Skydiving is an activity where a person’s free fall is broken by a parachute ensuring a safe landing. The history of skydiving began with the descent of hot air ballooning so modern skydiving has been around for over 200 years.
During World War I and II, parachutists were used to great effect and in large numbers to gain access to enemy areas direct from the air. Post WWI, competitive skydiving came of age in the 1930s and it officially became a recognised sport in the early 1950s.
Skydiving involves a person jumping from a plane, traveling between 8000 and 14000ft to the ground. A skydiver will free fall for a period of time (typically 15 to 60 seconds) before activating a parachute to slow the fall down to a landing speed.
Once the parachute is opened, the skydiver can control the direction and speed of descent. This is accomplished by using steering lines attached to the parachute.
Many people incorrect believe that skydivers experience a falling sensation in much the same way as you would in an amusement park roller coaster. This is incorrect for most of the fall as skydivers reach a sustained terminal velocity of around 200kph and no longer accelerate towards the earth. It is the acceleration that gives the feeling of falling and terminal velocity is reached very quickly.
For first time skydivers, tandem jumps offer an ideal first jump experience. During a tandem jump the assistant or jumpmaster ensures a stable exist, maintains a correct freefall position and activates the parachute at the correct time. Once beyond the pure adrenalin fear factor, people often move onto accelerated free fall where more complicated maneuvers can be mastered. A full list of Australian based skydiving is available. I suggest starting with a Tandem Jump then if you like it, progress to an assisted skydive. Within a small amount of jumps you could even be jumping on your own.