Skydiving is one of those things that people put on their lists of things to do before they die. Some people go beyond just experiencing it once or twice and make a hobby of it. It can be a thrilling sport. There are three main types of skydiving: tandem, freefall, and instant opening. Each of these has specific characteristics, mostly to do with how and when the parachute is opened.
Tandem skydiving is the most common type of skydiving for people who only go once or twice in their lives. It requires very little training, mainly due to the fact that the jumper is attached to a professional the entire time. The professional opens the chute (there are a few places that allow the amateur to open the chute) after the proper freefall, and makes sure everything is in order. Most skydiving operations require brief training before the jump, and you will likely leave the plane at an altitude of around 10,000 or 11,000 feet.
When you take advantage of this type of skydiving, it is best to be serious about it. Most skydiving operations that offer lessons will require that you perform at least two jumps with an instructor before you go on your own. Additionally, the training is much longer. However, you will learn to skydive on your own, and you will learn when it is appropriate to open your chute after a reasonable freefall. This can be a rewarding hobby for those who have the time and the money.
Unlike the other two types of skydiving, instant opening does not include a freefall. You open the chute almost immediate after exiting the plane at about 3,500 feet. As with accelerated freefall, you perform with instructors initially. This is so that you understand what needs to happen. Instant opening skydiving is quite the interesting and unique experience for those who enjoy adventure.
With the freefall, you can learn how to jump in formations and join other skydivers as they jump from planes. Any of these types of skydiving can make for a wonderful afternoon activity, and many skydiving operations offer gift certificates for lessons that can make very good gifts. Many operations offer reasonable rates, especially for groups. You can visit the Web site of the United States Parachute Association (www.uspa.org) for a skydiving operation near you that offers certified instructors and professionals and a safe experience.