Forums: Skydiving: Safety and Training: Re: [Shredex] Harnessing the fear before your first jump?: Edit Log


bochen280

May 7, 2012, 3:19 PM

Views: 2298
Re: [Shredex] Harnessing the fear before your first jump?

In reply to:
Hey all,

Quick version:
What have some of you guys done to overcome the fear before a first jump? Pay a guy to tell another guy to push you out when you least expect it? Think, "Oh, the net will appear when I jump!"? What????


More detailed version of what type of fear I face:

I still have several months before I am able to start AFF school, and I was wondering what people do to prepare for the jump?

I've always been into extreme sports; Skateboarding, Bmx, ext. but I've never gone really far with it from fear of injury. I never tried doing stair sets and what not and was just happy on flat-ground where I know I'm mainly in control.
That's a big problem with myself is the not being in control.
I've never been able to ride a roller-coaster in my life from the fear. I get myself pumped up at home to ride something, but once there facing the coaster and seeing it fly by my stomach sinks to an ibis and I just can't bring myself to get on. I've only been able to get on sort of a kitty coaster called the Cheetah Chase that has 1 ten foot drop on it where is makes my stomach feel horrid. I call it "the droppy feeling". Now, skydiving is probably like 30 straight seconds of this!
And I'm afraid of when the time comes to jump, I'll freeze up and just refuse to jump from fear. I don't want fear to control me, though, and prevent me from living a life dream.


I drive a sportbike, completely self taught. I watched one youtube video on how to drive one, went out, bought my first sportbike, and drove it straight away for 1 year on one of FL most dangerous roads before actually going to get my endorsement.
I have been over 120mph(and beyond) plenty of times, and not once have I been afraid, and it's because I know I'm in control. I'm twisting that throttle telling it what to do.

Now, with skydiving, I can't just stop when I want too...No baby footsteps...once you jump you jump and your getting the full experience without a throttle. And what I'm trying to get at, is the point in which a tandem jump might be unhealthy in a way that I wouldn't feel like I'm in control and would thus make me terrified. But on the other hand I've never even been in a plane before! And a tandem might be safer encase I freeze up.

Another point is money. If I'm gonna get my A license, a tandem might hold me back from the license just that much...I don't have an amazing job making millions, so I can't afford much. And I would love to do this as fast as possible because to get to my real goal, of becoming a wingsuit pilot, its gonna take time...and the longer I wait, the longer before I can reach that initial goal.

Though, despite all of this dread, I always feel very confident and really eager to jump after watching inspirational videos such as:
http://vimeo.com/40974456
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6il9-zdQL4Q
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_abkDLAF5Q

But, I don't have the ability to watch things like these 15K feet up in an airplane...So, what have some of you guys done to overcome the fear and went for it? Pay a guy to tell another guy to push you out when you least expect it? Think, "Oh, the net will appear when I jump!"? What????


Sorry for the novel, but I wanted to give a good idea of what I'm up against.


SHORT VERSION: There is no "falling" sensation to skydiving during any stage of the process at all. It is actually less intense (in terms of gravitational forces) than some of the 3+ Gs roller-coaster rides at Six Flags, etc. In fact the Batman ride is MUCH more uncomfortable than skydiving. The "scared of height" sensation is completely nonexistent with standard skydiving/tandem because from such high altitudes the world below seems so small, so miniature, abstract, detached and removed that you feel more like in outerspace in orbit around the earth than on some high ladder or ledge and about to fall to your death to the ground below. The sensation is like floating on a cushion of air, it neither feels like "falling" nor "flying"... just floating on air with the wind running past your body as if you stuck your head and arms out of the car window going down the highway at 90mph+ . Height is a relative thing and the sensation of altitude depends on attitude and perspective. And the once the chute opens at around 5000ft you are STILL so far above the ground that you don't ever get "falling/ scared of height" sensation at all.... and at that point you go from 120mph+ to less than 20mph+ glide... it feels more like a glider or hot air balloon than being on some bumpy roller coaster ride that is about to drop at moments notice. The landing phase feels like "looking out the passenger window" of an airliner when the airplane comes in for a landing rather than falling out of a ladder or off from a rooftop.



