As soon as people figured out how to do skydiving for fun, attention was turned in the direction of finding out a way to show it to as many others as possible. Was it an achievable goal to: a) harness a skydiving instructor and a newbie together under a single parachute system, so b) the instructor could handle the procedures and the student simply enjoy the ride? Indeed it was and, over the past four decades since the genesis of tandem skydiving, we have gotten very good at it. Tandem skydiving is designed to be a highly accessible way for as many people as possible to go skydiving for the first time with only a small amount of training. That said, the student half of a tandem pair is not merely a passenger, but an active participant in the procedure. The tasks you need to perform during your tandem skydive are simple and straightforward, but also important to get right – so let’s look at a few things you can do to practice and mentally prepare for skydiving …
Set Yourself Up Right
Skydiving is an active pursuit, a leisure activity, and even a competitive sport. You are not required to be a fitness enthusiast to go skydiving, but general good health definitely helps. On the day of your skydive, you can prepare correctly in the same way you would for any other day that will involve some challenge and effort.
Get Some Proper Sleep: If you have never jumped out of an aeroplane before it is completely normal to be nervous about it – but don’t let the idea keep you up. Skydiving does contain a risk, but statistically it is much lower than people think. The most risky thing you will do on the day of your skydive is drive to the dropzone, and the best way to get the absolute most from your day is to arrive bright and breezy.
Eat A Good Breakfast: Freefall from an aircraft is not like being on a fairground ride. The sensation of speed generated from gravity as you zoom through the air does not fling you around and make you feel sick. The best way to prepare for skydiving is eating properly and staying hydrated before you jump. You are way more likely to feel weird from low energy levels than if you are correctly fortified.
Bring The Right Stuff: For clothing, think sports apparel. This means comfortable thin layers, ideally with sleeves and covered legs. Shoes need to have laces that do up tight, because losing anything in freefall is a no-go and you sure aren’t getting it back! You also need to bring valid, government-issued photo ID to take care of the formalities beforehand, as without the appropriate admin you will not be allowed to jump.
Assume The Position
There are two physical things you need to get right for your tandem skydive to go super smooth, one for freefall and the other for landing.
Arch: To fly stable in freefall, with your belly pointing towards the ground – you need to arch your body from the hips. The arch position creates stability the same way a shuttlecock used for badminton does – with the ball part always wanting to go faster because the feathers are causing drag. When you arch, your hips are the ball and your limbs are the feathers – and the drag created by your arms and legs keeps you stable. You can practice this by lying flat on the ground, then lifting up everything from the hips and looking forwards. This feels like hard work without the wind to support you, but by trying it out for a few seconds at a time you can prepare for it in your mind.
Legs Up: The best way to land under a parachute when you are harnessed together with an instructor is by sliding in on your bum. To get this right you need to pick up your legs at the waist and stick them right out in front. This also seems like it might be hard work, but you only need to do it for a few seconds right before you touch down. Don’t worry, your instructor will let you know exactly when. If you are concerned about doing this, you can prepare in advance by investing a little time in some core strength exercises.
These are the main things you need to know to prepare yourself for an awesome skydiving experience. You can always brush up on what to do by searching online for videos or further write ups – and you’ll also be given all the training required on the day of your jump. Then all that is left to do is exit the plane into what is very possibly the most amazing experience of your life.