Leaping out of an aircraft upon billows of sharp-cold air with nothing to rely on but a piece of nylon as you plunge to planet Earth is probably the most intense adrenaline rush a human being can experience. For some, this airborne adventure is more than just a hobby – it is a downright addiction (a good one!)
A Snippet of History
Did you know that skydiving wasn’t originally designed for recreation? Rather, it was created as a method to spare lives. In 1797, Andre Jacques Garnerin, hurdled himself from a hot air balloon in an effort to perfect a way for passengers to escape a crashing aircraft. In addition to marking the first successful parachute landing, Garnerin’s endeavor set the stage for one of the world’s most craved past times – and the development of a substantial safety device used by aircraft operators.
A Safer Sport than You Thought
There is always risk involved in thrill-seeking sports, but the activity is surprisingly one of the safest. Through technological advancement, equipment used by jumpers has become more sophisticated, translating into greater security. In 1944 when parachutes were employed by both military troops and commercial airline pilots, an American named Frank Derry patented the placement of small openings along the canopy edges so that the parachute could be steered, enabling skydivers to evade perilous landing locations.
Another tidbit: initially fabricated from silk imported from Japan, most parachute canopies are now manufactured with “ripstop” nylon. This material is woven with a super-strong thread in a configuration of evenly arranged squares highly resistant to tears; and rips that do occur are less susceptible to spreading throughout the canopy.
Ten Tidbits You May not Know
1. Top This!
Amongst the most courageous of humpers includes a 92 year-old man, who performed a 3,500-foot solo jump. Furthermore, the 105-lb. gutsy elder had artificial knees and a hearing aid!
2. Start 'em Early
A 4 year-old boy, Toni Stadler, set the record for being the youngest to when he performed a tandem jump (freefalling while strapped to an expert skydiver) from an aircraft hovering at 10,000 feet above ground at the Cape Parachute Club in Cape Town, South Africa.
3. The Sport in Bloom
In 2006, 400 enthusiasts from 312 countries joined hands and leapt from approximately 23,000 feet in order to configure a flower-like formation that lasted for one minute and 20 seconds.
According to the United States Parachuting Association, it is estimated that about 10 million people across the country from newbies to old-hats throw caution (A K.A. their bodies) to the wind as least one time a year.
5. Not Ready for the Great Outdoors Just Yet?
Novices can ease their anxiety about the real thing via a simulation contraption at one of many indoor skydiving facilities across the U.S. These vertical wind tunnels allow members to get a feel for hovering in the air and breaking the bonds of gravity, as is what happens during the real thing.
6. What Does the Future Hold for Parachute Gear?
From the concept stage to the manufacturing process, there is a sundry of advancements taking place in the development of equipment. One company, the Ballistic Recovery Systems, Inc, (BRS) has already created several General Aviation Recovery Devices (GARDs) devices to help manage the descent of aircrafts coming in for emergency landings.
Another system, yet in the concept stage, has been proposed for use on Boeing 747 commercial airliners. The technique would grant pilots control over canopy deployment. Thus, rather than nosediving a plane, a smoother, straighter glide course would be created, allowing the pilot to land the aircraft safely. The system that has the potential to save thousands of lives in the future.
7. Statistic Fiend?
You’ll be delighted to know that the annual fatalities due to skydiving has dropped dramatically over the past few years – that is 68 in 2009; 54 in 2010; 56 in 2011; 50 in 2012; and only 8 in 2013!
8. It’s Not Like the Movies!
Contrary to belief due to movies in which freefallers engage in screaming matches, the truth is that as you descend, wind rushing at well over 100 mph pretty much renders you temporarily deaf to all sounds.
9. It's is Good for Your Body
Lots of research has proven that the quick surge of adrenaline skydivers experience can actually improve a jumpers’ health such as battling the spread of cancer cells, burn calories, ease pain and improve immunity.
10. Try it Naked?
Many aficionados have headed to Australia to experiencing the jump in their birthday suit where it is acceptable. Just when you thought the activity couldn’t get any more liberating!
Skydive Geronimo offers tandem skydiving experiences just 2 hours south of Perth over the spectacular Margaret River wine region with views of the WA coast.