Authored by Douglas Mefford in Recreation and Sports
Published on 05-13-2009
Skydiving has become a very popular extreme sport because of the adrenaline rush that a terminal velocity fall towards the earth can produce. With roughly three million skydiving enthusiasts in the United States alone, there is a lot of enthusiasm for this high-flying sport. However, not everyone who wishes to experience this exciting sport desire to push themselves to the limit first time out of the airplane. A very good method for beginning to get skydiving experience is to sign up to go tandem skydiving to see what it is like.
Tandem skydiving differs from the more well-known forms in that the jumper is securely fastened to an experienced diving instructor for the entire duration of the fall. This diving instructor will control the majority of the technical aspects of the jump, from launching from the plane, to directing the fall, pulling the chute open and then directing the chute to the landing zone. Requiring only an average of thirty minutes training with a tandem skydiving instructor to cover the basics, a person can be up and ready for their dive within a few hours of deciding to jump.
There are very strict requirements for qualifying to be a tandem skydiving instructor. They must not only go through a course of intense training but must also be experienced divers with over five hundred jumps and two to three years diving experience before they will even be considered.
Just because you have an experienced instructor strapped into the duel harness with you to help make the fall go well does not mean that tandem skydiving is any less exciting than solo skydiving. With the free-fall jump starting at a level between ten and fifteen thousand feet, there is still anywhere from thirty seconds to a minute of free-fall to be enjoyed. Once the instructor has pulled the ripcord, the tandem skydiver can still expect around four minutes of spectacular view on the slow journey to the ground.
A typical tandem dive follows a standard process. Once you have met up with your instructor, you will spend a bit of time being shown how to put on and adjust the harness. It will not be until you have actually entered the aircraft that your instructor will make a final check of your harness and then attach his own harness to yours. You will not be unattached to your instructor again until your dive is finished.
When the aircraft reaches the drop zone, you and your instructor will do the awkward crawl to the door and with a last check that all is well, the two of you will jump out into space. You tandem instructor will help position you in the wind and make sure you are still okay. After the instructor deems it time to stop the free-fall he will motion for you to draw your arms in and hold onto the harness while the parachute is opened. He will then get you set up with the control steering toggles as you both will be working the canopy controls. As you near the ground, your instructor will once more take over full control and have you lift your legs so that he can set the two of you down gently.