The Parachute Jump
Why don’t people fly? I mean why don’t they fly like birds? I sometimes feel myself as a bird. When you stand on the mountain and you want to fly.
Katerina from The Storm
Photos by Dmitry Kuzntsov
Parachute jumping or skydiving as a sport began in the 1960s when new “sport parachutes” were first designed. In the early days of the sport, there was only one way to learn the necessary skills. After a lengthy training that would usually take up to a month, newbies would be dropped wearing round parachutes the shape of domes. Later the training time was shortened; however, the main drawbacks of this training method were the low heights of the jumps and the consequent absence of free fall. The inability to navigate the parachute and frequent rough landings could not be eliminated.
Luckily the tandem system was soon invented where the jump is performed together with an experienced instructor. This system allows you to get acquainted with a real sport parachute right from your first jump. Despite the common misconception that the tandem jump is not really an independent jump, in reality this is not true. The instructor only ensures that the parachute opens in a timely manner and you have a safe landing—the rest is up to you.
The tandem jump is the most interesting and safe way to get introduced to parachuting. It is done from 12,000 feet; the free fall time is approximately 55 seconds. You are attached by a special harness to an instructor called a “tandem master”. You are provided with a special jump uniform: helmet, goggles and jump suit. As a memory keepsake you are offered your jump on photo and video.
If you enjoyed your tandem jump but are not sure yet if you really want to continue with parachuting or not, you should try the “Get Acquainted with the Sky” program. After some theoretical preparation, you can jump with two instructors. You will be doing all the work—jumping out of the plane, falling, opening and navigating the parachute and landing. The instructors will provide the necessary assistance and ensure safety.
The next level would be the Intensive Study Course, the “Accelerated Free Fall Program” (AFF: the most effective and safe program nowadays). The most advanced study methods and equipment are used in this program. All the jumps are performed from a height of 12,000 feet. Each jump is monitored by two experienced instructors. Two AFF instructors jump with you at the first three levels, then only one instructor is needed. They jump with you, and smile at you during the free fall, so that you won’t be so scared. It definitely makes it easier for the student to learn how to control his/her body during the free fall.
The program consists of seven levels. Each level includes several tasks that the student has to perform. The transition from level to level does not depend on the quantity of the jumps—rather on the quality of tasks performed. Every task is completed under the instructor’s supervision. The first three levels encompass acquiring the necessary skills to jump out of the plane, to control the free fall, to use the equipment and to open the parachute. The next four levels are intended to sharpen the manoeuvring skills necessary for the free fall. The student is taught to approach the instructor during the free fall, to make a 360-degree turn, and front and back flips.
So if you are up for a fun and daring activity, or you just want to do something different over the weekend, and can afford it, you should check out Aerograd Kolomna, the largest drop zone in Europe, located a little over 100 km from Moscow and near the historic town of Kolomna. A lot of people from different countries come to Kolomna to gain skydiving experience. It is open every day. A variety of accommodation is available if you would like to come for the entire weekend.
Corporate and family recreation opportunities are offered at Aerograd. You may want to consider this a venue for a corporate party or a team-building event. There are plenty of entertainment opportunities to choose from—sport, BBQ, restaurant and dancing, plus the parachute jump. Memorable pictures taken by professional photographers will be a great addition to your office decoration.
Even if you just come along and are not willing to jump out of the plane, you won’t get bored. One of the options is go up in a small plane which will take you and your group of friends for a 30-min sky ride. Prices are not high by European and US standards. For example, the AFF course costs from 36,600 roubles, depending on how fast a learner you are, for all seven levels. The centre is open weekends-only during the winter period.
To learn more about Aerograd Kolomna and to plan your entertainment program, please check out their web-site: www.aerograd.ru (English version is available). May your dream of flying finally come true!