Skydiving History

Most people think that skydiving is a recent sport, that it was developed in the twentieth century. But skydiving began soaring since China started using parachutes in 1100s. Worldwide skydivers say that the person who invented skydiving was the French inventor Andre-Jacques Garnerin. In 1797, Garnerin jumped form a balloon in Paris using a parachute.

It was followed by a woman named Kathie Palus, who became an enthusiastic fan of skydiving in Germany. In 19th century she started skydiving and became known for all her stunts and skills demonstrated while airborne.

When the Wright Brothers invented or made the first aircraft in 1903, it took skydiving into a new altitude. With Wright brothers’ invention it became possible to reach higher altitudes making it possible for divers to make more movements and maneuvers while on a free fall.

A woman named Tiny Broadwick became the fist woman to jump from a plane in 1913. She also became the first woman to dive a free fall in 1914. Jumping off planes began to be a military operation when they began using parachutes in World War I missions.

Parachutes were continued to be used as part of military operations and mission until World War II, which is between 1939 and 1945. Parachute riding soldiers were called paratroopers. Their most famous feat was during the invasion of Normandy, France, where paratroopers played a key role in securing the areas for landing of the remaining troops.

After the war, there were surplus nylon parachute equipment. The U.S. Army started the first military sport parachuting clubs. These clubs served to be the foundations of skydiving as a recreational activity.

Actually, it was “barnstormers” who first popularized the airborne performances and parachute jumps after the World War I. Barnstormers traveled every year throughout the United States to promote parachute awareness and perform aerial maneuvers.

As early as after World War I, parachute landing was already seen as a sport. The first contest of accurate landing was held in USSR in 1930. The first parachuting world championship was organized and held in Yugoslavia in 1951. This would be the signal of the start of skydiving sport that we know now.

Parachute jumpers started calling the sport skydiving. They also started modifying the military issued parachutes to make it more maneuverable and easy opened. Domina Jalbert, a French Canadian kite builder designed the ram-air design in 1964. Jalbert patented his parafoil design in 1966 that led to a modern, multi-celled, rectangular, gliding parafoil.

Skydivers constantly tested new and revolutionary designs and materials. Currently there are equipment for two-person and four-person tandem jumping, smoke designs that aim to put firefighters into remote forest fires from low altitude.

Different aerial maneuvers and variations of skydiving are constantly being performed. For aerial acrobatics, Gary Partnor was credited for his difficult and awe inspiring skydiving maneuvers called skydive surfing. He started skydive surfing in mid 1960s. Year after year the maneuvers and performance became more and more difficult.

Some people consider skydiving as an extreme sport, meaning it is a risky recreational activity. Even so, many people simply enjoy the heart pumping experience and the adrenalin rush that they feel. Nowadays, there are international competitions to showcase the extraordinary things that these people can do while falling.

Their adventurousness made them a part of an ever-evolving sport history.


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