So you want to skydive, but have some skydiving questions you feel a little silly asking? It’s understandable to want to know all about it before you commit to jumping from a plane. So we’ve put together this skydive FAQ to answer some of the things that worry first timers.
So whether you’ve been asked to participate in a charity jump or to take the plunge (literally) with friends. Read the below and put your mind at ease.
Skydive FAQ / Skydiving questions
What is the difference between parachuting and skydiving?
There are some fairly straight forward differences between skydiving and parachuting. For starters, skydiving is about the freefall – which is what happens before you deploy the parachute. Whist on a parachute jump the chute opens straight away so it is more about enjoying your time in the air and controlling your descent.
As such, both activities are carried out in different ways. For skydiving, you start at around 14,000 feet (so that you can freefall for about a minute). Whereas parachute jumps take place from around 3,000 feet and the parachute deploys automatically as you leave the plane.
Unless you are experienced and qualified, a skydive is always carried out in tandem with an instructor. They control the flying, deployment and landing. On the other hand parachuting is mostly done independently, so after a few hours training you can jump from a plane on your own.
What about paragliding?
Paragliders in the air look a very similar to a parachute but it is a very different sport. Instead of using a parachute it requires a wing – admittedly to the untrained eye this looks similar to a parachute. The paraglider harness looks more like a camping chair without legs, whist the lower part of a parachute harness looks more like those used by climbers.
When paragliding the launch starts from a fixed point, like a hill or cliff, rather than from a plane or helicopter. The idea for paragliding is to catch thermal wind currents and ride them upwards rather than plummeting downwards. This means paragliding is more about horizontal travel, while skydiving is all about the vertical.
How different is indoor skydiving from outdoor skydiving?
One of the skydiving questions a lot of people ask is whether the rush of indoor skydiving compares to the thrill of an outdoor skydive. The answer? Yes and no. It’s a good starting point, and helps teach some of the techniques prior to skydiving for real.
Indoor skydiving chambers obviously remove the element of altitude, the need for a canopy/parachute and any dependence on the weather. Participants don’t need to learn how to use particular equipment and there aren’t the same time constraints as when jumping from a plane hurtling towards the ground.
For these reasons, an indoor skydive provides an opportunity to maximise the exhilarating freefall experience. But it won’t replicate the sheer adrenaline of leaping from a plane. If you’re interested in indoor skydiving in the UK, see these options at Into the Blue.
Will I jolt upwards once the parachute has been pulled?
One of the most common skydiving questions we had to include in this skydive FAQ regards the moment the parachute is deployed. People ask if it hurts? Can you get whiplash? and will I jolt upwards?
Before you try skydiving, it is understandable to think that when your speed suddenly slows from 120mph to 5mph, the jolt is painful. You may even have seen videos of this, where the diver is yanked sharply upwards when the parachute is deployed.
Fortunately, this is a misconception. Modern parachutes are actually designed so that the canopy opens gradually. So you barely feel a jolt at all.
Those videos? The illusion is created when the skydiver deploys their chute before the person filming. This means they slow down dramatically and disappear out of frame relative to the person filming who continues to fall.
What if I can’t pull the ripcord?
The fear that you won’t be able to find your ripcord (or that you’ll find it but it’ll get stuck) is quite outdated. The majority of modern skydiving equipment uses “throw-out” rigs, which release a pilot chute to deploy the main chute.
The pilot chute is in an easy-to-reach pocket at the base of the rig. Once it’s been released, the force of the wind enables it to pull the larger chute out.
But… what if I fall unconscious?
It’s not uncommon for people to fret about passing out or being knocked unconscious in a mid-air collision, so we had to include this in the skydive FAQ. However, most skydivers use an AAD (Automated Activation Device) as part of their pack, which solves this issue.
The AAD is sensitive to air-pressure and speed. It is set to automatically deploy the parachute should a skydiver drop to 750 feet above ground level at 78mph or faster. Obviously, your landing is likely to be very rough and unconscious skydivers can sustain serious injuries. But it’s far safer than landing without a parachute.
Will it hurt if I hit a cloud?
This skydiving question was asked during my induction. It made everyone laugh, but it’s well worth including in this skydive FAQ.
The simple answer is no, it doesn’t hurt if you hit a cloud. In fact most of the time it just feels a little cooler and can be damp. Occasionally you will hit tiny ice pellets in a cloud which could sting if they hit bare skin.
However, the sensation of falling through or near a cloud is supposed to be incredible. This is because you have a better perspective of the speed you are going and how small you are in comparison. Having said that ‘punching a cloud’ is illegal in many places, and skydives should only take place in clear conditions so you are unlikely to hit a cloud.
What about indoor skydiving, can I get sucked into the big fan?
Given how many injuries can occur from extreme sports, we’re not surprised that this is a frequently asked question about using a skydiving chamber. Luckily, indoor skydiving is really safe and accessible for all kinds of people with all levels of experience.
Before you enter the chamber, you’ll be given a safety brief by a qualified instructor. They’ll tell you exactly what to expect and the best ways you can position your body to control your movements once you’re going.
You’ll get kitted out in a helmet, goggles and jumpsuit (which has handles, in case the instructor needs to help you at any point), and the power of the wind tunnel can be adjusted to suit your body and proficiency.
At worst, you might get a couple of bumps, particularly if you dive with other people or decide to really go for it and end up crashing into the walls. But you can’t get sucked into a fan – because the fan is blowing you up and it has a safety cover over the top.
What should I wear?
Of all the skydiving questions in this certainly not silly. What you wear skydiving will impact your enjoyment and safety. Remember at altitude it is cold and you will be moving fast so it’s worth wearing an extra layer or two compared to what you wear on the ground.
Normally for a tandem skydive you will be given a jumpsuit to wear over your normal clothing. Ensure your clothing is not restrictive, but that nothing is loose enough to flap. Don’t wear anything that could fall off such as jewelry and wear sturdy shoes that can lace up tightly.
Anymore skydiving questions for this skydive FAQ?
If you want to try skydiving but are still feeling nervous, build up to it with an indoor session first. Then try a parachute jump followed by a skydive. Once you feel the rush of the wind and the exhilaration of flying, we’re sure you won’t look back.
We hope you found this skydive FAQ useful, and that the ‘silly’ questions you wanted to ask have now been answered. If you have anymore skydiving questions please leave us a comment and we will add them to the list.
Also please check out our skydiving discounts as you could save a fortune.