Why Skydiving Is Not That Scary

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Reasons to Jump at Skydiving

Both diehards and even non-participants weighing the pros and cons of jumping out of a perfectly-performing airplane are these days finding answers to two of their most compelling questions:

1. Why do it?
2. And what’s the best place for it?

These are probably the most frequently raised questions about the increasingly popular sport of skydiving. They have long been debated by everyone from serious advocates to those who are curious about the various motivations cited for what seems at times to be odd behavior. So it may come as a surprise that serious answers come from an unusual source: someone who never had this on their bucket list. Someone who had to overcome a condition that might bar many from taking the plunge: fear of falling. The issues and answers came up when a well-traveled writer decided to try skydiving while on a trip to Australia (hint: this will give you an idea of the answer to best location). The resulting article was widely reprinted, debated and quoted worldwide.

Writer Unlikely Choice for Skydiving

In it, writer Katherine Vallera admitted she was not a likely skydiving candidate for many reasons, including a condition called “basophobia.” That is simply a fear of falling. “Never in a million years,” she writes of her first reaction to trying the sport, in an article published in Travel Pulse and widely reproduced in worldwide media outlets. But what began to change her mind were the instructors she met and the high safety standards of the industry. “The skydivers I’d met worked as tandem instructors for Skydive Australia. They described how they’d been diving five times a day, five days a week for the past twenty-five years without a single incident,” she writes. Australia has some of the most stringent safety rules and regulations in the world. Skydivers routinely claim 100 percent safety records.

There’s some risk in any activity, even as simple as stepping out of a bathtub.

But in recent years, skydiving has had better safety rates than many common pursuits, such as scuba diving and even mountain hiking. The sport is not only highly regulated for safety in Australia, but worldwide. Fatalities are rare, and becoming even rarer in recent years, as jumps proliferate while accidents continue to decline, according to the United States Parachute Association. But even those who recognize its safety often share the writer’s fear that they might not be able to go through with the actual jump. Skydiving instructors are familiar with those feelings, and have a long record of reassuring divers. A car ride to a skydiving center is always statistically far more dangerous than a freefall from the sky.

New Jumpers Never Alone

What skydivers don’t always know is that in the first jump, newcomers jump in “tandem.” That means they are attached to the experienced instructor who does the actual jump. He or she does all the work: everything from attaching the equipment and actually deploying the parachute, to more down-to-earth moral support. It’s a situation best described this way: virtually impossible for first-timers to do anything wrong.

The actual jump itself convinced Vallera to agree with many others in recent times who argued Australia was the best place to start skydiving. Why? The view going down. It gives jumpers a look at some UNESCO World Heritage sites such as the Great Barrier Reef, and some of the most breathtaking landscapes found anywhere in the world. Going down, the writer recognized the thrill of being released from gravity. Flying like a bird. She shared a word in common with many others to describe the feeling: “Euphoric.” It was a sensation as harmonious as wafting through clouds, as serene as a jellyfish floating through the ocean.

A Common Emotion: Euphoria

She even overcame her fear of falling. “I suddenly felt more aware of my breath and the fact that I was alive as we hovered over the lush rainforest and the Coral Sea below,” she writes. But the real rush came later, when she landed. Her feet were firmly on the ground when she realized she had accomplished something she never dreamed she would do. She had overcome her fear of falling and now recommended it for others – whether they are first timers or frequent fliers.

Comments 2

  1. I have extreme basophobia. Like stepladder extreme. Glass elevators are not an issue at all since I’m enclosed. I threw up on a simple log flume waterfall drop at an amusement park. Before fainting. I’ve always wanted to hanglide tho. How severe is your phobia? I never thought I’d ever talk to anyone who had it and went into the sky.

    1. Hello Lily,

      I can tell you from my experience, that it is very different than you would expect. I have a more moderate fear. I cannot be on roller coasters that do not cross my chest, hate bucket seats and avoid leaving the ground in any sense. Tall ladders scare me as well. Odd for me to work for a skydiving company right? Not really, I fully believe in facing your fears.

      I worked here for over a year prior to taking my first dive because I knew once I set my mind to do it there was no going back. On the day of, I too thought I would be ill. I can also tell you that for me, the hardest part was the plane ride. The planes that take jumpers int the air are much smaller than your typical jet or commercial plane. That frightened me quite a lot, but I was jumping with a trained professional on my back so my worries were a little more subdued.

      Once we reached elevation and we readied at the door, they told me to look down, I couldn’t. I simply laid my head back on the instructor and dove. Once you are out of the plane and only looking forward (that was the trick for me) it isn’t as bad, your adrenaline is going so fast, almost as if your body accepted what was happening in advance. You are only in freefall for 60-ish seconds but it feels like forever and when you start the glide, it is beautiful, so long as you do as I did and don’t look down.

      Trust me. It’s a scary thought. But it is entirely worth it.

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