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divadgagnon

Who can be a skydiver?

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Hi, I'm preparing a school presentation about skydiving and I want to talk about the fact that even though it is getting easier to get into the sport, it is not made for just anyone. I've got a pretty good idea already but I'm interessted to know what you think about it.

So tell me, what qualities should a skydiver have and what makes someone "not suitable" for skydiving.

thanks in advance!

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So tell me, what qualities should a skydiver have and what makes someone "not suitable" for skydiving.



You only need 2 things to be a skydiver;

1) over 18
2) a large amount of money

If your dad actually owns a drop zone, then you can skip both of those, but for normal people you'll need to at least meet requirement #1.

If you just want to make a single skydive by doing a tandem, then the amount of money you need isn't really all that large, but if you're actually planing on participating in the sport, then you sure as hell better have a large source of money to feed the beast.

As for physical requirements, the sky is pretty big and depending on your body type and capabilities you might not be able to do everything, but I can almost guarantee if you can get to the drop zone at all, you can get out of an airplane; paraplegics, amputees and even blindness included.

You don't have to be Superman to skydive.

All of the above said, if you want to perform at the top levels of the sport, you're going to want to be in good shape. The highest level competitors are true athletes.

As to, "what makes someone 'not suitable' for skydiving," there are probably some people with certain physical and psychological issues that might not be a great idea for skydivers to have. Certain heart conditions can be bad. Anything that limits oxygen in the blood stream has the potential to be a problem. Anyone who has mental issues where they panic or have thoughts of suicide might want to stay away from the sport. People with a debilitating fear of heights, open or closed spaces might want to stay away.

The normal, every day fear of heights that is instinctual in every human is NOT a reason to stay away though.
quade -
The World's Most Boring Skydiver

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There is a weight limit.
Someone who is truly obese would not be able to skydive.
example: 5' and 400 lbs would not be able to skydive.



True. Somebody that is morbidly obese is going to have issues. I think there was a guy a few years back, don't remember his name, that was something like 350 pounds give or take a few. Jumped a tandem rig as a solo jumper. Not just a one time deal either. Was an active skydiver for a bit and made regular jumps. An exceptional case to be sure.
quade -
The World's Most Boring Skydiver

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Someone who is healthy is absolute necessary.

Those who can skydive consistently are the lucky ones.

That mean they have means of income and healthy enough to jump out into the cold air.

Even if you have shit load of money, if you suffer from any type of illness, you probably aren't going to skydive.
Bernie Sanders for President 2016

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it is not made for just anyone



I think as time goes on, this is becoming less and less true.

Frequently, very new jumpers like to THINK this because it makes them feel very special - like they are in a very exclusive group. It's an ego thing.

It's just a sport. Most anyone can be trained in it. The usual physical and personality traits that make someone excel at it are similar to most any other sport.

I'd say the most analogous sports that have good cross over in physical compatability are ones that relate to control and awareness of your body: martial arts, dance (especially ballet), springboard and general diving, gymnastics........

as far as mental readiness - it's a very strange environment at first. We give you increasing complexity of tasks in the environment to see how you handle them while simultaneously getting comfy in the new realm. SCUBA diving has a similar philosophy if you think about it.

...
Driving is a one dimensional activity - a monkey can do it - being proud of your driving abilities is like being proud of being able to put on pants

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Haha, yeah I meant what kind of personality trait can prevent you from being a good skydiver. For example someone that can't remain calm under stress might not react correctly in the event of a mal.



You got it. And that's the biggie.
My reality and yours are quite different.
I think we're all Bozos on this bus.
Falcon5232, SCS8170, SCSA353, POPS9398, DS239

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I respectfully disagree. There are plenty of examples of paraplegics, amputees, cancer patients, etc. that skydive. Don’t take my word for it, check out the Skydivers With Disabilities forum.

There are several conditions that will prevent someone from enjoyment of our pastime. IMO the most significant one is the ability to think spatially. If you cannot process information on several levels simultaneously, you will eventually run out of luck and experience. There are some basic lifesaving maneuvers that must be performed at high speed, regardless of whatever else may be occurring at that moment. If you can’t do it you will die. No exceptions.

ETA - I don't mean to sound morbid. But these are facts as I see them. I truly believe that everyone can be involved in this sport and come to love it as I have.
The brave may not live forever, but the timid never live at all.

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As we've seen, a wide variety of people can become successful skydivers.

One can have tradeoffs -- some people who are good, are also going to push too much to achieve more, and thus get into trouble, such as becoming swoop statistics. So they might both be "good" skydivers, until the day they are not. So does that mean they were suitable or not?

There are always things that make the jumper safer, like good spatial ability, and perception of distances and speeds. Some people just have more trouble with flares or getting to the landing area in different winds.

