Here’s a little story for you:
At one point, this author had no idea that skydiving was a sport.
You might be thinking: “Wait. Skydiving is a sport? Isn’t it something that you attach yourself to a pro and do once for the cool video?”
See? There you go.
As it turns out, there’s a heck of a lot more to skydiving than doing a tandem jump. In fact: When you show up to the dropzone, it’ll become immediately evident that there’s a world of wonder waiting beyond that aircraft door. Intrigued? Here’s a teaser to give you a peek behind that big, blue veil.
This is weather (and commitment) dependent, of course–but it’s totally possible. When you hook up with a United States Parachute Association affiliate dropzone to learn how to skydive, you’ll undertake the same program that has safely guided many, many thousands of new skydivers to solo skydiving certification.
The program comprises some vital preparatory classroom time, seven levels of skillbuilding in freefall and parachute landing coaching (done via radio from the ground). From there, you’ll make several more coached jumps before being issued your USPA A-License: the “golden ticket” that allows you to jump solo (or with friends) at skydiving dropzones all over the world.
Once you’re licensed, there are any number of directions you can go with your new hobby. Skydiving offers a smorgasbord of different disciplines in which to specialize; once you’re licensed, you can focus on one with steely resolve or you can dabble in several. You can make airborne shapes with dozens of your friends (“relative work”), play around with multiple bodyflight orientations (“freefly”), work almost exclusively to badassify your parachute flight (“canopy relative work” and “swooping”), put on one of those ‘flying squirrel suits’ you’ve been gawking at in the media (“wingsuiting”) and/or many other high-octane pursuits.
Like we said, skydiving is an ACTUAL SPORT. And what do all ACTUAL SPORTS have in common? Competitions. As a licensed skydiver, you’ll be able to participate in state, national and international meets, cups, championships and records. The work that’s being done at this level in the sport of skydiving must be seen to be believed, so go see it.
For all that, it’s the camaraderie of the sport that keeps most of us coming back for more. In all seriousness, skydivers are the greatest group of people you’ll ever meet. The social aspect of the sport is incredibly embracing, vibrant and international, knitting a massive network of kindred spirits from sea to shining sea and far beyond.
If this author could go back and give advice to that clueless, pre-skydiving self, the first thing she’d say is START EARLIER. I hope you’ll take that advice on my behalf!
The largest tandem skydiving center near Northern Virginia, Washington D.C. and Maryland.