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I've only had one tandem jump so far and there are - this obviously goes without saying - 99.9999% people here who have had lightyears more experience + raw number of jumps than I have... but I'm posting and replying to your post because I can empathize with your thoughts on this and just wanted to share my own perspective.

I think whenever it is the first time we go somewhere new, or do something different that we haven't done before.... the "first time memory" of something is always significantly different than the total recall of the collection of such events after a longer period of time... I'm sure all the experienced skydivers here can still remember their "first time"... but they can never remember it precisely (including the distinctive nueral compulsion nuances) as it happened the first time, even though they think or would like to believe they can. That is why instead of getting my jumped captured on film, I opted to write down the experience as I remembered it that day the happened, because after you have done something long enough you tend to confuse the "average experience" with the first time, and the first time of anything is always very different from the "average experience" of that thing. It is a distinctive FEEL to the first time of any event that gets forgotten and washed away after a while.... it is like waking up remembering a dream and if you wrote it down immediately you'll always recall that distinction.... but if you didn't write it down, after a while you forget it and can never access that unique memory again.

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I went tandem jumping at north Texas last week of April. The drive was long and a pain in the rear end. When I got there I felt like I had left civilization and drove into the middle of nowhere... the gravel road, farm land everywhere, and general lack of population made everything seem out of place somehow. It was very rural, full of “cowboy” people and everyone that drive gave me a “thumbs up” or some kind of hand gesture... felt strange.

I thought I’d be at the DZ for a long time before the flight, but the TI was very fast paced and got to the point quickly. (Which I liked). In less than 30 minutes I was already geared up waiting for the airplane ride.

They made me put on a jumpsuit. The jumpsuit seemed really cheaply made, very thin, and not the quality I thought it would be, dirty too... not cleaned. I could see grass stains all around. I had imagined the jumpsuit to be more like an astronaut suit but it was more like a $10 halloween costume.

The straps were tighter than I thought it would be, especially on the legs. This was true even before our jump, definitely much more true after the parachute opened. I felt like there was a bulky backpack on me, even though I was not the one carrying the parachute.

The hat, plastic hat was ridiculous... served no purpose whatsoever and extremely ugly...
didn’t understand why the goggles was secured on the BACK of the hat instead of the front...

Goggles fog up easily.... also wind still gets through, as one of my (right eye) contacts was lost on the free fall way down.

The airplane was very crowded, didn’t expect to sit in such a open legged staggered arrangement. I thought there would be seats. Or at least I could sit Indian style. It was definitely a weird moment to sit that like that people in front of you and behind you and crammed like that. I didn’t know I had to sacrifice my personal space bubble just to go skydiving.


The air up above was very cool, even though it was almost summer. When they opened the airplane door I felt a chilling blow of air/wind.... and thought to myself “just great” now my ears are going to freeze to death on the way down at 120mph winds. But surprising that never happened, the free fall itself didn’t feel cold or uncomfortable at all.

The jump was way too short... seemed at most 40 seconds of free fall... jumped lower than 13,500 (more like 13,000 tops) and chute opened HIGHER than 5,000 … about 5,500 feet... meaning only 8000 feet of free fall total...

We did a spin just like in the movies, saw the airplane above me as we spun around.... surreal moment...

Didn't get the “empty stomach” “zero g” feeling of falling, like disney haunted towers or Six flags superman... probably because of the 90mph vertical wind created a vector force that diverted some of the “gs”... so instead of momentarily zero g.... there were lateral gs... so the “empty stomach” falling sensation (which I find unpleasant) was thankfully not experienced.... and soon in a few seconds quickly transitioned to “air cushion”.... free fall at terminal velocity. In essence, this felt much less discomforting than compared to a rollercoaster ride.

I’ll admit when the chute opening it did hurt.... the was this hard “yank” feeling like the seat belt hurting your body/skin when you slammed on the brakes too hard... lasted about 2 seconds and then disappeared... so there definitely is an uncomfortable jerking/yanking sensation when the chute deploys and you decelerate rapidly... but not nearly as bad as if you were to eject from a fighter jet.

