Throwing Yourself Out of a Plane? Completely Safe


A physician was giving the annual obligatory safety lecture to a group of employees, in an industrial setting characterized by hazardous materials, heavy equipment and high energy sources. “Safety”, the doctor said, “is not something you put on for work and take off when you go home. The trained person practices safety wherever he is.” He stopped short of the cliché that safety begins at home. But he could have gone on to say the safety-trained person, regardless of the source of his training, is a great hand to have around in any setting: shipyard, refinery, mine, high-rise construction site, campsite, whitewater river, sailboat, or the sheer face of El Capitan. Skydiving Safety, one of the most importat things in the sport!

 
 

Safety in the Sport of Skydiving


A physician was giving the annual obligatory safety lecture to a group of employees, in an industrial setting characterized by hazardous materials, heavy equipment and high energy sources. “Safety”, the doctor said, “is not something you put on for work and take off when you go home. The trained person practices safety wherever he is.” He stopped short of the cliché that safety begins at home. But he could have gone on to say the safety-trained person, regardless of the source of his training, is a great hand to have around in any setting: shipyard, refinery, mine, high-rise construction site, campsite, whitewater river, sailboat, or the sheer face of El Capitan. Skydiving Safety, one of the most important things in the sport!

Questions About Safety? Call Us at 1-800-617-7948 Today!

Questions About Safety? Call Us at 1-800-617-7948 Today!

Skydiving Safety

How Skydivers Think About Safety


Safety Training Rewards Us With Another Chance

People trained to safe practices in hazardous environments usually recognize each other. An aviator will find common ground with a high iron worker, even a high-rise window washer. It’s a combination of a few focused words, and the volumes that are spoken in how a person pays attention to what’s going on around him. It’s respect. It could be the best byproduct that comes along with your qualification as a sport parachutist.

…For the skydiving culture will make you a safety conscious person. And if you already are, we’ll make you more that way. From the moment you park at the airfield for your first jump, safety will take its rightful place in the center of your consciousness. It will be an explicit theme in every lesson.

Training Is Key

Safety in an operational setting like sport parachuting divides into two very major phases. First, we learn to do everything humanly possible in advance to ensure that the jump comes off just right. Here again, we’re united with the sailboat crews, the rock climbers and the window washers. And if somebody ever shows symptoms of negligence during preflight, his peers will get after him, reinforce the safety training. They may start out gently, but you can rely on them to unpack the harshest of verbal abuse if they think it’s needed, to get the sloppy behavior fixed and the jumper re-motivated. They’ll be within their rights, too; watching out for each other is part of the whole safety ethic.

The other face of safety is how you react when you’re confronted with a sudden challenge in the air. Most skydiving accidents have been traced, post mortem (forgive the expression), to human error. This is the ultimate test of your training and your preparation. There’s no script for an emergency. You know your equipment. You know how much altitude you have left. You know what your options are. You process all these facts and make a decision, not in seconds, but in tenths of a second. Your training pays off and you land under your auxiliary chute.

Learn from Your Mistakes

Later, you and other seasoned skydivers will investigate what happened, how soon you recognized and reacted to the problem, and the action you took. Things you did right, things you did wrong, and the lessons learned will benefit you and the rest of the sport parachuting community. And thus your training, your dedication to safety, pays its premier, precious payoff. You go out prepared, with equipment as correct as you can make it. You do everything right today, so you can come back and do it again tomorrow.



You and Me and Some Statistics

You and Me and Some Statistics

Once there was a professor, mild mannered and late middle-aged, who was known to plan his errands around the bustling college town so he wouldn’t have to make any left turns. He had read that accidents attend left turns more than right turns, for reasons that should be obvious.


We’re not about avoiding risk. We’re about confronting a dramatic physical challenge successfully, based on rigorous training and systematic preparation, and coming through the adventure successfully. If we seriously hankered to avoid risk, we’d only ride in elevators. Elevators are statistically the safest form of transportation in modern civilization, but whoever went up in one for the thrill of it?

