In August, 2001 I decided to take skydiving lessons while I was working in the UK. I contacted an instructor and made arrangements to take the course. The course I took is called Accelerated Freefall, or AFF, and involves about a day of groundschool before eight jumps. On jump one you have two instructors holding on to you and adjusting your body position in freefall. If all goes well, one of the instructors will let go on jump two, and on jump three they will both let go. Flying unassisted! Jumps four and five are made with only one instructor, who lets go to allow you to practice turning in the air. Jump six is the first in which you exit the plane by yourself, after which you're supposed to do two back loops, and practice "tracking", which means moving forwards through the sky. The seventh jump combines all of the above - solo exit, back loop, turning, and tracking.
All of the above jumps are made from roughly 14,000 feet, which gives you roughly fifty seconds during which to complete all your manoevres before opening the parachute. The eighth jump tests your exit - you have to jump from 5,000 feet, get stable, and pull within 10 seconds.
My instructor took videos of some of my jumps, and converted one into this still. This was at the end of my seventh jump, when I had just completed a solo exit, back loop, two 360 degree turns, and two tracks. I was feeling pretty good because I knew I'd done everything properly (if not perfectly!) so when he flew in front of me I gave him the thumbs up. He returned the thumbs up, which felt even better!
I remained in England until May 2002, and continued going to the dropzone most weekends so I could jump. As of January 2014 I have now made over 1800 jumps and still spend most summer weekends at the dropzone.
If you'd like more information about AFF or other skydiving possibilities, check out my instructor's web page, which is www.airschoolskydiving.com/