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DrDom

How to desensitize to the inital "drop"

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OK all, in my constant spirit of disclosing my various fears on here I was hoping to ask a question.

Some background: I did 7 jumps last year, 1 tandem, 6 AFF jumps. Also spent nearly an hour in the tunnel. I'm afraid of heights. Like really REALLY afraid of heights.

Well, maybe I should say "was" afraid of heights.

I took up skydiving to deal with my fear of heights but in the end overcame the view and sensation of flight and discovered I have a bigger problem. The fear of "falling". Or even more specifically: the fear of the sensation of falling. I just can't get past it.

I took up paramotoring (or powered paragliding depending on where you're from) and have become even more accustomed to flight and really LOVE being in the sky. Being up there under a paraglider is the same bliss as flying my student Nav260!

But I can't get over that drop sensation and it is why I have not made another jump. This upsets me.

I'm exposing myself to flight when possible (flight lessons, paramotoring, etc) but is there any advice anyone has to acclimate them to the falling sensation and make it... less terrifying? I know that "just jump" is one piece of advice, but I'm wondering if anyone else has/had this issue and if anyone knows anything that can help expose me to this on a more regular basis.

I've been looking at building a "pendulator" on my property as one option but I have no rope experience and would need major assistance to do this safely (open to anyone who wants to help!)

ok... so aside from "just jump"... can anyone help me out with this one? Thanks everyone! I hope I can get the nerve to get back up there sooner than later.
You are not the contents of your wallet.

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You shouldn't be getting a sensation of 'dropping'. Does jumping out of a tree or off a porch bother you? If not jumping off an airplane is the same. The "roller coaster" feeling a lot of people are afraid of comes from a change in direction or acceleration (change in direction or speed). You shouldn't get that skydivinig. Jumping off of something, including an airplane, is something you've been doing all your life. Jumping out of your crib, jumping off the sofa, jumping out of a play set, jumping off a diving board. It's all the normal acceleration of gravity. The only difference is that in the real world in skydiving you come to a point where your drag equals the acceleration of gravity and you fall at a constant speed. I'm not sure what the 'falling' sensation your describing is. Once you reach terminal velocity your 'floating' like in water. Any change is caused by a change in your body position.

Flying with lift and a/or a motor can cause you to change acceleration, and give you that roller coaster feeling. I don't think this is going to make you any more comfortable. I'm a whole lot more comfortable, physically and mentally, once I'm out of the airplane. No more sudden motions I'm not expecting and I don't have to land in the damn thing.

Fear of heights is fear of falling. In skydiving you intend to fall so once your over the fear of the jump itself (the gear working, the task of the jump, etc) you should be past the fear of falling. Lots of skydivers are still afraid of heights like ladders, buildings, etc. because they still have the fear of falling (with out a parachute).

So I guess you need to identify exactly what feeling your afraid of. I was afraid of skydiving for a long time, at least driving out to the dz and up until the first jump of the weekend. But it wasn't any physical feeling it was the intellectual fear of the sport.
I'm old for my age.
Terry Urban
D-8631
FAA DPRE

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Practice makes perfect.

I never had a sense of falling at any point on a regular skydive. On dead-air exits out of a hot air balloon or something, you'll get it for a couple of seconds until you start to build up some speed. On a normal skydive, it should feel kind of like getting into a wind tunnel, which and that should never feel like falling.

A number of skydivers I've talked to claim to be afraid of heights, and some of them have had trouble with it when trying to get into BASE, but it's so abstract at 2 miles in the air, your brain can't really seem to comprehend it.
I'm trying to teach myself how to set things on fire with my mind. Hey... is it hot in here?

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I've felt that initial dropping sensation on the exit on every jump I've had (which is only 7, halfway through training). Only for a few seconds and then its like sticking your head out the window of a car. That dropping sensation is yuck, but thankfully it doesn't last long at all! Are you getting that sensation?

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councilman24

So I guess you need to identify exactly what feeling your afraid of. I was afraid of skydiving for a long time, at least driving out to the dz and up until the first jump of the weekend. But it wasn't any physical feeling it was the intellectual fear of the sport.



Bingo. You have projected your fear of heights to a fear of falling through skydiving. Identify the problem and a solution will follow. Talking to a professional counselor/therapist will help. Good luck.


~R+R
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
Fly the friendly skies...^_^...})ii({...^_~...

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DrDom

But I can't get over that drop sensation and it is why I have not made another jump.This upsets me.



Domenic, I have been waiting eagerly to hear that you are skydiving again. You have been so helpful here on dropzone.com providing medical information to people in response to their questions. I want you to have as much fun skydiving as we are having.