So there’s inherent risk in skydiving. We call that first moment out of the airplane sensory overload. You’re smacked by the air moving around you at 120 knots, and primal circuits in your brain are screaming that you’re falling, with absolutely nothing to hold onto. Self control in these moments is your first big step in skydiver training.

May the Odds Be Ever in Your Favor


The good news is, the odds are in our favor. Favorable enough, in fact, that qualified skydivers keep going up. How good are the odds? About six chances in a million that you’ll die on a sport parachuting jump. Counting jumps of all kinds by trainees, first-timer, tandem jumpers and qualified skydivers, we made about 4.5 million sport parachute jumps in 2016. Twenty-one people died. And since we’re looking at this statistic from the standpoint of safety, you should be interested to note that only eight of those accidents were attributed to malfunctions, i.e. equipment problems. And the U.S. Parachute Association (USPA) reports, “Well thought-out and rehearsed emergency procedures would have prevented half the deaths in this category in 2016.”

Don’t Wrestle During Free Fall – Just Don’t


After malfunctions, the next most significant hazard is interaction with other skydivers. Many of the fancier maneuvers we work to bring off involve two or three divers free falling close to each other, and the forces involved in free falling being what they are, a gentle bump between divers may knock one of them unconscious. Midair collisions, whether during free fall or under canopy, are just inherently life-threatening. Only three jumpers died in 2016 as a result of collisions, but those were certainly avoidable.

You’re Not Evel Knievel


The other categories of skydiving accidents are low-pull/no-pull events, landing accidents, reserve problems, and a miscellaneous category. In 2016, there were no fatalities resulting from low-pull or no-pull descents. Landing accidents killed five people in widely varied scenarios. The most perverse one was the skydiver blown into a billboard. It invokes memories of bad landing sites from the early days of skydiving: expressways, deep water, steel mills, tall forests, etc.

A bad landing can result from bad flying, too. If a skydiver spills lift from the canopy by turning or other sudden maneuvers at low altitude, he can kill himself in a few seconds. USPA took the view that most of these accidents could have been avoided with more skilled planning and good decisions made earlier in the approach.

Know Your Trade


Accidents involving reserve chutes claimed two skydivers’ lives in 2016. Typically reserve chute problems involve inadvertent opening and interference between main and reserve canopies. The USPA write-ups typically invoke situational awareness—another product of thorough safety training—as the way to avoid becoming part of this statistic.

Always Remember: You Need a Parachute


Finally, there’s this other category, for accidents that don’t fit into one of the five above. There were three in 2016. Two appeared to be deaths due to physiological causes unrelated to the dive. In the third, a diver fell out of her harness while riding down under canopy. If you’re a diver who’s determined to make an exhaustive preflight inspection, if you mentally review every safety briefing you can remember, if you don’t bump into any of your mates in the air, and if you skillfully plan a controlled landing, you have every right to take the view that I won’t become a statistic today. Your morning commute on a major metropolitan expressway is probably more dangerous than skydiving, though the per capita statistics are pulled down by the millions of other motorists. And skydiving is lots more fun than driving to work.

Once there was a professor, mild mannered and late middle-aged, who was known to plan his errands around the bustling college town so he wouldn’t have to make any left turns. He had read that accidents attend left turns more than right turns, for reasons that should be obvious.


We’re not about avoiding risk. We’re about confronting a dramatic physical challenge successfully, based on rigorous training and systematic preparation, and coming through the adventure successfully. If we seriously hankered to avoid risk, we’d only ride in elevators. Elevators are statistically the safest form of transportation in modern civilization, but whoever went up in one for the thrill of it?

So there’s inherent risk in skydiving. We call that first moment out of the airplane sensory overload. You’re smacked by the air moving around you at 120 knots, and primal circuits in your brain are screaming that you’re falling, with absolutely nothing to hold onto. Self control in these moments is your first big step in skydiver training.

