Nobody Tells You How Sexy Skydiving Feels

And it’s not just about the “adrenaline”

Pavel Nekoranec via unsplash

I went skydiving for the first time a few months ago — it was “tandem,” meaning attached to a certified instructor, which is how many people do it their first (and for many, only) time.

I never cared about “going skydiving” before this year. (I’m not sure I even cared about skydiving while I was actually doing it.) It wasn’t that skydiving sounded “scary,” but rather that it sounded “unappealing” — boring, even. And when I say this, I mostly mean the freefall, because you’ve got 120 mph winds hitting you, and that seemed about as “fun” as riding my motorcycle on the highway with the visor open (which I don’t do. Just like I don’t feel compelled to stick my head out the window of a moving car like a dog.) That, and being under open parachute seemed like a drag (pun intended.)

But a friend had been dying to go for a while and was too scared to go alone. So I went too. And knowing myself, I figured if nothing else, I’d probably at least enjoy the rest of the experience: getting geared up, riding up, exiting. And I was right.

After my first jump, I realized:

Skydiving isn’t that scary—but it is sexy. As hell.

I didn’t get the “high” some people claim during freefall, but I did feel the “high” that most people feel after landing — except mine had the distinct, familiar note of sex appeal.

Everything was sexy. Everything.

Not an acute, localized arousal, but rather a full-body, heady one. And I’m not alone… The sexiness of skydiving is not widely talked about — I have to imagine the reason is largely a “what happens in the sky, stays in the sky” thing. Like, if you know, you know — but it is still a thing.

One redditor wrote,

“A friend was the jump pilot for a skydiving club. He said it was the best aphrodisiac ever.”

Another skydiver shared,

“I’ve heard several people talk about being highly aroused on jump run, esp. on early jumps.”

And as far as I can tell, here’s how it breaks down:

Sexiness #1: The simplicity and raw nakedness of it all

It reminded me a lot of a motorcycle in this way.

A lot of people assume the appeal of a bike is about “speed,” but for most riders, it’s not. Sometimes it’s about “freedom,” but often it’s about minimalism and nakedness.

Everything is only what it needs to be and nothing more.

Skydiving is naked, too. The parachute and harness, keeping you from death. The wide hangar or simple-roomed office (depending on the drop zone.) The sliver of a runway; the sun-bleached grass in unchecked heat. The tiny ass plane. The raw roar of the cabin. The blast of cold air when the door is slid open. The exit itself.

It’s like sucking on gravel as a child. Like pressing a palm to warm pavement. Like watching the ground ribbon beneath you, or pull itself away.

Sexiness #2: ALL of the sensations, start to finish

It’s similar to a motorcycle here as well.

On a bike, you feel everything: heat, rain, cold, the road, the way the bike is connected to it and you, through your hands and arms and legs and ass. A bike is a whole-body experience in a way few cars are, and engages almost every sense. Even smells are stronger.

And I don’t just mean the freefall or being under the parachute here, though that’s something — like dipping your fingertips lazily, dreamily, drunkenly, down into the water from a moving boat, and feeling the sharpness come back at you through them. Or the way stickiness of salt water clings to you.

When I say “sensations,” it’s all of it, really.

The harness. The heat overhead. The ground radiating up at you. Your instructor’s tug on the back of your harness. The climb into the plane. Sitting jam-packed, body to body. The tightening of tandem attachment points. The quick, disorienting drop after exit. The parachute deployment. The landing… the heat overhead again.

Sexiness #3: The harness

I knew I would like being geared up, because when I took up boxing for a while, my favorite part was having my hands wrapped for me.

The tandem harness is all steel hardware and thick straps of ripstop nylon running over your shoulders, across your mid-back, your chest, down each side and around each leg.

It is, I’m sure, similar to part of the appeal of aerial silks/yoga. (Incidentally, some people do both as hobbies.)

Sexiness #4: The plane ride up

I find flying sexy, and don’t even mind having the middle seat.

