Parachuting (or Skydiving) is an activity in which acrobatics are performed during a freefall, which is then followed by opening up of parachute. Parachute is a device or equipment which fills with air, retarding your fall. The act of parachuting is done as a competitive sport as well as a recreational activity. It is also used for deploying airborne military personnel force. You may even find deployment of forest firefighters being deployed through parachuting.
Typically, in parachuting a parachutist is allowed to jump from aircraft at approximately 4,000 meters altitude and free falls for about a minute. During this time, he may perform acrobats before activating his parachute and land safely on the ground.
Acrobats are performed if the skydiver or parachutist manipulates his body shape and produce forward, backwards motions or even do lifts. Once the parachutist opens his parachute he can then steer it in any direction and control the direction using the toggles attached to the parachute. With this he can land and aim for a landing site and land safely and easily on ground. For a skydiver taking fall for the first time, it is done with an experienced, trained instruction.
A cone-shaped parachute for the very first time came into sight in late 1470s, which was presented in a manuscript (Italian). The design was very much similar to Leonardo da Vinci`s design of parachute. It was designed to ensure the safety of people, i.e. in case of fire in a building (escape purpose), but was not practically tested. Leonardo da Vinci`s drew it (parachute) in the mid of 1480s at Milan. Its design was like a pyramid that was covered by a material as was kept open with the help of a wooden frame that was square. Faust Vrancic invented the first parachute in 1595. He gave his invention a name Homo Volans, which means a flying MAN. Then in 1617, he tested his design of parachute by putting it on and then jumped from a high tower located in Venice. This event was highlighted after 30 years in a book that was written by the secretary of society (john Wilkins) in London.
Louis-Sebastian Lenormand invented modern form of parachutes in late 18 century (France). He was the first person who did the first public jump in year 1783. After two years Jean-Pierre Blanchard designed his parachute, implemented, and tested it on dog. After several years, in 1793, he conducted the test once again and this time he was the passenger himself, instead of the dog. With the passage of time, modified and refined structures replaced the previous one and now it is used in defense of the military. They take help of the paratrooper to attack the enemy from behind.
Materials and Designs:
A parachute is a mixture of thin, support taps, light mass fabric and lines (suspension line). Risers are used to which can be metal connector or cloth loop on the ends to gather the suspension lines. Further, the risers are connected to the strap that contains whole load. Inflation of very thin material increases the drag, which as a result slow down anything tightened to it.
In past, silk was used for the manufacturing of parachutes but from past few years, silk was replaced by more reliable material (woven nylon fabric). Its quality can be further lifted by using coating of silicone. When ram –air or square parachutes were invented, the manufactures of parachute moved to low quality material like zero or Dacron stretch material.
Skydiving or parachuting is a game of death. This activity is so much dangerous that quality equipment should be the foremost priority. Buying equipment for parachuting is not that much easy. It cost very high, but one can get it on discounted rate. For that, you have to look for it. Followings are the equipments that are needed while doing skydiving:
Parachute: Most important and basic equipment needed for skydiving is parachute. It is recommended to purchase it from parachuting shops as they ensure you its clearance before selling.
There are various types of parachutes, and the named based on the design.
1- Round types: Used by military, in case of emergency or cargo deployment. They don’t provide lift and are drag devices purely.
2- Square or cruciform type: Due to its design, the oscillations increase and violent turn when descending.
3- Annular and pull down apex type: This is a variation of round types.
4- Rogallo wing type: The parachute is quite often experimented with in sport parachuting.
5- Ring and ribbon type: They have similar designs to annular design. The design is such as to allow deployemnet at supersonic speed. Typically, the parachute would burst open instantly at such high speeds.
6- Para foil or ram –air type: Most of parachutes nowadays, are of this type. The parachute provides direction and speed control just as paragliders.
Safeguards: Protecting parachuting equipment like padding, helmet and spinal protector can be very useful if something went wrong with the jump or improper landing.
Jumpsuit: As you are falling down the pressure of winds hits on chest that sometimes causes problems. Jumping suits ensures your protection from wind as well from object which can hit you while landing.
Altimeter: The altimeters inform us when to set out the parachute.
Automatic Activation Tool or AAD: The job of AAD is to activate the parachute if you have not done it manually. This basic and very important piece of tool notices the following thing:
1- With what speed are you falling?