Perhaps you could desensitize yourself with certain amusement rides that provide a falling sensation, but I can't really think of another way. Your willingness to build your own device to provide this is impressive.

I suppose that I am one of those people that are going to say that you just need to make those skydives, and the uncomfortable feeling will go away soon.

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fiflyin

I've felt that initial dropping sensation on the exit on every jump I've had (which is only 7, halfway through training). Only for a few seconds and then its like sticking your head out the window of a car. That dropping sensation is yuck, but thankfully it doesn't last long at all! Are you getting that sensation?



You are not dropping. You are moving forward, with a slight downword arc. You only think you are dropping.

What exit do you do from the plane? Maybe if you were facing forward in a standup position, you would feel the "sticking head out the car window" immedietely.
You have the right to your opinion, and I have the right to tell you how Fu***** stupid it is.
Davelepka - "This isn't an x-box, or a Chevy truck forum"
Whatever you do, don't listen to ChrisD.

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RoadRash

***So I guess you need to identify exactly what feeling your afraid of. I was afraid of skydiving for a long time, at least driving out to the dz and up until the first jump of the weekend. But it wasn't any physical feeling it was the intellectual fear of the sport.



Bingo. You have projected your fear of heights to a fear of falling through skydiving. Identify the problem and a solution will follow. Talking to a professional counselor/therapist will help. Good luck.


~R+R

...............................................................................
May I suggest that you are over-anticipating the dropping feeling?
It is similar to people not expecting to be able to breath in free-fall.
Silly, but scary.
If the inaccurate perception is allowed to continue too long, it will drag down your fun in the sky.

Now the challenge is to re-program your brain to expect the familiar, re-assuring "laying on a water bed" sensation the second after you enter the wind tunnel.
Multiple sports psychologists (John de Rosalio, Brian Germaine, Rob Laidlaw, etc.) have written about re-programming your brain.

Another therapy might involve a rope swing. Grab the rope. Leap off the bank. Giggle. Splash down in the water. Repeat until thoroughly soaked.
Then compare those sensations with the feel of the wind as you exit the airplane.

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I found the falling sensation is more severe with slower jumpships. Out of a King Air, you don't really feel it at all. Out of a helicopter, you feel it a ton. If you've been jumping out of a 182, the sensation miht be worse than if you are at a turbine DZ.

Practice does make perfect. I still remember that falling feling from my first jump. In my later years, I didn't get that falling feeling at all. I think it alo helps if you are focused on something else right at exit. As a student, all you're thinking about is getting a good arch, and your mind has plenty of room to worry about the impending falling sensation. Later on, you'll be busy trying to nail a four-way exit, or get the great exit photograph, or whatever.

I hope you can get over it. It seems like you really love flying. Try to remember that it's all in your head.

- Dan G

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I will tread lightly here since you're 7 jumps ahead of me but I have spent a little more than an hour in iFLY Orlando's wind.

What councilman 24 said hit home with me - " Once you reach terminal velocity your 'floating' like in water. Any change is caused by a change in your body position." When I'm flying in the tunnel I love to de-arch and go up high but then get nervous/afraid (due to thinking of crashing to the bottom due to the view down from up high) momentarily until I reconsider the air I am feeling all over me as the cushion (a friend so to speak) that actually is protecting me - then I calm down arch and descend. I know the re-arching will cause me to descend at some rate but am ready for it so there is no surprise to cause fear when that happens like it did at first.

So, maybe a relatively simple mind game like I play in the tunnel will help you way up high in the sky.

Good Luck on this.

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FlyingRhenquest

Practice makes perfect. ...



Sorta what he said. IMO, it is such a foreign environment and strange sensation that it can take a number of repetitions for your mind to connect up the sensation with the environment so that you understand it. Much like where riding a new roller coaster initially provides a thrill, but if you keep riding over an over, it becomes so familiar and predictable that it eventually becomes just a ride in a moving car.

I'd wager that everyone who gets into this sport goes through it, but they can desensitize at different rates. (For me I think I pretty much got it over the worse by AFF-4.) Just keep doing jumps and it will come to you. (If that means doing a slew of tandems in a day, so be it. Maybe they give you a deal. (A lot of DZs offer cheap repeat tandems on the same day. Do 3 or 4 in a day and then get on with your AFF training.))

Good luck

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I'm not so sure that your problem isn't in your head as much as it is physical. I personally have never felt a falling feeling when exiting an aircraft, even on my helicopter and balloon jumps.

If I unexpectedly step off of a curb while walking I experience a falling feeling, but the relative wind in skydiving seems to provide enough positive feedback to my senses, that I simply don't feel like I'm falling. I do have a slight sensation of going down a slide. Maybe this is what you're describing as falling.

