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What Are the Different Types of Skydiving?

Monday, January 6, 2020

Skydiving is a sport that includes many different disciplines. Tandem skydiving is a great way to try skydiving for the first time. Fancy learning how to skydive by yourself? This is possible too – and once you achieve your skydiving license, a whole new world of possibility opens up.

The different types of skydiving are:

  • Tandem skydiving; a favorite for first-timers, you’ll be strapped to a skydiving instructor who will operate all the gear, leaving you free to relax and enjoy.
  • Student skydiving; there are lots of different ways to learn to skydive, all focused on helping you achieve your skydiving license.
  • Formation skydiving (FS); usually the first thing you learn after you get your license, this is all about flying closely and forming shapes in the sky.
  • Freefly skydiving (FF); using more advanced skills, you’ll fly in all different orientations, including seated, standing and upside down!
  • Camera flying; with specially designed helmets, you’ll fly with cameras on your head to capture the magic of the jump on film.
  • Canopy piloting; learning to fly your parachute is an important skill and many people choose to take it beyond simply flying and landing.

There are more types of skydiving than this, which you’ll learn about as you progress through the sport. For now, let’s take a look at these in more detail.

Tandem Skydiving

Tandem skydiving is the most common type of skydiving for people trying our sport for the first time.

Tandem skydiving is so-called because there are two of you jumping together – the tandem skydiving instructor, and you, the student.

We call you a student, rather than a passenger because you do have a part to play in the jump. As you’ll learn in your tandem skydive brief, you’ll be expected to hold and maintain an arched body position which helps us fall stable and to lift your legs for landing, amongst other things.

That said, there’s a lot less involved in jumping as a tandem than there is in jumping alone. You can be up in the air with as little as a 20-minute brief, whereas those people learning to jump solo have a full day of ground school. If you’re skydiving as a one-off experience, tandem skydiving is for you.

Here at Skydive Orange, we operate a skydiving lessons program which starts with tandem skydiving, as we’ll explain next.

The HALO Tandem Jump | Skydive Orange

Student Skydiving

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Learning to skydive is one of the most rewarding things you can do. You’ll progress through skydiving levels, each of which is designed to equip you with more and better skills, enabling you to jump solo and to manage and care for your own equipment, too.

There are lots of different ways to learn to skydive. Some centers use static line skydiving, where your parachute is automatically deployed for you. Others use AFF (accelerated freefall) where you’ll jump with two instructors in a highly structured program.

Here at Skydive Orange, we believe your skydiving lessons should be tailored completely to you, so we use a more flexible system known as the Integrated Student Program. This innovative approach encourages self-support and allows you to progress at your own pace. Plus, you’ll learn skills for equipment maintenance, packing and canopy flight at the same time,

Formation Skydiving (FS) This is also sometimes known as relative work or RW. This is all about flying in close proximity and forming shapes in the sky by holding onto one another’s arms and legs.

Formation skydiving is the first thing you’ll be encouraged to learn about once you have your skydiving license. That’s because it teaches you the skills to fly safely with others and builds your own personal flying skills too.

Skydivers from across the US compete in formation skydiving competitions, culminating in a yearly Nationals event. They also travel around the world for similar events, and US teams have been the world champions on numerous occasions.

Freefly Skydiving (FF)

Freefly skydiving, or freeflying, is flying at any orientation other than belly to earth (as belly to earth is the orientation used in FS). That means that freefliers can be seen flying at all angles, including in a seated position, standing straight up, and upside down in what’s called the ‘head down’ position. These orientations require advanced skills – just think about all that pressure the wind is putting on the skydivers while they make all these funky shapes with their bodies!

Like FS, there are competitions in freeflying too, and again, the US teams perform very well in this discipline. Some skydivers suggest freeflyers are the snowboarders to FS flyers’ skiers. If you ski or snowboard yourself, you’ll know what we mean!

Is Skydiving A Sport? | Skydive Orange

Camera Flying

Camera flyers are an important part of skydiving. Flying with cameras attached to their helmets, they are the people who capture the magic from up high for us to share with our friends on the ground.

If you’re making a tandem skydive, you can elect to have one of our highly experienced camera flyers jump with you, recording the whole experience for you to treasure forever.

Camera flyers are also an essential part of debriefing and judging skydives. When we’re jumping outside of competition, we still want to improve our skills so having the footage allows us to get coaching and advise one another on how to do better.

In competitions, the camera flyer’s job is to record the jump and then submit their footage to the competition judges, who are then able to score each round without having to jump with every team themselves.

Canopy Piloting

The final discipline we’d like to introduce today is that of canopy piloting. Usually, when we think about types of skydiving, we mean the different things we can do in freefall. But the parachute flight and landing is an important component and there are opportunities to build skills and even compete in this area too.

One such parachute discipline is CRW, or canopy relative work. This refers to the practice of flying parachutes closely and taking ‘docks’ on one another to build formations in the sky. Much like FS skydiving, skydivers competing in this discipline are given a set of formations to complete in a given time, and the team to complete the most wins.

Then there’s swooping. This is all about accelerating the parachute’s downward speed to produce faster across-the-ground speed and therefore cover greater distances. You can spot ‘swoopers’ when you’re watching people come into land as they put in big turns at low altitude, and their parachutes often make a whistling sound as they speed past you along the ground.

Are you ready to come and experience all the different types of skydiving? Find out more about first time skydiving, or get in touch if you have any questions.

Tandem Skydive over Skydive Orange

Christine Minaj

Had the best experience here ever for my first skydiving adventure!

The largest tandem skydiving center near Northern Virginia, Washington D.C. and Maryland.

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