The Dark and Dangerous Side of Skydiving

What Goes Up, Must Come Down

As children, we may have dreamed of what it would be like to fly. As adults, we fulfill those curiosities with perhaps flying an airplane, base jumping or even skydiving.

“Odds in favor of an event compares the number of successes to the number of failures.” – Thought Company

Most of us are not Statisticians that scrutinize the potential risks of skydiving. When you defy gravity, there are inherent risks. In challenging the natural state of gravity, there will always be the chance that something could happen, but that occurs in everyday life as well.

Researchers noted that of 3.2 million jumps made within one year, only 2.3 injuries were reported per 10,000 jumps.

Risks of Skydiving

There are risks in skydiving, however, to have a successful jump, it is essential to know the safety guidelines in place and follow them. 92% of fatalities in skydiving were a result of poor judgment and overestimating one’s capabilities.

  • Equipment: There are rare occasions when equipment fails to operate. Parachutes may not open, but a seasoned skydiver will have a reserve to rely on.
  • Weather: A sudden shift in wind can whisk a skydiver away causing a sudden downfall and crashing. Always be aware of the surrounding climate.
  • Health Issues: Those with medical conditions (heart, lungs, ears, bones, mental) should not skydive without permission from their physician.  The high altitude and impact of landing forces additional stress upon the body.
  • Landing: This may perhaps be the most common point of a skydive where injury may occur due to not following instructions.  The wind also forces a high impact landing.
  • Bravado: Some skydivers have an embellished image of themselves as being experienced, when in fact they are not. Attempts to do tricky maneuvers end up in either injury or death.

Riskiest Aspect of Skydiving

Landing is the most dangerous part of skydiving. 83.8% of injuries have been caused at this stage of skydiving while 9.3% were due to parachute issues. Inexperience and ignorance have lent to the noncompliance of safety guidelines.

Most Dangerous Form of Skydiving

HALO (High Altitude Low Opening) skydiving is the most dangerous form of skydiving. Originally developed for military operations, HALO provided the ability to jump in zones undetected by the enemy. This extreme sport has caught on to civilians, and while it poses more risks than traditional skydiving, the cost to do a HALO jump is costly.

  • 28,000-30,000 Feet Tandem Jump costs $3,700
  • 28,000-$30,000 Feet Solo Jump costs $560

Jumpers freefall for up to 2 minutes at a speed of 126 mpg. Oxygen is required to be worn due to the high altitude. The risks of hypoxia (lack of oxygen in the blood) and decompression sickness (the “bends”) can happen on any HALO jump.

Safety Above All Else

You want to have a fun and successful jump. Do your homework before you go!

  • Dropzone should be a U.S. Parachute Association Member.
  • Read up on reviews of the Dropzone.
  • Be wary of low prices – you get what you pay for!
  • Ask questions! Reputable Dropzones and Instructors welcome inquiries.
  • Trust your gut! Ultimately, your safety is your responsibility.

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Supersonic Jump

A Skydive that lasted 15 minutes

Twenty-Five miles up into the atmosphere,  a man hung from a balloon contemplating what he was about to accomplish for the advancement of science. Little did he know he was about to set a world record. At such a high risk, he would pave a new road for aviation history.

 

The Man, The Jumper

Alan Eustace, a Computer Scientist with Google, made a historic jump from the stratosphere in 2014. He has been passionate for skydiving since the age of 18 years old. This precipitated the spark for this adventure to the edge of the earth.

 

Alan had a concept for the design of a suit for space jumping based on the idea of a scuba diving suit. With scuba diving, “you only take what you need” as he mentioned. He proved that to travel to the stratosphere, a capsule was not required.

His jumpsuit had an inner frame structure with the dual capacity to warm and cool. The dual temperature environment within the suit would prevent the face shield from fogging over and allow him to maintain a comfortable (life-saving) temperature level.

 

What is a stratosphere?

 

The earth’s atmosphere consists of five layers. The higher the layer, the thinner the air is. Each layer has its unique properties and temperatures. Eustace traveled up to the stratosphere where he jumped.

