Parachuting
Overview
 
Parachuting, also known as skydiving, is the action of exiting an aircraft and returning to earth with the aid of a parachute
Parachute
A parachute is a device used to slow the motion of an object through an atmosphere by creating drag, or in the case of ram-air parachutes, aerodynamic lift. Parachutes are usually made out of light, strong cloth, originally silk, now most commonly nylon...

. It may or may not involve a certain amount of free-fall, a time during which the parachute has not been deployed and the body gradually accelerates to terminal velocity
Terminal velocity
In fluid dynamics an object is moving at its terminal velocity if its speed is constant due to the restraining force exerted by the fluid through which it is moving....

.

The history of skydiving starts with Andre-Jacques Garnerin
André-Jacques Garnerin
André-Jacques Garnerin was the inventor of the frameless parachute. He was born in Paris.His early experiments were based on umbrella-shaped devices...

 who made successful parachute jumps from a hot-air balloon in 1797.
Encyclopedia
Parachuting, also known as skydiving, is the action of exiting an aircraft and returning to earth with the aid of a parachute
Parachute
A parachute is a device used to slow the motion of an object through an atmosphere by creating drag, or in the case of ram-air parachutes, aerodynamic lift. Parachutes are usually made out of light, strong cloth, originally silk, now most commonly nylon...

. It may or may not involve a certain amount of free-fall, a time during which the parachute has not been deployed and the body gradually accelerates to terminal velocity
Terminal velocity
In fluid dynamics an object is moving at its terminal velocity if its speed is constant due to the restraining force exerted by the fluid through which it is moving....

.

The history of skydiving starts with Andre-Jacques Garnerin
André-Jacques Garnerin
André-Jacques Garnerin was the inventor of the frameless parachute. He was born in Paris.His early experiments were based on umbrella-shaped devices...

 who made successful parachute jumps from a hot-air balloon in 1797. The military developed parachuting technology as a way to save aircrews from emergencies aboard balloons and aircraft in flight, later as a way of delivering soldiers to the battlefield. Early competitions date back to the 1930s, and it became an international sport in 1952.

Parachuting is performed as a recreation
Recreation
Recreation is an activity of leisure, leisure being discretionary time. The "need to do something for recreation" is an essential element of human biology and psychology. Recreational activities are often done for enjoyment, amusement, or pleasure and are considered to be "fun"...

al activity and a competitive sport
Sport
A Sport is all forms of physical activity which, through casual or organised participation, aim to use, maintain or improve physical fitness and provide entertainment to participants. Sport may be competitive, where a winner or winners can be identified by objective means, and may require a degree...

, as well as for the deployment of military personnel Airborne forces
Airborne forces
Airborne forces are military units, usually light infantry, set up to be moved by aircraft and 'dropped' into battle. Thus they can be placed behind enemy lines, and have an ability to deploy almost anywhere with little warning...

 and occasionally forest firefighters
Smokejumper
A smokejumper is a wildland firefighter who parachutes into a remote area to combat wildfires.Smokejumpers are most often deployed to fires that are extremely remote. The risks associated with this method of personnel deployment are mitigated by an extremely well developed training program that has...

.

A skydiving center can be a commercial operation or a club, usually operates at an airport, and provides one or more aircraft
Aircraft
An aircraft is a vehicle that is able to fly by gaining support from the air, or, in general, the atmosphere of a planet. An aircraft counters the force of gravity by using either static lift or by using the dynamic lift of an airfoil, or in a few cases the downward thrust from jet engines.Although...

 that takes groups of skydivers up for a fee. An individual jumper can go up in a light aircraft such as a Cessna
Cessna
The Cessna Aircraft Company is an airplane manufacturing corporation headquartered in Wichita, Kansas, USA. Their main products are general aviation aircraft. Although they are the most well known for their small, piston-powered aircraft, they also produce business jets. The company is a subsidiary...

 C-172 or C-182. In busier drop zones (DZ) larger aircraft may be used such as the Cessna Caravan C208
Cessna 208
The Cessna 208 Caravan is a single turboprop engine, fixed-gear short-haul regional airliner and utility aircraft built in the United States by Cessna. The airplane typically seats nine passengers, with a single person crew, although with a FAR Part 23 waiver, it can seat up to fourteen passengers...

