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Published: April 19, 2019
So - what is a HALO jump? In short, it is a high altitude skydiving jump - and as such, it is special! This type of jump is typically used by the military to deliver people and equipment into hard-to-reach corners of a combat zone, unsuited to regular aircraft landings. The parachutes used are considerably more flexible, so jumpers insert much more easily (and sneakily) into these tricky territories.
Luckily, however, it's not just wartime soldiers who can get in on the thrill of a HALO jump. Indeed, HALO experiences can also be done as civilian jumps -- but, since they're extraordinary skydives with very specific equipment and permissions requirements, they're performed with far less frequency. Here's what you need to know!
WHAT DOES HALO MEAN IN SKYDIVING?
The term HALO stands for "high altitude, low opening." And, when we say "high altitude," we mean high. Compare exit altitudes: On a typical skydive, skydivers leave the plane somewhere between 10,000 and 14,000 feet, which allows the jumper to be in freefall for around 60 seconds before deploying their parachute and making their way back down to earth.
On a HALO jump, that exit altitude is considerably higher -- often, hovering somewhere around 30,000 feet. That conveys a much longer time in freefall but requires that each skydiver use oxygen to safely make the jump.
The "low opening" part refers to the altitude at which the parachute is deployed, and is a bit more flexible. Civilian HALO jump parachute openings are generally around 3,000 to 4,000 feet because they're a fun novelty that still needs to stay safe. On the military side, however, those openings can be much lower to allow sneaky insertions into contested territory - or to fight giant hostile lizards like Godzilla (2014):
WHAT'S CHALLENGING ABOUT CIVILIAN HALO JUMPS?
You should know that it's very rare that civilian skydivers make HALO jumps. Because skydives are considerably easier and less equipment-intensive from 15,000 feet and below, that's almost always the altitude skydivers jump from. "Normal" skydives from those less lofty altitudes allow jumpers to use smaller parachutes, enjoy the view and have fun and with a heaping side-helping of healthy adrenaline.
All that being said, almost every skydiver in the sky is stoked about the idea of a longer freefall, and civilian HALO jumping certainly delivers. When a civilian skydiver looks into a HALO experience, however, they'll soon realize that the costs and logistics involved in making such a jump can be super-steep and that there are only a few places that offer HALO jumps in the US. (The cost of as civilian HALO jump can range from around $750 to well over $3,000!)
Why is that so? Because the setup is quite the challenge! First of all, skydiving aircraft are not pressurized like commercial airplanes, so HALO skydivers absolutely must use oxygen masks on the way up to HALO altitude. They also have to "pre-breathe" oxygen to prepare in advance for the thin air up there. Here's a look at a civilian tandem skydive:
WHAT'S THE COOLEST MOMENT IN HALO HISTORY?
Because so many HALO jumps are secret-squirrel operations conducted under the deepest darkest military circumstances, there are few HALO jumps to point out as examples. That said: The highest HALO jumps ever made in the civilian arena are pretty darned cool!
The highest HALO jump ever made used to be that of Felix Baumgartner, who famously jumped from 128,000 feet, representing the Red Bull energy drink.
He didn't keep those laurels for long, however. Not long after Felix's landmark jump, Alan Eustace (a Google executive with a skydiving hobby) made a jump from 135,908 feet. That easily surpassed the previous energy-drink record and made Eustace the highest HALO jumper on record.
We can't haul you up to HALO height, but we doubt you're going to mind when you jump the gorgeous skies of New York's stunning Long Island! We'd love to introduce you to our breathtaking views from a not-as-whopping-but-still-hecka-rad 10,000ft. Are you ready to try out skydiving for yourself? Learn more about our first-time skydiving packages today.
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