Smaller planes are louder, and you feel every rattle and shake… but it’s like being tugged along bumpy neighborhood asphalt in a rickety red wagon. Like riding in the back seat of an older car. Like being rocked to sleep. And as you’re sort of slipping into this quiet zen state, nestled into the noise and other jumpers, watching the ground pull back from you and become soft, suddenly someone opens the door and the sky is nearly inside, and moments later, you’ll all be out in it.

One redditor wrote, quite bluntly,

“Sometimes I get boners on the ride to altitude.”

Sexiness #5: The physical closeness and proximity

On the plane, you’re all jam-packed in a cabin barely big enough to hold you with your gear, sitting in between each other’s legs or laps, two neat little rows of intimate mostly-strangers, right up against each other, knees leaned against neighbor’s knees; packs against chests.

This is another thing I knew I would like. Because I love being “tucked in” tight with other people — crowded trains and packed clubs are sexy.

And proximity is even more true if you’re tandem; again, a lot like a motorcycle — except, riding on the back of one.

Sexiness #6: The camaraderie

Before I went, at least two people told me “do not watch other people exit the plane,” because visually, jumpers appear to get “sucked out” or “disappear.”

But I now know: watching all of the fun jumpers leave the plane before me is amazing — one of my favorite parts.

Why? Because everyone looked so freaking happy! Fist bumps, high fives, shakas, signs of the horns, shouts of “have fun!” Rarely do you see people so out-of-their-minds happy, excited, energized and communal.

Sexiness #7: The trust

I found it very sexy that I was trusting a stranger not to kill me. (Which is actually a pretty common feeling among tandem students; they just don’t often say it. Though at least one redditor agreed: “Maybe it’s the fact that our lives are literally in their hands but my attraction levels to the instructor were unprecedented.”)

BUT! I also found it very sexy that he was also trusting me not to kill him.

Sometimes, as tandem students, we miss that. In short:

Tandem skydiving is the ultimate “trust fall”

And it’s mutual.

It’s like the “trust” appeal of doing improv comedy — except on crack.

When I went up, after giving me exit instructions on the plane, my instructor leaned back into my ear from behind and said, almost as an afterthought, “and don’t kill me.” I laughed, but I knew he was also a little bit serious, so I turned and said over my shoulder, “I won’t. I promise.”

Sexiness #8: Feeling alive — by facing death

Throwing yourself into “certain death” and then yanking yourself back from it feels very powerful. You will stare at your own mortality at least once — and then, a la Tyler Durden, you will feel incredibly alive.

Skydiving coach Becky Johns agrees:

“We have seen more than a few tandem students experience an ‘air-gasm’ after the parachute opens.”

Sexiness #9: The way the harness looks on some people

Look, call me crass, but to skip this detail would just be to outright lie by omission.

The harness leg straps on a skydiving “rig” run across the top of each thigh and are tightened along the sides of the groin, and on dudes this creates an effect I’ve affectionately christened: “rig dick”

If you think gray sweatpants are nice (and yes, yes they are), well “rig dick” is a whole new level. And it’s not like I went around the drop zone gawking like a lug nut, but… there are some situations that just can’t go unseen. I think I glanced at my tandem instructor’s junk about four times before he finally glanced down too (maybe wondering if his fly was down? But of course it wasn’t, leaving him to glance back up at me with a look that read some combination of apologetic/proud/annoyed, like “yeah...”)

Sexiness #10: The serotonin, dopamine, and epinephrine

And sure, maybe fear — a nice, well-rounded “chemical cocktail” that has a lot of impact on the way you feel going up as well as coming down.

  • Serotonin is the “feel good” chemical
  • Dopamine deals in attraction, cravings, and wants
  • Epinephrine (i.e., adrenaline) handles “fight or flight.” And studies show,
“As the levels of adrenaline are increased… attraction between two people also increases.”

And fun fact: when they’re all together, these three literally define things like the “attraction” phase of love and relationships — and sex.

Will YOU find skydiving sexy? I don’t know.

But the odds are good. After all, as one redditor shared,

This sport is a sexy as you make it ;)

Below, photog Pavel Nekoranec’s full shot (which I ruthlessly cropped above)