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Published: January 16, 2017
Skydiving has evolved a lot over the years. Today, we have loads of cool gear which help to keep us safer and to achieve more in our jumps. Here, we look at 5 cool pieces of skydiving gear you didn't know about...
The skydiving altimeter is an essential piece of kit.
Worn on the hand or wrist, the analogue altimeter looks like a watch and shows the current altitude. The digital altimeter does the same thing but shows a digital number display as opposed to the round clock face.
Altimeters in the US show the altitude in feet. European altimeters tend to show altitude in meters.
The audible altimeter has become a mainstay of skydiving kits in recent years. Sitting inside the helmet of the skydiver, the audible altimeter is programmed to make noise at certain altitudes, alerting the jumper to action.
For example, skydivers jumping in teams may choose to set a 'break off height' on their audible altimeters, letting them know when it's time to fly away from each other to deploy their parachutes. Skydivers performing advanced maneuvers with their parachutes known as 'swooping' will use audible altimeters to remind them of important heights.
Audible altimeters are used in conjunction with analogue or digital wrist mount altimeters, meaning the skydiver always has a way to know their current altitude.
An automatic activation device (AAD) is a relatively new piece of skydiving equipment but one which has become essential and indeed obligatory in many places.
The AAD is a small device which sits in the parachute container and connects to the reserve/secondary parachute. It monitors the skydiver's altitude and fall rate. In the event that the skydiver is still falling at a freefall speed by the time they reach an altitude which is becoming dangerously low, the AAD automatically deploys the reserve parachute.
This is an important piece of safety equipment. It has the ability to save lives of skydivers who are for some reason unable to pull their own primary parachute, be that due to being unconscious for any reason or simply unaware of their altitude, e.g. they've become fixated on their jump and forgotten to check their altitude (this is unsafe and rare).
The most common manufacturers of AADs are Cypres and Vigil.
The RSL is, in some ways, a pre-cursor to the AAD. Today, both work together to add an additional layer of safety in the skydiving equipment.
An RSL stands for 'reserve static line'. The idea of an RSL is that it is attached to the primary parachute and, when that primary parachute is 'cut away' in the event of a malfunction (i.e. the primary parachute fails), the RSL pulls the secondary parachute out.
The RSL is not intended to be a substitute for the skydiver deploying their own secondary parachute manually, but is an assistance should they fail to do so or struggle, e.g. in the event of an arm injury.
Most jumpers have both an RSL and an AAD, the former being there to assist a secondary parachute deployment and the latter to trigger a secondary parachute deployment completely.
The drogue chute is an essential part of tandem skydiving equipment. The drogue chute is a very small parachute which is released by the tandem master moments after leaving the aircraft.
The job of the drogue is to slow the descent rate of the tandem pair. Two people attached to each other have a much faster descent rate than a single person - reaching speeds of around 200mph. At this speed, the tandem pair would be almost impossible to keep up with, making the job of the camera flyer trying to film the pair almost impossible too.
Such a descent rate would also impair the parachute deployment. Falling so quickly and then deploying the parachute would result in a very 'hard' opening due to the descent rate being slowed so quickly, and could result in injury or even a malfunctioning primary chute. As such, the drogue chute is an essential piece of safety equipment for tandem skydivers. (check it out in the photo above)
Are you ready to skydive? Find out how you can make your first skydive today.
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