Parachuting, or skydiving, is a method of transiting from a high point to Earth with the aid of gravity, involving the control of speed during the descent with the use of a parachute/s. It may involve more or less free-falling which is a period during the parachute has not been deployed and the body gradually accelerates to terminal velocity.
Parachuting is performed as a recreational activity and a competitive sport, widely considered an extreme sport due to the risks involved. Modern militaries utilize parachuting for the deployment of airborne forces and supplies, and special operations forces commonly employ parachuting, especially free-fall parachuting, as a method of insertion. Occasionally forest firefighters, known as "smokejumpers" in the United States, use parachuting as a means of rapidly inserting themselves near forest fires in especially remote or otherwise inaccessible areas.
Manually exiting an aircraft and parachuting to safety has been widely used by aviators (especially military aviators and aircrew), and passengers to escape an aircraft that could not otherwise land safely. While this method of escape is relatively rare in modern times, it was commonly used in World War I by military aviators, and utilized extensively throughout the air wars of World War II. In modern times, the most common means of escape from an aircraft in distress is via an ejection seat. Said system is usually operated by the pilot, aircrew member, or passenger, by engaging an activation device manually. In most designs, this will lead to the seat being propelled out of and away from the aircraft carrying the occupant with it, by means of either an explosive charge or a rocket propulsion system. Once clear of the aircraft, the ejection seat will deploy a parachute, although some older models entrusted this step to manual activation by the seat's occupant.