The view was just like in the movies, Point Break, etc... nothing that special....I thought to myself, this is it? This is no different than watching Point Break or Google Earth!

The earth comes at you.... very slowly.... like you are falling in slow motion almost...

No falling sensation at all.... it doesn’t feel like flying either.... just an air cushion or like being in one of those skydiving wind tunnels expect you see the scenery of earth down below...

This whole “seeing the whole earth below for the first time” can actually be replicated by roller coasters, in fact the harness in skydiving and rollercoaster are/felt comparable... so if feels like being on a roller coaster during its inverted stage, except much higher, and also lasts longer... (40 seconds vs roller coaster 1-2 seconds in that upside down orientations)


Just before exiting the aircraft, there was a MOMENT OF sheer terror, anticipation of the unknown and unexpected... for a split second I wished I could back out, tell the Tandem instructor that forget it, I’ll forfeit my jump and lets let the plane to land safely instead of jumping out...

On the climb the aircraft angle of attack was rather high... "felt" like a 20-30 degree pitch up.... looked out the windows and it was a nice view seeing airplane takeoff and climb to altitude from the fore/front of the aircraft, looking back at the rear view mirror.

No seats in aircraft, seat belt seemed useless... I couldn’t even maneuver myself to strap it on. The “door” was like a mini garage door, or one of those storage places.... like U-Haul..

The airplane wasted no time climbing to altitude... extremely fast and efficient in climbing and getting to the point... but still,,,, even so... it felt like taking longer than I would have wanted... seemed like to take a long time to climb to altitude... kept looking at my altimeter and can’t believe it only climbed “3000”,”6000”,”10000” and still needed more height to go.

On the way up ears were popping , I was afraid that on the way down it would hurt from the rapid height loss, but actually no unpleasant sensation at all, come be becauseI kept my mouth open partially during the skydive...


After chute deployed, there were moments when gusts of wind changed direction and it “hurt”.. I could feel the Gs and the load increase and the resultant stress on the straps, especially the leg straps...

I could not fully enjoy the scenery on the way down because keep thinking about the slight pain of the leg straps and how tight it was and how my entire weight was on those straps...

Can/had moments of fleeting fear of what if someone the straps broke, or if the link between me and the tandem instructor brought, then in a split second my entire life would be over... and it would be a fast, hard, nasty fall to death... this dreadful feeling was intensified whenever the gust forced more Gs, or when the instructor turned the direction and the straps felt tighter as a result...

On the way down the diver flew circuit patterns down to final approach... very hard to accurately judge exact high, distance, forward velocity... did not know when to try and stand up, as a result froze in the legs up and heels pointing forward position until we both smacked the ground and fell on our bottoms , but instead I also fell on my right ankle and strained it badly in the process... dilemma between extending my feet too early and risk toppling over and face plant and extending too late and slamming down and not getting any support... didn’t make it better that the instructor never briefed me on the butt landing procedure, only talked about “stand up” which was never done...

Also not good that I was taller than my instructor, and weighed more than him...

Worried about bird strikes. but told that birds can hear skydivers falling from above, and that birds don’t usually fly higher than 3000 ft, and that we opened chute at 5000 and stabilized at 4000... going from 120mph to 20mph...

Got a little bit of dust, grass in my mouth, unsure whether it was from the falling free fall and my mouth open, or from the actual hard landing on the ground and the dust from the drop zone...


Looking down, it seemed just like in the game “base jump PC” and also google earth from above slowly zooming in... expect there was a bit of “windows starfield” “star trek” warp sensation from the wind... expect didn’t actually see the “streaks”... although I think I did imagine it.... and definitely felt it... like looking straight up at the sky when it is raining hard, expect in this case you are looking straight down and it is air molecules and dust particles and not raindrops...

