Advances in Skydiving Keep Sportsters Safe

by Matt Anderson

For all of the popularity of skydiving, there are relatively few skydiving deaths. But yes, they do occur. However, when we look at the total number of jumps that occur, both here in the United States and in other parts of the world, we see that there is a very small percentage of deaths relative to jumps. One estimate is that there are approximately 30 skydiving deaths in a year in the United States, which works out to an average of one death per 100,000 jumps.

Most of the deaths in skydiving are due to weather conditions, and not, as many might believe, to equipment failure. Equipment failures do happen, but today, all parachuters carry a backup parachute for the unlikely event that their primary chute does not open. All of these are packed by professionals who are certified to do this. They are highly trained personnel called parachute riggers. Many parachutes also have “Automated Activation Devices”, a kind of altimeter, that will force the parachute to open once is has reached a certain altitude. In addition, all potential divers must show a physician’s certificate that they are in good physical condition to jump.

The industry can and does protect against equipment failure to a certain extent, but what it cannot protect against is climate conditions and human error.

One of the most common causes of deaths is a result of “swooping” an added thrill that divers seek by gliding close to the ground as they land.

But downdrafts and crosswinds are the most common cause of skydiving deaths. Changing winds catch the skydiver and may add too much speed to the diver, causing him to crash into the ground. Deaths from skydiving occur more frequently when the dive is from a fixed object, such as a promontory on the land, a span such as a bridge, from a high antennae or from a building. Sky surfing is also a factor in skydiving deaths.

Even though skydiving deaths are not common, you can protect yourself even further by taking certain common sense steps. Dive with a certified instructor; make sure you always check your equipment and make sure it is in good condition and finally, wear the proper equipment.

This is a sport that just about anyone can enjoy who loves thrilling sports. But it is important to use your good sense, and follow instructions properly to make sure you do not become on of the rare statistics of skydiving deaths.

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