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Skydiving History And Today

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The first ideas of freefall did not consider the evolution of human body flight that skydiving has become today. In fact, Leonardo Da Vinci, who we now consider the "Father of the Parachute," designed the first conceivable sketch of a parachute. His original idea was to build a device to rescue people from burning buildings, not knowing what his impact may be on the sport six centuries later.

Andre Jacques Garnerin is recorded to make the first exhibition jump in Paris from a balloon on October 27,1797. However, sport parachuting began with the first recorded freefall in 1914 by a woman named Georgia (Tiny) Broadwick. Until this time, a static line was used to deploy parachutes. Broadwick was giving the first demonstration of a parachute jump to the US government. After her initial three static line jumps, her fourth resulted in a static line/aircraft entanglement. Therefore, on her fifth jump, she decided not to use the static line. After cutting the static line, she left enough to pull the parachute pack open on her own after exiting the airplane. After this feat of freefall, the US Army Signal Corps initiated a new era in aviation safety procedures. In Tiny's career, she accumulated over 1,100 skydives, set numerous records, and set the standard for those following in her footsteps. In 1973, Broadwick celebrated her eightieth birthday at Perris Valley Skydiving in California. After watching everyone else land she commented, "Boy, I always landed in trees, swamps, rivers and mud holes. Sure is something else seeing all these kids land right where they want to!" (

Real controlled freefall began with the French and is brought to the United States by Jacque Istel in the late 1950's. Istel and Lew Sanborn (USPA License D-1) were the

first to introduce the idea that military airborne training was not the only way to make a parachute jump, civilians can have structure too. Originally coined the "French Frog" position, it has now morphed into what skydivers now know as the "Box Man" position. During freefall, the jumper is oriented stomach to earth, making ninety-degree angles with his elbows, shoulders, and knees. Although Sanborn and Istel introduced the first three-hour jump course in 1957, until the mid 1960's many people still obtained parachutes and jumped with no formal training.

The physics of skydiving involve two forces acting upon the body; gravity and air resistance. When both forces reach equilibrium, the jumper has reached terminal velocity. Roughly ten seconds after exiting the aircraft, the skydiver reaches 120 mph (terminal velocity), considering he is falling in the "Box Man" position. If the skydiver changes his orientation to a sitting, head-down, standing, or any other position, his terminal velocity will adjust accordingly. After parachute deployment, the surface area is greatly increased and the terminal velocity is at its slowest airspeed. Applying these freefall concepts, skydivers have evolved into being able to fly their bodies, some in several orientations throughout the single sixty-second jump.

The first World Parachuting Championships were held in Yugoslavia in 1951. Five European countries were attended, and style and accuracy were the only events represented at the time. Since 1954 the championships have occurred every two years. The countries participating have vastly increased since the first five, to forty-two represented in 2002. The only initial team event was accuracy at the fourth World meet in 1958. The team jumpers exited from 4,000 feet with a 15-23 second parachute-

opening delay. This means that the skydiver had to open his parachute in between 15 and 23 seconds from clearing the aircraft. This type of delay is unheard of in skydiving today, considering the slow opening of parachutes with advanced technology. Every team had to execute two jumps, with men's teams consisting of three to five jumpers, and women's teams consisting of two to three. The precision of landing is measured and points were awarded for the accuracy of the diver's landing in relation to the target.

Since this introduction of a team event, skydiving disciplines have soared to include canopy team events as well as freefall team events. The first freefall team event to arise was termed "Relative Work" which came about in the late 1960's and made its way into the Championships in 1975. In 1991, the term was officially changed to "Formation skydiving," although relative work, or RW, is still commonly used language when referring to this discipline. RW is comprised of 4-way, 8-way, 10-way, and 16-way, teams. All skydivers are positioned in the box-man, and the goal of the skydive is to complete as many points as possible in the allotted working time. A point is defined as moving from one linked position to another, usually releasing all grips during the transition. Considering all members have to work together to complete points, the evolvement of a true team sport came about. From exit to landing, each team member looks out for one another. Matching fall rates, eye contact, and synchronization of the dive flow are few of the elements that go into making a team function. In competition, the competitors draw formations from a dive-pool that will determine what



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