There was really no difference compared to being in a wind tunnell.... and surprising the 120mph didn’t FEEL that much more intense than compared to sticking your head and/or hands out of the car at 90mph... something which I have done before. The wind sensation wasn’t as intense nor as strong as I had imagined or thought...

The actual free fall experience was WAY too short...

I looked at my altimeter maybe one time total during the fall, at ~6000... instructor pointed to his altimeter around 5500 and a few seconds later opened the chute...

The post open chute glide to the ground felt it lasted longer than the actual free fall experience... I would have preferred the other way around...

Gliding down it hurt, the straps... during free fall it was very peaceful.... except my right eye contacts fell out. The goggles was not wind proof... I was easily able to move my hands and arms around and realigned my goggles several times... Wind resistance didn’t feel that strong.

During FF the instructor did some yaw turns left and right.... I was surprised he could yaw so fast and nimble... definitely felt the rotational torque....

From moment out of airplane to stabilized arch freefalling about 3 seconds (it seemed very quick)

More scared after chute opened than before... least scary part was the free fall... which felt peaceful and exhilarating, but not as intense as I had imagined...

Right before jumping out the airplane.... I thought “this is stupid, what the f*ck am I doing trying to jump out of an airplane!” and prior to this I never jumped out of anything before... much less a dingy little trailor trashy looking airplane without seats...

When we were scooting up and to the edge of the plane/open door it felt very scary.... there were no handle down below for me to hold on to or grab... and the handle on top I wasn’t allowed to use... I was told to keep my hands crossed on my chest... the moment I put my legs out I felt the 90 mph winds blowing my legs from the front towards the back of the plane... I could see the planes elevators and wondered for a moment what if I struck that on the way out....

It felt like Instructor pushed me to the very edge of the plane, I thought for a moment I was going to accidentally fall out early/prematurely and then take him with me … even before it was time for us to fall out... I thought this because I had nothing to hold on to, the wind was blowing my legs out and backwards to the plane, and the instructor himself didn’t seem to be holding onto anything either.... in fact I think he was holding on to my hands.... I felt like on the very edge of a swimming pool, about to lose my balance, just wanting/waiting for my friend to push or tip me over.... he did the “swinging” motion twice and then on the third time finally we did the plunge....

And it didn’t feel like falling at all..... wasn’t scary... just a bit disorientating.... I was pretty much looking forward/ facing forward, and instead of feeling like I was falling around and flipping in all sorts of directions... it just felt like the earth/ 3d space itself was roating/spining arouind/relative to me... and that I hadn’t moved at all... but instead the 3d space around me moved and re orientated...



I think the forward 90mph wind/forces distracted from the immediate feeling of “falling” (like on a rollercoaster) and that empty stomach zero g feeling.... and then quickly it transitioned to arched floating air cushion wind tunnel position...

When we finally fell out of the plane it wasn’t as terrifying as the sheer anticipation of the event, it all happened very quickly and no time to think or analyze the situation or get much fearful.

I don't’ know what falling from a skyscraper feels like but the actual falling out and falling did not feel the least bit scary at all... it felt relaxing for me.

It was the anticipation of falling out of the plane...the anticipation of pulling open the chute
the jerk/yank of the chute itself when opening... the fear that the chute might have issues and not opened correctly or got tangled or we would need to use the reserve chute..
And as we got close the to the ground also the fear of not landing near the drop zone, what if we hit a telephone pole or wire, house, tree, landing in a nearby lake or pond, etc.. slammed into a car?

All the tiny objects coming into view and it becoming “down to earth” and real again...From up above they were all miniatures, so far way, abstract in a way... talk about a “bigger picture views”. …
The real reason skydiving is much less scarier than roller coaster ride is because from so high above everything becomes "abstract" and "removed/detached/far away"... and you feel more like being "in orbit" around earth than about to fall to your death.... so ironically, skydiving (from a scared of heights/ scared of falling perspective) is much LESS scary than some of the roller coaster rides. (unless you get a malfunction)


On way up airplane ride, nice that I could see Oklahoma past that red river.... I was thinking, wow that is weird... almost to another state!