, De Havilland Twin Otter DHC6
De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter
The DHC-6 Twin Otter is a Canadian 19-passenger STOL utility aircraft developed by de Havilland Canada and currently produced by Viking Air. The aircraft's fixed tricycle undercarriage, STOL abilities and high rate of climb have made it a successful cargo, regional passenger airliner and MEDEVAC...

 or Short Skyvan.

A typical jump involves individuals exiting an aircraft
Aircraft
An aircraft is a vehicle that is able to fly by gaining support from the air, or, in general, the atmosphere of a planet. An aircraft counters the force of gravity by using either static lift or by using the dynamic lift of an airfoil, or in a few cases the downward thrust from jet engines.Although...

 (usually an airplane, but sometimes a helicopter
Helicopter
A helicopter is a type of rotorcraft in which lift and thrust are supplied by one or more engine-driven rotors. This allows the helicopter to take off and land vertically, to hover, and to fly forwards, backwards, and laterally...

 or even the gondola of a balloon
Hot air balloon
The hot air balloon is the oldest successful human-carrying flight technology. It is in a class of aircraft known as balloon aircraft. On November 21, 1783, in Paris, France, the first untethered manned flight was made by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d'Arlandes in a hot air...

), at anywhere from 1,000 to 4,000 meters (3,000 to 13,000 feet) altitude. If jumping from a low altitude, the parachute is deployed immediately, however, at higher altitudes, the skydiver may free-fall
Free-fall
Free fall is any motion of a body where gravity is the only force acting upon it, at least initially. These conditions produce an inertial trajectory so long as gravity remains the only force. Since this definition does not specify velocity, it also applies to objects initially moving upward...

 for a short period of time (about a minute) before activating a parachute to slow the landing
Landing
thumb|A [[Mute Swan]] alighting. Note the ruffled feathers on top of the wings indicate that the swan is flying at the [[Stall |stall]]ing speed...

 down to safe speeds (about 5 to 7 minutes).

When the parachute opens (usually the parachute will be fully inflated by 800 meters or 2,600 feet) the jumper can control the direction and speed with toggles on the end of steering lines attached to the trailing edge of the parachute, and can aim for the landing site and come to a relatively gentle stop. All modern sport parachutes are self-inflating "ram-air" wings that provide control of speed and direction similar to the related paragliders. Purists in either sport would note that paragliders have much greater lift and range, but that parachutes are designed to absorb the stresses of deployment at terminal velocity
Terminal velocity
In fluid dynamics an object is moving at its terminal velocity if its speed is constant due to the restraining force exerted by the fluid through which it is moving....

.

By manipulating the shape of the body in freefall, a skydiver can generate turns, forward motion, backwards motion, and even lift.

When leaving an aircraft, for a few seconds a skydiver continues to travel forward as well as down, due to the momentum created by the plane's speed (known as "forward throw"). The perception of a change from horizontal to vertical flight is known as the "relative wind", or informally as "being on the hill". In freefall, skydivers generally do not experience a "falling" sensation because the resistance of the air to their body at speeds above about 50 mi/h provides some feeling of weight and direction. At normal exit speeds for aircraft (approx 90 mi/h) there is little feeling of falling just after exit, but jumping from a balloon or helicopter can create this sensation. Skydivers reach terminal velocity (around 120 mi/h for belly to Earth orientations, 150-200 mph (240–320 km/h) for head down orientations) and are no longer accelerating towards the ground. At this point the sensation is as of a forceful wind.

Many people make their first jump with an experienced and trained instructor – this type of skydive may be in the form of a tandem skydive
Tandem skydiving
Tandem skydiving or tandem parachuting refers to a type of skydiving where a student skydiver is connected via a harness to a tandem instructor. The instructor guides the student through the whole jump from exit through freefall, piloting the canopy, and landing. The student needs only minimal...