2- Why the parachute has not opened manually?
3- When to release the backup parachute?
There are numerous means to get parachuting training without truly jumping. One of such ways is Wind tunnels. It provides us with the chance to practice skills by falling freely through a virtual parachuting simulator which provides us with the ability to experience parachute control against high pressure of wind.
If you want to start with the training, there are varieties of options or choice available to you, which includes AFF (Accelerated Freefall), static line, tandem and IAD (Instructor Assisted Deployment).
Tandem: The most common and frequent choice of the beginner is tandem jump. It is done from immense height i.e. above 10,000 feet. In this style, the jumper is tight with the locks or rings of the instructor chest known to be a “tandem master”. It is a very good way to experience such thrill without having much knowledge.
Static line: In this way of jumping, the jumper leaves the airplane on his own. As soon as he or she exits the line attached to the plane, the parachute automatically gets activated. This jump is conducted from great height usually 3500 feet above the ground. Moreover, the jumper or the student is connected to the instructor who is down on ground via radio guidance. By practicing for some time then the student is given some new equipments that enables him to activate his parachute on his own. In modern parachute “pilot chute” is available, having diameter around 3f. This pilot chute ensures the activation of main parachute as it is inflated. Students are allowed to activate their parachute, after they have done with many static jumps. Once they are used to it, altitude is increased to make sure they have something different to experience and gets familiar with real skydiving.
IAD: IAD is an abbreviation of Instructed Assisted Deployment. It is the modification of static line way of jumping. The only dissimilarity is that in this the instructor himself manually releases the pilot chute. This pilot chute is responsible for pulling out the main canopy or parachute. Although, it may sound technically different but both automatically activates the parachute. Instructor manually deploys the pilot chute as soon as the student makes the jump.
AFF: AFF is an abbreviation of Accelerated freefall. This way of jumping or this channel is for all those jumpers who are keen to become a pure skydiver. In this method student has to start with an altitude between 120000 feet to 14000 feet. Students jumps with his instructor. Instructor examines the student and corrects him during the jump. When he gets used to it, then he is trained with many other techniques like back flip etc.
1. The first and the foremost tip is to make the mind for skydiving. Nothing can be achieved or you can’t be able to do it with perfection until or unless your mind is ready for you to do it. So ensure full concentration into it and make sure you are fully prepared.
2. While looking for skydiving school, make sure you select that institution for your guidance which have proper certification in sky diving.
3. Before you go for a jump, make sure you consult with a physician. He/ she will let you know whether you are fit to dive or not.
4. Always do what your instructor says you to do. Any mishap during jump can lead you to death.
5. Make sure you do your first jump after a training of 6 to 7 hours (ground training).
At what altitude do skydiver normally jumps?
Normally parachuting is done from a height of 12500 feet above the surface of the ground. In some case, it is performed even from a height of 14500feet. Altitude mainly depends upon type of plane, zone and jump.
What is the maximum attitude of skydiving that has ever been achieved?
The ever-highest exit was from a height of 102,800feet. It was made possible with a help of a special balloon which took the diver to such a high altitude.
What is the appropriate height to activate parachute?
The height varies. If you are an experienced diver then you can activate your parachute from an altitude of 2000feet AGL (minimum, according to United States Parachute Association). If you are an inexperienced then it is recommended to deploy your parachute from a height of 2,500 feet (minimum, according to United States Parachute Association). For certain training jumps it can be 5,500 feet as well.
What is pilot chute?
A pilot chute is a minute back up parachute that is used as a reserve parachute. This small reserve parachute is attached to the operation bag that contains the parachute via bridle. On latest parachuting rigs, you can find three sort of pilot chute:
c- Spring loaded
How difficult is it to pack a parachute?
Packing a parachute is an easy task but if you are a beginner then you are not allowed to pack the parachute. In order to know how to pack it with perfection you have to make sure that you have taken some classes on packing techniques.
Nothing can be more fun than suspending in the air and flying with your body. Parachuting or skydiving can be a lot of fun and enjoyable but one needs to be equipped with proper skills in order to feel the thrill of parachuting. You should learn proper skills or at least basic ones before you can perform this activity. For this you should take professional training. Once you do so and make that first jump, you will absolutely know why skydiving is so fascinating and feel the real adventure, something which you have never really experienced before in your life.