Adventures In Skydiving
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to jump out of an airplane at 13,500 ft (4115 m), accelerate to speeds up to 125 miles (200 km) per hour, then open a parachute, and float to the ground? If the answer is YES, you are ready to try skydiving!
There are several methods used for skydiving, but they all have the same basic elements. Before your first jump, you must participate in a training program to learn the basic principles of skydiving and what to expect during a jump.
Imagine you are going to take your first jump using the static line system. In this system, the parachute is attached to the airplane frame so that it opens automatically when the lines are stretched out and clear of obstacles. So what does happen during a jump? Here's a closer look at what to expect.
Before you take off for your first skydiving adventure you need to assemble your equipment. Then, just before boarding the airplane, be sure to check the wind indicator. The wind direction and intensity will help you plan for the final leg of your landing path.
From the time you board the airplane for takeoff until you actually jump from the plane, a trained expert, called a jumpmaster, will give you directions. While the airplane is climbing you have a chance to look out the window. The ground can look very different from the air, so look for references to help you locate the drop zone for your landing. During the climb the jumpmaster will attach your static line to the airplane. This guarantees that your main parachute will open.
The jumpmaster will give you the "Go!" signal when it is time for you to jump. As soon as you jump from the plane your body begins to accelerate towards the ground because of gravity. This is called free fall. To keep from spinning out of control, spread your arms and legs and arch your torso backwards. This creates an aerodynamically stable body position. You also will point your body into the relative wind, which is towards the front of the airplane due to its relative speed and flight direction. As you accelerate, the amount of drag increases until drag equals gravity. At this point you are free falling at a constant speed.
As your body moves away from the airplane, the static line opens your container and pulls up the deployment bag. The deployment bag contains your closed parachute with its lines. When these lines are fully stretched, the deployment bag opens and the stretched lines pull the parachute canopy out of the bag.
When your parachute opens and the wind inflates it, the force of drag is greater than the force of gravity. Within 3 or 4 seconds you will decelerate until again drag equals gravity. At this point you are moving at a constant speed. See Gravity and Drag for more information.
Once the parachute is safely open, you need to prepare for your landing. Identify the wind direction, since you want to land into the wind. Then check your altimeter; you will want to start your landing procedure when you reach 1000 ft (305 m). Make sure your landing site is in view and then enjoy the ride!
To land you will have to steer your parachute along a landing path to reach your final landing site. The simplest way to steer the parachute is by pulling the toggles located in the rear risers. By pulling the toggles down you are pulling down the left or right rear edges of the parachute, which has the effect of braking on the left or right side of the canopy. Pulling the toggles on the front risers works in a similar way to control the right and left front edges of the canopy.
A typical landing path includes three legs. Imagine a square on the ground that has dimensions of 300 x 300 ft (91 x 91 m). Now imagine the landing point in one corner of the square.
Begin the first, or Downwind, leg of the landing when you reach an altitude of 1000 ft (305 m). Move about 200 to 300 feet downwind from your landing point. When you reach a point where you are diagonally opposite the landing point in your imaginary square, turn 90 degrees. You are now on the Base leg of your landing. When the wind is directly perpendicular to you, make a final 90 degree turn towards your landing point. You are now on the Final leg of your landing. The landing point should be straight in front of you.
Once you land, stand up immediately to show the jumpmaster that you are OK. You've successfully completed your first jump.
A Final Note
This text has an informative purpose only and should not be understood as an instructional text in any way. No text of any kind should be substitutive of the personal attention received from a properly rated instructor in a drop zone.