Monday, June 18, 2012

A Once in a Lifetime Experience

Skydiving | GoPro HD Hero 2 | Go Pro Camera

Skydiving, or parachuting, refers to the act of falling out of an aircraft back down to earth with the help of gravity.  The parachute aids in slowing the individual(s) down during the last part of the dive.  It is an extreme hobby that is growing very popular as a recreational activity and as well is a professional sport.  Furthermore, skydiving is used for the transportation and deployment of air forces and is sometimes used to fight forest fires.  There is a plethora of ways to go about parachuting including by yourself, in a tandem or in several complex patterns often referred to as “hybrid” formations.  Fatalities are rare in this hobby with a failure rate of approximately (0.0007%).

Camera flying is a common way to go about the parachuting experience which involves at least one member of the skydiving group to be recording with a camera during the descent.  This genre of free-falling has progressed along with technology due to the invention of the GoPro camera.  The GoPro is a miniature camera with great resolution that has various sturdy attachments to articles such as vests and helmets in an attempt to emulate the point of view experience when replayed and is the only way to re-create the vantage point of a real skydive.

The history of skydiving began with Andre-Jacques Garnerin, who first successfully jumped from a hot-air balloon in 1797.  The United States military later developed detailed parachute design as a way to save a crew on board of a craft in danger and later to deliver soldiers to the battle field.  Parachuting became an international sport in 1952 after its popularity began to grow in the early 1930’s.

The physics behind a jump begin at the height of the free fall which typically ranges from one to four thousand meters.  The diver continues forward as well as down due to momentum and gravitational pull and usually hits a terminal velocity of 120 miles per hour for normal descents and 150 miles per hour for a head first dive.

Alternative forms of skydiving include base jumping which is a more perfected version of parachuting.  The equipment for these types are more advanced as well, including wing suits and sky surfing which have higher risk rates due to the slower velocity and lower altitudes of the aircraft being exited. 

Safety is a key component of skydiving and excluding freak accidents should have each dive go as planned.  As long as the individual participating observes the basic principles that each skydiver follows a wonderful memory should ensue.  The view from 10,000 feet above the ground is one that not many can share, but that skydivers can attempt to articulate.  The stark beauty of God’s green earth can only truly be appreciated at such heights and through that perspective.  Before you know that gorgeous view greets you on solid ground and you have a memory that will stay with you forever.
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