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When you think about the ultimate adrenaline-spiking afternoon, you probably do what everybody else does: you look up! There’s a reason the temptation to tip your chin skyward is so strong. All the really heart-hammering, scream-squeezing, catharsis-causing good stuff is overhead.
So when you’re looking for the next awesome way to kick those endorphins into overdrive, you’re probably going to go for another high-flyin’ good time. And — since those activities all share the space above your head — you might kinda lump them all in the same category.
When it comes to skydiving, that categorization isn’t exactly fair. We’re here to tell you that skydiving deserves an honored space all its own. If you try to throw it in with, say, riding a roller coaster, the poor lil’ coaster comes up distinctly short. Here’s why.
That “Dropping” Feeling
Skydiving feels very different than riding a roller coaster — very different indeed. Most noticeably, there’s no “dropping” sensation when you leave a plane (as opposed to the stomach-wrenching ker-KLUNK that socks you one when your roller coaster car dives over the edge of that first slope).
That dropping feeling doesn’t exist in skydiving because it comes from the fact that the roller coaster is starting from a dead stop. When the coaster car goes over the edge, its speed builds up quickly, giving you that dizzy, tense smack of adrenaline. On a skydive, however, you’re already moving at the speed of the plane when you exit. The relative speed you feel as you fall away includes the forward speed of the plane, making the sensation considerably gentler and more magical as your body approaches terminal velocity. While you can expect your adrenaline to be running circles around your bloodstream at a furious clip, the sensation will be much more — well — delicious.
Here’s the comparison we have for you. Bear with us.
If you want whiskey, you have a choice: a double shot of well whiskey thrown at you across the bar or a 14-Year-Old Single Malt over an enormous, sculptural ice cube in a hand-cut crystal rocks glass. Both give your nervous system a satisfying thrum, but the latter is just…nicer. That’s skydiving.
That “Is This Really Gonna Be Okay” Feeling
Many of our first-time jumpers tell us that making a skydive is less scary than riding a roller coaster. That might sound weird, but it’s true. After all: When you know stuff about stuff, you know that you can be significantly more confident in the bona fides of a long-standing skydiving dropzone of legendary high quality (not to toot our own horn) than in any given theme park ride. Why? Well: First off, skydiving is significantly more regulated. Oversight bodies all over the world, both governmental and extra-governmental, manage the community risk for our beloved sport.
Another thing: Over the years, many developments have been made to the sport to improve safety, comfort and consistency. All those betterments have been brought to bear in our modern era, when skydiving is safer and comfier than ever before. An ever-expanding list of improvements — automatic parachute deployment devices (AADs), ram-air parachute designs, three-ring cutaways, two-parachute systems, more and more detailed and rigorous solo skydiving training — combine forces to make each jump as repeatable as it is meaningful. Finally: each jumper, whether or not s/he only intends on jumping one single time, ever, receives the same thorough training. Does a roller coaster operator go over equipment and emergency procedures with you before strapping you in? Yep. Nope.
That Unique Feeling
…So we’ve established that skydiving is not like a roller coaster, really, at all. And when we’re asked what skydiving is like, we balk, because we don’t have a suitable response. How could we? Skydiving is like riding a unicorn through a waterfall with your favorite band playing your favorite song in the background at top volume, but it’s a scary unicorn and the waterfall isn’t a waterfall but instead a self-confidence-fall that soaks you to the bone with your own human potential. Skydiving is, suffice it to say, poetic. There’s no easy answer for what it feels like. Trying makes you feel a little silly.
We’ll take the freaky unicorn out of it and leave you with this: Skydiving makes you feel in control, empowered and crystal-clear-minded, pushing every last one of your worries out of your mind for a few sweet minutes of freedom in the sky. You owe it to yourself to leave roller coasters behind and give it a try. You’ll be glad you did.