“Ready, Set, Go” We rocked back and forth in a cadence as my tandem skydiving instructor said each of the words as I sat on the ledge of the teeniest, tiniest prop plane I’d ever seen.
I was trying to decide if I should look down the 10,000 feet over the prairies and cornfields of Nebraska or if I should just close my eyes.
I didn’t really have much time to decide as Greg flung us out into the wide open air as the pilot flew on without us.
Before I knew it, we were literally somersaulting thousands of feet in the air. While it was only a few seconds, it felt like an eternity before we went into the freefall.
And then, just as quickly as it all began, it was over.
The most terrifying, exhilarating, amazing, adrenaline pumping experience lasts only minutes, but is skydiving worth it?
My First Time Skydiving/ What To Expect When Skydiving
What You'll Find In This Artcile
- 1 My First Time Skydiving/ What To Expect When Skydiving
- 2 FAQ About Skydiving For Beginner Skydiving and Tandem Skydiving
- 3 Tips For Your First Skydive
Deciding To Go Skydiving
I decided it was time to add “Skydiving” to the list of crazy things I’ve done. After all, I’d already checked off
- Bungee Jumping in New Zealand
- Paragliding Over Neuschwanstein
Why not round out my list with willingly jumping out of a perfectly good airplane!?
The truth is, one of the entire purposes of this particular blog is to show my fellow Nebraskans that there is plenty to do right here in our own backyards of the Cornhusker State. But that it isn’t just about checking off lists of “Things To Do” but instead, what can we EXPERIENCE. And quite frankly…. skydiving is a pretty extreme experience!!!
Not many people think of Nebraska as an adrenaline pumping location, but you might be surprised with how many really fun and exciting things there are to do in Nebraska (no, seriously!)
While I obviously love to do crazy things like this, I was pretty shocked to find out just how many different kinds of people try skydiving. In fact, when Greg (my instructor) told me that a lot of people who are afraid of heights go skydiving, I was pretty surprised.
For me though, I love trying new things. I love the thrill of adrenaline and I love the bragging rights of doing fun and crazy adventures.
Skydiving seemed right up my alley!
Planning The Skydive
When Greg and I booked our skydive, I was told that I was going to need to be flexible. Apparently, you want only the best weather for skydiving (who would have guessed 😉 ).
The date we originally planned looked to be cloudy and rainy, so we re-planned for the evening before.
And then I got a text saying “No wait….let’s go earlier this afternoon.” Quickly following by a “No wait…no wait, can you come now?”
There are a lot of factors that go into what is the best weather for skydiving, but considering I was throwing myself out of a plane with a complete stranger, I was more than ok trusting that we needed ideal skydiving conditions!!!
Signing Your Life Away
After I got to the Skydive Center, I had to watch a short video. Basically, this video told me what I already knew about skydiving:
- You are about to go really high up in the air
- You are basically trusting a complete stranger with your life
Skydiving is actually extremely safe and there are several safety features and fall-backs
- Oh, but yeah…..sometimes you can get hurt….and yeah, let’s mention the “possibility of death”
I mean, I get it. They pretty much have to mention all these things right?
So, then it was time to sign a bunch of forms stating that you are healthy, have no current injuries and are well aware that you are willingly jumping out of a perfectly good airplane (aka: “Are you ok with the incredibly low possibility of death today?”)
I secretly thanked my husband for making us create our wills last year. At least he’ll know where to throw my ashes….
This may be horribly bad advice, but if you are already on the fence about skydiving, maybe don’t read the waivers. I mean, yeah….you should never sign anything without reading the fine print buuuuut……in this case, maybe just skim it???? (Ok, no, seriously, you probably SHOULD read the whole thing)
“Learning” To Skydive
After I had agreed to death by extreme falling, Greg went over some of the basics of skydiving. While the instructor does most of the heavy lifting, you are still an active participant in your first tandem skydive.