. During the tandem jump the instructor is responsible for emergency procedures in the unlikely event that they will be needed, therefore freeing the student to concentrate on learning to skydive. Other training methods include static line, IAD (Instructor Assisted Deployment), and AFF (Accelerated Free fall
Accelerated Freefall
Accelerated freefall is a method of skydiving training. This method of skydiving training is called "accelerated" because the progression is the fastest way to experience solo freefall, normally from 10,000 to 15,000 feet "Above Ground Level"...

) also known as Progressive Free-Fall (PFF) in Canada.

Safety

Despite the perception of danger, fatalities are rare. However, each year a number of people are hurt or killed parachuting worldwide. About 30 skydivers are killed each year in the US
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

; roughly one death for every 100,000 jumps (about 0.001%).

In the US
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and in most of the western world skydivers are required to carry two parachutes. The reserve parachute must be periodically inspected and re-packed (whether used or not) by a certificated parachute rigger (in the US, an FAA
Federal Aviation Administration
The Federal Aviation Administration is the national aviation authority of the United States. An agency of the United States Department of Transportation, it has authority to regulate and oversee all aspects of civil aviation in the U.S...

 certificated parachute rigger). Many skydivers use an automatic activation device
Automatic activation device
Automatic Activation Device in skydiving terminology refers to an electronic-pyrotechnic or mechanical device that automatically opens the main or reserve parachute container at a preset altitude or after a preset time....

 (AAD) that opens the reserve parachute at a safe altitude in the event of failing to activate the main canopy themselves. Most skydivers wear a visual altimeter, but increasingly many also use audible altimeters fitted to their helmet

Injuries and fatalities occurring under a fully functional parachute usually happen because the skydiver performed unsafe maneuvers or made an error in judgment while flying their canopy, typically resulting in a high speed impact with the ground or other hazards on the ground. One of the most common sources of injury is a low turn under a high-performance canopy and while swooping. Swooping is the advanced discipline of gliding parallel to the ground during landing.
Changing wind conditions are another risk factor. In conditions of strong winds, and turbulence during hot days the parachutist can be caught in downdrafts close to the ground. Shifting winds can cause a crosswind or downwind landing which have a higher high potential for injury due to the wind speed adding to the landing speed.

Another risk factor is that of "canopy collisions", or collisions between two or more skydivers under fully inflated parachutes. Canopy collisions can cause the jumpers' inflated parachutes to entangle with each other, often resulting in a sudden collapse (deflation) of one or more of the involved parachutes. When this occurs, the jumpers often must quickly perform emergency procedures (if there is sufficient altitude to do so) to "cut-away" (jettison) from their main canopies and deploy their reserve canopies. Canopy collisions are particularly dangerous when occurring at altitudes too low to allow the jumpers adequate time to safely jettison their main parachutes and fully deploy their reserve parachutes.

Equipment failure rarely causes fatalities and injuries. Approximately one in 750 deployments of a main parachute results in a malfunction. Ram-air parachutes typically spin uncontrollably when malfunctioned, and must be jettisoned before deploying the reserve parachute. Reserve parachutes are packed and deployed differently, they are also designed more conservatively and built and tested to more exacting standards so they are more reliable than main parachutes, but the real safety advantage comes from the probability of an unlikely main malfunction multiplied by the even less likely probability of a reserve malfunction. This yields an even smaller probability of a double malfunction although the possibility of a main malfunction that cannot be cutaway causing a reserve malfunction is a
very real risk.

Parachuting disciplines such as BASE jumping
BASE jumping
BASE jumping, also sometimes written as B.A.S.E jumping, is an activity that employs an initially packed parachute to jump from fixed objects...

 or those that involve equipment such as wing suit flying and sky surfing have a higher risk factor due to the lower mobility of the jumper and the greater risk of entanglement. For this reason these disciplines are generally practiced by experienced jumpers.

