Skydiving is the act of jumping out of an aircraft at a high altitude and deploying a parachute in order to land safely on the ground. Most jumps contain a period of around 60 seconds of 'freefall' where the skydiver is able to perform an almost unlimited array of aerial manoeuvres. During this period you will reach downwards speeds of around 120mph in a 'belly-to-earth' orientation and up to more than 300mph in other orientations (such as head-down). Once the parachute is opened, another 3-5 minutes is spent flying around before coming in for a tip-toe landing at a location of the skydiver's choosing.

Why do it?

Most people are drawn to skydiving initially because of the 'adrenaline buzz' that is experienced when falling towards the ground. Freefalling is an out-of-this-world experience that feels more like floating than falling. This is because you are so high that you have no reference points to gauge your speed by. After the first few jumps the initial fear and adrenaline buzz will subside and you can start to enjoy the sport for more than just its excitement. The ability to control your movement in all directions gives you the feeling of flight. When falling relative to other skydivers you will notice that even the tiniest of movements will affect how your body flies. You can control your fall-rate so that, relative to the other jumpers, you can go 'down' or 'up. You can fly closer or further away and turn or slide into position. Once you open your canopy you become a pilot. The square parachutes that we jump with are likened to the wing of an aircraft and are extremely manoeuvrable. Experienced pilots can consistently land their canopies at high speed on an area the size of a penny.

Who does it?

Common misconception is that all skydivers are crazy risk-taking fear-addicts who dodge death with every jump. In reality, the dropzone is filled with a huge variety of people from Colonels in the British Army, to builders and students. The crazy unnecessary risk-takers that you might expect to find are usually the first to be shunned from the sport, as they pose a serious risk to the safety of themselves and other jumpers. When sitting in the plane you sometimes have no idea what status your fellow jumpers hold outside of the DZ, it doesn't matter. Instead you are all, as skydivers, bonded by a common passion. Long-term skydivers tend to be careful, meticulous and sensible. After-all, we all love skydiving too much to die... A famous quote in Skydiving states: There are old jumpers, and bold jumpers but there are no old and bold jumpers.

(Skydive Club, Peter Hodges, 2011)