Does it Feel High When Skydiving?

I was really nervous the first time I decided to Skydive. Whilst I was a gymnast and loved trying new things, the thought of jumping out of a plane was daunting. I’d decided to raise money for charity and wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone, and Skydiving was a perfect opportunity for that.

For most people, it doesn’t feel high when Skydiving. When at a high altitude your brain doesn’t have any reference points, such as buildings, and so it doesn’t compute the height in the same way.

If you’re reading this and thinking that’s crazy” and thinking more along the lines of “when I’m 5ft off the floor my brain does a perfectly good job of telling me I’m afraid, how does it not work at 12,500 ft?”. Well, it’s pretty simple, when you’re lower down (below c. 300ft), you’re brain can use the physical world around you to provide a scale and uses learned knowledge to tell you it’s dangerous. This is a safety mechanism that protects us from dangerous situations. When you’re at 12,500 ft, the view is more like looking down on top of a map where the world almost looks 2D and because of that, you’re brain doesn’t have the same physical reference points to be able to compute height in that way.

Does that mean there won’t be a level of fear when completing your first skydive? I’m afraid the answer to that is also a no. When completing your first jump there will always be nerves especially as you sit patiently in the back of the plane waiting to get to altitude. That is actually the longest section of your jump with about 20 minutes in the plane, and 5-7 minutes actually Skydiving. Before you know it though, the door will be opened and you’ll feel the first blast of air as the plane continues at around 100mph and the adrenaline really kicks in. Soon though it will be your turn and you will be shuffling to the exit and listening as your instructor gives you some final direction. The adrenaline will be pumping at this point and the next 5 minutes are going to feel like a total blur and adrenaline overload.

If you are scared of heights it’s easy to think this sport is a definitive no for you, but this is a great chance to challenge yourself and push through that fear barrier. My experience of times at drop zones has shown me that most people have a level of fear when arriving ahead of the jump, whether that be the fear of heights or simply the strange thought of jumping out of a fully functioning plane. The overwhelming expression of all those people coming into land is one of pure joy. Having got past that fear and taken the leap (literally!), they’ve had an incredible experience of high adrenaline during freefall followed by 4-5 minutes of total calm as they float beneath the parachute. It’s this moment of calm before you come to land that allows you to process the full range of feelings you’ve just experienced.

My wife Zoe, having completed her first Skydive in 2016.

If this article is convincing you that your fear of heights may not be a barrier then check out my article all about your first skydive to understand more about each stage of the jump.

Skydivers are scared of heights too!

You may be surprised but lots of skydivers have a fear of heights, it’s a natural feeling that we learn as young children which is there to keep us safe. Most skydivers have got past that initial fear to give it a go and realised how enjoyable the experience is. See the quote below from a Reddit user who has a fear of heights but finds no issue in skydiving.

Terrified of heights, as in, won’t go higher than a couple of steps on a stepladder terrified.

No issue with skydiving.

Reddit r/skydiving

Having a fear of heights does not stop you from Skydiving for the first time, taking up the sport as a regular hobby, or even turning pro. It may feel like because of it you won’t be able to make that first jump, but if you’re reading this page it’s likely that somewhere deep down there’s a reason you want to try Skydiving. If that’s you, I recommend you go and see for yourself what I’m talking about, get in touch with your local drop zone and before you take the plunge spend some time down there speaking to people who have been through that same exact feeling. If the drop zone is local, you have the opportunity to see lots of new Skydivers and the joy they feel after that first jump, if it’s further afield you could tie it into a weekend away to see somewhere new. It will also give you the opportunity to talk to first time skydivers right through to highly experienced jumpers who can help you to understand that first jump and what it’s going to feel like. If you’re wondering how to find a drop zone near you, use this link to Dropzone which has an extensive list of global Skydiving centres.

Will Skydiving solve my fear of heights?

Some people do look to Skydiving to help solve their fear of heights, however, as we’ve talked about above the brain doesn’t compute the feelings in the same way and this means that it is unlikely to cure your fear of heights. That shouldn’t put any of you off having a go and experiencing this great sport for yourself. Whilst it may not cure your fear of heights, what it will do is open your eyes to an amazing new experience and give you an adrenaline buzz that will light a fire in your belly. I can’t recommend the experience enough, it can be the most freeing feeling that takes you away from all of the day-to-day thoughts and feelings and forces you to truly live in the moment.

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