Depictions in commercial films — notably Hollywood action movies — usually overstate the dangers of the sport. Often, the characters in such films are shown performing feats that are physically impossible without special effects assistance. In other cases, their practices would cause them to be grounded or shunned at any safety-conscious drop zone
Drop zone
A drop zone is a place where parachutists or parachuted supplies land. It can be an area targeted for landing by paratroopers, or a base from which recreational parachutists and skydivers take off in aircraft and land under parachutes...

 or club. USPA member drop zones in the US and Canada are required to have an experienced jumper act as a "safety officer" (in Canada DSO – Drop Zone Safety Officer; in the U.S. S&TA – Safety and Training Advisor) who is responsible for dealing with the jumpers who violate rules, regulations, or otherwise act in a fashion deemed unsafe by the appointed individual.

In many countries, either the local regulations or the liability-conscious prudence of the dropzone owners require that parachutists must have attained the age of majority
Age of majority
The age of majority is the threshold of adulthood as it is conceptualized in law. It is the chronological moment when minors cease to legally be considered children and assume control over their persons, actions, and decisions, thereby terminating the legal control and legal responsibilities of...

 before engaging in the sport.

Parachuting and weather

Parachuting in poor weather, especially with thunderstorms, high winds, and dust devils can be a dangerous activity. Reputable drop zones will suspend normal operations during inclement weather.

Canopy Collisions

A collision with another canopy is a statistical hazard, and may be avoided by observing simple principles.

Training

Skydiving can be practiced without jumping. Vertical wind tunnel
Vertical wind tunnel
A vertical wind tunnel is a wind tunnel which moves air up in a vertical column. It is a recreational wind tunnel, frequently advertised as "indoor skydiving" or "bodyflight". It is also a popular training tool for skydivers....

s are used to practice for free fall ("indoor skydiving" or "bodyflight"), while virtual reality
Virtual reality
Virtual reality , also known as virtuality, is a term that applies to computer-simulated environments that can simulate physical presence in places in the real world, as well as in imaginary worlds...

 parachute simulators are used to practice parachute
Parachute
A parachute is a device used to slow the motion of an object through an atmosphere by creating drag, or in the case of ram-air parachutes, aerodynamic lift. Parachutes are usually made out of light, strong cloth, originally silk, now most commonly nylon...

 control.

Beginning skydivers seeking training have the following options:
  • Static line
    Static line
    A static line is a fixed cord attached to a large, stable object. It is used for safety in construction andto open parachutes automatically for paratroopers and novice parachutists.-Use in parachuting:...

  • Instructor-assisted deployment
  • Accelerated freefall
    Accelerated Freefall
    Accelerated freefall is a method of skydiving training. This method of skydiving training is called "accelerated" because the progression is the fastest way to experience solo freefall, normally from 10,000 to 15,000 feet "Above Ground Level"...

  • Tandem skydiving
    Tandem skydiving
    Tandem skydiving or tandem parachuting refers to a type of skydiving where a student skydiver is connected via a harness to a tandem instructor. The instructor guides the student through the whole jump from exit through freefall, piloting the canopy, and landing. The student needs only minimal...


Parachute deployment

At a skydiver's deployment altitude, the individual manually deploys a small pilot-chute which acts as a drogue, catching air and pulling out the main parachute or the main canopy. There are two principal systems in use : the "throw-out", where the skydiver pulls a toggle attached to the top of the pilot-chute stowed in a small pocket outside the main container : and the "pull-out", where the skydiver pulls a small pad attached to the pilot-chute which is stowed inside the container.

Throw-out pilot-chute pouches are usually positioned at the bottom of the container – the B.O.C. deployment system – but older harnesses often have leg-mounted pouches. The latter are safe for flat-flying, but often unsuitable for freestyle or head-down flying.

In a typical non-military parachute system, such as the throw-out, the pilot-chute is connected to a line known as the "bridle", which is in turn attached to a small deployment bag that contains the folded parachute, with the suspension lines stowed in rubber bands. At the bottom of the container that holds the deployment bag is a closing loop which, during packing, is fed through the grommets of the four flaps that are used to close the container. At that point, a curved pin that is attached to the bridle is inserted through the closing loop. The next step involves folding the pilot-chute and placing it in a pouch (e.g. B.O.C pouch).

