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For many people the idea of jumping out of an airplane or off a building is sheer lunacy. They do not crave the excitement and the adrenaline rush. For others, though, it provides them with an extreme high and makes them appreciate life more. Still others do it each and every day for their job. Parachuting from a great height takes a lot of courage and a bit of luck. Each time you parachute you have to wonder in some part of your mind whether or not the parachute is going to open. But nevertheless it has become one of the most extreme sports the average person can participate in. It does require some training and practice but it can be rewarding. The problem is that most people who are afraid to parachute are not that familiar with the sport. In this article we will cover some of the basics. Who knows? By the time it is all said and done, you might find yourself with that itch to feel the wind rushing past and the ground miles beneath you as you parachute from a plane.

What is the history of parachuting?

This is a tricky question to answer. Technically the modern parachute was first designed and implemented by Louis-Sebastien Lenormand of France in the late 18th century. But the first initial designs of parachutes date back to the Renaissance period. The images designed were found on a manuscript dating to the 1470’s but the design was much different than what you would find today. Leonardo da Vinci designed a parachute that was more in scale with the jumper in his Codex Atlanticus which dates back to 1485. Years later there was an inventor by the name of Fausto Veranzio who looked at da Vinci’s drawings and decided to design the parachute differently. He substituted a bulging piece of cloth in 1595. He even tested it twenty years later by jumping from the tower in Venice in 1617. Lenormand looked at the material and design that his predecessors had used. He decided that by using silk, a person would fall safely to the ground because of the strength and versatility of the fabric. He also removed the wooden frame that previous designs had included. His theory and design was tested in 1797 by Andre’ Garnerin. Garnerine later improved upon the design even further by venting the parachute. The first parachute jump out of a plane was not until 1911 when Grant Morton jumped from a Wright Model B at Venice Beach, California. Since that time the parachute and parachuting, in general, have changed as technology has changed.

Is there a way to learn parachuting if I have never done so before?

If you have never gone parachuting then you have to have instruction. Usually the instruction begins on the ground. The instructor will go over all of the equipment and make sure that you know what each piece of equipment does. He or she will then go over the correct altitude at which you will deploy your parachute. The next step is usually instructing you on how to land correctly so that you do not get tangled in your parachute or break a bone when you make impact. It is very common for your first few jumps to be made in tandem with an instructor or a more advanced student. This way you get the feel for the jump without having to worry about knowing when exactly to deploy your parachute.

What is tandem parachuting?

In tandem parachuting, or skydiving, you are connected to a tandem instructor. The instructor is strapped to your back with a much larger parachute. This type of skydiving is very good for beginners because it lets them experience freefall but without having to know all of the details about when to deploy your parachute. With tandem skydiving the instructor uses a drogue parachute. As soon as both of you are free of the plane, he or she will deploy this parachute much quicker than you would a typical parachute. The reason is to slow the rate of descent down to that of a single skydiver. You will be in the air longer and get to experience the feel of freefall more than if you were just skydiving alone. But you should know that tandem skydiving does cost more because there is more equipment involved. For some this is not an issue because they like the comfort of knowing an experienced instructor is there with them at all times.

How fast do you go when parachuting?

In the standard freefall position the skydiver is plummeting at a rate of 120 miles per hour. But there are other positions and types of skydiving that can put you upwards of 310 miles per hour. If you are parachuting with your head pointed downwards you can expect to reach greater speeds. But you have to be careful about what position you are in when you release your parachute. The parachute will open and you will immediately feel like someone is jerking you upwards. Some people experience up to 3G’s of deceleration depending on the type of skydiving they are doing.

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