Tag Archives: Adapted skydiving

Adaptive Skydiving: Adrenaline Fueled Fun

Skydiving might sound crazy to some, but for thousands who are paralyzed, it’s one of their favorite adrenaline rushes post-injury. Both paraplegics and quadriplegics enjoy the sport safely across the globe, and at 140 mph, it’s no wonder this thrill helps many “feel alive.”

While it takes a chunk of change to skydive, say between $150 and $250 (that airplane ride isn’t cheap), no other expensive adaptive equipment is needed to make it happen. Also, you must go “tandem” (skydiving when tied to a licensed skydiver) if you’re not licensed (most people). Many paraplegics, and even some quads, however, undergo training to get a solo skydiving license.

A few more GENERAL rules and tips for skydivers with spinal cord injuries:

– Try to skydive on a mild day to avoid getting cold, and to make the jump easier for everyone helping out.

– Visit the skydive facility in advance and introduce yourself to the staff.

– Always strap your legs together, and your arms if you’re a high-level quad, to ensure limb safety while jumping. The wind velocity can put a lot of stress on a quads shoulders.

– Strap your legs to your tandem instructor to prevent your legs from hitting the instructor in the face.

Paraplegia Skydiving Tips

Paraplegics ALWAYS need to properly tie their legs together before the jump. Any strap will do, but many use Duct tape or Velcro straps (make sure to bring your own strapping materials, unless you’re going to an adaptive skydive facility). Strapping your legs together ensures that they don’t go flying in wayward directions during the jump.

When landing, try to assist by pulling your legs up and underneath you so you land on your knees (don’t worry, your tandem coach will land you softly). Some even arrange for someone to wait in the landing zone with their wheelchair nearby. Also, many solo licensed para skydivers prefer water drop zones (an ocean or lake) to ensure an extra soft landing.

Quadriplegia Skydiving Tips

Quadriplegics who skydive generally follow the same rules as paraplegics, although those who cannot move their arms will also need to strap their arms together. You will also need help donning the suit and harness provided by the skydive facility, so make sure to bring an assistant.

Also, make sure the straps aren’t too tight to avoid automatic dysreflexia during the jump. Wearing warm clothing is important, but make sure it’s not too bulky. And when landing, have help nearby for assistance if needed. It can be helpful, for example, for someone to grab the legs of the quadriplegic so they don’t drag on the ground.

Indoor Skydiving

Indoor skydiving is the perfect warm-up for those not sure about jumping out of a plane at 17,000 feet, and indoor skydiving facilities are popping up nationwide. Many cater to people with disabilities, with instructors who assist in helping you out of your wheelchair and into the wind tunnel to “skydive.” A giant wind stream is produced, creating the same physical effect as skydiving.

For the past year, SPINALpedia has been working directly with iFLY to put on “All Abilities” nights for all people with disabilities. This super fun adventurous “All Abilities” program cost less than $50 and includes pre-flight training session, all the necessary flight gear (suit, helmet, goggles), each flier is assisted by specially trained flight instructors that help with accommodations based on participant needs, and each flier receives 2 flights. 9

Interested participants should call their local iFLY facility to inquire about when the next “All Abilities” night will take place. Locations include: Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore. Learn more here: iFLY All-Abilities

Many say they haven’t lived until they’ve gone skydiving. If this sounds like you, please share your experience in the comments below. Have fun and be safe!

Have you tried adaptive skydiving?

Learn more

Adaptive Skydiving Manual

SkydiveBC North Adaptive Skydiving Program (the only exclusively adaptive skydive facility in North America)

Adaptive Skydiving Videos

Skydiving for quadriplegics

Accessible Skydiving (without) Wheelchairs by wheelchairtraveling.com

FAQ 18: Can I skydive with a disability?

Skydiving: Reeve Foundation

Adaptive SKYDIVING! Defying the LIMITS!

SkydiveBC PARAchutists

Adapted Skydiving Part Deux: The No Fear Club

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One of the sweetest releases of life in a wheelchair is without question skydiving. When you’re barreling through the sky at 200 miles an hour, it’s hard to think about your limited mobility. In fact, it’s pretty much an afterthought.

And we here at SPINALpedia believe this freeing thing is something all people with disabilities need to experience. For many people with disabilities, skydiving takes them out of their “spot” and into a more tactile world. It’s hard to not feel alive when you’re skydiving.

For videos that touch on the braveness required for skydiving, here are three that do just that, including a few tough paraplegics and quadriplegics who are determined to do what they want t no matter what.

Video #1: Coca Cola Profiles Avid Disabled Skydiver – Matt Dooley

Matt Dooley, a 19 year old young man with cerebral palsy, has never been able to walk, but that doesn’t mean he can’t go skydiving. A life full of excitement and hope is what every person with a disability wants, and because of skydiving Matt Dooley can now partake.

He has jumped a number of times in fact. His “no fear” bada#! attitude it so fiery he even has a giant mural/Fat Head on his bedroom wall dedicated to skydiving, showing him jumping tandem with an able-bodied instructor (now that’s a site to wake up to every morning). Listen to Matt talk about why he loves skydiving

Video #2: Extreme Quad Skydiver, and Sportscar Racer

For a peek into the life of an extreme quad, our next video will certainly satisfy. It shows a buff C7 quad boarding a tiny plane, reaching 10,500 ft., then jumping out like it was nothing. It’s done tandem, so technically he gets pulled out by the guy attached to him, but it’s a very cool thing to see.

The video stays on the entire fall too so you can see our beautiful green Earth inch closer and closer as he readies to land on his butt (careful for tailbone injuries). This video also shows him behind the wheel of a Nissan GT-R; the first quad to drive this high-end sportscar. Watch the “extreme quad” go skydiving

Video #3: Adapted Skydiving Down Under (with Elmo)

For a look at how adapted skydiving is done in Australia, our next video from Skydive Airlie Beach will make you wish you had gone skydiving yesterday; that’s how fun it looks, and the outgoing instructors are a HUGE part of it.

It shows him receiving lessons from them (“You got it, mate?!” heh), getting on his gear and the fearful flight up. Once they reach altitude, out he goes, giving some mighty funny faces to the camera and chatting up in the air with his instructor. His Elmo doll goes along for the ride too. Watch and be inspired by Mark Hansen

Love it or hate it, skydiving is one polarizing recreational activity, but no matter where you stand on the issue, it’s hard to deny how healing it can be for people with disabilities. It allows us to get out of our wheelchairs and no longer be weighed down by our bodies. It may cost a pretty penny and an airplane ride to do so, but boy is it worth it.

Have you tried skydiving? What tips would you give to interested people with disabilities?

Watch the videos!

Coca-Cola commercial of a wheelchair-user going skydiving

Quadriplegic going skydiving, and racing his sportscar on a racetrack

T10 paraplegic goes skydiving in Australia

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