Greg was phenomenal with going over step by step what I could expect during my dive and what I should be doing.
- Don’t be surprised if I tilt your head back right before the jump
- You might feel the chest strap loosen, that is ok as we float down
- Keep your back arched and knees bent during the free fall- just keep trying to kick me and you’ll be good!
- Keep your feet up as much as possible during the landing (we did a seated landing). Hold up your legs if you need to
After we went over the basics, it was time to SUIT UP!
Greg got me strapped in incredibly tight….like, uncomfortably so.
However, I really didn’t want to complain. After all, I just went with the assumption that tighter was better than slipping out of a harness at 10,000 feet in the sky!
Time To Fly!
For us, we were going to be going up in this crazy small prop plane. Some skydiving locations have bigger planes and take up larger groups at a time.
I actually really liked it just being us, but I have to admit that one of the scariest parts was trusting this eensy weensy plane! There was literally just barely enough room for the pilot seat, myself strapped to the instructor and one other solo jumper.
As the pilot did some checks, an old man hobbled on over to the plane with his parachute pack on his back and helmet secured to his head.
“This is Lee, he’ll be skydiving with us today,” Greg said. “Lee is 87 years old” he then said nonchalantly like it was nothing at all that a man who has seen World Wars, had previously had a broken hip and was, again EIGHTY-SEVEN YEARD
OLD young was going to be jumping with us!!!!
I guess I didn’t have an excuse, did I?
While skydiving, you still have to follow all the FAA rules, which include wearing a lap belt during takeoff and landing.
The plane took off and I felt my stomach do its first little leap as a few nerves tried to wrangle their way in.
As we climbed into the air, I just tried to focus on the beauty of seeing the sky from a different vantage point than I normally do, even when flying commercially.
At 6,000 feet, Lee flung open the latch door and it was at this moment that I had my first “HOLY CRAP” moment.
There was just something about the immediate rush of wind and seeing the ground from so high up with no barrier between us that made me realize just how real this was about to be….and possibly how crazy this might be!
And then Lee, at 87 freaking years old, jumped out like it was no big-thang! I mean, he later told me that he’s done over 7,000 jumps, so sure, he probably didn’t even bat an eye at it, but as pummeled from the plane, I was in complete awe of him.
Jumping Out of A Plane
At 10,000 feet, Greg told me it was time.
Luckily, the thing about a tandem jump is that while you can call it off at any time, you actually have very little control.
This is surprisingly a really great thing because I have to admit that one of the scariest parts about bungee jumping and paragliding was convincing my own feet to step off that platform.
With skydiving, you are completely strapped to your instructor. He had me literally sit on his lap as he scooted us towards the door. It was at this moment that I just let him do all the work. I knew that if it were up to me, I’d probably be like, “Nah, I’m good!”
We got to the ledge of the plane and I debated keeping my eyes shut or peering out over the vast prairies below me. We were about to do the airplane jump (ok, by “we” I mean “him” and by “jump” I really mean “shoved”)
While my brain was screaming “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING!?” the excitement in me kept saying “THIS is what you are here for!!! Don’t wish it away!!!!”
As hard as it was to look out, I knew that I wanted to remember this experience moment for moment. I didn’t want to look back and say “Gee, I don’t even know what it looked like from way up there because my eyes were glued shut.”
Greg rocked me back and forth as part of our countdown.
Ready (1), Set (2), Go (3)
And then he catapulted us out of the door of the plane.
I’m not even sure how many summersaults we did, as it was extremely disorienting but I just kept repeating in my head,
“I’m Doing It! I’m Skydiving!!!”
The Freefall Skydive
Before I knew it, we were in the tandem freefall.
Again, the great part about this is beside remembering to keep your back arched, there isn’t a TON that you need to think about here, as your instructor does all the work for you both.
This is the time of the skydive that you just let go and have fun!
Even with my goggles on, my eyes still teared, after all, we did hit a max speed of 123 mph as we plummetted down to earth.