Activation begins when the pilot chute is thrown out. It inflates and creates drag, pulling the pin out of the closing loop and allowing the pilot-chute to pull the deployment bag from the container. The parachute lines are pulled loose from the rubber bands and extend as the canopy starts to open. A rectangular piece of fabric called the "slider" (which separates the parachute lines into four main groups fed through grommets in the four respective corners of the slider) slows the opening of the parachute and works its way down until the canopy is fully open and the slider is just above the head of the skydiver. The slider slows and controls the deployment of the parachute. Without a slider, the parachute would inflate fast, potentially damaging the parachute fabric and/or suspension lines. During a normal deployment, a skydiver will generally experience a few seconds of intense deceleration, in the realm of 3 to 4 G, while the parachute slows the descent from 120 mi/h to approximately 18 mph.

If a skydiver experiences a malfunction of their main parachute which they cannot correct, they pull a "cut-away" handle on the front right-hand side of their harness (on the chest) which will release the main canopy from the harness/container. Once free from the malfunctioning main canopy, the reserve canopy can be activated manually by pulling a second handle on the front left harness. Some containers are fitted with a connecting line from the main to reserve parachutes – known as a reserve static line
Reserve static line
A reserve static line, occasionally called a Stevens Lanyard, is a device that automatically opens the reserve parachute container when the main parachute is cut-away...

 (RSL) – which pulls opens the reserve container faster than a manual release could. Whichever method is used, a spring-loaded pilotchute then extracts the reserve parachute from the upper half of the container.

Variations

In addition to disciplines for which people train, purchase equipment and get coaching/lessons, the recreational skydiver finds ways to just have fun.

Hit and Rock

One example of this is "Hit and Rock", which is a variant of Accuracy landing
Accuracy landing
Accuracy landing is one of the oldest skydiving disciplines, in which skydivers attempt to land as closely as possible to a pre-determined target.-Competitive accuracy landing:...

 devised to let people of varying skill levels compete for fun. "Hit and Rock" is originally from POPS (Parachutists Over Phorty Society). See the POPS main site. The object is to land as close as possible to the chair, remove the parachute harness, sprint to the chair, sit fully in the chair and rock back and forth at least one time. The contestant is timed from the moment that feet touch the ground until that first rock is completed. This event is considered a race.

Tracking

Tracking is where skydivers take a body position to achieve a high forward speed, flying their body to achieve separation from other jumpers and cover distance over the ground. See Tracking (freeflying)
Tracking (freeflying)
Tracking, one of the first freefall skills learnt by a novice skydiver, is the technique of assuming a body position that allows the skydiver to move horizontally while freefalling....



Pond swooping

Pond swooping is a form of competitive parachuting wherein canopy pilots attempt to touch down at a glide across a small body of water, and onto the shore. Events provide lighthearted competition, rating accuracy, speed, distance and style. Points and peer approval are reduced when a participant "chows", or fails to reach shore and sinks into the water.

Cross-country

A cross-country jump
Cross-country jump
A cross-country jump refers to a style of skydive where the participants open their parachutes immediately after jumping, with the intention of covering as much ground under canopy as possible...

 is a skydive where the participants open their parachutes immediately after jumping, with the intention of covering as much ground under canopy as possible. Usual distance from Jump Run to the dropzone can be as much as several miles.

Camera flying

In camera flying, a camera person jumps with other skydivers and films them. The camera flier often wears specialized equipment, such as a winged jumpsuit to provide a greater range of fall rates, helmet-mounted video and still cameras, mouth operated camera switches, and optical sights. Some skydivers specialize in camera flying and a few earn fees for filming students on coached jumps or tandem-jumpers, or producing professional footage and photographs for the media.

There is always a demand for good camera fliers in the skydiving community, as many of the competitive skydiving disciplines are judged from a video record.

Night jumps

Parachuting is not always restricted to daytime hours; experienced skydivers sometimes perform night jumps. For obvious safety reasons, this requires more equipment than a usual daytime jump and in most jurisdictions requires both an advanced skydiving license (at least a B-License in the U.S.) and a meeting with the local safety official covering who will be doing what on the load. A lighted altimeter (preferably accompanied with an audible altimeter) is a must. Skydivers performing night jumps often take flashlights up with them so that they can check their canopies have properly deployed.

