When you tell people you’re going skydiving you usually get one of two looks – a wide-eyed and super-excited look that comes with an even wider smile, or some you-must-be-crazy side eye served with a sort of grimace. Look around the dropzone and you’ll see nothing but bright eyes and big ol’ smiles — but do the naysayers have a point? Let’s look at the facts.
Skydiving is an inherently dangerous sport, but it’s not as risky as you think. According to the National Safety Council, you’re far more likely to die from a bee sting or lightning strike than you are from skydiving.
The United States Parachute Association (USPA) is a nonprofit organization committed to skydiving safety through training, licensing and instructor qualification programs. Founded nearly 75 years ago, the USPA currently has more than 40,000 members and 220 affiliated dropzones nationwide – including Skydive The Gulf.
Of the 3.3 million jumps recorded by USPA-member dropzones in 2019, a total of 15 — or 1 in 220,301 — resulted in a fatality. Over the last decade, the ratio of tandem-related fatalities has been 1 in 500,000 jumps.
Non-fatal skydiving injuries are more common and yet still pretty unlikely. Last year, 2,522 injuries – or 1 in 1,310 jumps – required attention at a medical facility.
Skydiving Safety Measures
Like most life-changing adventures, skydiving involves calculated risk. In fact, that’s a major part of the appeal of extreme sports. Skydiving, SCUBA diving, mountain climbing … it’s all about living on the edge, testing your mettle and not just surviving to tell the tale, but thriving in empowerment and confidence that comes with such a mammoth accomplishment.
Let’s break this down:
A plane specifically modified for skydiving takes you to altitude. At Skydive The Gulf, we have a Cessna 182 that’s meticulously maintained by our very own Certified A&P (Airframe and Powerplant) Mechanic and flown by our stellar pilots. Jump pilots are a special and highly-trained breed. They take off and land from sun up to sun down without ever having the luxury of switching on autopilot.
Licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), riggers are trained to pack, maintain and repair parachutes. At the helm of the STG rigging team is Senior Rigger Brooke Brown. To achieve Senior Rigger status, candidates must demonstrate basic parachute knowledge, complete an intensive 15-day course, and successfully complete oral and written exams.
There are four levels of licensure sanctioned by the USPA. A-License holders represent newcomers to the sport whereas those with a D License are the most seasoned. To take first-timers into the sky, tandem instructors must have their D License. Every STG tandem instructor is a full-time skydiving professional and each has thousands of jumps. We hold our tandem instructors to the highest standards, above and beyond even what is required by the USPA.
Skydiving technology has come a long way since the birth of the sport. From the AAD (automatic activation device) and the CYPRES (Cybernetic Parachute Release System) to the 3-ring release system and the altimeter, skydivers are well equipped to address numerous safety situations during freefall and while under canopy. Unlike in the old days, the majority of skydiving accidents today are attributed to human error, not gear malfunction.
At Skydive The Gulf, we are so committed to the safety of everyone in our care – our team members, guests and spectators – that it leads our list of Core Values. We have valued safety over profitability since the beginning of our operation and we pledge to always keep it that way.
If you have questions about our safety record, protocols or checks and balances, let us know. We want you to feel comfortable and confident at our dropzone so you can focus on being present for one of the most incredible experiences of your entire life!
We’ve got your back. Blue skies, y’all!