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Skydiving: A Rather Safe Thrill
Adventure-seekers tired of terrestrial exploits may want to consider the sky as the next realm to conquer. Skydiving offers a relatively safe thrill, so long as you follow instructions. There are three types of skydiving for beginners: tandem, static line, and accelerated freefall.
Despite popular conceptions, skydiving is one of the safest of the 'extreme' sports. This is not to say there's no risk involved, of course. You are, after all, jumping out of a plane. Still, you're far more likely to die in a car collision. In fact, there are more deaths by lightning strike each year than by skydiving. And in the vast majority of cases, skydiving deaths are due to mistakes in judgment and procedure; if you ensure you follow all precautions, you should be fine.
Tandem skydiving allows you to experience freefall and the canopy ride knowing that you have an instructor there to ensure you land in one piece. This is best for those who want to tick off skydiving from their life's To Do list. It requires very minimal training, so it will not qualify you to continue skydiving on your own.
Static Line Skydiving
Static line skydiving requires you to attend an RAPS static line parachute jump course, which requires about 6 hours of training. In static line skydiving, the canopy is attached to the aeroplane by a cord, which pulls your chute open as soon as you jump. You don't have to open your chute yourself, but the drawback is you don't get much freefall time.
For the dedicated thrill-seeker, accelerated freefall lets you jump alone and open your own chute. Two instructors will jump with you, keeping you stable during freefall and opening your chute if you're unable. It requires the highest amount of training and is most often used by those looking to become qualified skydivers.
Freefalling doesn't feel like falling. Falling is based on our perception of objects moving closer or further away. Whilst in freefall, you don't have this frame of reference. People feel pressure and lots of wind, but the sensation is more akin to floating than falling.
That all changes when you open your chute. You'll feel a strong jolt and then have the sensation of being stretched upwards, though not painfully so. The total jump will probably last around half a minute to a minute.
Unsurprisingly, most injuries happen during the landing. Beginner jumpers generally use large, square parachutes that allow for a gentle glide more than a vertical drop, which reduces injuries.
Skydiving is a thrilling experience for those daring enough to consider jumping out of a plane for fun.