Skydiving is a sport that may make you shake to your core, that is if you’re afraid of heights. So let’s know the basics of skydiving, to make us feel a little bit safer when we try to jump. Skydivers can fly laterally, they can also do barrel rolls, somersaults, swooping dives, and glide and soar like a bird. But how do they do that?
This is because the falling body reaches Terminal Velocity. There are no acceleration, the body have gained a steady momentum because the atmospheric drag or air resistance and body weight became equal and opposite. At terminal velocity, the falling sensation disappears. The Terminal velocity makes it easier to perform acrobatics, formations or just take picture from the specially mounted camera.
Remarkably, skydiving is a safe sport. Those who experience accidents are often under a fully functioning canopies and experienced jumpers who try to do extreme movements. Beginner accidents are rare and fatalities due to malfunctioning equipment are rarer still.
There are four essentials in skydiving: fundamental safety, free fall plan, parachute usage and manipulation, and safe landing.
With fundamental safety, this means knowing the how and when of this sport. Checking the gear, proper procedure in jumping, presence of mind in case of emergency, parachute deployment, managing parachute failure, selecting a good landing site and actual landing is included in fundamental safety.
A skydiving beginner should learn how to maneuver or turn the body while in free fall. It is important for the diver to manage a stable position while falling downward at a velocity of 120 mph. This is the second basic element in skydiving.
Parachute usage and manipulation is the third essential thing to learn about skydiving. It is important to learn how to open the parachute in mid-air safely or open the reserve chute when the major parachute would not open. Opening the parachute requires timing. It even pays of if the beginner knows how parachute works and what it is made of.
Choosing a landing site is also a fundamental of skydiving. Choosing the right landing spot will help you avoid tangling on trees or ending up in open sea.
When you have enough knowledge of the four fundamentals, it does not mean that you will jump aboard the next plane and do the dive. There are preparations to be done by a skydiver before jumping. Make sure that the equipment are properly packed. You also need to coordinate the jump with the pilot of the plane.
Weather and wind conditions should be checked and monitored, these will decide the best place for jumping off the plane. Jumping pattern and order should also be determined to avoid mid-air collisions. Jumpers should practice the maneuvers that they will do before entering the aircraft.
The average fall speed of skydivers would be 120 to 150 mph. When they are free-falling in the air, jumpers can change their body position and do the maneuvers. All maneuvers are stopped at about 1,200 m or 3,900 feet. Jumpers have to turn away from each other and give the signal before deploying their parachutes. Waving their arms show that the jumpers are ready to deploy the parachutes. But they would have to gain enough space first from each other.
A parachute ride normally lasts two to three minutes only. The jumpers could make the landing softer by flaring the parachutes seconds before the actual landing. To avoid injury in arms and legs during landing, the jumpers could roll forward. There are some experienced jumpers who land on their feet while running.
Skydiving is an enjoyable recreational activity, as long as beginners follow the basic safety measures and listen to their skydiving mentors.