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Published: January 2, 2013
While the use of parachutes dates all the way back to 1100 in China, the activity we call "skydiving" can be most directly linked to France in the late 18th century.
Skydiving has come a long way from the beginning of parachuting, which dates all the way back to 10th century China. The activity we know today is more closely related to what a man named Jacques Garnerin became famous for in late 18th century France-Garnerin jumped from balloons with a parachute for show. This got the ball rolling for the popularization of parachuting, and in the transition from balloons as base platforms to airplanes, American parachutist Tiny Broadwick was the first woman to jump from a plane at the beginning of the 20th century.
In World War I, observational air balloons were often used, especially in areas that utilized trench warfare. The men who were stationed in the balloons were airborne for many hours at a time, and although they were usually heavily guarded, they were still easy targets for enemy aircrafts. Due to the dangerous nature of being a static target in hostile territory, operators were equipped with emergency parachutes that allowed them to escape if their balloon was attacked. 1922 was the year we saw the first emergency parachute bailout via airplane.
World War II introduced paratrooper insertions into enemy territory, which created a mass of skilled parachutists and parachuting equipment. After the war, these soldiers weren't ready to give up the rush they got from parachuting, and this gave way to the growth of hobby parachuting. As it grew in popularity, competitions began to emerge and a following developed.
In the mid-1950s, Raymond Young was the first to use the word "skydiver" to describe his comrades in the sport. Commercial skydiving centers and schools began to pop up through the 1960s. Ever since Joseph Kittinger, a U.S. Air Force pilot, set the world record for highest parachute jump when he jumped from an open-air gondola at 102,800 feet, skydiving has continued as a competition for adventure-seekers who wish to fall faster and from greater heights than the jumpers before. Kittinger's record stood for 52 years until it was broken by Felix Baumgartner in 2012.
Skydiving is an undeniable rush, but can be done at any level, from beginner to extreme daredevil. Drop zones exist all over the world, providing jumpers of all experience-levels the opportunity to free fall and glide through the sky. Take the plunge and visit Skydive Long Island for the experience of a lifetime!
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