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Enjoy Safer Extreme Air Sports

written by: CatNorth • edited by: Cheryl Gabbert • updated: 5/12/2010

Learn about fun and safe air sport adventures, including zip-lining, bungee jumping and indoor skydiving. Enjoy safer extreme air sports while still experiencing the thrill of real action and adventure.

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    Introduction

    Do you like the idea of BASE Jumping but don't like the risks involved? Most forms of BASE jumping and similar extreme air sports, such as skydiving and paragliding can be dangerous. Although a select and brave few are willing to embrace risk for the love of free-falling and surfing air currents, most of us are a bit more grounded. However, the idea of soaring through the air like a free bird seems to appeal to a primal instinct in us all. Examine alternatives and consider ways to experience the exhilaration of flying while minimizing your risk of injury at the same time. Enjoy safer extreme air sports.

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    Zip Line Flying

    Zip-lining is an adventure sport that’s typically offered as a facilitated activity to visitors of vacation and resort spots. Of course the main idea usually entails zipping through the air while attached to a cable and suspended above terrain or water via a secured harness contraption. The zip line course has a beginning and end point for departure and landing. Most agree zip-lining is a far safer activity than BASE jumping or skydiving since the participant is securely attached to a line and is wearing safety gear in a controlled environment.

    However, a good way to double check your safety is to inquire about the reputation and legitimacy of the zip-lining facility before you take the leap. Keep in mind that zip-lining outfits located outside of the USA are not always safe because they are not monitored or inspected by any sort of regulating organization like the Professional Ropes Course Association1 located in the states. Check out consumer and tourism review web sites, such as Cruise Critic2, for updated information on adventure sports and safety.

    Overall, zip-lining is a great way to experience the exhilaration of an extreme sport while still maintaining your safety. Tours are usually located in exciting and exotic locations, and you are likely to see things from the air that you’d never get to see while on the ground. Zip-lining is also an activity that doesn’t require intense training, and for first-timers, tandem zip-lining is often available, so you don’t have to go it alone.

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    Skydive Indoors

    If you just have a real hankering for skydiving but are hesitant about jumping out of a plane, try indoor skydiving instead. It’s a way to experience the rush of skydiving without having to worry about your parachute opening before you reach the ground. Within a controlled environment, soar just like a skydiver but within a huge, vertical wind tunnel.

    Pay an admissions price, and normally indoor skydiving lessons are included. No experience is necessary, and the indoor skydiving facility usually provides its customers with needed safety gear. Families can have a blast enjoying indoor skydiving together since even children can participate.

    Also, one way to decide if you want to take airplane skydiving seriously is to try indoor skydiving first. It may help prepare you for regular skydiving, and in some cases, you can earn credit toward skydiving certification. Find indoor skydiving facilities at many vacation and resort spots as well as other recreational venues.3

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    Bungee Adventures

    Of course bungee jumping is still as popular as ever as an adventure activity. However, variations to the sport as well as new locations have been added right around the world, but it’s still the basic practice of jumping from (or being catapulted from) a fixed object while secured with a bungee cord and safety harness to prevent the participant from hitting the ground or water. The cord is made out of strong but elastic material that causes a jumper to bounce upward once she comes to the end of the cord’s length. Eventually, the participant is carefully lowered to the ground.

    Very similar to BASE jumping (sans parachute or wing suit), bungee jumping as an adventure sport was first developed in New Zealand, but legend has it that a similar activity has actually been around much longer since native Pacific tribes have practiced it for centuries as a right of passage or expression of love.4

    Look for well-known and highly regarded bungee jumping operations. Although the chances are slim, some injuries have occurred due to accidents, weather conditions or inadequate bungee cords and other equipment. Find all the equipment you need for your bungee jump at the bungee recreation facility. Remember to give your correct weight before a bungee jump so that jump equipment is set up correctly.

    As it goes with all extreme sports, variations are continuously being developed. Some variations of bungee jumping include ledge swinging5 and catapulting. If you try newer versions of the sport, take extra precaution when choosing a reputable bungee jumping center.

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    Explore Extreme Air Sports the Safe Way, Pg.2Consider an alternative to solo adventure sports. Educate yourself on the benefits of tandem participation in air sports. Understand appropriate precautions to take to participate in safer extreme air sports.
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    All Air Tandem

    One thing to keep in mind is that you can participate in just about all extreme air sports in tandem. This means you can soar, glide, hang glide, paraglide, parasail, parachute, BASE jump, skydive, bungee jump, and even zip-line with another person physically attached to you. Usually this other person is an experienced jumper, guide, or pilot who has the necessary experience for the sport and can perform appropriate preparation and activity tasks for air sports. If you’re looking to try an extreme air sport for the first time (or just once), it’s the best and safest way to experience it.

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    Safety Tips for Air Fun

    Remember that geographic location, culture, and government matter when it comes to safety. Many new vacation and resort spots around the world are located in places where extreme sports are not regulated or monitored. So, unless you feel sure about the facility, its staff, or the locale, don’t take the chance. You and those you care about might be at risk in certain settings.

    Accidents happen—this is true even outside of the realm of extreme sports. Take the right precautions and always wear proper safety equipment. Check for quality and possible wear and tear on all equipment before using.

    It’s always a good idea to get a physical or checkup before participating in any kind of extreme air sports. The sudden body jolting and dropping involved with some action sports can trigger problems associated with ailments and other conditions. Enjoy safer extreme air sports by being prepared physically, emotionally, and mentally.

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    References

    1. PRCA ANSI: Professional Ropes Course Association - http://www.prcainfo.org/

    2. Cruise Critic: Cruise Reviews and News - http://www.cruisecritic.com/articles.cfm?ID=660

    3. Bodyflight Network: Your Guide to Human Flight and Vertical Wind Tunnels Worldwide - http://www.bodyflight.net/

    4. New Zealand Tourism Guide: "Bungy Jumping in New Zealand" - http://www.tourism.net.nz/new-zealand/nz/bungy-jumping/

    5. AJ Hacket Bungy New Zealand: “The Ledge Sky Swing” - http://www.bungy.co.nz/index.php/pi_pageid/24

    6. Thrillseekers Unlimited: The Extreme Sports and Stunt Entertainment Company - http://www.thrillseekersunlimited.com/build-your-own.html