Whuffo you jump out of that plane?

in Dropzone Diaries | 4 minutes read

Whuffo is shorthand that stands for ‘what for’. When you apply that word to an individual in the context of skydiving the definition of a whuffo becomes…

A person who is not a skydiver.

My definition of a whuffo is…

People who condemn, and don’t understand anyone who wants to enjoy a range of diverse experiences.

The term whuffo has been applied to non-jumpers because they are always asking, “What for would you want to jump out of that plane?” I am often told I am crazy because of my hobbies. I like to scuba dive (with sharks), and jump out of planes. Some people cannot fathom doing such activities especially leaping from a perfectly good airplane. However, I beg to differ on the perfectly good terminology to describe the planes skydivers leap from.

I have always been an adrenaline junkie at heart, and skydiving was just another hobby that would fuel my desire to try something new and exciting. Originally skydiving started out as a bucket list item. In 2006 I discussed the idea with two of my friends, and they also had the desire to try it out. We went to Skydive Greensburg, did a tandem jump, and I was hooked on the sport. A tandem jump is when you have a tandem master strapped behind you to your harness. He/She controls your skydive so that you can experience what jumping from a plane feels like with limited training. A couple weeks after my tandem experience I called a local DZ, and scheduled my first Accelerated Free Fall (AFF) class to work towards a skydiving certification for my A License. I completed level 1 and ran out of money because I was in college at the time. Skydiving is an expensive hobby!

In mid January of this year I started my AFF training again at Skydive Palatka. As I write this I have completed the 7 levels of AFF training, and I have a total of 12 jumps. I am technically not a true skydiver yet because I don’t have my A License; I need a total of 25 jumps and a few more skills signed off on my card to get my A License. However, I feel I have enough experience to provide an answer to all the whuffos out there about why I and thousands of other skydivers love jumping from airplanes.

  • You are always a student, and always learning something new.
  • Skydiving is a challenge; It’s not easy to do.
  • My mind and body feel more alive just driving to the drop zone(DZ) knowing what lies ahead.
  • Camaraderie with a diverse group of people on the airplane and at the DZ.
  • The unique energy around people making their first skydive, and their reaction to their first skydive after they get back on the ground.
  • Anticipation when the door light comes on, and when someone opens the door.
  • The fantastic view that not a lot of people get to see.
  • That quirky, secret handshake all of us do before we jump.
  • The smell of virgin air, and the rush of chilled air that fills the airplane when the door is open.
  • The butterfly feeling you get as you’re hanging out a door of an aircraft in flight.
  • The feeling of euphoria and intensity as you release from the plane.
  • Exiting unstable, and getting stable again.
  • Curiosity as I deploy my canopy. Will it work and will it be malfunction free?
  • The sound of the canopy as it opens.
  • Relief as I see a good canopy overhead.
  • Going fast in free fall, and going slow under canopy.
  • The peaceful canopy ride as you float over the Earth below you.
  • Living a conventional life during the week, and doing something completely unconventional on the weekends.
  • Watching whuffos react when you tell them you jump from planes.
  • Skydiving brings you back down to Earth… It shows you that life can be so demanding and stressful, but once you’re up in the sky absolutely nothing else matters.
  • Human flight.
  • It is fun, it brings joy, and it is relaxing.
  • I refuse to let fear hold me back from doing something. It is a personal test for bravery and courage.
  • It is one of the very few things that allows you to live in the moment. You are solely concentrated and focused on the task at hand because everything you do has a consequence to it (whether it be bad or good).
  • It is something unique; not a lot of people do it.
  • Nothing else in life can match it.
  • I skydive because I don’t care for how I feel when I don’t.
  • The intense feelings you get before you jump, the concentration and peacefulness you get when in free fall and under canopy, and then the feeling of accomplishment when you stand up a landing on the ground. It is the culmination of all your senses becoming overloaded and purged all within a short period of time.

If you want an answer that science can provide there is actually some scientific research as to why someone might engage in these type of activities. Vic Napier covers this topic in his paper on Risk Homeostasis and the Science of Sensation Seeking.

The real question should be, “Why would you not want to skydive?”

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