Image via Wikipedia
Image via Wikipedia
Despite that on the face of it jumping from an airplane seems like it would have a high mortality rate, parachuting fatalities are actually fairly rare. The biggest reason for this is that skydivers in most countries are required to carry a reserve chute. This second, backup chute is packed and inspected by a professional parachute rigger. In addition to this safety feature, many skydivers have an automatic activation device (AAD) which is sensitive to altitude. This device activates the back-up parachute if the skydiver doesn’t do it on his own.
Keep in mind that most of today’s practicing skydivers have been parachuting for years and have never experience a serious injury. When an injury does happen it is due to either improper response or inattention by the parachutist. Many such incidents result in the parachute becoming entangled and not opening as designed to slow down the rate of descent. But these situations don’t occur very often. Another incident occurs when the wind changes and forces the parachutist to make a hard landing. These do, although, almost never happen. Today, some of the biggest causes of injury occur when the parachutist misuses his chute in an effort to please a crowd, does a dangerous stunt and makes a mistake, particularly on landing. Though these close to the ground high speed stunts are exciting, it is usually due to the fact that the danger involved is very real.
In America and other developed nations, reserve parachutes are packed by professional riggers to ensure that they will always open correctly. These riggers are trained, tested and certified using highest level of standards. Generally the primary parachute is packed by the skydiver him/herself who has been trained in how to do it.
Most poorly packed chutes open in streamers with twisted lines that keep it from deploying all the way. If the parachutist can’t shake it free, his reserve chute saves his life.
If you’ve ever wanted to fly – really fly, on your own, then hang gliding is the sport for you. The experience is the closest thing to having wings ever invented.
You start with a rigid aluminum frame and instead of feathers it’s covered by mylar or rip-stop nylon. And when you fly, you hang in a prone position beneath the wing by a harness. This is where “hang gliding” got its name. If you want to turn, simply shifts your weight. You alter your center of gravity by moving side to side or from front to back piloting your craft like a bird drifting on an updraft. And it’s possible to soar through the sky for hours on end at 15,000 feet or higher.
The longest anyone has ever stayed aloft is just over 11 hours, and the distance record is 300 kilometers. However, if you decide to start, you will probably keep it just above the ground. But over time as your skills increase along with your confidence you’re going to want to get up there, which is what hang gliding is all about: soaring!
If you can run with 60 pounds on your shoulders, and launch yourself from a hill, you can defy gravity and take in the awesome sights. And you don’t need to be some muscle bound brute. Hang gliding take balance and endurance – two qualities that make this an equally great activity for women or men.
It costs a bit to get started, somewhere in the neighborhood of $4,000 for your glider, harness and reserve chute. (You may also want a two-way radio and perhaps a variometer - which will tell you if you’re going up or down and at what speed -but they can run you an extra $500).
But lessons are too bad and you can literally be out flying on your own in 2 days! Let’s go fly!
Perhaps one of the biggest fears that many people have regarding flying sports is equipment failure, more specifically, having a faulty parachute. Because the parachute is the one thing that ensures that the diver will have a safe decent to the ground, it is very important that the parachute works properly. Fortunately, as technology has gotten better through the years, parachute failure is practically non-existent which makes fatalities and other injuries due to fault parachutes non-existent.
Most flying sports require the diver to wear two parachutes. This way, if the first parachute is in anyway defective, there is no need to panic because a back-up parachute is available. The chances of both parachutes having an issue are highly unlikely.
Due to the very strict guideline set in place by the FAA, the reserve parachutes are checked and re-packed often by a parachute rigger certified by the FAA, This is done regardless of whether or not the parachute has been used.
The majority of people who participate in flying sports don’t just rely on their own actions to deploy their parachute, so they will wear an AAD, Automatic Activation Device. These devices sense the altitude and whether or not the parachute has been deployed. If in fact the parachute is not deployed at a safe altitude, the AAD will activate the parachute to ensure that they parachutist reaches the ground safely.
According to statistics, parachute failure occurs 0.1% of the time, which is roughly 1 out of 1000 jumps. Given the fact that there are close to 5 million car accidents each year, it is much safer to jump out of an aircraft than it is to take a casual car ride.
