Okay, so Space Mountain just isn't fun anymore. That rope swing in your back yard doesn't excite you like it did when you were 6. And weaving in and out of rush hour traffic only gets your heart half-pumping. You need thrills. You need danger. You need long, terrifying plunges to the ground. You need to go skydiving.

But where do you start? Let us give you a hint: you're here. We can help you with all the spine-tingling (or should that be spine-cracking) details: where to go, what to expect and, most importantly, how to survive your first parachute jump (but don't quote us on that).


How hard can it be? After all, James Bond jumped out of a plane without a parachute, landing onto a waiting, revving snowmobile, and he was fine.

We hate to remind you, but you're not James Bond. Faced with this horrifying reality, you are forced to ask an important question: how safe is it to skydive? Well, minus the snowmobile and parachute-free plunge, skydiving is actually one of the safest so-called "extreme" sports. Let's be honest: It's not bowling. You are, after all, jumping out of an airplane and hurtling 12,000 feet towards the ground at 120 miles per hour, so there is risk involved. But it's not Russian roulette either. Each year, about 35 people die skydiving, and that's out of about 2 million parachute jumps. Given the odds, you're better off skydiving than you are, say, shark-cage diving. Every year, about 46,000 people die in traffic accidents, about 140 people die while scuba diving, about 850 die while bicycling, and about 80 are killed by lightning. (OK, we realize that our logic is kinda flawed, but it proves our point.) Now that we've brought you that cheerful knowledge, do you feel any better?

It should also be said that mistakes in judgment and procedure are the cause of 92% of skydiving fatalities. What does that mean? It means that if you do everything you're supposed to do during that exhilarating 60 second drop to the ground, you'll be fine.

The biggest reason why people are afraid of skydiving (aside from the thought of plummeting toward the earth) is because popular culture has propagated several inaccuracies about skydiving. Here are some of the most popular myths, along with the real story for each one:

  • MYTH: You can't breathe during freefall.
    FACT: Contrary to popular belief, you can breathe during freefall. Otherwise, skydivers would be unconscious before they get the chance to open their parachutes . . . making skydiving a much messier sport.

  • MYTH: You can hold a conversation during freefall.
    FACT: Yes, Wesley Snipes may have done it in Drop Zone, but that was Hollywood. In reality, freefalling is way too loud to hear anything other than the wind screaming through your ears.

  • MYTH: If you jump out of a plane without a parachute but you grab on to someone with a parachute, then all you have to do is hold on to him, and when his parachute opens, you'll float down to the ground with him.
    FACT: Another movie miracle, and another Snipes move. While stunts (may we stress S-T-U-N-T-S) like this have been done, it is almost impossible to achieve. When a parachute opens, it exerts a tremendous jolt to the body, and anyone trying to hold on to that body is 99.99% likely to get flung off.

  • MYTH: Freefalls can last five minutes.
    FACT: Most skydiving planes cruise at about 10,000 - 12,000 feet. This means that you have about 35 seconds of freefalling before you open your parachute. To fall for five minutes, you'd have to go up to 60,000 feet (and bring extra oxygen for the plane ride). Yes, that means you can't pull out the emergency exit and jump out of a cruising 747 the next time you're scared of turbulence.