If you've stumbled upon this article, chances are you've just booked in for your first skydive and you're starting to get that feeling in your stomach. Rule #1: just chill, man. Skydiving is one of the most liberating experiences money can buy. We get all sorts of questions before people do their first skydive. Some of them are quite frankly hilarious, but of course never any judgement for a nervous Nelly. This is why we've put together 4 of the most important things to know before your first time skydiving.
No, you don't have to do a 5-week course learning how to land with a parachute before the dive. You will have an expert tandem instructor strapped to your back that can land you both safely without you moving a muscle. So, relax and trust that you're in safe hands. In saying that, when you arrive at the meeting point you will be briefed on the 2 main movements for your dive.
If you get the 'positions' wrong, don't stress! We understand that sometimes nerves can get the better of you, and people regularly forget what to do. You'll still have a safe and enjoyable skydive. The tandem instructor will tap you on the arms if you curl up in a ball during the free fall.
Preparation on the day is important, particularly if you have issues with anxiety. I'm not saying anything bad will happen, although some people feel the effects of anxiety more than others. It's completely normal to have an increased heart rate, jitters and sweaty palms. In fact, it's more abnormal to not be affected by the thought of jumping out of a plane!
For people who are uncontrollably nervous, we recommend taking calming agents on check-in. Something legal of course. Rescue Remedy is a good one which is available at most supermarkets and chemists. Some medications can have adverse effects when you fly up to altitudes above 10,000ft, so we recommend something mild. And while we're on the topic of medications, double-check with your doctor to see if skydiving could cause a negative reaction. This will be checked on the APF form before your skydive.
It's also important to eat well on the day. You don't want to go into the dive as full as a centipede's sock drawer, nor fanging for a feed. You've got bigger fish to fry than to worry about what's happening with your gut.
In terms of clothing, just wear something comfortable:
'What if the parachute malfunctions?' There is always a backup parachute - it's the law. The likelihood of the first parachute malfunctioning is negligible. Now, the chance of both parachutes failing is almost unheard of!
Occasionally you will hear of parachute malfunctions in the media, or worse yet fatalities. It's an extremely rare occurrence - particularly in Australia. There are a handful of regulators in Australia that outline strict procedures which must be followed by commercial skydiving operators. The Australian Parachute Federation (APF) continuously keeps the bar high for skydiving safety standards in Australia. It's largely attributable for Australia's great track record and safety standards.
These bodies govern every commercial skydiving outfit, so dispel any thoughts that cheaper prices = less safe. We hear this quite a lot, and some of the more expensive skydiving operations use this rhetoric to justify their inflated prices.
Whilst the Skydive itself lasts less than 10 minutes, you should prepare to give the whole experience at least 2 hours. Between the check-in time, to the landing and arriving back at the meeting point, a good chunk of the day can pass.
Let's take a 10:00am booking for example.
When check-in starts at 10, you'll spend 30-45 minutes at the meeting point populating the APF form, getting into the skydiving suit and going through the pre-dive briefing. After this, you'll take a transfer to the airport where the plane will be waiting to be loaded with a pack of attractive skydivers i.e. you. Depending on the conditions of the day, the plane may have to hold for clearance due to winds or visibility.
After your tandem instructor straps themselves to your back and the plane gets filled, its about 11 o'clock and you're ready for takeoff! The climb up to diving altitude will usually be 20 minutes, so sit back and enjoy the scenic flight!
After everyone has completed the dive and landed, it's time to hop back into the bus and head back to base. After all of this, 2 hours have past and it's 12 o'clock. That's assuming everything has gone to plan and there have been no delays. That's why I recommend to give a skydiving experience a 3 hour window. If you're looking to book a tour straight after, give it a little bit. Have some lunch and reflect on what you just encountered - you'll want to talk about how awesome it was, trust me.
And then go book in your next skydive!
As mentioned at the start of the article, rule #1 is to relax! The trained professional has your back and it's their job to do this 4-5 times a day. All preparations before the skydive are triple checked and cross-audited. So long as you follow the preparation steps and eat moderately before the jump, you should not experience any significant discomfort. The experience itself is quite extreme, so it's good to give yourself some time before you hop into the next activity.
Stay safe, have fun and make the most of it! It's not every day you get to experience a free fall from up to 15,000 so it's good to keep a record of the memory.