Parachuting, or skydiving, is the action sport of exiting an aircraft and returning to earth with the aid of gravity while using a parachute to slow down during the final part of the descent. It may or may not involve a certain amount of free-fall, a time during which the parachute has not been deployed and the body gradually accelerates to terminal velocity. The history of skydiving starts with Andre-Jacques Garnerin who made successful descents using a canvas canopy and small basket, tethered beneath a hot-air balloon. The first intentional freefall jump with a ripcord-operated deployment is credited to Leslie Irvin in 1919 ; however, the stunt jumper Georgina "Tiny" Broadwick claimed to have made earlier freefall jumps simply by cutting her static-line and manually pulling the remaining cord-end after falling away from the plane. The military developed parachuting technology as a way to save aircrews from emergencies aboard balloons and aircraft in flight, and later as a way of delivering soldiers to the battlefield. Early competitions date back to the 1930s, and it became an international sport in 1952.
Parachuting is performed as a recreational activity and a competitive sport, as well as for the deployment of military personnel Airborne forces and occasionally forest firefighters.
A skydiving center can be a commercial operation or a club, usually operates at an airport, and provides one or more aircraft that takes groups of skydivers up for a fee. An individual jumper can go up in a light aircraft such as a Cessna C-172 or C-182. In busier drop zones (DZ) larger aircraft may be used such as the Cessna Caravan 208, de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter, Airvan or Short Skyvan.