Visibility to other skydivers and other aircraft is also a consideration; FAA regulations require skydivers jumping at night to be wearing a light visible for three miles (5 km) in every direction, and to turn it on once they are under canopy. A chemlight(glowstick) is a good idea on a night jump.

Night jumpers should be made aware of the Dark Zone, when landing at night. Above 100 feet jumpers flying their canopy have a good view of the landing zone normally because of reflected ambient light/moon light. Once they get close to the ground, this ambient light source is lost, because of the low angle of reflection. The lower they get, the darker the ground looks. At about 100 feet and below it may seem that they are landing in a black hole. Suddenly it becomes very dark, and the jumper hits the ground soon after. This ground rush should be explained and anticipated for the first time night jumper.

Stuff jumps

With the availability of a rear door aircraft and a large, unpopulated space to jump over, 'stuff' jumps become possible. In these jumps the skydivers jump out with some object. Rubber raft jumps are popular, where the jumpers sit in a rubber raft. Cars, bicycles, motorcycles, vacuum cleaners, water tanks and inflatable companions have also been thrown out the back of an aircraft. At a certain height the jumpers break off from the object and deploy their parachutes, leaving it to smash into the ground at terminal velocity
Terminal velocity
In fluid dynamics an object is moving at its terminal velocity if its speed is constant due to the restraining force exerted by the fluid through which it is moving....

.

Parachuting organizations

National parachuting associations exist in many countries, many affiliated with the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale
Fédération Aéronautique Internationale
The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale is the world governing body for air sports and aeronautics and astronautics world records. Its head office is in Lausanne, Switzerland. This includes man-carrying aerospace vehicles from balloons to spacecraft, and unmanned aerial vehicles...

 (FAI), to promote their sport. In most cases, national representative bodies, as well as local dropzone operators, require that participants carry certification, attesting to their training, their level of experience in the sport, and their proven competence. Anyone who cannot produce such bona-fides is treated as a student, requiring close supervision.

The primary organization in the United States is the United States Parachute Association
United States Parachute Association
thumb|180px|right|USPA logoThe United States Parachute Association is a self-governing body for the sport of skydiving. Its headquarters are located in Fredericksburg, Virginia parallel to I-95...

 (USPA)http://www.uspa.org. This organization awards licenses and ratings for all American skydiving activities based on safety qualifications. The USPA governs safety in the sport of skydiving as this is the organizations sole responsibility and also publishes the Skydivers Information Manual (SIM) and many other resources. In Canada, the Canadian Sport Parachuting Association
Canadian Sport Parachuting Association
The Canadian Sport Parachuting Association , through affiliation with the Aero Club of Canada , is Canada's representative to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale , and the International Parachute Commission , and is thereby the official sport organization for sport parachuting in...

 is the lead organization. In South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

 the sport is managed by the Parachute Association of South Africa
Parachute Association of South Africa
The Parachute Association of South Africa manages the sports of parachuting and skydiving in South Africa on behalf of the South African Civil Aviation Authority.-Mission statement:...

, and in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 by the British Parachute Association
British Parachute Association
British Parachute Association is the National Governing Body for Sport Parachuting in the United Kingdom.-Overview:The BPA was founded in 1961 to organise, govern and further the advancement of sport parachuting within the UK ....

.

Within the sport, associations promote safety, technical advances, training-and-certification, competition and other interests of their members. Outside their respective communities, they promote their sport to the public, and often intercede with government regulators.

Competitions are organized at regional, national and international levels in most these disciplines. Some of them offer amateur competition.

Many of the more photogenic/videogenic variants also enjoy sponsored events with prize money for the winners.

The majority of jumpers tend to be non-competitive, enjoying the opportunity to "get some air" with their friends on weekends and holidays. The atmosphere of their gatherings is relaxed, sociable and welcoming to newcomers. Party events, called "boogies" are arranged at local, national and international scale, each year, attracting both young jumpers and their elders – Parachutists Over Phorty (POPs), Skydivers Over Sixty (SOS) and even older groups.