Didn’t really get a chance to look up at the open parachute that much... But I saw part of it while we were tilting/changing direction... The straps were too uncomfortable for me to pay attention or be curious to anything else.

Disappointed that instructor never talked about AAD, reserve chute, how to steer, didn’t show me how to pack a chute, what to pull... how to flare... or any of that... this was basically just a roller coaster ride without the roller coaster. The up side is that it let me enjoy it more and otherwise i would be in information overload as everything happened so quickly..

Gave us a cheap metal ladder to climb on the plane. I thought to myself I’ve been on plenty of airplanes before but never in such style (SARCASM)

I couldn't believe they were cramming so many people in that one plane... at least eight people, if not nine... and if my cameraman had been there would be close to ten people, not counting that one pilot.. so a total of ten or eleven people on board.

I knew that if anything happened to that plane, there was no way everyone would jump out in time, especially if under 5,000 feet... so that put my “if the tiny plane has engine issues we can parachute out” fantasy to rest.

So skydiving is at least as risky as the plane falling out of the sky, and it was a single engine plane.... weakest link principle... I was more scared of something happening to the plane than something happening to our parachute.

The sensation of “rotation” at VR and flying up off the ground felt much like that of in a jet or much larger plane...

When the first two experienced skydivers jumped off at the same time the plane felt suddenly lighter, like when two fat people get out of a car... or when someone steps out of a some fishing boat...

We went last... interesting to see all the other people go before us... in a sense it made it calmer, (no one else there to watch or observe or to sense or see how scared you are) in another sense the anticipation build up was killing me... (from watching everyone else go, like being at the doctors and seeing other take shots and still waiting your turn)

Seemed just like watching skydiving in the movies.. kinda like “just as I expected it would be”.... nothing special.

I should lose weight, at 199 I was pushing the max for tandem... and even solo jump is 220 max... the wing load probably caused a heavier landing... also being heavier make the straps feel tighter, hurt more... I realized that I needed to increase my flexibility by perhaps doing resistance stretching... my legs couldn’t rise as high as I wanted... I was not flexible at all... and flexible people tend to have less injuries from falls...It was the combination of the suit, the straps, the weight on the straps, etc that made it near impossible to pull legs up high enough, keep them close together and out straight enough.

I fell on my butt and ankle almost simultaneously., I can’t remember which one first... I definitely felt too heavy, and wasn’t prepared for the actual abruptness of the landing itself... I think if I had been lighter the landing would be softer... and if I had a taller instructor it would have been better.

As I was freefalling I looked out at the horizon … it was not too windy a day, clear blue skies, sunshine at 1:00PM CST …. and the horizon looked just like from an airplane, no difference... the ground below looked just like as if you were starting at birds eye view of google earth or google maps...

I did not look up at the sky, but i imagine it would not be so different from looking up at the sky from down on the ground,since barely two miles up high was not enough to make the sky appear that much darker or blue-er

The running/blowing wind during free fall was louder but didn’t seem THAT much louder than sticking your head out the car windows going 90.... cause face it, 90mph and 120mph isn’t that much of a difference...

I would have liked to fall faster, but that would mean even less free fall time...

During freefall I didn’t get anything stuck in my ears or my mouth or my eyes.... I was afraid I would strike a bird on the way down but that never happened.

During glide it wasn’t “dead silence” I could hear the wind blowing on the chute, etc...

The world below seemed calm, almost lifeless like a static image from satellite.

While I definitely see the appeal in skydiving, and would like to do it again under better circumstances, I can’t see doing this too often much less everyday like the instructors do... As fun as it seems, I know that I would in time adapt to the excitement of it and lose interest if I overdid it.


(This post was edited by bochen280 on May 7, 2012, 4:50 PM)


Edit Log:
Post edited by bochen280 () on May 7, 2012, 3:20 PM
Post edited by bochen280 () on May 7, 2012, 3:25 PM
Post edited by bochen280 () on May 7, 2012, 4:28 PM
Post edited by bochen280 () on May 7, 2012, 4:35 PM
Post edited by bochen280 () on May 7, 2012, 4:50 PM


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