Talking About Camping

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Important Moments in Skydiving History

Recreation & Sports Blog

Have you ever wondered about the sport of skydiving? Would you like to know more about this thrilling pastime? Here are some highlights from the history of skydiving:

Skydiving is older than airplanes: Some people credit the ancient Chinese with the first parachute-like devices and Leonardo da Vinci is widely known for creating one of the first actual parachutes. However, the inventor of the modern frameless parachute is credited to a Frenchman named AndrĂ©-Jacques Garnerin. In October of 1797, he made the first successful test of his parachute design. Instead of being attached to his body, as in modern skydiving, Garnerin's parachute was attached to the basket of his hot air balloon.

World War 1 saw the first widespread use of parachutes: The invention of airplanes and their use during the First World War meant that pilots needed a way to escape from damaged planes before they crashed. In spite of the fact that, due to various design flaws, around a third of the pilots were unsuccessful in their skydiving attempts, there were concerns that airmen would abandon planes that were still flyable. Both British and German pilots were given parachutes, but French and American pilots were not.

First skydiving contests: Although informal parachuting contests were held in the 1930s, it's not until 1951 that the first World Parachuting Championships are held in Yugoslavia. The men's champion was Pierre Lard and the woman's champion was Monique Laroche. Only five European countries participated in the first contest. Contestants were judged on style and accuracy, seeing how close they could come to hitting a particular target. 

First sport parachutes: Until the 1950s and 1960s, parachutists used military surplus parachutes. The first sport parachute was tested in 1957 in El Centro, California. Sport parachutes are both lighter and allowed more control than the military surplus parachutes did. Switching to this new type of parachute allowed parachutists to become the modern skydivers, performing various tricks and acrobatics while in the air. These new lightweight parachutes also made it easier to dive in formation, instead of simply one at a time.

If the history of skydiving excites you and you're thrilled at the thought of jumping from an airplane, why not make an appointment to go skydiving at a place like Skydive Burnaby? Even if you've never jumped before, you can still participate in tandem skydiving. Taking part in a jump will allow you to be part of a centuries-long tradition of aerial feats. 

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21 July 2015