Parachuting photos and FAQs (click on an image)
Making a skydive with my brother (in the doorway) at a
Florida drop zone/skydive center, circa early 1990's.
Why wear the fancy skydive jumpsuits?
Well, it isn't just to look cool (although some California
skydivers might take exception to that statement). Skydive
jumpsuits serve some very real functions.
For one, the padded, fluorescent strips you see sewn to
my jumpsuit are called "grips". They provide a
grip for other skydivers to hang onto when forming up in freefall.
Jumpsuits also aid in controlling your fall rate.
Skydivers, being human beings of differing weights and proportions,
tend to drop at very different fall rates (or "terminal velocities")
-- typically anywhere from 110mph to 125mph.
A skinny, long fellow like me (6', 165 lbs.) tends to
fall slower, while a short chubby person, or tall heavy person
will tend to fall faster. (how fast you fall through the
air is basically a matter of how much surface area you present
in proportion to your weight. Consider that, regardless
of the distance fallen, an ant cannot fall fast enough for the
fall to be fatal, whereas lethal altitude for us humans can potentially
be the distance from the top of just about any household ladder)
In order to stay together in freefall, jumpers must somehow
match their fall rates. Some of this can be accomplished
simply by adjusting your body position (reducing or increasing
the surface area you present by crouching up or spreading out).
The rest is accomplished with weights and tailor-made jumpsuits.
The type of fabric, how baggy or tight the suit is, where
it is tight or baggy, and other features such as booties that
extend over your shoes, or the zippered flares you see at my ankles,
increase, decrease and direct drag where needed for a particular
jumper & style of jumping.
Ultimately I favored wearing no jumpsuit at all; I simply
jumped in blue jeans and shirt. Thanks to my lean build and informal
style of parachuting, this was sufficient. And, frankly, I think
it looks cooler than jumping with an overpriced (over $200) custom
skydive jumpsuit -- especially one that has pink grips (what ever
possessed me to order those?!!)