Is Tandem Skydiving Safe?
Updated: Apr 21
HOW SAFE IS SKYDIVING?
You’re here, browsing Skydive Hollister’s website thinking about taking a leap from thousands of feet above Planet Earth. If you're asking yourself how safe is sky diving, you're in good company. Let’s be honest, you’re considering walking in to an airport and handing over your well earned money so you can get harnessed to a stranger who will push you out of a perfectly good flying airplane. Common sense says you need to be asking safety related questions. C’mon …at least the capital ones: How safe is tandem skydiving? What are the risks of tandem skydiving? What if my parachute doesn’t open?
The more philosophical among us may wonder: Is the risk of skydiving worth the benefit?
We get it. For most people skydiving is not an everyday activity, and human nature dictates the unknown will raise questions. We're a curious bunch! As a skydiving center, risk management is at the forefront of our minds. So asking questions is in fact part of our routine, and part of how we continuously improve safety on our skydiving operations. So don’t worry if you have questions, all you are doing is showing us that you are aware and that actually makes us more comfortable. So, to praise your curiosity, allow us to share some facts and statistics with you.
SKYDIVING FACTS AND SAFETY STATISTICS
When booking a tandem skydive the number one thing you want to have in mind is - be 100% sure that the drop zone you are booking your skydiving jump with is a United States Parachute Association (USPA) Training Center.
USPA, which is the governing body for the sport of skydiving in our country, keeps records of all skydiving injuries and casualties since the 1960's back when tandem skydiving was not even a thing. Thanks to this pristine documentation, every year USPA consolidates and publishes a very precise statistical records about skydiving safety, with the most recent information available being from 2018. During this year a total of 3.3 million jumps were performed, with a fatality ratio of 0.0039 per 1,000 skydives - The lowest in history. And keep in mind that this specific data is for the entire U.S. skydiving operations - licensed jumpers, competitors, stunt jumpers, weekenders, social media protagonists alike and etc.
USPA isolates tandem skydiving statistics and you’ll be happy to see that the safety records are even better, with 0.003 fatalities per 1,000 tandem jumps over the entire previous decade, showing tandem skydiving as 25% safer than the average solo skydive. Pretty awesome!
Just like you, us skydiving centers along with parachute manufacturers, USPA Safety Board Members and the FAA are always asking questions, and our fundamental is: How can we make skydiving safer? - And by constantly asking this question we constantly improve.
In the early days of skydiving we all had one round parachute strapped to our backs and another round chute attached to our belly - well, kind of. The meters we used were more like weird bulky gimmicks with weird gimmick’s issues. Well, in fact back in those days skydiving was kind of a gambling one may say. A safe landing was essentially a matter of ‘luck + ability to sustain impact’.
Muriel Simbro - 1960's
Good for all of us things are way different now. The list of technical changes and systems added to the parachute jump played a critical role in making skydiving safer. Long has been since round parachutes are gone, and nowadays we all go jump with two square and fully steerable parachutes, the main canopy and the backup canopy, also called reserve parachute. The reserve parachute which can only be packed by a FAA Certified Senior Rigger, is always rigged with an electronic AAD (Automatic Activation Device), capable of activating the parachute even in a situation where the pilot - your skydive instructor - becomes incapacitated. Meters and gauges are now compact gadgets, with fat brain power and ninja precision. Parachuting it’s a whole different experience now, in which safely getting back to the ground is no longer a gamble, but an engineered and planned flight and landing.
TRAINING, CAPACITATION AND EVALUATION
We can not emphasize enough the importance of the pilot. If there’s one thing more important than the parachute, is the human elements of this equation - the pilot who operates it and you. So here is how we have your back.
When you make a skydive in North American airspace with an Approved USPA Certified Training Center, you go jump with the reliance that your instructor has completed a bare minimum of five hundred parachute jumps before she or he can apply to be a tandem skydiving instructor, and only after a long series of tests and extenuating evaluations they obtain their USPA Tandem Instructor rating. So don’t be fooled by your tandem instructor being silly and joking around to get you relaxed. Behind that character lies a highly trained certified tandem pilot capable of taking your safety into their hands.
Now what about your role. Well, you’re main responsibility during your tandem jump is to have fun, but there are few things you can do to help your skydiving and have a more pleasant experience. Different from most skydiving centers, we are focused on providing what we call - Very Personal Experience. (We have a specific post about it!)
At Skydive Hollister you are not going to be harnessed and trained by a ground crew assistant. We are different from other few skydiving centers - here we believe that we can only FULLY experience a skydive if we are elevated to our FULL personal potential, and after 20 years + of experience and thousands of jumpers with us, we understood that on a tandem skydive, a sine qua non condition for your personal elevation is to allow a higher level of connection between you, your instructor, the equipment and the experience that is about to happen. When you jump with us, your elevation process starts on your jump briefing, conducted by your personal instructor. Along this process, she or he will allow you time to get familiar with the parachute as well as the experience you’re about to have. You instructor is the one rigging you properly, the one helping you to physically practice the jump exit as well as free fall position, and proper landing position. You instructor will be the one by your side until you’re back, safe and ready to go home after having a much more fun, relaxed and pleasant experience. And it seems like our concept has been confirmed. But don’t just take our word for it… Power to the people - check our reviews.
Now back to that philosophical question:
Is it worth it?
HECK YES! IT’S WORTH IT.
Your biggest risk will be a sore jaw from a smile that won’t drop for days …and we’ll be happy to help you put it there. Come and see us today!