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What Does Tandem Skydiving Feel Like? Your Guide to the Skydiving Experience!

tandem skydiving exit smile
tandem skydiving exit smile

If you’ve dreamt of soaring through the clouds, you might be wondering how this whole skydiving experience is going to go. It makes sense – leaping from a plane 13,500 feet up isn’t exactly a run of the mill activity! What does skydiving feel like? It’s the top question every neo-flyer wants to know.

To fully understand what skydiving is like, you have to do it of course. Until then, your best bet is to get the rundown from the professionals – which is where we come in.

What Is Skydiving Like? Your Step-By-Step Guide

The skydiving experience includes more than just the freefall. The flow of your jump day – weather permitting – will likely follow the schedule below.


When you arrive at the dropzone (that’s what industry insiders call skydiving centers), you first need to check-in. Checking-in involves filling out paperwork and waivers and presenting a valid, government issued form of photo identification to prove your identity and that you’re at least 18 years old. No ID, no jump; sorry.

Additionally, if you have not done so already, this is your last chance to add a skydiving video package to your day. Add it!! You only make your first skydive once – don’t miss seeing yourself flying through the wide open sky!

At the time of check-in, you’ll watch a brief orientation video. After this, a tandem instructor will go over further instructions explaining your role in the skydiving process.

Check-in is pretty straight forward – although it can be a little bit emotionally complicated. For many, it’s both exciting and a touch disquieting. It’s exciting because of the building momentum – your skydiving experience is nigh. You’ve crossed your T’s and dotted your I’s, and now things are about to get really real. Likewise, it’s nerve-wracking – twinges of second guessing and worry. However, there’s no need to fight your feelings. Whatever you’re feeling is normal and, thankfully, temporary. Breathe through it!

Gear Up!

When it’s your turn to jump, your tandem instructor will kit you out with a harness and provide you with skydiving goggles. Often, the tandem instructor will also give you additional instructions for maintaining the tried-and-true freefall arch body position, as well as what to do with your legs when it comes time to land.

Your instructor will do visible gear checks on the equipment and on your harness confirming that everything is in excellent working order. Then, it’s time to board the aircraft. The process of gearing up can amplify the nerves of some … and others still feel cool as a cucumber!

Ride to Altitude

Now you’ll walk to the aircraft and board the best flight of your life! At Skydive Cross Keys, we fly a Super Grand Caravan which fits 17 jumpers. This larger aircraft allows you to have a comfortable and quick ride to jump altitude. In fact, it will only take about 10 minutes for you to reach 13,500 feet (that’s fast!).

Your instructor will check again that your harness is securely attached … the door will open … and you’ll begin making your way to the wild blue yonder! It’s GO TIME!!

This is the mental breakthrough moment. Will you be ruled by fear? Or will you take that first step out into the unknown? You can do it – we know you can!
tandem skydiving experience in the airplane


Out the door you go! You instantly begin to freefall through the sky around 120 mph. It’s loud and exhilarating – and surprisingly you don’t feel like you’re falling at all! That’s because within seconds you reach terminal velocity and you feel supported by the air beneath you. This sensation is, by far, the most unforgettable of all of the life-changing skydiving feelings.

Both emotionally and physically, you will go into sensory overload (which is why you have to get the video!), but it won’t be unpleasant. Truly, it’s just a lot to take in: a cascade of unfamiliar sights, sounds, and sensations. You feel electric: charged and alive!

Canopy Ride

Once you’ve reached the appropriate altitude, your instructor will deploy the parachute and the thrum of freefall will be instantly replaced with silence. The peace you feel floating gently beneath the canopy is in stark contrast to the thrill of freefall. There’s also, admittedly, a moment where you are filled with relief. And then, an enormous feeling of achievement. While you’re beginning to understand your accomplishment, don’t forget to enjoy the incredible bird’s eye view.


The landing is when it all comes home, figuratively and literally. Your instructor will remind you to lift your legs, and into the landing area you’ll slide before coming to an easy stop.

As your feet touch the ground, you’ll be awash in feelings of pride, awe, and empowerment. YOU DID IT! You really did it! You stepped outside of your comfort zone and into something entirely new. Nothing can stop you, now! You have a new perspective, know what you’re capable of, and you’re ready to seize the day!

Your Skydiving Questions: Answered

Have a better sense of what skydiving for the first time feels like but still not quite ready to take the plunge? Let’s knock out a few of the common questions we get about what it feels like to skydive for the first time:

Does your stomach drop when you skydive?

Many assume you’ll experience a stomach-lurching sensation as you exit the aircraft and enter freefall, but that’s not the case. The stomach dropping sensation like the one you feel while riding a roller coaster is generated by rapid acceleration — say like going from a steady climb at about 3 mph to descending a hill at speeds of 60 mph.

On a skydive, the aircraft you’re in is often flying between 80 and 90 kts (~100 mph). After exiting the aircraft, it will only take 5 to 10 seconds to reach terminal velocity, which is right around 120 mph when flying in a belly-to-earth orientation. The delta of these two speeds is relatively small, so your body doesn’t really register the difference.

Does skydiving feel like a roller coaster?

So, no … skydiving does not feel like a roller coaster. In addition to not experiencing the sensation of your stomach dropping, you’re also not going to experience multiple instances of deceleration and rapid acceleration on a tandem skydive. Nor are you likely to experience G force (a measure of acceleration that is equal to the acceleration of gravity) while in freefall on a tandem skydive.

Skydivers dig physics, so let’s talk more about those G’s (also known as the gravitational constant). G’s occur when there is an “acceleration” force pulling away from gravity. Simply put, as you walk around on earth you’re experiencing 1 G of force because gravity is the only force acting upon your body. In freefall, after reaching terminal velocity, the sum of the drag force is equal to the downward force of gravity acting on the object, and again you’re at 1G of force because there are no additional forces acting on your body pulling away from gravity.

We do want to note, though, that when the parachute is deployed, you may experience the sensation of G’s because you feel a force (the parachute opening) which counters the force of gravity. Like the feeling – tell your instructor and they can give you a kinda wild canopy ride. Don’t? Tell them that too and they can keep it mild.

Does skydiving hurt?

As long as you meet the requirements of skydiving, the skydiving harness fits you appropriately, and you lift your legs on landing as instructed, your skydiving experience shouldn’t hurt at all. The sensory overload of freefall can sometimes cause people to forget to breathe, which can be uncomfortable (scream; your body will automatically take a big breath!), and those G’s on opening may be momentarily uncomfortable – but other than that, you should be good to go!

Is skydiving as scary as it seems?

You may experience fear during the skydiving experience. However, as is often the case, your mind can make mountains out of molehills. As a matter of fact, we often hear that the skydiving experience was nowhere near as scary as what our customers first imagined – even for those who are scared of heights!

Schedule Your First Jump!

Now that you know what the skydiving experience is like, are you ready to take flight? Yes? Then, what are you waiting for? Schedule your first jump with Skydive Cross Keys today! Still have questions – get in touch! We’re here to support you. Blue skies!

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