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5 Most Popular Skydiving Disciplines Explained

5 Most Popular Skydiving Disciplines Explained

Published: September 5, 2017

If you think that skydiving is only a once-or-twice skyride strapped to a stranger, you have another thing coming. In actual fact, skydiving is very much a sport. Thousands of people around the world train, practice, perform and compete at the top level in the sport's several disciplines, all of which have very distinct features.

1. RW (Relative Work)/FS (Formation Skydiving)/Belly Flying

Don't let the difference in naming fool you. At its heart, this is the same discipline, called by three different names. Most new skydivers start here, as this is the "OG" way to make a skydive, and student jumps are performed in the belly-to-earth configuration. While many jumpers move on quickly to pursue other disciplines, lots of jumpers refine their skills here to a degree that seems almost physically impossible in its precision.

2. Freefly (FF)

Speaking of "refinement to a degree that seems almost physically impossible"--have you ever done a one-armed handstand on your friend's back when you jump out of a plane, then surfed him, done a coordinated frontflip and played a really complicated multi-orientational game of peek-a-boo before linking legs into a diamond that your camera-toting buddy flies through? These guys did. You can, too, if you work your everloving butt off in the freefly discipline.

3. Angle Flying

Angle flying is the natural (read: harder, better, faster, stronger) evolution of the tracking discipline. Angle flying is the fastest, farthest and closest-to-your-friends method by which a human is able to fly through the sky without a wingsuit. It kinda looks like freeflying to the uninitiated--and, in truth, there are lots of crossover skills--but the goal here is to ZOOM.

4. Wingsuiting

This one hardly needs an introduction. Non-skydivers know 'em as "flying squirrel suits"--and some whuffos don't even know that skydiving exists outside a wingsuit. You might be interested to know three things:

  1. Most people who fly wingsuits never jump them from cliffs.

  2. You'll need to rack up two hundred skydives at the bare minimum before you're allowed to take a wingsuit first-jump course.

  3. There are so many wingsuit brands, styles, colors and flavors at this point that the market resembles a car show. Shiny!

5. Canopy Piloting/Swooping

Couldn't be bothered with freefall? Have we ever got a discipline for you. You can get that canopy open as soon as you leave the plane and still have a whale of a time in the air. Parachutes designed for fancy tricks in the sky (and close to the ground) make for knuckle-biting viewing. It doesn't stop there, either: If you get the right nylon overhead and some friends together, you can get together and make pretty shapes in the sky.

If all of this is new to you, you're certainly not alone. Most people show up nervously to the dropzone for a tandem jump and find themselves thrust into the spectatorship of a dynamic athletic environment. Many, many of those sudden spectators end up falling head-over-heels for the sport and end up becoming passionate practitioners themselves. Once you've spent some time on the dropzone, you soon realize that there's so much more to skydiving than simply falling from a plane, opening a parachute and then landing. Cleaving to those basics feels like watching TV in black and white; whereas choosing and pursuing a discipline is like skydiving in full color and high-definition.

Curious about what skydiving discipline might end up reeling you in? There's only one way to find out. Sign up for our world-class skydiver certification program today.

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