(Scene from Point Break)
People are afraid of skydiving mainly because there are a lot of myths related to it in the popular culture. These several inaccuracies that have been propagated are the biggest reason for skydiving fear. Here are four of these myths along with the real explanation.
Myth 1: During free fall you can't breath.
Fact: Breathing during free fall is possible, contrary to the way people tend to think. If breathing wouldn't be possible the skydiver wouldn't be able to open the parachute because they would be unconscious.
Myth 2: A conversation can be held during free fall.
Fact: This might be doable in movies but it is strictly Hollywood. The reality is that while free falling you can't hear anything because the wind screaming through your ears is too loud. Trying to have a conversation in that conditions is impossible.
Myth 3: Holding on to someone that has a parachute is possible, if you don't have one yourself.
Fact: Yeah, yeah... We've all seen Point Break (the original of course). Of course this is nothing but movie magic.
The chances that a normal person would actually be able to hold on are next to nothing. These types of stunts have been done before in the past but only by highly trained professionals.
It didn't feel right talking about this subject without showing the clip. Unfortunately, it cuts short just before the shoot opens but never the less... still a classic.
Myth 4: You can free fall for five minutes
Fact: Not likely. The average altitude for a novice skydiver is 12,500-13,000ft. Any higher and you would need an oxygen tank. Your freefall is roughly 60 sec, ended when the parachute opens around 3,000ft.
Technically yes, it is possible to freefall for over 5 minutes but you are going to need a bigger budget. The world record is currently held by Alan Eustace on October 24, 2014.
Eustace jumped at an official altitude of 135,889.104 ft. It took 2 hours for Eustace to reach that altitude and he did so being tethered to a helium balloon. From the time he detached from the baloon until his feet hit the ground was approx. 15 minutes.
Felix Baumgartner held the previous record before Eustace. Baumgartner's jump was from 24.2 miles up back in 2012. He was the first person to break the sound barrier from a freefall toping speeds of over 840 mph.
Even his freefall was only 4 minutes. Check out Felix's jump below.
So in other words... No, you are not going to freefall for 5 minutes.
Myth 5: My parachute will not open.
Fact: There are a lot of natural fears about your parachute failing to open but this has been take care of with all modern parachutes because they are now fitted with a device that will deploy the parachute automatically in case you fail to do that yourself. The device is called Automatic Activation Device, or AAD.
The most common reasons for skydiving deaths and injuries, and that is 92%, are mistakes in judgement and procedure. This means that if you are well prepared for the jump and do everything right for the time it takes to get to the ground then you'll enjoy 60 seconds of exhilarating freefall and live to tell the tale.
Statistically you'll be absolutely fine... statistically... :)