The Sky is the Limit! – The Origin of Skydiving

As far as adrenaline pumping experiences go, there really is very little that can even come close to skydiving. Rightly billed as a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience, Skydiving is, in essence; crazy!

Terminal Velocity: 120mph
Average Height: 13,000ft

History

In order to understand the appeal of skydiving, you have to question how the very first one was ever completed. The brilliance, balls and baffling level of bravado shown by Parisian André-Jacques Garnerin in 1797 when he successfully ‘parachuted’ from a hot air balloon instigated the evolution of one of today’s most popular adrenaline sports.

Literally using himself as a guinea pig, he cut his parachute free from the hot air balloon at a height of 3,000ft and descended back to Earth uninjured. Unfortunately for André-Jacques, this happened during the Napoleonic Wars – and waiting for him back on home soil were some bemused and pretty angry British Troops, who hastily handed him over to the Austrians to be held prisoner in Hungary for 3 years.

Not quite the grand finale he had been expecting – and a far cry from the hero’s welcome that the adrenaline junkies of today would give him!

The next stage in the evolution of Skydiving came as the military developed and deployed it for a ‘quick drop’ into the battlefield, and it was also viewed as a way to save aircrews from emergencies aboard balloons and aircraft in flight.

Competitions for skydiving date back to the 1930’s, and it became an international sport in 1951.

Specifics


A standard jump today would involve leaping from an aircraft (usually a plane, helicopter or balloon) at approximately 4,000 metres (13,000ft), free-falling for around 30-50 seconds before deploying the parachute and descending back to Earth, which takes around another 5-7 minutes.

Once out of the plane, Skydivers will reach terminal velocity in the thicker parts of the atmosphere after about 15-20 seconds, and will cease to accelerate toward the ground as the maximum speed is reached. It is the initial fall and reaching terminal velocity that is so desired by thrill-seekers, as the feeling of freefall is one of ecstasy and is extremely hard to find from many other activities.

The ‘Terminal Velocity’ depends largely on the atmosphere and the diver’s body shape, but is generally considered to be around 120mph for ‘Belly to Earth’ orientations, and somewhere between 150mph-200mph for ‘Head Down’ orientations.

By manipulating the body’s shape, a skydiver can generate turns, forward motion, backwards motion, and even lift.

Types available:

Tandem Skydive 5 Star Customer Rating

With no experience required at all, jumpers turn up on the day and make the leap attached to a qualified and very experienced instructor, who controls the duration once a safety & technique brief is completed in the classroom.

Minimum Age: 16, 20+ Locations, Price £220-£285

Static Line 5 Star Customer Rating

Jumpers prepare for the jump in the classroom before making the leap from (5k feet). The parachute is attached to the roof of the plane and is deployed upon leaving the aircraft. Although losing the element of freefall, this option also loses the stranger attached to your back and provides a different experience – being responsible for safely landing!

Minimum Age: 18, 10+ Locations, £300

Full AFF Course

The full course allows you to complete 12 tandem jumps and prepares you to make any jump, anywhere in the world with your AFF certificate. This course gives the most in-depth and thorough knowledge of Skydiving, and allows participants to jump solo anywhere across the world.

Minimum Age: 18, 15+ Locations, £1300

Indoor Skydiving 5 Star Customer Rating

The best-selling Indoor Skydiving experience allows you to turn up at the centre and experience the freefall sensation for a lengthier time than can be achieved with any tandem jump. Although nowhere near as extreme, Indoor Skydiving is a fantastic taster and allows many professionals to train and practice without the cost or effort of using a plane!

Minimum Age: 5, 2 Locations, £47-£169

Customer Reviews


Brilliant experience! So scary but totally worth it. Would love to do it again! Jamie

Bloody Brilliant!!!!! Totally indescribable! Michaela

We’re going back for our second tandem there! Very friendly professional staff and great set up! Highly recommended!

Very friendly and helpful staff. Great day, thinking of doing the full course to jump on my own. Thanks again. Tom

Third time I have jumped at that Airfield. Extremely professional staff and a great dropzone. If only it was cheaper, I’d do it every week! Patrick

Very friendly and helpful staff. Great day, thinking of doing the full course to jump on my own. Thanks again. Steven

Highest & Best

‘Red’ Joseph Kittinger was considered pretty spectacular between 1959 & 1961, and still to this day remains a true legend for what he achieved in the sport. With the same insatiable approach displayed by André-Jacques Garnerin some 200 years earlier; the brave American made the three highest ever Skydives from heights of 74,000, 76,000  and an outstanding finale of 102,800 feet!

Disaster struck during the first of 3 jumps on November 16th 1959, when an equipment malfunction caused Joeseph to lose consciousness – and it was thanks to the automatic opener that the second and third attempts were even possible as it saved his life. The G force he was exposed to with this jump was estimated to be 22 times that of Gravity – setting another World Record!

During the second of three jumps on December 11 1959, Joseph jumped from 74,700 feet and was awarded the ‘Leo Stevens Parachute Medal’

The biggest jump in history took place on August the following year (1960) when Joseph jumped from 102,800 from the Excelsior iii. Joseph fell for 4mins 36secs and reached a top speed of 614mph before opening his parachute at 18,000feet and safely landing back home. As well as a number of records that remain unbroken to this day, Joseph also witnessed his hand swell up to twice its usual size as the pressurisation for his right glove malfunctioned.

Records Set by Joseph Kittinger

Highest Balloon Ascent

Highest Parachute Jump

Longest Drogue Fall (4mins)

Fastest Speed Through the Atmosphere for a Human

Future of Skydiving

With the ever-developing technologies of the world today, many activities benefit as a bi-product and skydiving is no different. The ability to control freefall far more has arisen with ‘wing suits’, allowing base jumpers to display jaw-dropping levels of bravery and control by flying at near vertical level at speeds of up to 100mph. This bodes well for the future of the sport, along with wind tunnels and the laws of physics combining to test potential advancements in a safe and observable environment – and with huge benefits for the military in the art of combat at stake – no avenue will be left unturned for future advancements!

If you’d like to know more about Skydiving or find out where your nearest dropzone is, have look at our fantastic range of Skydiving Experiences or Make an Enquiry with our sales team.

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