These Skydiving Pioneers Make it Better for Everyone

Extreme skydiving has led to many new innovations in the sport of skydiving that make it more fun and exciting for people.

Original research into skydiving was intended to help the military decide the best ways to keep paratroopers safe. Parachuting was originally developed as a way to get troops to interior areas not accessible by boat. The research from those days concentrated on the size of the canopy (the part of the parachute that opens)how long the cords should be, and finally, the safest altitudes to jump from.

One of the most important aspects of this kind of research is more and more jumping. Just about everyone agrees that each new jump adds to the research. As new jumps are made as different altitudes, records are kept to discover what the highest jump can eventually be.Sometimes people go to extremes to test this limit. For example, in 1960, an Air Force jumper used a hot air balloon to rise to 102,800 feet and then jumped from it.

I took 90 minutes to get to that altitude, but he descended this 20 mile jump in a little over 4 minutes, wearing a pressure suit, of course. This experiment revealed some important facts about diving from extremely high altitudes, such as the fact that in the thinner atmosphere, he could reach speeds approaching 700 mph.

This incredible record established by Captain Kittinger of the Air Force remains intact.Skydiving research seems to concentrate on how much abuse the body can endure in diving through the sky. Many records have been set in this endeavor. Here are some: # of descents in a single day: 640 jumps. Lifetime record of jumps by one person: 36,000. Even with records such as this, more and more research is being done and more and more envelopes are being pushed in order to assist with this research.

This kind of research usually results in better equipment being developed. One of the chief goals of avid record makers is a jump from outer space. IN theory, this would be impossible, since the jumper would be burned in the fireball created upon reentry into our atmosphere. But attempts at higher and higher jumps have resulted in equipment being developed that will allow for extremely high jumps, although perhaps not from space just yet.

Another interesting piece of equipment that has resulted from extreme jumps is an altimeter that will read this distance to the ground even when the skydiver is upside down. Older units did not operate properly if they were upside down, but the newer ones can read the altitude despite its orientation. Another development still is the shape of the canopy.

Wing shaped parachutes let a diver hover horizontally for a longer time during the descent and even descend all the way to the ground in a controlled fall. These innovations make it more fun and interesting and therefore lure more people into the sport of skydiving.

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