It can be a bit nerve wracking to take on any new sport, but there is perhaps no athletic activity that intimidates beginners quite as much as skydiving. Since the majority of people who are interested in skydiving have never jumped out of a plane before, it makes plenty of sense that skydiving can cause even the most experienced and courageous athletes to come down with a sudden case of the jitters. The fact that many people find their first jump so difficult makes the initial fall all the more important. If your first skydiving experience is positive, you will feel more confident about your ability to learn skydiving technique. If you don't enjoy your first jump for any reason, you are unlikely to try again. In some sense, the first jump can make or break a skydiver.
There are two common methods for taking on your very first dive: tandem jumping or accelerated free fall. In a tandem jump, you share a harness with an experienced skydiving instructor who has total control of the fall and landing. In an accelerated free fall, instructors help to guide you during your time in the air, but you are in your own harness, open your own parachute, and control your own landing. Each of these methods has some advantages and some disadvantages, and deciding which one is right for you depends largely on what you think your future as a skydiver will be.
Tandem jumping can be less frightening than an accelerated free fall, and many people opt to start out with a tandem jump in order to get a taste of what skydiving is like without having the responsibility of controlling any portion of their fall. Often, people who only plan to skydive once choose to take a tandem jump because it allows them to relax and enjoy the ride while their jumping partner worries about the altitude, the parachute, and the landing. This gives you the opportunity to experience the thrill of skydiving while knowing that your safety is in very capable hands.
In an accelerated free fall, you exit the plane with two instructors, one on either side of you, who maintain a grip on your harness for the duration of the fall, controlling your speed, helping you improve your position, and assisting you with stability. When you reach four thousand feet above the ground, you open your own parachute and pilot yourself down to the landing target. An accelerated free fall costs more than a tandem jump because it requires two guides instead of one, but unlike the tandem jump it can count as the first leg of your training course towards eventual certification. This makes it a good option as a first jump for people who are serious about continuing with their skydiving training.
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