Skydiving – An Extreme Sport
Skydiving, also called parachuting, is a sport in which athletes jump out of an airplane at a certain altitude and perform acrobatic movements in free fall. Then they open their parachutes to slow down and return safely to Earth. Skydiving is considered to be an extreme sport which takes a lot of courage but also gives you an adrenalin kick.
Skydiving is a sport that is not as young as it may seem. At the end of the 18th century, a Frenchman, Andre Garnerin, jumped from a hot air balloon and was thought to be the first real parachutist.
Later on skydiving became important for the army and air force. Pilots could jump out of a plane and land on earth safely if something went wrong. In wars soldiers were dropped off in war zones, often behind enemy lines. Skydivers are also used when it comes to fighting off disasters like bush fires.
Competitions in skydiving are held regularly. Events include landing close to a target and performing acrobatic movements in the air, as well as flying in formation. In the last few years another event, sky surfing, in which a surfboard is attached to a jumper, has become popular. Group skydiving requires a group of parachutists to perform figures while in free fall.
Group skydiving in formation
A skydiver must always check their gear to see if everything is OK. They always carry a backup parachute with them, just in case the main chute does not open. Steering lines are attached to a backpack. With them parachutists can control their direction.
Before you jump alone you normally do tandem jumps with an instructor or an experienced jumper. Through such jumps you get used to free fall, wind directions and how to steer. Skydivers must also learn a lot of theory. Wind speed and other weather elements are important.
Airplanes climb to an altitude of 7,000 to 15,000 feet (2000 to 4,600 meters) before letting out the jumpers. The freefall stage lasts between 45 and 80 seconds. Jumpers reach a speed of up to 130 miles an hour (210 kmh). Skydiving requires excellent weather. Jumping in rainy weather or during strong winds can be very dangerous.
Even though skydiving may not seem like a sport, jumpers must be physically fit before they can jump. Despite the fact that it may seem dangerous, there are only a few accidents that happen every year.
One of the world’s most famous skydivers is the Austrian, Felix Baumgartner. In 2012 he set a world record, when a helium-filled balloon brought him to a height of 39 kilometers. When he jumped he became the first person to break the sound barrier in free fall. He safely returned to earth about 10 minutes after leaving the capsule.
- adrenalin = a chemical that your body produces and which makes your heart beat faster when you are excited, nervous or afraid
- altitude = height
- attach = fix to
- backpack = a bag used for carrying things on your back
- backup = here: reserve, second
- capsule = here: small spacecraft that takes you into space
- century = a hundred years
- certain = given
- chute = short word for parachute
- competition = sport event
- considered = thought
- courage = bravery, nerves
- despite = even though
- disaster = catastrophe
- enemy line = area that is behind the front and which is controlled by the people you are fighting against
- even though = while
- experienced = to have done something many times
- flying in formation = here: to stay together and move in special patterns
- gear = equipment ; the things you need to do something
- helium = gas that is lighter than air and is used to fill balloons
- hot-air balloon = a large bag of strong light cloth filled with gas or heated air so that it can float in the air; it has a basket below it in which people can stand
- instructor = teacher
- main = the most important
- movement = to change the position of your body in special ways
- parachute = piece of cloth or plastic attached to the back of a person who jumps out of an airplane. It allows them to return slowly and safely to the ground
- perform = do
- physically = relating to your body
- popular = liked by many people; trendy
- reach = get to
- regularly = often
- require = call for
- soldier = a person who fights in an army
- sound barrier = to travel faster than the speed of sound
- speed = how fast something is
- stage = part, phase
- steer = to control the direction you are going
- target = object that you want to reach