Our skydiving freefall time only lasted 41 seconds (some can be a bit longer, sometimes around 1 minute, but that all depends on how high up you are jumping from).
I’m pretty sure Greg signaled to me that he was about to release the canopy, but to be honest, I was too enthralled with the freefall to pay much attention to what was going on behind me.
I heard the winds catch the parachute and we were flung from a prone position to completely upright, somewhat abruptly.
We were jostled around quite a bit (I was warned this would happen) as the parachute canopy expanded and lofted out.
We then had several minutes to just float effortlessly!
Greg asked if I wanted to do some spins and my natural response was, “Hell ya!”
He had me hold onto the parachute and do it myself!!! He said that we actually got some Gs as we spun!!! And yeah, I could feel it!!!
The rest of the way down, we just hovered and came down to the ground easily. He pointed out which direction my hometown was in, what river was ahead of us, and we joked about if the cows would move out of the way as we approached the drop zone.
As we approached the skydiving dropzone, Greg reminded me to lift my legs up in the air at a 90-degree angle. I held onto the backs of my legs to help ensure that I keep them up as high as I could.
He reminded me to look up at the horizon or else it might seem like we were coming in faster than we really were.
And suddenly, he plopped us right onto the ground on our buts.
I mean, I know I’ve got a larger (aka more cushioned) behind than most people, but that landing was incredibly soft!!!!
We did the seated landing because it is significantly safer than doing a running or walking landing and it was so easy!!!
The Most Amazing Feeling
And that was it. I literally giggled out of pure ecstasy as Greg yelled “You Did It, You’re A Skydiver!!!” followed by a “Not bad for my first skydive!” as he chuckled at his own joke.
The initial adrenaline of fear was being replaced with a mixture of excitement and oxytocin as my brain was still riding high from the experience. Even though I was now safely on the ground, I still felt on top of this world.
I felt brave, I felt exhilarated, I felt like I could take on any challenge!!!
So, was skydiving worth it? Would I recommend skydiving?
FAQ About Skydiving For Beginner Skydiving and Tandem Skydiving
What is Tandem Skydiving?
Tandem skydiving is the perfect introduction to skydiving for people who don’t have a skydiving certification. You are literally strapped and connected to a certified skydiving instructor who basically takes care of the logistics of skydiving for you so that you can just enjoy the experience.
What Is Skydiving Like? What To Expect When Skydiving
I think it’s actually easier to say what skydiving is NOT like. Skydiving does NOT feel like:
- A roller coaster
- Indoor Skydiving
- Bungee Jumping
It’s actually pretty hard to describe the feeling of skydiving because everyone experiences it a bit differently.
The free fall itself doesn’t give you that dropping pit in your stomach the way a roller coaster ride does, shockingly.
What To Wear Skydiving/ How To Dress For Skydiving
Skydiving is actually considered an (extreme) sport. Therefore, you should dress accordingly.
Wear clothing that you might wear to the gym.
Pants: Wear pants (not shorts) that are athletic and have movement to them
Shirts: Don’t wear anything too loose or flowy, but yet still loose enough for you to be comfortable in
Layers! It can get chilly waaaay up in the air, so having a few layers is a really good idea
Tennis Shoes: Wear athletic shoes that you can lace up. Don’t even think about slip-ons or sandals!
Can You Die From Skydiving?
I mean, sure, technically.
You can also die from diving into a swimming pool, or eating food (that has salmenella).
Is that going to stop me from eating raw cookie dough? No.
So it also is not going to stop me from skydiving.
In all seriousness though, death from skydiving is extremely rare and often with experienced divers who don’t have the lives of a student in their hands. Read more about skydiving deaths and the extremely low chance it would actually happen here.
Can You Breathe When You Skydive?
Will skydiving take your breath away? Yes. But only in a literal sense.
