First Commercial Skydiving Center in the United States
Published: October 30, 2014
Why would anyone want to jump from a perfectly good airplane? If a skydiver was given a dollar for every time they heard that... they'd be rich. It's hard for people to get their heads around this concept. Most skydivers find it difficult to explain the 'why' for this so-called madness, but here's the answer... FREEDOM.
Remember what it was like to be a child, living a carefree existence without the feelings of stress or responsibility? We were just being... never doing. It's these feelings that adults are able to tap back into. No thoughts of e-mails needing your attention or finding a babysitter for next Friday night... in the moment, in the now and just 'being.'
Skydiving provides an escape where your focus completely narrows forcing you to live completely in the present. Your view on the world is different and once you deploy your parachute, you have the freedom to glide and take in the world silently or play, generating speed while laughing and yelling all the way to the ground. Those feelings are addictive.
When people ask why we jump, what they really are saying is why risk your life for some short-term enjoyment? This is a good question and is only asked because people are unaware of the statistical risk a person takes when jumping from an airplane.
The sport of skydiving continues to improve its safety record. In 2013, USPA (United States Parachute Association) recorded 24 fatal skydiving accidents in the U.S. out of roughly 3.2 million jumps. That's 0.0075 fatalities per 1,000 jumps among the lowest rate in the sport's history! Tandem skydiving has an even better safety record, with less than 0.003 student fatalities per 1,000 tandem jumps over the past decade. According to the National Safety Council, a person is much more likely to be killed getting struck by lightning or stung by a bee.
In the 1970s, the sport averaged 42.5 skydiving fatalities per year. Since then, the average has dropped each decade. In the 1980s, the average was 34.1; in the 1990s, the average was 32.3, and in the first decade of the new millennium (2000-2009), the average dropped again to 25.8. Over the past four years, the annual average continues its decline to 22.3.
With 14 fatalities, 1961-the first year records were kept-stands as the year with the fewest skydiving fatalities. However, USPA was considerably smaller then, with just 3,353 members, and the total number of jumps was far fewer than today's 3.2 million-plus jumps. To put this in perspective, in the 1960s, there was an average of 3.65 fatalities per thousand USPA members. In contrast, 2013 had 0.67 fatalities per thousand USPA members. And estimating about 3.2 million jumps last year, that's one fatality per 133,333 skydives.
So why do we skydive? Based on risk assessment, there's no reason the activity can't be done safely allowing for FREEDOM to be felt!