SkyDiving is quite simply the most exciting, exhilarating, thrilling, breathtaking, rewarding, dynamic and FUN activity out there – all rolled into one.

It’s an adrenalin rush, an adventure, an experience you will never forget.

Once… and you will want to do it again and again and again.

Tie your hair up, put on a jumpsuit and strap on some goggles.

Step out of your comfort zone and give yourself a perfectly healthy blast of some all-natural high-speed gravity-powered adrenalin-pumping fun in the big playground in the sky.

Modern-day skydiving is a hugely popular and dynamic activity practised by tens of thousands of people from all walks of life the world over.

We jump because we love to fly.

You are not mad to do it, you are mad not to do it.

What are you waiting for….?

Everyone has that dream – you know the one, floating up above and in the clouds…

This is not a spectators sport, you have to make a bit of a leap of faith, let go of your fears, and realise that high up above the earth and just outside the aircraft door is where the magic happens…

But it’s not magic… it’s physics. Gravity, airspeed, high pressure, low pressure, airflow and aerodynamics.

Unlike anything else, and certainly nothing like a roller coaster (none of that stomach dropping feeling), from the moment you leave the aircraft you are flying.

By manoeuvring your body and manipulating the airflow you start to experience high-speed human body flight in it’s raw, true and pure form.

Air is basically less dense water – it’s like diving into a big swimming pool or flying your arm up and down out of the car window.

Your body is your aircraft.
You are your own pilot.

The sky is your playground.
The only limit is your imagination.

And there you are… prolonged seconds of pure unadulterated gravity powered freedom high above the earth. Constantly learning, seeing life from a completely different perspective, doing aerobatic manoeuvres in a completely new dimension with a new group of friends, with a renewed appreciation for life generally.

From the early days of aviation, even before the first aircraft, people have been jumping intentionally off and out of anything high enough to get even just a few seconds of human flight.

There must be a pretty good reason why tens of thousands of people from all walks of life all over the world have been jumping together for many years and will continue to do so until the end of time…

We don’t fall, we fly…

Welcome to the big playground in the sky!

The dream of flight has existed in mankind since the beginning of life itself….

As long as man has been able to observe the birds of the air, man has wished for the gift of flight.

Parachuting has an interesting history, one that goes back to well before the Wright Brothers first controlled powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight in 1903 – the start of modern day aviation.

There are early references, dating back almost a thousand years, to hats and umbrellas being used to escape from towers in ancient Chinese manuscripts.

Leonardo da Vinci’s sketches from ca.1485 give the earliest detailed designs for a parachute; a design that was eventually built and flown in 2000, making it the world’s first working parachute design.

Jumping from the Montpellier Observatory on the 26th December 1783 Louis-Sébastien Lenormand is considered to be the first human to have made a witnessed descent making use of a parachute. His 14 ft rigid wooden frame invention was designed to help entrapped occupants of a burning building escape. He is credited with coining the term parachute (from the Greek para – “against”, and French chute – “fall”), and regarded as a pioneer of parachuting.

The first account of a parachute being used by a human to descend from a great height is from 1793 when Jean-Pierre Blanchard’s hot air balloon ruptured, and he used a parachute to escape.

Jumping from his balloon on October 22nd 1797, French aeronaut Andre Jacques Gernerin is credited with making the first intentional and successful parachute descent from a high altitude. On numerous occasions he demonstrated his non-rigid frameless silk parachute.

With the incidence of hot air balloon accidents that were occurring around ‘balloonmania’ at the time, the parachute gained impetus as a mechanism to save lives.

Credited with being the first to make parachute descents from powered aircraft are Grant Morton – 1911, and Albert Berry – 1912.

In 1919 Leslie Irvin made the first premeditated freefall descent from an aircraft. Suitably impressed, the American and British Airforces promptly adopted the manually activated parachute design as standard equipment. A few months later and the worlds first parachute design and manufacturing company was formed – Irving Air Chute.

In 1922, with the motto “Life depends on a silken thread”, the Caterpillar Club was formed. Anyone who whose life was saved by using an Irving parachute after bailing out of a disabled aircraft was eligible for membership, and awarded with a gold Irwin pin and a certificate.

By the end of World War II the number of Caterpillar Club members with gold Irvin pins had grown to over 34,000 though the total number of people saved by Irving parachutes is estimated to be 100,000.

Stunt parachuting, human freefall and Birdman displays were often part of the Barnstorming phenomenon (the first major form of civil aviation) in the period between the world wars and throughout the early 1920s.

From 1925 early experiments with stable extended freefall began around the world.

The Valentine position is named after Léo Valentin, a paratrooper, an instructor, and developer of the stable belly to earth freefall position. He set records in 1948 for things like the longest night freefall amongst other things. He is also one of the famous “Birdmen” of the time and was known as “Valentin, the most daring man in the world”.

Birdmen and airshow dare-devils like Clem Sohn made use of canvas, wood, silk and even whalebone for their designs, which were demonstrated at events around the world throughout the 1930’s.

After WWII experienced paratroopers started getting together and jumping for fun. Making use of the plethora of postwar surplus parachutes and equipment left lying around… the idea of skydiving as a hobby started to grow – games and competitions started to develop.

The term ‘skydiver’ was coined in the mid-50s’ as training schools and skydiving centres started opening up, and ‘’skydiving as recreational and competitive sport activity began.

