Fearless Felix likely inspires others to leap

This image made from video, provided by Red Bull Stratos shows pilot Felix Baumgartner of Austria as he jumps out of the capsule during the final manned flight for Red Bull Stratos on Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012. In a giant leap from more than 24 miles up, Baumgartner shattered the sound barrier Sunday while making the highest jump ever — a tumbling, death-defying plunge from a balloon to a safe landing in the New Mexico desert. (AP Photo/Red Bull Stratos)

Neal Augenstein, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – Felix Baumgartner isn’t the first person courageous enough to stand on the edge of a plane or balloon and take a step — he just did it from the highest point.

No doubt the excitement surrounding Fearless Felix’s record-setting leap from 24 miles above the ground will inspire some to try skydiving.

Those determined to fly, aided only by a parachute, have options in the D.C. region, with skydiving clubs in Virginia and Maryland.

Skydive Orange, located in Orange, Va. says it makes 18,000 dives annually.

As with many jump centers, first timers can choose different ways of getting from plane to ground, safely.

In a tandem skydive, the student is attached to a certified instructor by a harness. The parachute is attached to the instructor, who is responsible for pulling the ripcord.

Experts say a tandem jump is probably best suited for a one-time skydiver, since it requires only a short training period.

For someone interested in learning more, the Accelerated Freefall, or AFF method, has the student pulling his or her own ripcord during the first jump.

Including training and gear, a first jump course lasts up to 8 hours and costs $380.

D.C. Skydiving Center operates from Warrenton, Va. It, and most jump centers, offers video packages to memorialize the jump experience.

Video packages run about $100.

First timers at Sky Dive Baltimore are instructed to dress comfortably for the weather, wearing tennis shoes. Helmets and goggles are provided.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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