Is Skydiving Safe?
Wednesday, May 25, 2022
You’ve booked your jump, and you’re excited to make the leap, but you can’t help but wonder: is skydiving safe? Nothing about jumping out of a plane and falling toward the Gateway City at 120 mph seems safe … but skydiving is not as dangerous as you might think. There is definitely risk involved, you’re jumping out of a plane for Pete’s sake, but we take every precaution to make skydiving as safe as possible.
What are the Dangers of Skydiving?
Nothing in life is without risk, and like most any activity, skydiving can result in accidents or even death. Skydiving fatalities do happen occasionally, but thankfully they are extremely rare and occur less and less frequently as we make advances in technology and improve training.
The United States Parachute Association (USPA) keeps track of accidents and deaths in the sport of skydiving so that we can learn from each incident. According to the USPA, there were 10 fatalities out of 3.57 million jumps in 2021 – that’s a rate of 1 fatality in 357,000 jumps – and most of those fatalities were not caused by equipment malfunction, but rather licensed skydivers pushing themselves beyond their limits. The odds are even better for tandem skydiving: 1 in 500,000 jumps. So, are fatal skydiving accidents common? Let’s say it together: no!
Tandem Rules Are Cool
Tandem skydiving is quite different from a licensed jumper’s skydive in a number of ways. There is no shortage of regulations for the entire sport of skydiving, and the rules for tandem skydiving are even stricter than for licensed jumpers. As examples:
- Tandem skydivers are required to stay in a belly-to-earth orientation during freefall, whereas experienced skydivers are permitted to fly in any orientation they choose – head up, head down, zoom across the sky.
- Tandem skydivers must deploy their parachutes at a higher altitude than licensed jumpers, who have a lot of leeway so that they have the time to achieve a variety of maneuvers.
- During a tandem skydive, a highly-trained, experienced and credentialed tandem instructor is responsible for both you and themselves. They call the shots, but you will have some responsibilities too (don’t worry, no first-time skydiver knows what to expect – you’ll attend a training session when you arrive at the dropzone). Licensed skydivers are on their own, trusted to make responsible choices.
Good Instructors & Good Gear
Skydiving can be a scary experience, after all it’s not exactly a run-of-the-mill activity. It’s important to remember that you’re in good hands. Your tandem instructor had to work long and hard to gain mastery of the skills and requirements needed to strap students to them and jump out of a plane.
At Skydive STL, we take safety extremely seriously, which is why we engage only instructors we trust and use only top-of-the-line equipment and gear, and inspect it regularly. Tandem skydiving gear includes a primary parachute known as a “main”, a secondary parachute we refer to as the “reserve”, and an electronic device called an automatic activation device (AAD) that automatically deploys the reserve if necessary. According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), reserve parachutes need to be repacked every 180 days whether they’ve been used or not. With experienced instructors and quality equipment, you can confidently fly high (literally).
Not So Scary Statistics
We already told you that skydiving has some inherent risks … now we’re going to share statistics related to the riskier things that you do on a daily basis. Buckle up, good people of Missouri, these numbers will surprise you.
- We drive around in cars everyday, even though the odds of dying in a car crash are 1 in 107.
- We casually chew our food as if there’s no chance of danger, but choking has a fatality rate of 1 in 2,535 people.
- We do outdoor activities all year long, and yet 1 in 57,825 people die from a wasp, bee, hornet, or other stinging insect.
- OK, compare these facts with those skydiving numbers we shared earlier. The context makes all the difference. With a fatality rate of 1 in 357,000 solo jumps and 1 in 500,000 tandem jumps, skydiving doesn’t look so dangerous, does it? (And now you have numbers to share with your mom when she gives you the hairy eyeball and asks, “How safe is skydiving?” – you’re welcome!)
We hope these comparisons help you to feel better about the safety of skydiving (and not make you feel worse about driving, eating, and spending time outside!), because skydiving is one of the most awe-inspiring, empowering, crazy life-changing experiences you’ll have in all of your life. Don’t let fear clip your wings!
If you’re ready to leap into the big blue yonder and see sweet St. Louis from a whole new angle, come and jump with us!