Even at high altitudes and fast free fall speeds, you do, in fact, have plenty of access to oxygen on your entire skydive.
How Fast Do You Go When Skydiving?
If you are doing a tandem skydive, most likely, your freefall will be in a prone position. Therefore, 120 mph is about the average and is called “terminal velocity” which is just a fancy way of saying “Really freaking fast”
Since I’m a rebel, we got above the 120 mph speed…..123mph!!!
How Long Does the Whole Skydiving Process Take?
Well, which part of the process are you talking about?
If you are wondering how long you will be at the skydiving center, plan on anywhere from 2-5 hours. This varies wildly depending on the weather for the day, the number of forms you need to sign, how many people dive with you and a multitude of other variables.
It will take several minutes to reach your altitude (again, depending on exactly how high you go). This could be around 15-20 minutes, give or take.
The actual skydiving part of skydiving is pretty short lived.
get shoved jump out of the plane and free fall typically upwards of about 1 minute.
The rest of the way down depends on how high you jumped from originally as well as what kind of facility you jumped with. I jumped with a school. These people are PASSIONATE about diving and enjoy it as much as I did. Therefore, we took our sweet time coming down, maybe 5-8 minutes.
On the other hand, if you are skydiving with a place that does this as a business, you might be on the ground within a matter of minutes.
Can I Take a GoPro Skydiving?
Most likely, NO.
Here’s a good detailed explanation, but in short, it’s a liability issue.
Where Can I Go Skydiving Near Me?
You can go skydiving just about anywhere in the world!!!
If I can go skydiving in Nebraska out in the cornfields, you can skydive anywhere!
But, in case you are looking for some extreme inspiration, here’s supposedly some of the best places in the WORLD to go skydiving
Is Skydiving Worth the Money?
This is a pretty personal answer, but chances are, the majority of people are going to say YES, skydiving is worth it!
Is skydiving crazy expensive? Yes.
Is skydiving insanely rewarding? Also yes.
The memories you make from skydiving, the fears you overcome, the self-esteem you gain…none of that has a monetary value.
Tips For Your First Skydive
Stop And Soak It In
Every few minutes just stop what you are doing. The entire process of skydiving goes by so fast!
Whether it is signing your life away in the waiver or watching the pre-video or gazing out the airplane window., just force yourself to pause and look around. Stop and soak it in.
- What does it look like
- What are you feeling like
- Who is around you
- What does the air smell like
- What is the temperature
- What is the mood/ vibe of the room
- Look at everything around you and take mental snapshots.
Pay For The Photos and Video
Speaking of snapshots, just buy the darn footage!!!!
Yes, it’s totally a rip-off, seeing as they can just download it to your thumb drive for close to nothing, but still….just buy the video!!
As mentioned above, everything goes by insanely fast!!! Your memory will literally feel like a blur from all the adrenaline, commotion and sensory overload that your brain has to take in.
By having photos and video, you can replay those moments over and over (and have bragging rights to your friends and family!!)
Breathe. And Open Your Eyes.
You may not even realize you are holding your breath (I sure didn’t) but when I reminded myself to ENJOY the final moments before the big jump, I realized I was holding in my breath. I wasn’t even THAT nervous and yet I still found myself holding my breath.
And then look all around….and down. Many people will naturally want to squeeze their eyes shut. Try not to do that. Do your best to look out at the beautiful scenery below you.
Embrace The All The Feels
No matter how you are feeling, just accept and embrace it.
You might start with extreme excitement building up to your big day, which turns to anticipation as you approach the skydiving center. The anticipation may start to give way to nerves as you get your gear on, which may become anxiety as you board the plane. Then the nerves might settle into the pit of your stomach as you see the people ahead of you jump.
But before you know it, adrenaline is going to be pumping through your veins and you are going to be feeling on top of the world!!!
No matter what though, try to just feel each stage and embrace it….it’s all part of the fun!!!!
Have you been skydiving before? What was your first skydiving experience like?