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Skydiving

A little bit of skydiving history


People have been using parachutes for hundreds of years, even back to China in the 1100s. Around 1495, Leonardo Da Vinci designed a pyramid-shaped, wooden framed parachute that Adrian Nichols jumped in the late 20th century. It descended slowly enough to land, but Nicholas worried the heavy contraption might crush him to death. So at a safe altitude, he released from it and landed under his reserve.
The modern history of the sport began in the late 18th century with Jacques Garnerin from France who performed display jumps from balloons flying over Europe. Later in the 19th century, women, who still number only between 15 and 20 percent among skydivers, began to appear on the scene. Kathe Paulus from Germany jumped professionally in Germany around the turn of the 20th century. Tiny Broadwick, another professional parachutist in the U.S., became the first woman to jump from an airplane in 1913 and the first to make a freefall in 1914.

During World War I, parachutes were introduced as rescue devices for observation balloon pilots, but airplane pilots were instructed to land with their aircraft. The first emergency bailout from an airplane didn't occur until 1922. In 1925, early experiments with stable, extended freefall began.

In the years between the World Wars of the 20th century, barnstormers, typically adventurous orphans and runaways, performed parachute jumps at airshows. In WWII, the first troop insertions with parachutes are credited with turning the tide of the war against the Axis powers.

After World War II, an abundance of surplus parachutes and former soldiers with the courage to jump them for sport resulted in the growth of parachuting as a hobby. Competitions began to develop and gain acceptance among the international air sports. People first heard the term "skydiver," coined by Raymond Young in the mid-1950s, as the first commercial skydiving centers opened. By 1957, the first commercial skydiving schools began to appear.

In modern years skydivers use to jump from 13.000 ft and open the parachute at 5.000 ft after about one minute of freefall.

There are several different disciplines to embrace within parachuting. Each of these is enjoyed by both the recreational (weekend) and the competitive participants. Some of these are:

1. Accuracy landing is one of the oldest skydiving disciplines, in which skydivers attempt to land as closely as possible to a pre-determined target. A team with 5 persons takes place over 8 rounds. The team jumps together, generally from an altitude of 900 meters (2700 feet), although sometimes as high as 1100 meters (3300 feet). The score is measured in meters from "dead center". The best score for each round is 0,00 meters (meaning you hit dead center) and the worst score for a round is 0,16 meter (16 centimeters or 6 inches). Scores for each round are added together, and the scores count both as individual scores and as part of the team score. In some competitions only the four best scores count in the team competition.

2. Formation skydiving is the art of building formations in free-fall with multiple people gripping each others' limbs or specially built "grippers" on their jumpsuits.
Formation skydiving can be further divided into several sub-categories, so named for the number of members in a team:

    2-way sequential
    2-way vertical sequential (VRW)
    4-way sequential
    4-way vertical sequential (VRW)
    8-way sequential
    16-way sequential
    10-way speed
    Large formations (Big-ways)

The current FAI world record for largest free-fall formation is a 400-way, set on February 8, 2006 in Udon Thani, Thailand. It was held for 4.25 seconds. They used five C-130 Hercules airplanes and exited from an altitude of 25,000 feet.

A recent sub-category of formation skydiving is Vertical Formation Skydiving or VRW. Skydivers build formations using higher-speed body positions normally associated with freeflying, such as head down and sitflying.

3. Freestyle is a competitive skydiving discipline where one member of a two-person team performs acrobatic maneuvers in free fall while the other one films the performance from a close distance using a helmet mounted camera. Freestyle was first performed by Deanna Kent and others for her husband Norman Kent's 1989 film "From Wings Came Flight". It became a competitive skydiving discipline in the early 1990's and became an official FAI sport in 1996.

4. Skysurf is a type of skydiving in which the skydiver wears a board attached to his or her feet and performs surfing-style aerobatics during freefall. It became popular and gained recognition during the 1990s thanks to the efforts of the first few exponents to master the more complex aerobatics, such as the late Patrick de Gayardon.

5. Freefly. is a skydiving discipline which began about 1994 by a group of skydivers who wanted to experiment with non-traditional forms of flight. This group, called "The Freefly Clowns" was founded by Olav Zipser, along with Mike Vail, Charles Bryan, Omar Alhegelan, and Stefania Martinengo. It is an expansion of skydiving which includes the traditional belly-to-earth positions, but extends into vertical flight where the flyer is in an upright position (falling feet first) or in an inverted position (falling head first). These positions increase freefall speeds and make new types of formations and routines possible.
A.S.D. Sozo Paracadutismo - Via Gagliazzona, 35 - 48017 - Conselice (RA) - Tel. +39 333 3529943 - Email: paracadutismo@sozo.it
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