Even though sports that require parachutes can be considered to be “extreme”, there are so many safety measures in place that there is no need to be overly worried about an outcome that is very unlikely to take place.
All flying sports are similar because they involve “flying”, but for all the similarities from sport to sport there are as many differences because they are all unique in their own way and each provide a different experience. Here are some of the different types of flying sports.
Skydiving, also known as parachuting is done when the skydiver jumps out of an aircraft, and performs acrobatics on the way down to the ground. Following the acrobatic exercises, they then deploy a parachute, which allows them to glide safely to the ground.
There are several ways that skydiving can be performed, with the most common being solo and tandem. Solo jumps are performed when the skydiver jumps from the aircraft alone, while tandem skydiving is accomplished by two jumpers simultaneously jumping out the aircraft together while harnessed together.
Skysurfing is similar to skydiving because it follows all of the same basic procedures as skydiving; however, skysurfers are attached to a board with their feet. Skysurfing tends to pose a greater risk than tradition skydiving because of the lack of control due to non-mobility of the feet, especially during landing. However, with proper instruction, skysurfing is an extreme sport that can be mastered by practically anyone.
Base jumping is one of the most dangerous extreme sports not just in the “flying” category, but overall. This is because base jumping is done by jumping off of an object such as a building, cliff, bridge, etc., followed by the deployment of a parachute. The sport tends to be dangerous because of the many unknown factors involved with jumping from an area that is not “designated” as a safe place to jump.
These are just a few of the many flying sports out there, as there are many more. So do a little more research until you find the one that’s right for you.
For some people, the idea of jumping out of a plane or freefalling off the side of a mountain is something that they wouldn’t hesitate to do. These people may enjoy the adrenal rush or perhaps it is a requirement of their job. Nevertheless, for as many people that partake in these activities on a regular basis there are more than twice as many people who would never even consider skydiving, base jumping, or any other flying sport. For those people who are not interested, it may seem crazy, but participating in these extreme sports can be very fulfilling, and provide an experience that will be remembered forever.
Face your Fears
The main reason that people refuse to consider participating in flying sports is simply because they are scared. This can be because they are afraid of heights or the thought of injury or death. However, facing fears is an important part of life and by attempting to do something that is outside of the box, it can have a person feeling like they can then conquer the world.
Flying sports have been around for many years. In fact, parachuting dates back to the 10th Century in China and the popularity of the sport continues. If the sport were not one worth trying, it would have been done away with many years ago, but, because it continues, it’s a sport worth trying, or it wouldn’t have lasted so long.
Risks are Minimal
Many people often associate death with flying sports due to the fact that there are so many elements that are out of the participant’s control. But, the risks of death and other injuries are very minimal because many safely precautions are in place to make sure that “bad” things don’t happen.
This is just a few of the reasons to consider participating in flying sports, and if given thought, the pros can easily outweigh the cons for all who participate.
Hang gliders in flight look so graceful. They ride on the air current and gracefully come down to Earth. While they fall in the same category as paragliding, hang gliders have a fabric wing attached to an alloy frame. The pilot hangs suspended from this frame by a harness. Pilots have been known to fly as high as 17,999 feet, and as far as 300 miles, but these distances are determined by flying conditions. Surprisingly, though take off wind speeds should be 5 to 20 mph, pilots can take off, fly, and land with no wind. They can also fly in any temperature, though for every thousand feet of altitude, the temperature drops 4 degrees Fahrenheit.
Learning to Fly
As with paragliding, schools certified by the United States Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association teach hang gliding. Licensing is similar to paragliding. It takes about 3 to 6 months to be licensed as a beginner and novice. Individual skill determines actual length. Since there is no “official” regulation for flying hang gliders, there is no age limit.
Equipment is provided by most school until the student has received their beginner rating. Beginner training may cost up to $1,200. New equipment can cost as much as $5,000, though used equipment can cost as little as $3,000. When purchasing used equipment, it is important to have it thoroughly checked out by an experienced pilot prior to use. Size also determines price as a shorter pilot will require a smaller glider, a larger person a larger glider.
The USHPA website says hang gliding is no more dangerous than aerial sport and depends wholly on pilot skill. Beginning and novice pilots should fly no higher than a few hundred feet and always with an instructor or more experienced pilot.
