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Flying Dreams


To Fly Has Been a Dream
 On a bright sunny day with the sky as clear as crystal glass, you
peer out into the open sky to the land down below. The door opens in
front of you the wind rushes into the aircraft. You step out falling
freely away as if you were a bird soaring on the winds of time. You peer
back to the aircraft for a brief second to see it speeding away. You feel
weightless as the wind roars around you. Looking down you suddenly
realize that you are falling towards the earth. Someone once said that
the sky is the limit, but in skydiving the ground is the limit. Skydiving
is not just a free fall and a parachute ride, but an extreme thrill of
events in a short amount of time.
 Skydiving begins on the ground. The equipment that you use is the
most important part of a successful dive. The most important piece is the
parachute itself. It must be packed so that there are no knots in the
lines and so that the parachute will open properly. The reserve parachute
is the second most important piece of equipment. It must be packed by a
Federal Aviation Administration rigger every 120 days or after the reserve
parachute has been deployed. The third piece is your altimeter that is
set and calibrated to altitude at ground level. Several optional pieces
of equipment are a helmet, gloves and a skydiving suit. Some jumpers like
to perform a pre-jump on the ground. It's most commonly called a dirt
dive. They walk through the skydive on the ground while talking about
what they will do on the jump and then what they will do if the jump
doesn't go as planned.
 The Jump Master is a highly skilled skydiver. The Jump Master has
over 500 skydives and licensed by the United States Parachute Association. 
The Jump Master is in charge of the jumper on the aircraft at all times. 
He notifies the jumper of the drop zone approaching by giving a one minute
warning, a 30 second warning, prepare to jump, and jump signal. The Jump
Master also is in charge of checking that you have put your equipment on
properly. He checks to see that you have not crossed your leg straps and
that your chest strap is fastened securely. Next he checks to see that
your ripcord is properly in place, also checks to see that your reserve
parachute card is not over the required re-pack date. After receiving the
Jump Master inspection it is time for you to board the aircraft. The trip
to jump altitude can be reached by airplanes, helicopters, and hot air
balloons. After flying to a maximum altitude of 15,000 feet above ground
level or a minimum of 3,500 feet above ground level the jumper can exit
the aircraft at anytime the Jump Master signals to jump. 
 You have been given the signal to jump. You may be jumping alone
or as a group. For as many times that I have skydived. I prefer to jump
alone, "It's like being on top of the world." As you exit the aircraft
falling toward the earth, you're able to spin, twist, flip, turn, roll,
surf, and perform an aerobatic display without the force of gravity
restricting you. Glancing at your altimeter ether on your wrist or chest
strap to see what altitude you're at. Your altimeter tells you when to
deploy your parachute. The minimum altitude to deploy is 2,000 feet above
ground level. Most jumpers begin to deploy their parachute at 2,500 feet
above ground level. 
 Finally you have reached the parachute ride. You have pulled your
ripcord and have a full parachute deployed. If the main parachute had not
deployed. You would have had to deploy your reserve parachute. Before
pulling the reserve parachute ripcord you have to release the main
parachute by pulling the cut away pillow. When the reserve parachute
deployed the main parachute would release from the container and fall
freely away from you. The jumper reaches up and releases the brake
toggles which controls the parachute. The brake toggles were set when
packing the parachute, so that the opening of the parachute would not be
so rough. Now that you have a fully deployed parachute many stunts can be
spiraling down with colored smoke spraying from smoke cans. At about a
1,000 feet you begin your final approach to the drop zone. Most drop
zones have a target about 20 feet in diameter of sand or small gravel rock
to aim for. Around 10 feet above the ground you apply the brakes that
flare the parachute causing you to land. Landing properly is like
stepping off a ladder, nice and soft.
 Skydiving is not for everyone. For every time you go up and land
on the ground safely you have cheated death one more time. Skydiving is a
sport of many thrills that last only a few seconds. It is more complex
than just a free fall and a parachute ride. 


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