I like to jump out of airplanes. I started skydiving in 1983. I have made approximately 1200 skydives. That may sound like a lot - but for someone who's been in the sport so long, it isn't.

There were a few years when I didn't jump at all - not by design, it just sort of fell by the wayside. But it's not something you can do safely without being current, and I finally decided I had to either give it up or get back in.

So I got back in. I became a USPA certified Accelerated Freefall (AFF) Instructor, on the staff at Skydive Orange in Virginia.

But times change, and so do I: I'm a father now, and a few years ago I hung up my rig. I miss it!

Photo of a tandem skydive and fomation

A formation skydive around a tandem. Click on image to see full size.

For me, skydiving is spiritual. Freefall gives you an incredible feeling of freedom, not to speak of the adrenaline rush. But there's more than that.

As in any sport, fear is the great disabler. For experienced skydivers that's not so much fear of "the parachute not opening" -

of course, there are dangers and it is sensible to have respect for them - but more the fear of not performing well.

 

Performing? Yes, there are many disciplines in the sport, each with an infinite succession of skill levels and challenges. Skydiving is unique in that these challenges must be faced while you're falling at 120 miles (193 kilometers) per hour, or faster.

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There are some cool metaphors in this. For example: reaching. One of the mistakes beginning skydivers often make is to "reach" - that is, when they're close to a formation, they'll reach out to take their grips. When you do this, you actually go backwards. By putting more surface area in front of you, you catch more air in front of you, which pushes you back, away from the formation. So it's counter-productive, even though it's such an obvious thing to do. Skydiving presents many such lessons. 

A student's first AFF jump. I'm in the red helmet.

Presented with my 1000 jump wings and 12-hour freefall badge by Safety and Training Advisor Steve Hetrick, at Skydive Orange in Virginia.

Here is a video of a first AFF jump at Skydive Orange. The main side instructor is Lambert, I'm on reserve side. (Why am I wearing a student rig? Probably because mine wasn't packed!)

© 2018 by Sidney C. Bailin

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