Standing in the doorway of the plane I still felt grounded. The equipment weighed heavily on my back, the floor pressed against my feet, and the straps pulled on my legs and shoulders. Looking down the only thing I saw was the world in a collage of colored dots as I made sure I spotted my target for landing. My phobia of heights and flying suddenly hit me like a railroad train. I could feel my heart beat from all parts of my body. Gradually, my fears turned into excitement as I longed for the freedom of flight, I leapt.
Touching nothing but air I felt the exhilarating rush of adrenaline as I soared through the sky at 120 miles per hour. I was in control. My every nerve tingled with excitement. That smooth collage of color miles below may be where I lived but this was where I was most alive! For sixty seconds of eternity I was completely free of all worldly concerns; it was just me and the sky. Skydiving is an activity and sport in which people jump out of an aircraft, alone or in groups, and land by using a parachute. Because of the sensation of leaping into the air and free-falling some distance before opening their parachutes, skydivers usually experience a rush of adrenaline and then a peaceful sense of well-being.
This feeling of calm lasts long after they land on the ground. Before feeling that calm however, my mind was like many people’s out there, and I could not understand why I had convinced myself to jump out of a perfectly good airplane. I assumed that only reckless stuntmen skydive, and that it was the most dangerous thing a person could experience. Now that I have actually jumped out of a plane, I can easily disagree with the doubts of non-skydivers.
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Although skydiving may be seen as dangerous or even careless, it is actually one of the safest extreme sports, even researched to be safer than driving a car. Why do people see skydiving as particularly dangerous? First of all, be honest: It’s not bowling. A skydiver, after all is jumping out of an airplane and hurtling 12, 000 feet towards the ground at 120 miles per hour. The most common reason why people see skydiving as so dangerous is because it is a popular phobia among people.
Acrophobia, or the fear of heights, is one of the top phobias in the world. Acrophobia can be dangerous, because sufferers can experience a panic attack in a high place and be unable to get themselves out of it. The difference between fear and respect is knowledge. Most people fear skydiving because they do not understand. Fear is a result of ignorance and it is part of nature’s protective mechanism; it warns us to beware when we are on unfamiliar ground. The fear of an unfamiliar thing is very common among everyone in the world.
We once feared the ocean and sailing around the world, because we knew nothing about it, and were scared boats would fall off the flat surface of the earth. Just as technology and exploration lead to the discovery of a circular earth the same can be said for exposing the myths of skydiving. People also fear the many emergencies that could take place. One of the main emergencies that can occur in skydiving is the failure of the canopy. In the number of fatal injuries in skydiving, twenty percent were canopy malfunctions where the main began to deploy and an equipment malfunction began a series of events that led to fatality (How Safe…
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The worst thing a fearful skydiver wants to happen is leaping out of a plane and the chute does not open. With this thought, skydiving is the last thing a person wants to try. There are definite risks when jumping from an airplane. It can sometimes mean death or serious injury even to the most experienced skydiver. Along with fear, people tend to see skydiving as careless, and that only extremely crazy adventurers or stuntmen take part in the sport.
After all, James Bond jumped out of a plane without a parachute, landing onto a waiting, revving snowmobile, and he was fine. Movies today tend to over fantasize about what skydiving really is. They use it in movies where tough, thrill-seeking men leap out of planes and land standing on their feet ready to blow up the next guy he sees. This may fascinate the viewers of movies, but turns them off when faced with the real experience of skydiving. Most human beings believe their feet belong on the ground, combined with their fears and lack of the truth they pass on the idea of skydiving.
These explanations of why people believe skydiving is dangerous are rational and logical, but are the people’s fears out of ignorance or actual knowledge? Although skydiving is a big risk, it is actually one of the safest so-called extreme sports. In reality it is something most people can do. A majority of people have always wanted to experience what it would feel like to fly, and skydiving is probably one of the closest experiences. With skydiving the old saying there is nothing to fear but fear itself is strikingly true. The fact is people wouldn’t continue to skydive and take it up as a hobby if it was terrifying. The thought of skydiving is scarier than actually skydiving.
It is not as dangerous as you might imagine. Thousands of skydivers make thousands of skydives without injury, and do so each year. Skydiving is a pretty intense and scary sport when compared to say, soccer or football, and like any fast adventure sport it is of course possible to twist an ankle, hurt yourself in some other way, or even more, but it’s not anywhere near as hazardous as many people would believe. In fact, each year, about thirty-five people die skydiving, and that is out of about two million parachute jumps. Every year, over 46, 000 people die in traffic accidents, about 140 people die while scuba diving, about 850 die while bicycling, and about eight are killed by lightning (How Safe is Skydiving? ).
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Given the odds, a person is better off skydiving than he or she is driving a vehicle. It would appear that in our increasingly fast-paced society, safety becomes an ever present concern. Many people believe that driving is safe because our day to day experience leads us to perceive that driving is safe. It is only when we look at the aggregated statistics that we realize how safe skydiving is and how dangerous driving really is.
If people chose to skydive to work everyday instead of commute by car, maybe the world would have less car accidents. Not to mention, it should also be said that mistakes in judgment and procedure are the cause of ninety-two percent of skydiving fatalities (How Safe is Skydiving? ).
What does that mean? It means that if a jumper does everything they are supposed to during the exhilarating sixty second drop to the ground, they ” ll be fine. Also, not just extreme, adventuresome, or careless devil-may-care people take up the sport of skydiving either.
From personal experience I have jumped with people ranging from ages seventeen years old to sixty years old. With every one of them not in the least bit careless, having proper instruction, and faith in themselves. Many psychiatrists have decided that pursuing a high-risk sport is not all that bad. Bruce Ogilvie, a professor of psychology at San Jose State University, conducted a study of 293 high-risk competitors including skydivers. Ogilvie found risk-takers to be success oriented, strongly extroverted, above average in abstract ability and superior intelligence when compared to the general population (How Safe is Skydiving? ).
He also found that these people are rarely reckless in their risk taking; their risk-taking is cool and calculated. Along with these characteristics Ogilvie has mentioned, skydivers also believe that skydiving has affected their lives positively and greatly. They feel skydiving has given them more confidence, respect, and an overall zest for life. Skydiving is essentially a risk management sport. Safe skydiving is more of an attitude than one or two hard and fast rules. It is knowing yourself, your strengths and weaknesses and being aware of what is going on around you.
Skydiving can be a once in a lifetime experience, that can change a person life. Although there are dangers in skydiving, it is actually a safe activity, and the danger is what makes skydiving so stimulating. Personally, facing my fear head-on, and knowing I had the ability to save myself, resulted in a feeling of self-confidence like I have never felt before. One that seems to affect everything else I do in life.
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My fear of heights and of flying has completely vanished and in the words of Leonardo de Vinci, one of the first inventors of the parachute, “Once you tasted flight, you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward. For there you have been, and there you long to return.”.