Notable people associated with the sport include Valery Rozov, a gold medalist from the 1998 X Games, who has had more than 1,500 jumps. Georgia Thompson ("Tiny") Broadwick is one of the first American skydivers, and she made the first freefall.

Drop zones

In parachuting, a drop zone or DZ is the area above and around a location where a parachutist freefalls and expects to land. It is usually situated beside a small airport, often sharing the facility with other general aviation
General aviation
General aviation is one of the two categories of civil aviation. It refers to all flights other than military and scheduled airline and regular cargo flights, both private and commercial. General aviation flights range from gliders and powered parachutes to large, non-scheduled cargo jet flights...

 activities. There is generally a landing area designated for parachute landings. Drop zone staff include the DZO (drop zone operator or owner), manifestors, pilots, instructors, coaches, cameramen, packers, riggers and other general staff.

Equipment

Costs in the sport are not trivial. As new technological advances or performance enhancements are introduced, they tend to drive equipment prices higher. Similarly, the average skydiver carries more equipment than in earlier years, with safety devices (such as an AAD
Automatic activation device
Automatic Activation Device in skydiving terminology refers to an electronic-pyrotechnic or mechanical device that automatically opens the main or reserve parachute container at a preset altitude or after a preset time....

) contributing a significant portion of the cost.

A full set of brand-new equipment can easily cost as much as a new motorcycle or half a small car. The market is not large enough to permit the steady lowering of prices that is seen with some other equipment like computers.

In many countries, the sport supports a used-equipment market. For beginners that is the preferred way to acquire "gear", and has two advantages because users can:
  • Try types of parachutes (there are many) to learn which style they prefer, before paying the price for new equipment.
  • Acquire a complete system and all the peripheral items in a short time and at reduced cost.


Novices generally start with parachutes that are large and docile relative to the jumper's body-weight. As they improve in skill and confidence, they can graduate to smaller, faster, more responsive parachutes. An active jumper might change parachute canopies several times in the space of a few years, while retaining his or her first harness/container and peripheral equipment.

Older jumpers, especially those who jump only on weekends in summer, sometimes tend in the other direction, selecting slightly larger, more gentle parachutes that do not demand youthful intensity and reflexes on each jump. They may be adhering to the maxim that: "There are old jumpers and there are bold jumpers, but there are no old, bold jumpers."

Most parachuting equipment is ruggedly designed and is enjoyed by several owners before being retired. Purchasers are always advised to have any potential purchases examined by a qualified parachute rigger. A rigger is trained to spot signs of damage or misuse. Riggers also keep track of industry product and safety bulletins, and can therefore determine if a piece of equipment is up-to-date and serviceable.

Records

  • World's largest formation in free-fall: February 8, 2006 in Udon Thani
    Udon Thani
    Udon Thani is a city in Isan, north-east Thailand, and the capital of Udon Thani Province.-Location:The province of Udon Thani has a population of 1,467.200, the city alone 500.000. Geographical location and is approximately 560 km from Bangkok...

    , Thailand
    Thailand
    Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

     (400 linked persons in freefall).
  • Largest head down formation (vertical formation): July 31, 2009 at Skydive Chicago in Ottawa, Illinois
    Ottawa, Illinois
    Ottawa is a city located at the confluence of the Illinois River and Fox River in LaSalle County, Illinois, USA. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 18,786...

    , USA (108 linked skydivers in head to Earth attitude).
  • European record: August 13, 2010, Wloclawek, Poland. Polish skydivers broke a record when 102 people created a formation in the air during the Big Way Camp Euro 2010. The skydive was their fifteenth attempt at breaking the record.
  • World's largest canopy formation: 100, set on November 21, 2007 in Lake Wales, Florida
    Florida
    Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

    , USA. http://www.cfworldrecord.com/2007/
  • Largest wingsuit formation: November 12, 2008, Lake Elsinore
    Lake Elsinore, California
    For the lake see Lake Elsinore.Lake Elsinore or LE is a city in western Riverside County, California. The population was 51,821 at the 2010 census...