The good news is, the odds are in our favor. Favorable enough, in fact, that qualified skydivers keep going up. How good are the odds? About six chances in a million that you’ll die on a sport parachuting jump. Counting jumps of all kinds by trainees, first-timer, tandem jumpers and qualified skydivers, we made about 4.5 million sport parachute jumps in 2016. Twenty-one people died. And since we’re looking at this statistic from the standpoint of safety, you should be interested to note that only eight of those accidents were attributed to malfunctions, i.e. equipment problems. And the U.S. Parachute Association (USPA) reports, “Well thought-out and rehearsed emergency procedures would have prevented half the deaths in this category in 2016.”

Skydiving Safety

After malfunctions, the next most significant hazard is interaction with other skydivers. Many of the fancier maneuvers we work to bring off involve two or three divers free falling close to each other, and the forces involved in free falling being what they are, a gentle bump between divers may knock one of them unconscious. Midair collisions, whether during free fall or under canopy, are just inherently life-threatening. Only three jumpers died in 2016 as a result of collisions, but those were certainly avoidable.

The other categories of skydiving accidents are low-pull/no-pull events, landing accidents, reserve problems, and a miscellaneous category. In 2016, there were no fatalities resulting from low-pull or no-pull descents. Landing accidents killed five people in widely varied scenarios. The most perverse one was the skydiver blown into a billboard. It invokes memories of bad landing sites from the early days of skydiving: expressways, deep water, steel mills, tall forests, etc.

A bad landing can result from bad flying, too. If a skydiver spills lift from the canopy by turning or other sudden maneuvers at low altitude, he can kill himself in a few seconds. USPA took the view that most of these accidents could have been avoided with more skilled planning and good decisions made earlier in the approach.

Accidents involving reserve chutes claimed two skydivers’ lives in 2016. Typically reserve chute problems involve inadvertent opening and interference between main and reserve canopies. The USPA write-ups typically invoke situational awareness—another product of thorough safety training—as the way to avoid becoming part of this statistic.

Finally, there’s this other category, for accidents that don’t fit into one of the five above. There were three in 2016. Two appeared to be deaths due to physiological causes unrelated to the dive. In the third, a diver fell out of her harness while riding down under canopy. If you’re a diver who’s determined to make an exhaustive preflight inspection, if you mentally review every safety briefing you can remember, if you don’t bump into any of your mates in the air, and if you skillfully plan a controlled landing, you have every right to take the view that I won’t become a statistic today. Your morning commute on a major metropolitan expressway is probably more dangerous than skydiving, though the per capita statistics are pulled down by the millions of other motorists. And skydiving is lots more fun than driving to work.

Are you ready to fly like an eagle?

We have a step-by-step detailed guide to tandem skydiving for the first time.

Call 1-800-617-7948 to Go Skydiving Today!

Skydiver Safety

In Preflight, The Life You Save Will Be Your Own

In a thorough, systematic inspection of our equipment before going into action, skydivers unite again in principle with the aviators, the sailors, the rock climbers and the window washers. Every one of these people conducts a skilled inspection, usually against a checklist, before he goes out to risk his (or her) life. The properly trained person will recognize that two deadly hazards stalk the preflight inspection: reducing it to routine, and taking anything for granted. Every step in the checklist matters, every time you go up. The jumper who lives to a ripe old age checks his equipment every time the same way he did when he was a novice with an instructor watching.

We’re Not in Kansas Anymore


But wait. The most important thing happens before preflight. Your chute gets packed by a trained and licensed parachute rigger. You should be present, and you will learn where to look for wear and potential problems in your equipment. Your eyes on the entirety of your canopy and its rigging will arm you with confidence based on knowing that every part of the assembly is whole and functional.

Start with the pilot chute. It leads a hard life while it’s doing its job, hauling the main canopy out of the pack with the pull of a 120-knot breeze, and again when you drag it off the field after landing. You want to see intact seams and no holes. Next you inspect the bridle, looking for wear on the strapping and the loops where the bridle attaches to metal rings. For that matter, anywhere a metal fitting interacts with fiber, you’ll want to always take a close look at the condition of the fiber.

Also on the bridle, test ease of movement of the pin that pulls out to start releasing the main chute. The main canopy, again subjected to abuse when you bundle it up after landing, tolerates very small holes or tears better than the pilot, but you should be examining all the seams for stress. The suspension lines and connector links are part of the canopy inspection. You’ll look at the risers, at the bag itself, at every point where Velcro is used—this is not the checklist, just a glance at the process.

