An awesome soundtrack makes everything better, right? Yes indeed, but there are some things to know about how skydiving works before you can choose an appropriately awesome playlist to accompany your adventure.
Before You Skydive
Dropzones need to be run with efficiency and professionalism – but they are still pretty cool and laid back places to hang out. Your skydiving experience is a precisely scheduled thing, taking in total about half a day – and this will include a bit of time beforehand to be on the dropzone to get briefed and take care of the formalities. While the pre-jump information will be delivered in an appropriate classroom type environment, it is rare for a hangar – the place where all the majority of the ground-based stuff happens – to not have some music playing. This will almost always be something upbeat and agreeable to as many tastes as possible, as skydivers come from all walks of life to jump together.
Travelling up to altitude in an unpressurised aircraft is different to the usual experience of being on a commercial flight. It is not loud enough to require mandatory hearing protection, but it is not exactly quiet either. You can talk to the person right next to you, so communicating with your instructor is easy – but anyone further away requires a bit of yelling. Some people will wear headphones on the way up, but this is not super common as it is an extra thing to faff with before your jump, and while everyone gets properly trained it is important to focus on what you are doing rather than singing along to songs in your head. Despite the noise of the engines, the ride to the top represents a kind of quiet time, to go over your tasks, to absorb information about what is happening around you and to savour the juicy feelings.
Skydiving is quite loud. Movies have lied to everyone for decades and you cannot speak to each other in freefall. While the noise of the wind rushing past your head at terminal velocity (120mph) is also not loud enough to require hearing protection of any kind – it is loud enough that wind is all you can hear. It is not impossible to rig up some kind of system to listen to music while you are jumping, but all the considerations add up to it being a bad idea. Skydiving well is about good awareness, and although you cannot hear anything but the air, and rely on all your other senses – anything that can distract you at all should be avoided. Skydivers communicate primarily with simple hand signals, but also by having a precise plan for the entire jump – and the more things you have in your brain the more likely you are to forget parts of what you are supposed to do. The wind noise becomes inseparable from the experience of skydiving, and in freefall music is the last thing you feel you need.
After your jump is when you can really start thinking about what music will go best with what you have been doing. Skydiving for the first time is an experience you will treasure forever, and it is highly recommended to invest in proper media of your jump. You will return to the video of your very first skydive for years and years to come, so making sure it has the right songs is crucial. There are some songs of dubious quality that have become connected to skydiving over the years. Here are the main offenders:
U2 – Beautiful Day
Tom Petty – Free Falling
R. Kelly – I Believe I Can Fly
Kenny Loggins – Danger Zone
Van Halen – Jump
The important thing to remember is that music is subjective and you are allowed to like whatever you want. The songs you connect with skydiving will become very important to you – whether they are a playlist you listen to in the car on the way to the dropzone for your first jump, the soundtrack to your actual skydive video that you share online afterward, or even anything that you hear that makes you think of the day you first jumped out of an airplane!