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Is Skydiving Scarier Than Roller Coasters? 

Skydiving & Other Activities

Wisconsin Skydiving Center Posted by: Wisconsin Skydiving Center 7 months ago

Is the sheer adrenaline of falling out of an airplane more scary than the calculated twists and turns of a roller coaster? We don’t think so! Buckle up as we unravel this common debate, dive into the psychology of fear, and answer the question, “Is skydiving scarier than roller coasters?” 

blonde tandem woman smiling under canopy on tandem skydive

Understanding Fear

The psychology of fear in extreme activities, like skydiving and riding roller coasters, is a mix of emotions, cognition, and physiological factors. Basically: The mental hurdle of facing fears combined with adrenaline from the unknown puts our bodily systems in overdrive. 

Adrenaline. Fear triggers a physiological response in our bodies that causes a release of adrenaline. This induces symptoms common to those of anxiety, such as an increased heart rate, quick reaction time, and that typical “fight or flight” feeling. These commonalities cause excitement and anxiety to often be confused. 

Risk perception. Engaging in fear-inducing things is tricky for our brains, because we’re willingly doing it. Saying “Yes” to a jump or ride and consciously placing yourself in a situation that carries inherent risk confuses us. One side of our brains think, “Why are you doing this!?” While the other understands that personal growth cannot happen without overcoming fears – a perk of skydiving!

When we’re thrown into scenarios that are seemingly out of our control, our sense of concern begins to tingle. You’re not alone in this. Believe it or not, the best skydivers in the world started where you are today – with their first tandem skydive

woman is fearless in skydiving freefall at Wisconsin Skydiving Center near Madison, WI

How Scary Is Skydiving? 

Firstly, we’d like to validate your fear of skydiving. Is skydiving scary? Yep – kind of. Jumping from an airplane sounds outright WILD, but we promise it’s worth the hype! The two most common fear-inducers for those nervous about jumping are a lack of control and a general fear of the unknown. 

Letting go of control is SCARY. When you go tandem skydiving, and rely on a professional skydiving instructor to take care of the logistics of the jump, it can be a bit worrisome – we get it! Be assured that all of our instructors are United States Parachute Association (USPA) rated, have gone through extensive training, and are passionate about sharing the freedom of flight with people just like you. Surrendering a sense of control and embracing the moment is so very freeing. 

For first-timers, skydiving is a completely foreign experience. And yes, anything new is going to be scary! Initially, skydiving has tons of unknowns. You’re probably wondering how parachutes work, the credentials of the staff, what the airplane will be like, freefall sensations, and so much more. Not having a clue what to expect makes us prone to anxiety. How can you mitigate this? Research! We encourage you to look into the statistics, give us a call, check out our reviews, and talk with people who have done a first jump. 

What about a fear of heights? People who struggle with acrophobia are often apprehensive to skydive. Although skydiving is done from way up in the blue expanse of the sky, a fear of heights is typically irrelevant. The shaky fluttering that invades us when peering over the edge of a cliff or tall building commonly happens because of depth perception. When we’re looking out the door of the airplane, the brain/eye connection of how high we are doesn’t happen, we’re simply too high up. 

tandem canopy opening at wisconsin skydiving center with beautiful blue sky behind

Roller Coaster Anxiety 

Roller coasters come with fear of heights, overstimulation from fast speeds, and vestibular worries, such as quick and “jerky” turns – no thanks. All of these can cause potential riders to think twice about strapping into a cart on a rickety-rackety track. 

Does skydiving feel like going down a roller coaster? Nope! When we launch into freefall, we’re leaving from a moving object: the plane. Since the plane is going forward, and we’re not leaving from a stagnant object, the icky stomach drop feeling doesn’t happen! The only time this sensation happens during a skydive is under the parachute when a turn is initiated. The sharper or more aggressive the turn, the more intense the butterflies in your stomach are, and vice versa. The canopy ride is pretty customizable – we’ve got you covered whether you love or loathe this feeling, just let your instructor know. 

woman smiling during a freefall tandem skydive at WSC

What Is Scarier Than Skydiving? 

Are roller coasters safer than skydiving? Well, it’s a dance between engineering feats and defying gravity, and both have stringent safety standards that boast millions of successes. The odds of dying doing either activity is statistically very low. 

Which is scarier? Both roller coasters and skydiving foster a sense of being out of control (that is, until you’re jumping solo). The answer lies in your adrenal appetite, trust in physics, and desire to do something awesome. 

Is skydiving or bungee jumping scarier? This is a personal preference. But, would we rather have thousands of feet between us and the ground and a nice, big parachute above our heads … or, a stretchy rope and a couple hundred feet? Mmmm, we’ll choose the former every time! 

Statistically, walking down the stairs or driving a car carries a higher level of risk of an accident or fatality than skydiving. Skydiving is uniquely spine-tingling for each person, because it depends on where your apprehension is rooted. The good thing about hanging with skydivers is that we’ve all been there! We understand the fear first-hand, and we know how to help you work past it in a healthy way. 

Ready to find out how much more fun skydiving is than roller coasters? Book your skydive today!