Skydiving simply means jumping out of any suitable flying machine, falling for a little bit and using a parachute to land on the ground. Skydiving is considered by a great many people to be an experience that must be done at some point, a true bucket list item. It is also a hobby, a competitive sport, a lifestyle, a community, and very possibly an all-consuming passion once you get involved. Leaping from airplanes has grown over the decades to include many forms, each of which can send you off down a particular path of adventures and goals. Here are some of the most common types of skydiving…
Tandem jumps are by far the most common way people experience skydiving for the first time and have been refined over many years into a very accessible way to get started. You jump harnessed together with your skydiving instructor, who handles the procedures – so after just a short briefing, you are good to go. The tandem jump process allows students to experience both freefall and flying under a parachute in a way that allows them really savor the sensations – but for sure you can also use it as a window into the world of skydiving. We want as many people as possible to become skydivers, and will happily talk your ears off about how everything works.
The most popular way to earn a skydiving license of your own is by completing an AFF course. The Accelerated Freefall program is designed to get you skydiving by yourself as quickly as possible – giving you a steady progression of tasks for each jump of the course as you move through the stages. Similar to tandem skydiving, AFF has been used for decades now – and has been constantly enhanced and sharpened as a way to qualify as a skydiver. You get a parachute of your own from the very first jump, complete the full freefall (with two skydiving instructors holding you at first), and land by yourself (with radio assistance).
‘Formation Skydiving’ or sometimes ‘Relative Work’ means getting together in the sky and making shapes. This ranges from simple things like creating a star shape or a circle with a few of your friends, all the way up to the massive efforts of many participants performing multiple complex formations. The world record for a formation in the sky is a whopping 400 people – set back in 2006. Building shapes in the sky is a community effort and many strong friendships are developed from being involved.
Flying squirrel suits. Wingsuiting is what many consider to be closest to what it feels like to actually fly. Modern wingsuits are able to cover huge distances over the course of a skydive, allowing pilots to flock together in graceful patterns across the sky. The extra complexity of adding a wingsuit to your skydives means that you cannot just start doing it right from the beginning – you need a couple of hundred skydives first and additional specific training when the time comes. Do not be dissuaded though, as every step you must take towards the goal of flying a wingsuit is awesome by itself – and only adds to the rewards once you arrive.
Flying camera basically means any situation where you goal on a skydive is to capture video and images of the action. Modern action cameras are very small so many people have them on every jump – but the role of camera flyer on a jump involves planning and skill to get good results. Lots of dropzones offer ‘Handycam’ where the tandem instructor also holds the camera, but by far the superior option is ‘Outside Camera’ where another skydiver jumps as well – specifically for getting the shots. A camera job filming tandem jumps is traditionally the first paid position people can get in skydiving – allowing them to work in the sport while gathering experience and moving towards additional ratings such as tandem or AFF instructors.
People like to go fast, and the smaller your parachute is the faster it goes. Some people are more about the freefall, with the parachute basically a means to get to the ground. For others the parachute part is everything, and they have specific parachuting equipment to push their skills and achievements in this area as far as they can. ‘Canopy Piloting’ most often means ’Swooping’ – whereby you perform high performance turns to generate speed and zoom across the grass for a speedy, graceful landing. Swooping takes a great deal of practice, but like everything in skydiving – the journey is the reward.
This is just a taster of what skydiving has to offer as there is so much more! Here at Oklahoma Skydiving Center we have everything you need to get involved in our amazing sport in whichever way you wish. We have a fast plane that goes to the maximum altitude giving you the most freefall time to fly in the discipline of your choice, and our great community of regulars and staff are here to help and encourage you along the way. Join us!
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