lead-up can be scary as hell. If you find yourself freezing up, try to force yourself to smile. You’re here for fun, it’s a sport (not a death trap), and it’s going to be one of the best experiences. Keep these things in mind and try to relax as much as you can.
Even if you don’t mean it, putting on a smile still sends good signals to your body and does help a little. If you’re with friends then try to be the one to crack a joke or keep the mood positive. It all helps!
I hope this quick list has helped clear up what you need to know before going skydiving for the first time.
It’s a hell of an experience, but I certainly wish I could go through my first couple of jumps again! Writing this has got me itching to get back in the sky.
If you’re preparing for your first jump, be sure to check out some other related articles. I’m aiming to make this site a helpful resource for newbie jumpers of all kinds.
Give me a shout if there’s any other article topics you’ like me to cover!
Thanks for reading, and happy jumping.