Published: October 4, 2018
How to become a qualified skydiver
You've seen videos of skydivers free-falling above an awe-inspiring landscape, perhaps with a view of the Vaal River beneath the clouds. You may even have had the thrill of a tandem skydive with a professional doing all of the technical work so that you could just relax and enjoy the ride. If you've ever wanted to experience the adrenalin of solo skydiving and mastering the skill of flying, here is more information on how you can become qualified.
It's easier than you think
One full day of ground-training is all that is required before you carry out your first solo parachute jump. Weather permitting, you will do this on the same day. Your highly qualified and experienced intructuor will teach you everything you need to know to jump out of the plane with confidence.
We start the day with a short bit of theory behind skydiving so that you can learn the basics of how the parachute works and the general precautions you need to take. However, most of the day is spent rehearsing the physical skills you need to perform a safe, enjoyable and flawless first jump. After six to eight hours of training, the techniques will be like second nature. The sequence of events will be drilled and practiced so that when it's time to jump you will know exactly what to do and your body will remember what you have taught it on the ground. These skills include how to exit the aircraft, arching and counting until your main parachute opens, flying your parachute home, and how to land gently.
We will, of course, cover emergency procedures that you need to follow in the unlikely event of something going wrong with your main parachute and needing to use your reserve.
What your first jump involves
The Solo or Static Line is the most cost-effective way to do your first jump and then proceed to freefalling later on. Your parachute opens automatically by a static line which is attached to the aircraft. You will then fly and land the canopy by yourself. You won't be completely alone, so don't worry. A PASA rated skydiving instructor will be supervising you the entire time and as you progress through the levels of training he will jump immediately after you from the aircraft to make sure you are doing everything correctly and following all the checks and controls in the correct sequence.
Before you enter the plane a staff member will help you gear up and make sure your parachute system is safe. You will then hop on board with your instructor and fly to an altitude of 3 500 feet. This is when the adrenalin really starts to kick in. There is really nothing to worry about, however, as your training will have prepared you for every single step.
When it's your turn your instructor will tell you to get into position and when to go. Once you fall away from the aircraft you look up at your instrucotr and focus on your arch and count. A few seconds later you will feel a firm tug as your parachute opens above your head.
This is probably when most of the anxiety will have dissipated and you will be able to enjoy the parachute ride down to the ground. This usually takes around 3 to 4 minutes.
You will be guided down by the team on the ground and they will indicate the direction you need to steer and when to bring your parachute down to a safe and soft landing.
What happens next
You gather up your equipment and head back to the skydiving building, where you can come down a bit from the high and watch the video of your jump taken from the plane. You will obtain PASA membership for 12 months or until obtaining A Licence status.
As you progress through the parachute training system you can start freefall skydiving from your ninth jump, gradually jumping from higher altitudes.
Remember that you will only be allowed to jump from the aircraft if you have demonstratd a sufficient level of proficiency during the ground school training. This is true for every step of your progression through your training as a skydiver. This ensures your safety at all times.
Important things to remember on your first day
- Register for class as soon as you arrive at the drop zone (skydiving area). You may get to see other jumpers flying through the air before your sessions start, and this will definitely get you fired up and ready to go.
- You need to have the following minimum requirements before attending the course: Proof that you are at least18 years of age, with a maximum weight of 85 kilograms for ladies and 95 kilograms for men. You must be physically fit and have a doctor's letter stating as such.
- You will jump before nightfall, but even though you will have your feet back on the ground before sunset, you may have to drive home in the dark. So be prepared for a full day out.
- Have fun, ask questions and enjoy the thrill of a lifetime!
Most exhilarating experience of a life time!
» Tania Lessing