Skydiving is a recreational sport that requires the jumper to jump from a high altitude or from a plane. Therefore, during the jumper’s free fall, he relies on the equipment and presence of mind for his safety and survival.
Skydiving schools provide their students with all the necessary equipment during training. Upon graduating from the school, skydivers may continue to rent equipment but most of the graduates purchase their own.
The most important equipment of this sport is of course, the parachute. A skydiving parachute actually has a lot more to it than just a fabric canopy. The drogue chute is used to open the main chute. There is also a reserve chute, in case something happens with the original parachute.
Another safety precaution that comes on sky diving parachutes is the automatic activation device or AAD. AAD is a device which automatically opens at the chute approximately 800 feet altitude if for some reason the jumper does not open the parachute. It is a device required to student jumpers and worn mostly by veteran jumpers.
Both the original parachute and the reserve parachute are ties into a backpack. This backpack is strong, durable, and tied by nylon straps that make up a harness. The harness is buckled around thighs, chest, and shoulders of a jumper. All these harnesses and lines make sure that the parachute stays connected to him during the dive.
No parachute is 100 percent reliable. Most malfunctions result from human error. Some reasons for parachute malfunctions can be traced to improper packing, poor technique at the time of deployment, or inadequate pre-jump inspection. A reserve static line or RSL is attached to the main parachute to activate the reserve parachute if the main parachute is jettisoned during an emergency.
Any type of clothing can be used by the skydivers. But there are special jumpsuits that have better aerodynamic performance. These jumpsuits have handles or grippers so that fellow jumpers can grasp into while doing maneuvers or aerobatics.
Aside from this, there are fabrics that control the speed of the descent. Tight and slippery jumpsuits allow for faster falling rate for small people. Large, canvas-like jumpsuits provide a slower fall for bigger people.
Aside from jumpsuits, comfortable shoes are also important. There are skydivers who recommend athletic sneakers for easy landing. A helmet is also needed to protect the head. To record the great experience, there are helmets equipped with cameras. Helmets used in skydiving range from aviator-style hats to full coverage motorcycle-like hard helmets.
A good altimeter is also a great equipment, this would help you track the altitude during your descent. There is an alarm that goes off reminding the skydiver to open the parachute when he has reached the altitude when to deploy the parachute.
In order to protect their eyes from rapid descent as fast as 150 mph, skydivers wear goggles. They might even have light gloves, should the conditions during the jump be cold.
Skydiving can be expensive. Lessons, flight time and equipment can lead to about $100 to $1000 depending on the level of commitment. You can rent the skydiving equipment if you plan to do it once or twice. But if you’re planning to do it regularly than you would have to invest on your own gear.
The United States Parachuting Association estimates $2,000 to $6,000 cost for an airworthy equipment.