I am a currently trained in Military Free-Fall, so it would be safe to say that I have knowledge by observation and participation. I have enjoyed watching skydiving competitions on television and in the military. As a kid I can remember wanting to do that when I grew up. When I joined the Special Forces in 1989 I knew my chances were greatly increasing for me to participate in skydiving operations, but it wasn't until 1995 when that final moment would arrive. I enjoy the excitement of participation in a skydiving operation that consists in small numbers of personnel to a mass group.
There are several stages a beginner will go though until their first jump without an instructor. First let me tell you about the training that I went though in my quest to fulfill my childhood dreams. Since I had been trained in basic airborne operations (static line jumps) this made an easier to transition into skydiving operations for the instructors.
The initial training begins with what we call tabletop drills. An instructor places everyone on a tabletop and talks you though the basic movements techniques that you will perform in the air. This is where you learn basic turns, flips, formations, rolls and other various drills. The next step you learn is how to pack and inspect your parachute in less than five minutes. The vertical wind tunnel is the second phase of training you go though in order to practice you tabletop drills before you actually perform a real jump. Once you have demonstrated your skill to an instructor that you can perform the entire basic task only then will you be allowed to move onto the last phase of training. The last phase of training is jumping out of an aircraft up...