Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Shubh. Shubh Wonders, “What is Sky Surfing?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Shubh!

Have you ever tried surfing? It can be so much fun! Moving quickly through the water, surfers ride the waves and try out complicated tricks. It takes a lot of skill to ride a big wave without wiping out!

Surfers who really want to test themselves might take their sport deep into the ocean—or even to the sky! What would it be like to ride a surfboard through the air instead of water? Just ask a sky surfer!

Sky surfing started in 1986. It all began with two French skydivers named Dominique Jacquet and Jean-Pascal Oron. They invented the sky surfboard and were the first to try sky surfing, a whole new style of skydiving.

The sky surfboard is both shorter and flatter than those used to surf in the water. It also attaches to the rider’s feet, making sure the board won’t fall to the ground. Controlling the sky surfboard is one of the most important parts of becoming a sky surfer.

However, it’s not the first step! Before trying to sky surf, a person has to master skydiving. They must be able to fly safely in many positions. After a lot of training and practice, they finally strap the surfboard to their feet.

Before a sky surfer tries any tricks or flips, they practice controlling their surfboard. This is very difficult and can take a long time. After all, skydivers fall at a rate between 90 and 160 miles per hour. That’s hard for anyone—and sky surfers do that with their feet strapped to a board. That adds another level of difficulty and danger.

The popularity of sky surfing grew in the 1990s, with the sport featured in ESPN’s X Games between 1995 and 2000. But since then, sky surfing has become less common. This is largely due to the amount of time and practice needed to even begin sky surfing. Sky surfers spend years learning to skydive, how to use a sky surfboard, and finally the basic tricks. 

On top of the time spent, sky surfing is dangerous for even the most experienced athletes. The smallest mistake or loss of control can result in serious injury. A faulty parachute can be a disaster. Some sky surfers have even gone into spins that are so fast, they cause them to lose consciousness.

Still, a small number of athletes enjoy sky surfing. A similar sport called wing boarding has also started to gain popularity. The main difference is that, in wing boarding, the athlete is dragged behind a plane instead of jumping out of one.

Would you like to try sky surfing one day? Would flying and flipping through the air be exhilarating or terrifying? It may not be for everyone! But for those who take the time to master the sport, it’s often worth the wait.

Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.W.1, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2, CCRA.W.9

Wonder What's Next?

Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day is full of questions.