High flying: The thrill of skydiving in Arizona

Nicole Underwood

By Nicole Underwood / NewsBreak Pinal County, AZ

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Skydiving in EloyPinal Central

(Eloy, AZ) When people think of popular activities or destinations in Arizona, many first consider the incredible views of the Grand Canyon, exploring golfing in Scottsdale or being surrounded by majestic saguaros in Tucson. One (high) rising popular activity to add to the activity list affiliated with Arizona is none other than skydiving. If you’ve never taken to the big desert skies and want to feel the sensation of dropping nearly 13,000 feet to the desert below, Arizona is the place to go.

However, many curious adventure seekers may have some hesitation about the safety of such a dramatic drop. In the city of Eloy, located in Pinal County, the mild weathered-skies create an ideal area for first-time skydivers. And most notably, Eloy is internationally recognized as the ultimate designation for professional skydiving teams who travel from around the world to train in this specific zone.

A desirable area surrounded by flat, uninhabited land for miles in every direction, Eloy offers many curious first-time divers the option to experience a recreational drop or explore further to receive certified training and become a skydiving instructor.

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Taking to the skiesAdventures in Skydiving

Although the fear of heights is common, skydiving — also known as parachuting — is more popular than ever. From thrill enthusiasts to those looking to conquer their fear of heights, many are motivated or just plain curious to get in on the skydiving hype. This upward trend has been slowly increasing for the past 20 years, reaching an all time high in recent years for those who want to feel the sensation of falling (safely).

Even still, safety is a big concern for those who have never taken their first plunge. People may be surprised to know that skydiving is safer than riding an elevator or even the risk of being struck by lightning. Based on the perfected safety precautions due to the popularity, statistics provided by the United States Parachute Association state that out of the 2.8 minion jumps which occur on average every year, there is less than 0.001 percent fatality rate per 1,000 jumps. With 8 drop zones offered in Arizona alone, you are in good hands if you choose to make a first jump.

At any jump center, after legally accepting the known risks of participating in the activity with a waiver form, a first-time participant is given a thorough overview by a trained instructor, who will provide all common practices and procedures to have a fun and successful experience. Then, the student must ascend. The ride up on the aircraft is often more nerve-wracking than the jump itself, due to the anticipation of the unknown sensation of falling at an average terminal velocity of 120 miles-per-hour.

All first time jumpers are required to jump tandem with an instructor. Once suited and provided thorough instructions, most jumpers will either be seated on the floor or a bench in a small aircraft, in close proximity to the other skydivers on the flight. In less than 20 minutes, the aircraft will reach the desired altitude and one by one, jumpers will take a deep breath and descend to the desert landscape below, harnessed safely to a trained instructor.

The two most common types of jumps are free falling — the most exciting and popular experience for newbies— and a canopy flight, involving easy-to-steer, square parachutes, also operated by an accompanied instructor. Upon one’s descent, the student and instructor will land in the designated drop zone, with the large parachute canopies allowing tandem skydivers to glide back to the Arizona soil safely.

Interested in learning more and taking your first plunge? Use USPA’s DropZone locator here or visit the website of the world’s largest skydiving center, SkyDive Arizona, located in Eloy - Happy jumping.

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