Skydiving consists of exiting a moving aircraft and then returning to Earth using a parachute. Parachuting may involve free falling for certain time intervals without parachute deployment. Free falling gradually increases the body's velocity, effectively creating an exhilarating experience. Skydivers typically attribute this sensation as an adrenaline rush. This recreational activity may be performed by competitors in a variety of styles, including hit and rock, free falling, tracking, formation, pond swooping, cross country, camera flying, night jumps, stuff jumps, sky surfing, base jumping, and wing suit flying. In addition, the military has deployed forces into combat zones using parachutes, and firefighters have doused forest fires by sending in personnel through the air.
The history of skydiving started with Andre-Jacques Garnerin, a skydiver who successfully jumped from a hot air balloon in 1797. The military developed parachuting technology in an effort to save personnel from emergencies on hot air balloons. In addition, the military fine-tuned the technology to deliver soldiers to their assigned combat zones. Skydiving did not become a competitors sport until the 1930s, wherein it became an international sensation in 1952. It grew out of former WWII soldiers interest in continuing jumps as a hobby.
Skydivers congregate at special centers made for the competitors sport. Skydiving centers normally charge a fee for a group of skydivers to rent out aircraft. Individual jumpers can rent a lighter aircraft for cheaper prices; however, busier drop zones may require medium or large size planes. Jumpers typically exit a moving aircraft at an altitude of 3,000 to 13,000 feet. Skydivers must deploy the parachute immediately if jumping from a lower altitude. A higher altitude allows jumper to attempt longer free fall periods before deploying the parachute to land down at safe speeds. Once the parachute opens, the jumper can control the direction and speed of flight with toggles attached to steering lines. Trained jumpers can bring the flight to a gentle stop without a rough landing. In addition, skydivers can manipulate their parachutes to make turns, move forward or backwards, and even lift off the ground. Skydiving enthusiasts may opt for para-gliders for a great lift and range; however, most argue that parachutes prove safer in absorbing the atmospheric stresses upon deployment.
For the first few seconds, the skydivers must travel forward in a downward momentum upon leaving the aircraft. Once the flight changes from a horizontal to a vertical lift, the flight becomes more steady with a wondrous scenic view. Free falling skydivers do not experience full force gravity, because the overall air resistance pushes the human body at speeds exceeding fifty miles per hour. This provides the jumper with a feeling of weight and direction. Jumpers who take a hot air balloon or helicopter en flight may experience a general feeling of falling upon exiting the aircraft. Jumpers reach terminal velocity when accelerating in belly to Earth and head down formations. Skydivers describe this feeling as fighting against a forceful wind.
Beginner skydivers should consult a trained instructor before attempting their first jump, usually in tandem formation. Tandem skydiving involves jumping with at least one partner. The instructor responsibly handles all emergency procedures in the event a rare occurrence requires safety measures. This allows the skydiving student to concentrate on improving their methods. First-time skydivers may be exposed to alternative variations, including static line, instructor assisted deployment (IAD), and accelerated free fall (AFF) to gain the necessary competency before attempting a solo flight.
Parachuting and Skydiving Organizations
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