Tag Archives: wheelchair 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

SCI Superstar: Skydiver Jarrett Martin

jarrett

In Jarrett Martin’s world, the place he loves to be the most is in the sky – free-falling at 100 miles an hour with the wind in his face. But after his injury five years ago, he feared the one thing he loved the most would no longer be possible.

Jarrett grew up in a family-run skydive business; skydiving was and still is in his blood. The notion of no longer skydiving was never something he was willing to accept, and he never had to. Within months of his injury he was back skydiving, but the AMAZING thing about Jarrett’s return isn’t just the fact that he’s back in the sky, it’s everything he’s also done and making history in the process.

To find out all the amazing things Jarrett has been up to since his spinal cord injury, read our post below.

Why he’s fearless

When we say Jarrett was a born and bred skydiver, we weren’t kidding. He was only 10 years old the first time he tried skydiving, and he was hooked. By the time he was 14 he was jumping solo, and by the time he was 16 he had amassed 1,000 jumps, including 20 base jumps.

After graduating from high school, Jarrett scored a dream summer job at Skydive Hawaii as a rigger, but it was while he was in this tropical paradise when his injury occurred. One afternoon he and some friends decided to try some speedflying tricks (the extreme sport of jumping off mountain sides with a parachute strapped to your back), but his parachute failed to open.

Jarrett crashed hard, not only breaking his back but also tearing his aorta and damaging his lungs and kidneys. “It was a miracle I survived,” Jarrett admits. Now being a T4 injury, Jarrett knew his balance would never be the same, but he was determined to try skydiving again asap. Within six months of his accident he was back skydiving, and soon scored a new skydiving job at Skydive Florida.

He also became a spokesperson for the United States Skydiving Team post-injury, and even returned to skydive competitions around the world, competing in the style and accuracy category, and becoming the only para in the game. Jarrett refused to allow his injury to affect what he loved most.

What’s next?

What’s probably the most impressive thing Jarrett has done post-injury is that he’s gone base jumping again, and has made history as the first paraplegic to base-jump from the heights he’s doing it from. This past summer he and five friends went to Norway, specifically the Helo Boogie area in the fjords, to go one as many base-jobs as possible over an 11 day period.

Jarrett and his friends completed dozens of base-jumps, each time transferring Jarrett into a helicopter and then setting him up on the edge of the mountain so he could throw himself off. It sounds crazy for sure, but the adrenaline rush you get when you base-jump is unlike anything else (and we’re sure it’s even more pronounced when you have a spinal injury). Watch Jarrett & Co. go base-jumping in Norway

And even more unexpected happiness has entered Jarrett’s life post-injury – he landed another awesome skydiving job at Skydive Dubai, which he’s been working at since this past summer. In a country not worried about legalities, this is a great place for a paraplegic to live out his or her skydiving dreams.

We got to give it to Jarrett Martin in a big way. He may have been just 18 when he was injured, but the maturity he’s shown since his injury is unbelievably impressive. We’re thrilled he’s not only “returned” to the sport, but he’s back at it 100%, and that is something no one expected. Gotta love it.

Have you tried skydiving with a spinal cord injury? How did it go?

Follow Jarrett on Facebook

Photo courtesy of Max Haim

Watch the videos!

Heliboogie 2014

Paraplegic Wingsuit Flight

Jarrett’s spinal cord injury story

Jarrett shows how a paraplegic lands after skydiving (funny)

Jens and Jarrett going skydiving