out of a plane. You either love the idea or you don't. This
is the sport for the thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies.
If it peaks your interest you should give it a try. Most
people that try it only end up taking one or two jumps.
They view it more of a one-time carnival ride and never
pursue parachuting as a regular sport.
It does take commitment
to gain the skills and knowledge needed to get licensed.
Though it's not difficult and there are plenty of women
involved in this sport. You don't have to go through a
long training course to sample skydiving. You will be
able to experience your first jump on the first day.
Parachuting has been around
for about 200 years. Of course early parachutes were not
as safe as they are today. Much of the improvements in
parachuting equipment are due to government's military
Before you ever jump, you
go through lots of training so you're fully prepared.
There are a few first jump options. The more traditional
first jump is a Static Cord or Static Line jump. With
the static cord jump your parachute is automatically deployed
once you leave the plane. There is only about 2 to 3 seconds
of free fall. Static cord jumps are from a lower altitude
of around 3000 feet. You will be required to do about
6 static line jumps before you actually do your first
free fall. To get your Class A license you will need 20
free fall jumps.
The Accelerated Free Fall
(AFF) jump is an accelerated course to qualify for a Class
A license. AFF is broken down into 7 levels each requiring
only one free fall jump. You will need to demonstrate
your mastery of certain skills in order to move to the
next level. 2 jumpmasters will accompany your first jump,
which will be from about 10,000 feet.
The newer option is a Tandem
jump. Here, you are harnessed to an instructor, stepping
out of the plane together. You are responsible for going
through the steps during your fall. A larger tandem parachute
is used instead of the single person chute. You also have
the assurance and safety of having an expert with you.
These jumps are usually from a higher altitude. Because
tandem jumps are so new it is still considered experimental
by the Federal Aviation Administration. Also, United States
Parachuting Association (USPA) does not regulate the training
or safety of tandem jumps.
The cost for your first
day should be around $100 for a static cord jump and $200+
for a tandem and AFF jump. It's important to make sure
you choose a reputable skydiving school. Look for a school
that is USPA affiliated, has USPA certified instructors
and jumpmasters, and has liability insurance. The USPA
at 703-836-3495 will have a list of schools. The school's
equipment should be in great shape.
Safety should be their top
priority. Students should have a main parachute and a
reserve in case of emergencies. Some skydiving schools
provide student rigs with an automatic activation device
(AAD). This device senses altitude and speed, and in an
emergency it will automatically deploy your reserve parachute.
The skydiving school will
provide all your equipment including the rig and jump
suit. It is best to get their recommendation on what to
wear and bring.
Now that you're hooked,
you need to get thoroughly trained. It's not cheap, but
it's worth it. Besides, there are more expensive sports.
There are four levels of licensing, Class A to Class D.
Class A is the novice level.
20 free fall jumps are required, a written exam and thorough
knowledge of your equipment. Class B is the intermediate
level. A minimum of 50 free fall jumps are required and
a written exam. Class C is the advanced level. It requires
at least 300 jumps with over 20 minutes of free fall time
and a written exam. To receive your Class D master level
license, you must complete another 200 jumps. At this
point you're spending more time in the sky than on the
You don't need to become
a master skydiver. With a Class A license you will be
qualified to parachuting at sites around the world.
You're ready to buy equipment.
The best advice is to talk with your instructor. There
are many different types of parachutes. Beginner chutes
are larger and more stable. The more advance designs provide
a faster and more maneuverable chute or canopy. You can
find used equipment, but it must be in great shape. Before
you buy thoroughly research the right equipment for you.
I'm Never Coming Down
Once you've reached expert
status you may want to look into more daring jumps like
Relative Work or Formation Skydiving, Skysurfing or Skyboarding,
and Base Jumping.
- Formation Skydiving is
when 2 or more jumpers create various formations during
or "Skyboarding" entails jumping with a board
like a snowboard attached to your feet. It allows the
jumper to perform aerial maneuvers and stunts. Skysurfing
classes and videos are available, but hard to find.
Check out Skydive Space Center
- Base Jumping is jumping
off of fixed objects such as buildings and bridges.
Base Jumping is best known for it's illegal jumps. It's
fairly common to hear of a jumper being arrested for
going off a building illegally. Keep in mind that negative
press can be detrimental to the whole sport.
- Don't just follow anthers
lead, educate yourself on every aspect of skydiving,
the correct procedures, equipment, etc.
- Don't be afraid to ask
- Don't buy any equipment
on a whim. Know exactly what you want and need.
- Don't take any mind-altering
drugs before hand. Your first jump should be enough
to blow your mind.
- As in most sports stay
cool, calm and collected.
- You'll go through lots
of temperature changes during your jump. It's important
to dress appropriately and be in good physical condition.
- You will be given a back
up or reserve parachute. FAA regulations require that
the reserve parachute be packed within the last 120
- Automatic Activation
Device (AAD) and a Reserve Static Line (RSL) are 2 additional
safety devices that can be used. Find out if your school
- Certain medicines and
health conditions may be effected by skydiving and the
altitude. Consult your doctor before you book your skydiving