They look a lot like skydivers. But they’re not. They are paragliders. These folks launch their aircraft by foot (and are sometimes towed by vehicles) and ride the air currents. Paragliders are connected to the canopy (called a wing) by a harness attached to a variety of lines (called risers). Pilots control their flight by braking, using hand holds connected to either side of the canopy; shifting their weight from side to side and a speed bard that attaches to the leading edge of the canopy.
Learning to Fly
You can learn to fly a paraglide by contacting a certified school. A list of schools can be obtained by the United States Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association. Proficiencies range from beginner to master. Paragliders don’t receive licenses like airplane pilots, though most paragliding sites require some sort of certification from the USHPA.
To become a beginner and novice rating will take approximately 3 to 6 months, or 5 to 10 lessons, though all training time is determined by each individual.
The cost of paragliding can be expensive. Most schools will provide equipment through the beginner level, but for further training, the student is expected to purchase their own. The training itself can cost as much as $1,200 to earn a beginner rating. New equipment costs more than used. Required equipment includes the training glider, harness, parachute and helmet. Equipment can range from about $3,000 if purchasing used equipment to $4,000 if purchasing new equipment. Pilots also use a variometer that shows climb/sink rate and altitude. Newer models even have GPS to determine location. Radios are also used to communicate with other pilots.
According to the USHPA paragliding safety is determined by the pilot. It is recommended that beginner and novice pilots fly no higher than a few hundred feet in relatively calm weather.
If you’ve always dreamed of free falling through the sky, then there are a few things you should know before you head out on your first skydiving adventure. Sure, skydiving looks easy enough ” just jump and pull the parachute ” but the reality is that skydiving can actually be quite dangerous. Here are a few tips to keep in mind before you head out on your first skydiving trip.
1. For your first jump, go tandem. You’ll want to go with an instructor and make that first jump together. It’s much safer for the first time to go this way.
2. Understand the basics. You’ll want to take a course before you actually attempt to make the jump. An instructor and a class will help you understand how to stay safe while having fun.
3. Know your risks. Even though skydiving is a lot of fun, there are risks involved. Be sure you know beforehand what the risks are. It’s much better to go in knowing what could happen then to be surprised with an accident.
4. Have fun! Most importantly, you’ll want to have fun! Skydiving is highly entertaining and most people jump for the fun of it. You need to be careful and know all of the risks, but don’t let all of the rules get in the way of your fun. There’s certainly a reason why so many people participate in skydiving as a hobby. Plain and simple, it’s a rush and lots of fun.
Some people might think you are crazy, but if you are just crazy enough to jump from a plane, be sure to keep these ideas in mind. If it’s your first jump or you are ready to really make skydiving your new hobby, now is the time to get ready to head up in the plane. Ready, set, jump!
Skydiving is a fun and adventurous hobby. There are many people out there who will tell you that skydiving is too dangerous and shouldn’t be a way to have fun. However, if you are careful and follow instructions, you can stay safe, while getting the biggest thrill of your life. Below we share some ideas on how you can stay safe while skydiving.
1. Don’t make mistakes. That might seem a little harsh, especially for those who believe that “accidents happen,” but in the case of skydiving, accidents can cause serious harm, or even death. There really is no wiggle room for mistakes. Follow instructions carefully and make sure you adhere to all safety guidelines. They are there to protect you.
2. Check your chute. It’s important to check your parachute before you go out for your jump. Make sure there are no tangles and that it is packed correctly. A parachute that is packed incorrectly won’t open, leaving you in a very dangerous situation.
3. Get some instruction. You never want to attempt skydiving without some instruction. Skydiving takes skill and knowledge. Take a class to learn the basics, and then jump tandem with an instruction for your first few jumps.
4. Don’t be afraid to take a risk. The fact that you want to go skydiving says that you are a risk taker. Just because something could go wrong while skydiving, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the risk. The chances of a fatal accident occurring are actually very slim.
When you’re ready to make a jump and go skydiving, keep these tips in mind. Remember, safety always comes first. If you are safe, then you are sure to have a great time. Skydiving is one of the greatest thrills you’ll ever experience in your life. With a little bit of help and instruction and careful following of the rules, you’ll soon see why so many people enjoy skydiving.
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