Sky Surfers

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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Sky surfers are acrobats, gymnasts, artists in midair ... way up in midair. They jump out of airplanes at 10,000 or 12,000 feet. On the way down--before they pull the canopy cord--they perform cartwheels and pirouettes and back flips and such. Their timing is exquisite, precise, and critical.

Who Are Sky Surfers?

Sky surfers are sky divers, parachutists, if you will. They have long since taken their four to six hours of ground training and taken their practice drops. They have been licensed by the United States Parachutists Association. They have clocked at least 40 hours of freefall time, which means about 45 to 50 jumps.

Most sky diving drops, for experienced divers and sky surfers, are from between 10,000 and 12,000 feet. Canopies--that is, parachutes--are released at about 4,000 feet to ensure proper conditions for landing. Sky surfers are thus left with 6,000 to 8,000 feet for their sky dancing--about 40 to 50 seconds. Their timing must be perfect.

Recommended equipment for sky surfers includes a hard helmet, proper shoes to use with board binders, and a jump suit with low drag and skintight legs. It also includes AADs (automatic activation device that calculates rate of descent and altitude), a board, release system for the board, binding system for the board and shoes, and a recovery parachute for the board. The FAA disapproves of debris falling from the sky.

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