Don’t Worry, We Have Your Back


Meanwhile, your reserve chute can stay packed until 120 days after the last time it was packed, pursuant to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations. So now, with an inspected and correctly packed main chute and a good reserve chute, let’s go out to the airfield. Before you board the airplane, revisit the visible release pins on both your chute bags, the pilot chute release device, and of course your harness.

Assuming you’ll be diving in suitable clothing, zip up all the pockets of your flight suit and recheck the knots on your boot laces. Give the elastic of the goggle straps a quick glance, and even more of a glance at your helmet’s suspension and chinstrap. Make sure your altimeter is functional, and if it has a ground level adjustment, set it to the elevation of your drop zone—a bit of information you’ll already know.

Skydiver Safety

In Preflight, The Life You Save Will Be Your Own

In a thorough, systematic inspection of our equipment before going into action, skydivers unite again in principle with the aviators, the sailors, the rock climbers and the window washers. Every one of these people conducts a skilled inspection, usually against a checklist, before he goes out to risk his (or her) life. The properly trained person will recognize that two deadly hazards stalk the preflight inspection: reducing it to routine, and taking anything for granted. Every step in the checklist matters, every time you go up. The jumper who lives to a ripe old age checks his equipment every time the same way he did when he was a novice with an instructor watching.

But wait. The most important thing happens before preflight. Your chute gets packed by a trained and licensed parachute rigger. You should be present, and you will learn where to look for wear and potential problems in your equipment. Your eyes on the entirety of your canopy and its rigging will arm you with confidence based on knowing that every part of the assembly is whole and functional.

Start with the pilot chute. It leads a hard life while it’s doing its job, hauling the main canopy out of the pack with the pull of a 120-knot breeze, and again when you drag it off the field after landing. You want to see intact seams and no holes. Next you inspect the bridle, looking for wear on the strapping and the loops where the bridle attaches to metal rings. For that matter, anywhere a metal fitting interacts with fiber, you’ll want to always take a close look at the condition of the fiber.

Also on the bridle, test ease of movement of the pin that pulls out to start releasing the main chute. The main canopy, again subjected to abuse when you bundle it up after landing, tolerates very small holes or tears better than the pilot, but you should be examining all the seams for stress. The suspension lines and connector links are part of the canopy inspection. You’ll look at the risers, at the bag itself, at every point where Velcro is used—this is not the checklist, just a glance at the process.

Meanwhile, your reserve chute can stay packed until 120 days after the last time it was packed, pursuant to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations. So now, with an inspected and correctly packed main chute and a good reserve chute, let’s go out to the airfield. Before you board the airplane, revisit the visible release pins on both your chute bags, the pilot chute release device, and of course your harness.

Assuming you’ll be diving in suitable clothing, zip up all the pockets of your flight suit and recheck the knots on your boot laces. Give the elastic of the goggle straps a quick glance, and even more of a glance at your helmet’s suspension and chinstrap. Make sure your altimeter is functional, and if it has a ground level adjustment, set it to the elevation of your drop zone—a bit of information you’ll already know.

Now you’re as ready as you can possibly be, fit to have a great dive and finish the day whole and well, a shining example to junior jumpers and a skydiver who will live to jump another day.

Call 1-800-617-7948 and Come Skydive with Us!

Questions?

Here Are Our Top 3…


What Is the Age Limit?

18 years old in most states. There are some variations dependent upon the state you are jumping in so call us for the exact requirement in your state. You might get lucky, kids!

Is There a Weight Limit?

You cannot be over 240 pounds for a Tandem skydiving jump at most dropzones. This does vary at some skydiving centers so call one of our skydiving experts for details at the location near you!

How Fast Do You Fall?

Up to 130 miles an hour in free fall, about 1,000 feet in the first 10 seconds and 5 seconds every 1,000 feet thereafter. The chute is deployed at about 60 seconds, significantly slowing the descent.


Of course you may have other questions, in which case please visit our FAQ page for more answers!