 

Troposphere

  • Closest to Earth’s Surface; this is where we live
  • 4-12 miles high
  • Warm at the lower level near Earth but colder higher up

 

Stratosphere

  • Second layer just above Troposphere
  • 12-31 miles high
  • Jets and weather balloons fly in this layer

 

Mesosphere

  • Third layer just above Stratosphere
  • 31-53 miles high
  • The coldest part of earth’s atmosphere average -130 degrees

 

Thermosphere

  • Fourth layer just above Mesosphere
  • 53-620 miles high
  • The hottest part of atmosphere up to 2,700 degrees
  • Space shuttles and International Space Station orbits Earth in this layer

 

Exosphere

  • Fifth layer just above Thermosphere
  • Highest layer and it merges into outer space

Going Up

 

Alan began his ascent hooked onto a weather balloon filled with helium. He traveled upwards for two hours while he dangled beneath the balloon in his specially designed suit.

 

At the peak of his flight up, he was in awe of the beauty. “It was amazing,” he said. “You could see the darkness, and you could see the layers of the atmosphere.” He had traveled up to an altitude of 135,890 feet!

 

Coming Down

 

Releasing a tether hooked from his suit to the balloon, he began to plummet downward. The tremendous speeds of up to 822 mph, caused him to break the sound barrier and was heard by some on the ground. He was not even aware he had broken the sound barrier!

 

It was a wild, wild ride. I hugged on to the equipment module and tucked my legs and held my heading.”

 

Gravity Wins Again!

 

 

Regardless of the two hours it took to reach the targeted altitude, once gravity took hold of Alan Eustace, he was pulled back down in a matter of 15 minutes! Something to ponder within one’s mind.

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“I Jump for a Living!”

A Daily Adventure

Does a distinct profession choose the person rather than the person choosing the job?

Being intensely passionate about an activity or skill contributes to the path we decidedly take with a career choice. Having the aptitude for parachuting is an extraordinary strength to have. Not everyone can make a career out of something that is potentially dangerous on a daily basis.

 

Why yes…My Office IS in the Sky!

Believe it or not; some people actually get paid to jump out of an airplane! It takes a rare breed to be able to make the jump up to ten or twelve times a day. Something my buddy Tony was considering back in the day in our early twenties, but he decided to go ahead and start his own company www.plumbersofpalmbeach.com

 

The average pay of a skydiver is between $20,000 – $40,000. There are various classifications of “skydiving” careers and with that come specific requirements and training to become licensed.

 

The different professions in parachuting / skydiving:

  • Military Paratrooper (Average Salary is $25,000 – $36,419)
  • Skydiving Instructor (Average Salary is $20,000)
  • Rigger (Average Salary is $24,000 – $49,000)

Military Paratrooper

Being one of the “elite” Airborne takes a great deal of self-discipline to pass successfully. There is a process which one goes through to enter, train and graduate.

 

  • Entrance – You must join the Army and pass Basic Training.
  • Combat Training – Upon completion of Basic Training, you are required to complete Combat Training. This is a requirement for all Army personnel.
  • Individualized Training – Upon completion of Combat Training, you advance to Individualized Training where you will learn paratrooping skills and undergo physical training.
  • Physical – You must pass another physical and have no mobility, vision or hearing impairments. You must be under 36 years old to qualify for paratrooper school.
  • Paratrooper Training – Now the “rubber hits the road!” You will undergo rigorous training beginning on the ground and ending in the air with jumps. If you successfully pass, you will graduate and receive your wings.

Advance to Assigned Installation – You will receive orders and go to your first military installation to report for duty.

Skydiving Instructor

As a Skydiving Instructor, your job will require a tight focus while being safety-oriented. You have the lives of others resting in your hands. As an instructor, you must be trained and licensed under the U.S. Parachute Association (USPA.)

