It’s often said that you’re more likely to get into a car accident on the way to the dropzone than you are to have an accident while skydiving. Is that true? Hard to say because the numbers aren’t apples to apples.
But here’s what we do know – jumping out of a “perfectly good airplane” should stir questions about safety! Let’s get into some skydiving statistics and talk about our skydiving safety protocols at Skydive Carolina.
Skydiving is an extreme sport. Like others – including SCUBA diving, motocross racing, rock climbing, and snowboarding – it is dangerous. In fact, that’s a major part of the appeal! Human flight is awesome – and living to tell the tale is supremely awesome. Is skydiving more dangerous than driving? Let’s look at the numbers.
In a world where damn-near everything is dangerous, it boils down to calculated risk.
Of the 3.3 million total skydives recorded in 2019 by USPA-member dropzones, 15 resulted in a fatality – making the skydiving death rate 1 in 220,301. When considering the tandem-related skydiving fatality rate, the number is 1 in 500,000 jumps. More common are minor and non-fatal injuries. In 2019, 1 in 1,310 skydives required attention from a medical facility.
To illustrate the unlikelihood of death by skydiving, take a gander at stats from the National Safety Council that reveal you’re more likely to perish by a lightning strike, dog bite, or bee sting! And, according to that same NSC report, 1 in 106 motor-vehicle crashes includes a fatality.
What makes skydiving crazy-fun rather than super-stupid is the professionalism and stewardship of dropzone owners in tandem with the stringent processes and procedures mandated by the United States Parachute Association – the skydiving safety authority regarding training, licensure, and qualification programs. Founded 75 years ago, the USPA has over 40,000 members and 220 affiliated dropzones nationwide – including Skydive Carolina.
Most critical among safety protocols are:
At Skydive Carolina, we have three aircraft that have been specifically modified for skydiving and are meticulously maintained. Each of our jump pilots are highly-trained and hella experienced – including DZ gem, Rudy Ribbeck. With our year-round Carolina-blue skies, they happily shepherd everyone from first-time jumpers to old-time pros all day long.
Every team member plays an important role in safety at the DZ. Two categories to highlight are riggers and instructors –
Parachute riggers pack as well as maintain and repair parachutes. They undergo rigorous training and are licensed by the (FAA) Federal Aviation Administration. At Skydive Carolina, we’re privileged to have Senior Rigger – Patrick Mercier – on staff, in addition to other dope riggers.
The USPA offers four graduated levels of licensure: A through D. A-License holders are new skydivers who approved to fly solo. D-holders are straight-up pros who have a minimum of 500 jumps, can perform large demo and exhibition skydives, and can achieve tandem instructor status. All Skydive Carolina tandem instructors are not only qualified and mega experienced, but they’re also extremely passionate about our sport.
In the early days of civilian jumping, skydivers had no choice but to make do with military surplus gear. Now, skydivers have access to sophisticated tech that enables operators to address many safety situations while in flight – including altimeters and AADs (automatic activation device) – and that facilitates experimentation and competition within numerous disciplines.
Unlike back in the day when the majority of skydiving accidents occurred because of gear malfunction, today’s incidents are typically related to human error. This is why there are prescribed curricula for every level of licensure and why we don’t mess around at Skydive Carolina. In fact, we’re known for being conservative when it comes to safety, and we’re proud of it. The only tears we want to see around here are from unprecedented joy, the surge of outstanding accomplishment, and the overwhelm that comes with unimaginable empowerment. Same? Same. Boom.
Have questions ahead of time? Connect with us. There’s nothing we love more than sharing our amazing sport with any and everyone who’s set on the life-changing experience that is human flight.
Blue skies, y’all.
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