    , California
    California
    California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

    , USA (71 wingsuit jumpers).
  • In 1929 US Army Sgt. R. W. Bottriell held the world's record for parachute jumps with 500. At that number Bottriell, stopped parachuting and became a ground instructor.
  • In 1929 Australian stunt parachutists Captain Vincent Taylor got the unofficial record for a lowest level jump, when he jumped off a San Francisco Bay auto bridge whose center section had been raised to 135 feet.
  • Don Kellner holds the record for the most parachute jumps, with a total of over 40,000 jumps.
  • Bill Dause holds the record for the most accumulated freefall time with over 420 hours of freefall time (30,000+ jumps)
  • Cheryl Stearns (USA) holds the record for the most parachute descents by a woman, with a total of 15,560 in August 2003.
  • Capt. Joe W. Kittinger
    Joseph Kittinger
    Joseph William Kittinger II is a former Command Pilot and career military officer in the United States Air Force. He is most famous for his participation in Project Manhigh and Project Excelsior, holding the records for having the highest, fastest and longest skydive, from a height greater than...

     achieved the highest and longest (14 min) parachute jump in history on August 16, 1960 as part of a United States Air Force
    United States Air Force
    The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

     program testing high-altitude escape systems. Wearing a pressure suit
    Pressure suit
    A pressure suit is a protective suit worn by high-altitude pilots who may fly at altitudes where the air pressure is too low for an unprotected person to survive, even breathing pure oxygen at positive pressure. Such suits may be either full-pressure or partial-pressure...

    , Capt. Kittinger ascended for an hour and a half in an open gondola attached to a balloon to an altitude of 102800 feet (31,333.4 m), where he then jumped. The fall lasted 4 minutes and 36 seconds, during which Capt. Kittinger reached speeds of 988 km/h (614 mph).
  • Adrian Nicholas holds the record for the longest freefall. A 4 minutes and 55 seconds wingsuit jump made on March 12, 1999.
  • Jay Stokes holds the record for most parachute descents in a single day at 640. http://www.mostjumps2006.com/
  • The Oldest Skydiver: Frank Moody, aged 101, made a tandem jump on June 6, 2004 at Skydive Cairns. The Tandem Master was Karl Eitrich.

See also

  • Base jump
  • Drop zone
    Drop zone
    A drop zone is a place where parachutists or parachuted supplies land. It can be an area targeted for landing by paratroopers, or a base from which recreational parachutists and skydivers take off in aircraft and land under parachutes...

  • Parachute
    Parachute
    A parachute is a device used to slow the motion of an object through an atmosphere by creating drag, or in the case of ram-air parachutes, aerodynamic lift. Parachutes are usually made out of light, strong cloth, originally silk, now most commonly nylon...

  • Parachute landing fall
    Parachute Landing Fall
    A parachute landing fall is a safety technique that allows a parachutist to land safely and without injury. The technique is performed by paratroopers and novice recreational parachutists when using round parachutes deployed by static line....

  • Paratrooper
    Paratrooper
    Paratroopers are soldiers trained in parachuting and generally operate as part of an airborne force.Paratroopers are used for tactical advantage as they can be inserted into the battlefield from the air, thereby allowing them to be positioned in areas not accessible by land...

  • Free-fall
    Free-fall
    Free fall is any motion of a body where gravity is the only force acting upon it, at least initially. These conditions produce an inertial trajectory so long as gravity remains the only force. Since this definition does not specify velocity, it also applies to objects initially moving upward...

  • Tandem skydiving
    Tandem skydiving
    Tandem skydiving or tandem parachuting refers to a type of skydiving where a student skydiver is connected via a harness to a tandem instructor. The instructor guides the student through the whole jump from exit through freefall, piloting the canopy, and landing. The student needs only minimal...

  • Wingsuit
  • Automatic activation device
    Automatic activation device
    Automatic Activation Device in skydiving terminology refers to an electronic-pyrotechnic or mechanical device that automatically opens the main or reserve parachute container at a preset altitude or after a preset time....

  • Space diving
    Space diving
    Space diving refers to the theoretical idea of an individual falling from outer space into the Earth's atmosphere and then parachuting to a landing. This is similar to sky diving but would occur from space...

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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