 

Your duties will include helping beginning jumpers to have a firm understanding of what the safety procedures are and to ensure they have a successful jump. More experienced jumpers trying to earn their license will also require your testing them.

 

Training to become a Skydiving Instructor requires training and a certain number of jumps.

  • Obtain your skydiving license. Having this license allows you to be able to make solo jumps with others.
  • Must make 25 jumps – use these jumps to hone your skills and build upon them.
  • Must make 100 jumps – once completed you can proceed to the Coach Certification Class.
  • Must make 200 jumps – once completed, you qualify to skydive with a camera.
  • Must make 500 jumps – once completed, you can get your AFF rating (Instructor Proficiency Card.)
  • USPA AFF Instructor Course – this course lasts about a week; once passed you are ready to teach skydiving

Rigger

Parachute Riggers are the ones that employ strict safety measures and ensuring that parachutes are maintained, inspected, packed and repacked. A Rigger must go through training and may be required to be certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA.)

 

There are four types of parachutes:

  1. Seat
  2. Back
  3. Chest
  4. Lap

There are two certifications for Riggers:

Senior Parachute Rigger

  • To Obtain: Rigger must pack at least 20 parachutes (of each type; seat, back, chest, lap) while a credentialed Rigger supervises
  • Must pass oral and written test

Master Parachute Rigger

  • To Obtain: Rigger must have at least three years experience and packed at least 100 parachutes of two types parachutes.
  • Must pass a written test if they do not have a Senior Parachute Rigger certificate. Both oral and practical tests are also required.

How many people can say they dance on the air for a living? Pursue your passion, and your dreams will follow.

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Understanding Risk Takers

Get Down Off Your Unicorns You Madmen!

What attracts a person to be an extreme sport/adventure enthusiast? It goes against all human understanding that we don’t do things outside of our level of comfort as it is viewed as “risk-taking.” Is one certifiably off their rocker to jump out of a moving airplane?

Understanding the Consummate Rush

The stereotypical risk taker is perceived as one that has no regard for their own safety and lacks fear. In contrast, the risk takers are in fact fearful and happen to be emotionally stable. They channel fear differently than someone else might.

 

Research done in 2014 by Wilderness and Environmental Medicine indicated that some people’s fear never crosses a certain boundary, whereas the thrill seeker taps into their fear. As Red Bull Snow quotes in “Days of My Youth,” “The moment you lose fear, you put yourself in the most dangerous situations.”

 

Perhaps the “risk takers” see extreme sports/adventure as an escape from the mundane day to day life.

How does Extreme Sports/Adventure Affect the Brain?

The brains of those seeking the “rush” from extreme sports/adventure may have lower levels of dopamine or serotonin. These two neurotransmitters in our brain play a vital role in the makeup of our behavior.

 

  • Dopamine is responsible for pleasure. This neurotransmitter is the vehicle which delivers the “highs” of life to our brains.
  • Serotonin, however, is a transmitter that regulates our moods and helps with sleep as well as coping with day to day life.

When a person’s level of these two transmitters are imbalanced, they may suffer depression, insomnia, lack of sexual desire and fatigue. Risk takers self-medicate so to speak by going out and partaking in something extreme. The high or rush they experience is the brain releasing dopamine and/or serotonin.

 

Characteristics of a Risk Taker

 

  • Active in being at the forefront of making things happen and work as opposed to sitting on the sidelines.
  • Embodies the desire to want to know how things work and fail to accept something at face value. They believe there is always a better way to do something.
  • They place more value on winning than losing.
  • Risk takers love being around other risk takers.
  • Failure is defined as positive for them as they see it as a way to learn.

Famous People who are Risk Takers

Risk taking is not limited to extreme sports/adventure but comes in various forms such as your occupation. Although the inherent danger of investing, stock trading or buying real estate is nothing comparable to a bungee jump, it does provide the rush.