BTW, it is natural to experience fear when jumping out of a perfectly good airplane. We all have experienced it. When I was a student there were other students at my home DZ that had pretty severe cases of fear. One rode the plane down on his 7th or 8th jump and never came back. A female jumper cried before each and everyone of her student jumps, but she finished the program and stayed with the sport.

I personally still get butterflies in my stomach on the way to the DZ and on occasion I have stayed on the ground when everyone else was jumping even after 20 years of jumping. Not necessarily because it scares me, but sometimes it just doesn't feel right and I take that feeling seriously when I experience it.

As you yourself and several others have suggested, the solution may simply be to go jump. All most everyone I've ever talked to seems to agree that around 50 jumps the fears tend to go away. It is at that point that you develop confidence in your training, your skills and your gear. Some hit it earlier and some later, but 50 jumps seems to be the magic number for a lot of people.

EFS

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Quote

with slower jumpships.

Absolutely correct. It's simple physics.

When you first jump out of an airplane, your vertical speed is zero and you begin to accelerate downwards. On that vertical vector you are weightless. That's why balloon and helo jumps are so fun. :)
But on the horizontal vector you are traveling thru the air at the speed of the plane you just left and the drag of the air is slowing you down rapidly. That gives you an acceleration or G force that is indistinguishable from the force of gravity, except the vector is horizontal. The faster the exit, the more G force you feel.

Let's say your terminal velocity is 120 mph. When you jump out of a plane at 120 mph, you'll feel 1 G force. If you jump from a plane doing 60 mph, you'll feel only a fourth of that, or 1/4 G (since drag = velocity squared). That's very "mushy" air indeed.

Part of the "weird" feeling on exit is reduced G, since few of us jump from planes flying at our terminal velocity. The other part, I believe, is from the change, on exit, of the direction of our gravity vector, from towards the planet to instantly towards the forward horizon. This is the "hill" that everyone speaks of. It's actually just your progress on a ballistic trajectory towards the Earth. :)
Edited to add: Suppose you were a poor military pilot forced to eject at 360 mph. Wind force on your body? F=v2 . . . approximately 9 Gs. Certainly one of many reasons people can get really beat up punching out of airplanes. Most people I know who have done it say it sucks. :D

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Amusement park ride? Maybe too scary and locked into it for too long. Pendulator? Rope jumps? Nice idea but hard to set up.

Go to a local park, push some little kids away, and monopolize the swing? Maybe that would work, although you might want a slightly longer low G feeling than even the biggest swing can provide.

I agree with the others about jump ship speed: One will get more downward acceleration with a slower jumpship. Also, I get the feeling that one may tend to notice a falling feeling less, the more other sensations add to the experience -- wind noise, wind pressure against the body.

I certainly do remember "the falling feeling" a little bit when I started jumping, but it is hard to notice now. One acclimatizes. Some jumps later I could still feel it a little more if I did some sort of exit that felt unusual to me, like a back to wind 'ride the slide'. Distraction may help avoid the feeling -- like on exit looking up at the airplane and focusing on it and the face of anyone in the door.

In addition to just toughing it out, you can of course work on learning to calm yourself before the jump by mental reasoning. I'm not sure of all the mental tricks but one can be reassured that the feeling (a) doesn't cause physical injury, (b) lasts only a few seconds, (c) mostly disappears from notice after habituation, and (d) plenty of other students have also lived through being super scared during their progression.

Doctors must come across people who get terrified of needles or the sight of blood? Do they get told, with a bit of a snicker, to just tough it out? :)(The blood thing seems a little more built-in evolutionarily, but then again so is fear of falling ...)

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potatoman

You are not dropping. You are moving forward, with a slight downword arc. You only think you are dropping.



What????? Do you think we just float away from the plane?

We absolutely drop and not slightly. Of course we strike an arc because we are moving forward at the moment of exit, but the vertical acceleration is nearly identical whether dropping from a stationary object or a moving object assuming the jumper doesn't do something to modify that like tracking up the hill or using a wingsuit to surf the horizontal wind.
Chuck Akers
D-10855
Houston, TX

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DanG

I found the falling sensation is more severe with slower jumpships. Out of a King Air, you don't really feel it at all. Out of a helicopter, you feel it a ton. If you've been jumping out of a 182, the sensation miht be worse than if you are at a turbine DZ.



Dan has this one right.

I may have not have the physics exactly right but here's a layman's explanation.