Around then the first skydiving bodies and associations started to be formed around the world.

Pietermarizburg Parachute Club in South Africa was formed in 1954 and is one of the oldest parachuting clubs in the world.

The British Parachute Association (BPA) was formed in 1961.

With aircraft flying higher than ever before, in 1960 high altitude emergency parachutes were being designed and tested as part of Project Excelsior. Making a jump from 31,3 km (102,800 ft), freefalling for 4 minutes 36 seconds at a maximum speed of 988 km/h, Joe Kittinger set records for the highest parachute jump, the longest freefall and the fastest speed by a human through the atmosphere.

in 1961 Juri Gagarin made the first human space flight, after reentry and at around 23 000 ft, he jumped out of the Vostok descent module and landed separately under his own parachute.

In fact, all cosmonauts of the first six Soviet orbital flights jumped out of the reentry vehicles and parachuted to the ground. This included Valentina Tereshkova, pilot of Vostok 6, first woman and first civilian in space. She was chosen as a cosmonaut because she was a member of a local parachuting club.

From 1964 square ram air parachute designs started to be used around the world and by 1970 the ram air parachute became industry standard.

On the 14th October 2012 as part of the Red Bull Stratos Project, Felix Baumgartner made a jump from 38,9 km (127,852 ft) and set a new world record for the highest parachute jump. Reaching a maximum human body flight speed of 1,357.64 km/h he also became the first human to break the sound barrier outside of a vehicle.

Modern day skydiving includes numerous disciplines, with official Fédération Aéronautique Internationale International Parachuting Commission National and World Cups and Championships occurring annually in each discipline.

SkyDivers are a diverse group of passionate dreamers and doers of all ages (from 18 to 80), from all over the world and from all backgrounds, walks of life, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and occupation basically following the dream.

Have a read of this article.

Skydiving is where it is at today as a result of an interesting history that dates back to a time before there were even aircraft flying in the sky.

Originally designed to save lives, the first account of a parachute being used in an emergency is from an air balloon in 1793. By the end of WWII parachutes had saved more than 100 000 lives.

Modern day aviation is highly regulated.

Parachute Associations and Federations around the world maintain strict safety and training standards, and constantly strive to reduce risk and increase safety.

Largely due to improvements in equipment and better training, the safety record of the sport continues to improve.

• All incidents and accidents are reported.
• Extensive data has been collected and analysed in great detail.
• Risks have been identified.
• Detailed knowledge of these risks has been built up.
• Measures to manage and control identified risks have been put in place.

Skydiving accidents are very rarely the result of equipment failure or plain bad luck.

Some forms of parachuting undertaken by experienced parachutists do involve higher risks.

The majority of skydiving accidents involve experienced skydivers exceeding their own limits and / or attempting advanced manoeuvres, and come down to basic human error.

As a result of modern training techniques and reliable, easy to use and forgiving equipment, student fatalities are very rare.

Tandem skydiving is unquestionably the safest way to experience skydiving.

In fact, you are more likely to die from a lightening strike, whilst cycling, from a dog bite, a bee sting, choking on food, in a motoring accident or of cancer than from skydiving – even if you jump lots!

What follows are extracts from 2012 data from both the United States Parachute Association (USPA) and the British Parachute Association (BPA).

USPA 2013

The United States Parachute Association (USPA) clocks up more than 3 million jumps a year and has almost 35 000 members. Their data is the most detailed and comprehensive.

This is an extract from the official USPA report for 2012

The sport of skydiving continues to improve its safety record.

In 2012, USPA recorded 19 fatal skydiving accidents in the U.S. out of roughly 3.1 million jumps.

That’s 0.006 fatalities per 1,000 jumps — nearly the lowest rate in the sport’s history!

Tandem skydiving has an even better safety record, with less than 0.003 student fatalities per 1,000 tandem jumps over the past decade.

According to the National Safety Council, a person is much more likely to be killed getting struck by lightning or stung by a bee.

2012 had 0.55 fatalities per thousand USPA members.
Estimating about 3.1 million jumps last year, that’s one fatality per 163,158 skydives.

In 2012, USPA members reported 915 skydiving injuries out of more than 3.1 million jumps.
That’s roughly three injuries per 10,000 skydives.

Read the full USPA 2012 Report here.

For a more in-depth analysis and detailed assessment titled “Lessons to be learned” click here.

British Parachute Association (BPA) – 2012

This is an extract from the official BPA report for 2012

Risk in parachuting is best expressed as Injuries per 1000 Jumps and as Fatalities per 100,000 Jumps.

‘Injury’ may mean anything from a minor cut, bruise or scratch through fractures and sprains to multiple fractures and internal injuries. If a parachutist reports any injury, it is counted, most injuries are minor or are simple fractures.

The injury rate rises with increasing age, increasing weight and decreasing physical fitness.

Tandem Skydiving

The injury rate for tandem jumps is about 1.2 injuries / 1000 jumps (about 1 injury per 800 jumps).
The fatality rate for tandem jumps is about 0.25 per 100,000 jumps (1 in 400,000).

Accelerated Free-Fall (AFF)

The novice injury rate for AFF averages 5 / 1000 jumps (about 1 injury per 200 jumps).

Experienced skydivers

Once a skydiver is fully trained, the average injury rate is 0.4 injuries / 1000 jumps
The fatality rate is about 1/100,000.

Read the full BPA 2012 Report here.