1. Tandem (costs about $125 to $200): This is the most common first-timer's version of skydiving. This is probably because you don't ever have to work up the nerve to jump out of the plane - you have no choice. In this scenario, you are basically strapped onto the jumpmaster (i.e., the pro) and he/she controls the jump from exit to landing. You're along for the ride, so all you have to do is enjoy the view. This method requires little preparation time - usually under an hour.

It works like this: you wear a harness that is attached to the jumpmaster's parachute system. The two of you, sandwiched together, leave the plane together and fall for about 45 seconds before the jumpmaster pulls the chute at about 4,000 feet. From there, the ride to the ground lasts about 5 minutes.

FYI- in the United States, tandem jumping is still classified by the Federal Aviation Administration as an "experimental" form of parachuting, since there are only two parachutes (main and reserve) to cover two jumpers.

2. Static Line (costs about $85 to $150): Developed by the military to drop soldiers down from the sky in a hurry, this method is also used as a first foray into skydiving. These jumps are made from about 3,000 feet and require a four-to-six hour training class. With static line skydiving, a cord attached from the plane to your parachute pulls the parachute open almost immediately after you jump out. The advantage to this method is that you don't have to pull your own rip cord. The disadvantage is that you only get about 3 seconds of freefall. The parachute ride to the ground lasts about three minutes, during which you are directed to the ground by radio contact or ground signals. So there's still a danger, because you have to land yourself instead of letting the instructor do the work for you.

3. Accelerated Freefall (costs about $250). This is the way to go for true thrill seekers - you're as much on your own as you can be (at least for your first time in the air). You pull your own rip cord and you float to the ground solo. Of course, the training usually lasts all day, but this is the method used most frequently for those interested in becoming serious skydivers (AFF dives earn more credits toward certification than static line jumps).

Upon leaving the airplane, two instructors jump out with you, holding on to you during the entire freefall. Usually, the jump is made at about 11,000 feet, and the freefall time lasts about 45 seconds. During those 45 seconds, you have to perform three "practice pulls" in which you go through the motions of pulling your rip cord. This is done so that the jumpmasters can determine your relative sanity in the air. If you're not performing the practice pulls correctly, the jumpmaster may assume you're too nervous to do the real thing, at which time he/she will pull your rip cord for you. If you're handling the 120 mile-per-hour drop okay, you pull your cord at 4,500 feet. Either way, once the parachute is pulled, the instructors will let go of you, and you'll be on your own. The gentle sail to the ground lasts about 5 minutes, during which you're guided by radio or ground signals.

SoYouWanna know more? Check out our full-length article SYW go skydiving?