Skydiving is actually a sport
Skydiving is an activity that’s almost synonymous with bucket lists. But before you enter the wonderful world of skydiving, understand that jumping out of a perfectly good airplane doesn’t have to be a once-in-a-lifetime thrill. “People think that with skydiving, you just go do one jump,” says Nancy Koreen, director of sport promotion at the United States Parachute Association. “They don’t realize that it’s a whole sport that people do every week as a hobby and a lifestyle.” The number of annual skydives in America has been growing steadily since 2007, with an estimated 4.2 million jumps last year alone. Advanced jumpers can even compete in all sorts of skydiving competitions. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Here’s the basic skydiving lingo you should know
Drop zone: The skydiving center where you’ll make your jump. It may look like nothing more than a large grassy field with a random airplane hangar, but all USPA-affiliated drop zones are legit (there are 238 in America to choose from). Jumpsuit: The less-than-stylish full body suit you may wear over your clothes while skydiving. Jumpsuits can help control how fast you’re falling and protect you from the wind in colder months. If you jump in the summer, you may not need to wear one. Liability release: The form you sign before you jump that outlines potential risks and safety concerns. More on that later. Freefall: The best part of your jump, falling through the sky before your canopy opens. Canopy: A fancier name for your parachute.
Anyone can skydive
Are you a human being over 18 years old? Ta-da! You’re qualified to go skydiving. There are a few exceptions (pregnant women and people with heart problems should stay on the ground, and drop zones have certain weight restrictions), but your age, height, occupation, or any other demographic factor won’t hold you back. “There are ways to take people who are paralyzed, disabled, even who have lost limbs, just with special precautions and adjustments to the equipment,” Koreen says. Basically, you don’t have much of an excuse not to try skydiving.