Part 2 - Skydiving "phases"

  •  Jump Run

    Skydiving "Phases"

    SCOA ClimboutToday’s entry-level skydiver has multiple methods/student tracks for their first skydive: tandem, static line, accelerated freefall (AFF) and wind tunnel. Before we can discuss the pros and cons of each student track, we need to understand what happens during a skydive. For our discussion, skydiving is broken into five phases: suiting up, climbing to altitude, exiting the plane, free-falling and under parachute.

    Suiting up involves inspecting your equipment and putting it on correctly. It sounds simple and it is. But it is important to get it right though. Forgetting your goggles or gloves can make an incredible experience not so incredible. Skydivers wear: a jumpsuit, a helmet, goggles, a harness or a parachute. If the weather is chilly, wearing gloves is a great idea too. You will need good dexterity to deploy your pilot chute and steer your main – do not forget your gloves!

    Parachute attached and instructor(s) in tow, everyone will board the plane for the climb to altitude. Just like in an airliner, everyone has to put a seat belt on. Unlike an airline, you may or may not have a seat. Seats represent weight and extra weight means longer climbing times and more money out of the pilot’s pocket. Do not be alarmed if there are no seats. Find your assigned seat belt and buckle up.

    Jump planes are designed to climb. Pilots who fly them are taught to fly at maximum performance. Good jump pilots will coax every bit of horsepower from the motors and as much lift as possible from the wings. The climb to altitude will be nothing like an airliner – hang on. Depending on type of plane, size of the “load”, and final jump altitude expect the climb to last 10-20 minutes.

    Freefall is loud. You should expect speeds around 110-130 mph. At those speeds, it feels like you are resting on an air pillow. In freefall, look around and take in the scenery. Depending on where you jump in California, you can see the ocean and the snow in the mountains. If you can remember, ask your instructor to point out them out. Enjoy the ride; after all it is why you are here right?

    Flying under parachute is the exact opposite of free fall. Things are quiet and peaceful. Instead of lying flat on your belly, you will be sitting upright suspended by your canopy. This is a great time to ask questions and take in the scenery. However most students are still swallowing their throats and processing what just happened.

    For most, their first skydive was over in a quick rush of adrenaline. All told freefall was about a minute and flight under canopy 6-8 minutes.

    What is next? Now that we know the phases, it is time to discuss your student track: tandem, static line, accelerated freefall (AFF) or wind tunnel. Each has distinctive features and depending on your perspective will be a pro or a con.

     Jump Pilot