The dropping sensation comes from the rapid change in speed that is felt when a person jumps from a stationary or slow moving object. The dropping sensation is greatest at the beginning of the fall because the rate of acceleration is greatest at low speeds when wind resistance is not impeding that acceleration.

As the body moves faster wind resistance slows the rate of acceleration and the "zero G" feeling subsides. If a person jumps from a fixed object their body accelerates from 0 to 60 or 70 mph in just a few seconds. That results in a "stomach in the throat" feeling or what some call a "roller coaster" sensation. From there the rate of acceleration is diminished because of wind resistance and the falling sensation diminishes along with it.

When a jumper leaves an aircraft going 80 or 90 mph they never experience the rapid rate of acceleration experienced when jumping from a stationary object and thus don't get the same falling sensation.
Chuck Akers
D-10855
Houston, TX

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The more you sit around and "talk" about skydiving, the less likely it becomes you will ever jump again.

So the question really is: are you going to piss away another season or are you going to go make some goddamn jumps? Personally, I hope it's the latter because you can never have too many licensed skydivers.

Stop sitting around and letting the anxiety build and just jump.

The "drop sensation" is all in your head.
NSCR-2376, SCR-15080

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chuckakers


When a jumper leaves an aircraft going 80 or 90 mph they never experience the rapid rate of acceleration experienced when jumping from a stationary object and thus don't get the same falling sensation.



I explain it to non-jumpers like throwing an apple core out of your car window and watching it arc first before falling. We, as jumpers, are the apple core. ;)

I got the stomach-drop feeling only once, on a peculiar tandem exit, but never again.

To the OP, I'm surprised you're feeling that on every exit, but I wish you luck and hope you're able to overcome the fear. Roller coasters/drop towers would probably be the best way to simulate that feeling and try to get used to it, if that's what you're trying to do. Blue skies!
You may never get rid of the butterflies, but you can teach them to fly in formation.

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EChen22

***
When a jumper leaves an aircraft going 80 or 90 mph they never experience the rapid rate of acceleration experienced when jumping from a stationary object and thus don't get the same falling sensation.



I explain it to non-jumpers like throwing an apple core out of your car window and watching it arc first before falling. We, as jumpers, are the apple core. ;)

I got the stomach-drop feeling only once, on a peculiar tandem exit, but never again.

To the OP, I'm surprised you're feeling that on every exit, but I wish you luck and hope you're able to overcome the fear. Roller coasters/drop towers would probably be the best way to simulate that feeling and try to get used to it, if that's what you're trying to do. Blue skies!

Nice analogy.

If the OP is jumping a Cessna it is possible to get a bit of a trap door feeling because of the slower jump run airspeed, especially if the pilot slows it down a lot. Years ago I knew a pilot that would try to hold the nose up as jumpers climbed out and would come very close to the stall point at times. Talk about mushy exit air. :S
Chuck Akers
D-10855
Houston, TX

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You guys are awesome and thank you all for the advice and thoughts.

Some of it... Possibly a lot of it... Is in my head.

To elaborate more, the weird sensation is that "zero G" sensation like when you practice flaring and get to the edge of your forward swing and start to head back; or when you "nose down" in a plane and come off your seat a bit. the sensation is noticible but possibly exaggerated by the adrenaline and fear at the door.

My biggest point of fear is actually the door opening. Once I'm in the door im ok... Consigned myself to fate and such... But that drop is just something I cant get used to.

Sadly my season up here is over (I live in NH and it's cold!) but I'm thinking of redoing AFF next year... I'm just trying to find a way to acclimatize to that sensation In a vacuum so it's one less sensory overload I have to deal with

Once I'm in free fall I'm fine. Once I'm under canopy im fine. Landing I usually end up covered in dirt and grass and bits of rock but I'm still fine. It's just that exit and first 5-7 seconds

And for those wondering. Tandem and jumps 2-5 were from a Twin Otter and jumps 6-7 were from a 182.

As an aside, as much as I loved the otter there was something uniquely fun about standing on the 182 step.
You are not the contents of your wallet.

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chuckakers

***You are not dropping. You are moving forward, with a slight downword arc. You only think you are dropping.



What????? Do you think we just float away from the plane?

We absolutely drop and not slightly. Of course we strike an arc because we are moving forward at the moment of exit, but the vertical acceleration is nearly identical whether dropping from a stationary object or a moving object assuming the jumper doesn't do something to modify that like tracking up the hill or using a wingsuit to surf the horizontal wind.

LOL, you are not "desensitizing" the matter.
You have the right to your opinion, and I have the right to tell you how Fu***** stupid it is.
Davelepka - "This isn't an x-box, or a Chevy truck forum"
Whatever you do, don't listen to ChrisD.

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