Skydiving has quite the history and the facts are very interesting. Actually, the history dates back all the way to Leonardo DaVinci when in 1485 he sketched the blueprints for the first parachute. It was June 26, 2000 that Adrian Nicholas jumped with an exact replica of DaVinci’s model and had a successful landing. The parachute weighed 187 pounds and was made of rope, canvas, and wood. However, the 10,000 foot jump consisted of Nicholas cutting away at 7,000 feet and using a regular parachute to complete his journey to the ground.
Here are some other sky diving facts that you may find interesting:
1. Airborne warfare began in 1918. The 1st infantry was the very first to go airborne. It was the U.S military dropping a unit from a bomber in the sky onto the city of Metz. This was the brain child of Lewis H. Brereton, a young soldier on the staff of General Billy Mitchell.
2. The highest parachute jump occurred in August 1960 by Captain Kittinger from nearly 102,800 feet. The free fall lasted more than 4 minutes in which Kittinger’s free fall speed was almost 715 mph. It was at 18,000 feet when his parachute opened. That mean he was in free fall mode for almost 85,000 feet.
3. There have been instances in which military planes have gone down in bodies of water and pilots have used their parachutes to save their lives. They have deployed their parachutes underwater and been pulled up by the parachute in addition to activating their life vests.
4. The lowest combat jump occurred July 3, 1944 at 175 feet, which was accidental due to an altimeter error. A total of two aircraft made the mistake. The lowest planned combat jump was from 250 feet in Crete.
5. The lowest mass tactical jump was 143 feet.
6. To show that anyone from any age can sky dive, a 92 year old man sporting artificial knees did a solo jump in Cleveland, Ohio. He weighed a mere 105 pounds, had fake knees, and a hearing aid. He leaped at 3,500 feet. The oldest tandem skydiving jumper was a 100 year old in October 1999. A woman at the age of 90 wanted to dive for her birthday to prove that age is just a number. She jumped from 12,000 feet.
7. The youngest sky diver was four years old. Again, this shows that any age individual can jump. The jump was a tandem jump, of course and the jump was made at 10,000 feet.
8. To show how groups can have a good time, on February 6, 2004, a group of 357 joined hands and stayed in formation for 6 seconds on their 7th attempt over Takhli, Thailand.
9. You don’t have to worry about the free fall creating that “heart attack-inducing” roller coaster drop feeling. The feeling is actually one similar to floating and the air resistance creates a degree of support. Free falling is like a human being taking flight. The air flow is constant and allows for aerial maneuvers that are a lot of fun.
10. On May 20, 2001, Michael Zang broke the world record by completing 500 jumps in a day. This meant his jumps had to be done in cycles of less than 3 minutes and he completed these jumps from 2,100 feet.
Here are some safety facts for you:
• Approximately 2 million parachute jumps occur annually. The average number of fatalities is 35 and that is less than 1% of the jumps that take place.
• There is really no age requirement, but it is suggested that individuals be around the age of 18. It is also important that the sky diver is in reasonably good health. As demonstrated above with the 92, 90, and 100 year old jumpers, there is no upper limit.
• The cost to sky dive usually consists of the cost of the jump and all equipment needed to make the jump.
• The jolt by the parachute is not painful and you can use the parachute controls to steer it to your desired landing spot. That way, if you somehow get off course, you can put yourself back on course.
• The landing is a soft landing. You gently land on your feet and step like you’re stepping off of a curb.
• There are a number of safety precautions put in place. You have your main parachute, which is larger in a tandem jump, and you have your drogue parachute, which is a parachute that the instructor releases soon after the jump to slow the jump down. Slowing it down prevents the jump from being as noisy, allowing for instruction. Slowing it down also means being able to enjoy the jump and for it to be a little less scary.
• It takes about 10 to 15 jumps before a student can jump without their instructor. Some may require more jumps than that before they are secure enough to take on the sky solo.
These are all great facts for you to know whether you are taking your first tandem sky dive or you are a seasoned jumper.