Yet some problems can be 'trained out' to a sufficient extent to be safe, so it isn't often black or white whether someone is inherently suitable.

If someone doesn't "get" something, is it because they really have little ability in that area, or is it fixable if they are given a lot of other training? (Just like someone who sucked at music class in school -- maybe they could reach a decent standard with extensive training by an expert, or do they simply not have the ear for it?)

Then there's self awareness. If you suck at some optional aspect of skydiving, but are aware of it (rather than being "unskilled AND unaware of it"), you can avoid it and thus be safe. Trouble with the long dive down to a big way? Then be a floater, not a diver. Getting older and can't think quite as fast? Time to upsize and pull a bit higher.

It has been mentioned that it is important to be able to handle stress, of the type caused by situations which can be physically dangerous.

But one also needs to have that awareness & appreciation of danger, to be aware of things that SHOULD be causing just a little stress, in order to result in proper thought & behaviour. That awareness & appreciation will come from different sources, including skydiving knowledge -- the sky is a different environment so we have to learn what is dangerous; we can't rely on evolution to give us built in cues.

I know of a student who was asked to leave the sport after a couple low pulls including at least one AAD activation. It wasn't just their poor performance, but that they were so unaware of the danger they were in. I believe in the debrief of the last jump she said something about being caught up in watching the pretty clouds...

If you can't keep up and be aware of danger, or have an attitude that blinds you to appreciating danger, those are cases where the person (at least at that time) is not suitable for skydiving.

That's where people on the DZ worry about the guy who just seems clueless, maybe even more than the guy who is out to break the rules (if it is likely only to harm himself).

That brings us to attitude (or whatever one wants to call it), something which may or may not change easily over time. Whatever their skills and ability to perceive danger, that may not help if someone has an attitude that leads to deliberate choices of excessively reducing safety margins.

How all these different factors mix together, who knows. The mental factor is often way more important than the physical factor.

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Name one cancer patient that is going thru chemo and still skydive.

There are many cancer survivors that are healthy that still jumps.

I've seen many amputees that jumps, but they are healthy, they are just handicapped.

When you are sick and wanna stay in bed last thing you wanna do is skydive.
Bernie Sanders for President 2016

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Haha, yeah I meant what kind of personality trait can prevent you from being a good skydiver. For example someone that can't remain calm under stress might not react correctly in the event of a mal.



Everyone has the opportunity; not everyone has the ability.
As to stress... I've known a couple of people that are ground-pounders that have high-stressors and do not react well, but have gone on to do exceedingly well in skydiving.
So much so that it has a positive influence in how they go back and deal with the stressors on the ground.

The short course is... if you start scaring your Instructors, they'll let you know in a closed session conversation - commonly referred to as the "Golf" or "Bowling" discussion.
Nobody has time to listen; because they're desperately chasing the need of being heard.

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Name one cancer patient that is going thru chemo and still skydive.



I went through 4 months of ABVD chemo a few years back during the jump season. I had my best jump year ever to that point.....did 76 jumps and dispatched 120 IAD students. Chemo effects different people in different ways, I was one of the lucky ones and didn't let it slow me down.


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More medical reasons:

One of my first students did his first AFF jump and dislocated his right shoulder flaring the canopy. Without his shirt on, we could see there was a heck of a lot of "moving" going around on his back when he moved his arms.
His father has the same hypermobility issue as he has, so apperantly it runs in his family. He got his money back for the rest of the jumps.
Until and unless he gets surgery (not sure if that is even a possibility for him) and gets cleared by a physician, he can't jump (non-tandem) anymore.

I know there's a number of experienced jumpers around with easily dislocating arms, but in a student that's reason for grounding, IMO.

We also don't take pregnant women up for a tandem. I'm thinking no pregnant students, either.

ciel bleu,
Saskia

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And one more that none of us like to admit – old age. There does come a point, as with most activities in life (i.e. driving a car), that it’s just not safe anymore. Fortunately, most realize this before it’s a significant safety issue and voluntarily sit down. But just like the grandma that doesn’t want to give up the keys to the Oldsmobile, some have to be told this.
The brave may not live forever, but the timid never live at all.

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Thanks everyone that was exactly what I was looking for! Just to add on the spatial awareness thing, it just made me think of a women at my dropzone that had to stop jumping because she was absolutely unable to judge height under canopy. Not that she didn't try.. she was at more than 30 jumps I believe, Even at 30 she had to jump with a radio so instructors could help her know when to flare. Without help, she hits full brakes at like 30 feet... Let's just say it made the instructors nervous.

Edit to add:

It's not the DZ that made her stop she decided but herself, they were still willing to let her jump with radio assistance.

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