It involves jumping out of a perfectly good airplane. Why? Well, I dunno, because the door was open?
Unless you are a flying squirrel or a bird, you need a parachute. If you do somehow find yourself in freefall without a chute, check your pockets for your trusty transmogrifier gun and turn yourself into a safe.
It is also a good idea to have a reserve chute. It is also a good idea to have an automatic opener or at least a buzzer in case the ground looks so pretty that you forget to pull the cord.
Skydiving is unique among sports. Most sports only require one ball - a football, baseball, tennis ball... This one requires two.
The skydiving center will make you sign about 30 pages of "I will not sue" and fill out a list of questions like "who do we notify in case of accident" before they let you jump (correct answer: notify the guy underneath me to get out of the way). You have your choice for the first jump: static line, accelerated free fall, or a tandem freefall. Tandem freefalls are to skydiving what no-code technician licenses are to ham radio, i.e. they are for people who want something for nothing and are too lazy to do it right.
After your first jump, it is considered in very good taste to buy a case of good beer as a gift for the jumpmaster.
Whatever you do, do not forget to pull the ripcord.
What to do next
If the mere act of jumping out of an airplane does not provide sufficient satisfaction of your adrenaline addiction, there are ways to increase the adrenaline rush:
- Jump with one of the old round chutes, which result in a hard landing carrying the additional risk of various sprains and the like.
- Jump with a wingsuit, which will enable you to fly several miles/kilometers forward at a nice fast clip, and stay aloft for quite a while.
- HALO stands for high altitude, low opening. High as in 30,000 feet. You will need to breathe pure oxygen before making this jump so you don't get the bends, and have something to breathe during it so you don't suffocate.
- Night jumps. Watch out 'cause the ground has a way of sneaking up on you.
- Intentional water landings.
- Land in Farmer McGrumpy's field and play dodge-the-pitchfork while you find your way back to the drop zone. Damn kids get off my lawn!
- Having to cut away your malfunctioning main chute and deploy your reserve is one hell of an adrenaline rush. This usually isn't done deliberately though.
- Get a job with the U.S. Forest Service in Missoula jumping into forest fires.
- BASE jumping is parachuting off a bridge, cliff, skyscraper, or tower. It is done - legally - in West Virginia, and illegally at such places as Yosemite National Park and the
SearsWillis Tower. It is also Russian roulette and only for crazy fools. If you must...
- D.B. Cooper is probably the only airline hijacker with a cult following, because he parachuted out and got away with it. We don't suggest you follow in his footsteps.
- One Yves Rossy, a Swiss airline pilot and all-round awesome dude, has devised a wearable wing with four tiny jet engines of the type used on remote controlled model airplanes, allowing him to use his own body as the fuselage of the world's smallest manned aircraft. Equipped with enough fuel for about 3 minutes of flight, he has a parachute he opens once he runs out of fuel. He's in his 50s and looking for, in his words, "a younger guy" to keep the endeavor alive in the event that his health ever prevents him from continuing it himself. Is known by the monikers "Jetman" and "Fusionman" for his wearable wing escapades.
On the other hand, if one little static line or tandem jump was too much and you were bloody terrified and shat your pants, there are plenty of other sports we recommend instead.
What it can do for you
- Your first jump will clear all your engrams all at once. Who needs Scientology?
- You will absolutely get the fact that life is stupid and meaningless, and that this revelation is itself stupid and meaningless, at some point during freefall. You may also need new undergarments.
- You get free primal scream therapy with every skydive. Just pretend you are re-experiencing your birth trauma as you exit the womb-like safety of the aircraft, and scream on the way down. Yaaaaahhhh!
- Almost everyone for some reason prays something to the effect of "I accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior" during the airplane ride up. Every single time. This way you know you're saved and have an extremely low chance of sinning and losing your salvation before your non-ripcord-pulling ass splatters all over the drop zone. Just remember not to say "shiiiiit!" during freefall.
- You can practice singing at the top of your voice when under canopy. Or if you are so inclined, howling. Nobody will hear or care.
Things that are not skydiving
- Jumping without a parachute off the Delaware Memorial Bridge
- Reading Jonathan Livingston Seagull
- Standing on the ground at the airport looking up and gawking, "they're jumping out of a plane? Whuffo?"
- Editing an article about skydiving on an internet wiki.
- Yogic flying
- If "RW" means anything to you other than relative work, it ain't skydiving. Go here.