 

A few people that we are familiar with that experience the rush of extremism or risk taking:

  • Donald Trump – investing
  • Paul Revere – rode to warn that the British were coming
  • Evil Knievel – dangerous stuntman
  • Philippe Petit – tightrope walker between World Trade Center towers in 1974
  • Reed Timmer – storm chaser

 

Some professions are considered more attractive to those who tend to be risk takers.

  • Firefighters
  • Police Officers
  • Bomb Squad Technician
  • Military Fighter Pilots
  • Sea Fishermen
  • Tiger Trainers
  • Stuntmen

Whether a risk taker or not, we all share the need for contentment. The method of how we find that contentment is what separates the fearless from the fearful.

 

“All success stems from risk” – Argo Group.

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Taking that First Jump!

#SkydivingYOLObaby

As you start to step out of the plane, your thoughts seem to vanish. You are in the here and now and time freezes. With a sudden motion, all of your senses go into overload. This sensation is the incentive sought by many extreme sports addicts.

Things to Consider

Extreme sports require not only immense mental focus but that you be in good physical shape.

 

Age

You must be 18 years or older to skydive. There is no age limit as long as you do not have any existing medical or weight issues that would prevent you from participating.

 

Medical

Certain pre-existing medical conditions will negate if you can participate or not. Those with conditions relating to the heart or lungs and narcolepsy precludes them from skydiving.

 

Weight

For a tandem instructor to successfully accommodate a jumper, there are weight limits. For women, the limit is 220 pounds and for men 250 pounds. These policies are in place because the equipment is designed for a specific range of body weight and to exceed the limit could be catastrophic. Keep in mind that your instructor is going to have to compensate for the someone’s weight in addition to their own and with landing your instructor absorbs the shock of both yours and their weight!

Finding a reputable Drop Zone

Safety is a priority when you are placing your trust in someone when it literally involves your life. There are some essential elements to consider when finding a dropzone that will not only make your jump a memorable event but a safe one.

Instructors

Instructors are required to be certified by the U.S. Parachute Association (USPA.) Qualifications should be kept updated with current training requirements. For your safety, do not jump with someone who is not experienced or certified. Instructors encourage their jumpers to inquire about credentialing.

 

Cost

Skydiving does not come cheap and can average about $250 – $300 per person. The thing to remember a cheaper alternative may not be safe!

 

Dropzones oftentimes have package deals that are inclusive. These are great to take advantage of.

 

Additional fees may incur if your weight exceeds the site’s baseline. Photography and video are also offered for an extra charge.

 

Gear

The dropzone should have certified riggers to inspect and maintain the gear. Riggers are required to be USPA certified and are those responsible for packing, inspecting and maintaining tandem gear.

 

Aircraft

This is the most costly expense of skydiving. Not only do you depend on the safety of your gear, but the plane that carries you up to 13,000 feet. The plane should be well maintained,  and spacious.

What to Expect

After you have vetted the drop zone, aircraft and instructor, it’s time to have some fun! Knowing what to expect not only helps you to relax, but have a great time.

 

Dropzone

Jumpers will undergo basic techniques in skydiving. Body position and the deployment of the parachute helps the first-time jumper have a basic knowledge in how things work.

 

Ascent to 13,000 feet

It’s time to go up so you can come down! This is perhaps the most intense time as your emotions build. During your ascent, your tandem instructor will attach you to them with four connection points (two at the shoulder and two on the hips.)

 

The Door Opens

As the aircraft door opens, your tandem instructor will help you to move towards the opening. This is the point where time stands still as your heart races.

Jump!

As you fall from the aircraft the sudden rush of air hits and you are in free fall. This free fall lasts about 45 seconds. Upon reaching a certain altitude, your instructor will deploy the parachute.

 

Landing

As the ground approaches your instructor will let you know when to hold your legs up and assume a sitting position. Before you know it, your feet will be back on the ground

Hoorah!

 

Pat yourself on the back and check it off your bucket list.

 

You did it!

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Welcome to Sky Dive Bristol UNI Blog

Welcome to our blog, we hope this is going to be a source of knowledge for beginners and seasoned skydivers. New posts are coming soon please be on the look out.

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