Forums: Skydiving: Skydiving History & Trivia:
When was the safest period in skydiving?

 


dgw  (C License)

Jan 5, 2012, 1:40 PM
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When was the safest period in skydiving? Can't Post

I thought I'd post this in the civilised forum. I was wondering, with the benefit of hindsight, what the general view is on during which period of time it was 'most safe' to be a skydiver.

I ask this question because the fatality trends have changed over the years, and because equipment and skydiving / parachuting has changed over the years. Currently, I see a lot of debate about swooping, but little about no-pull type fatalities. Go back 30 years (way before my time), and I suspect that the rhetoric was reversed.

I also think that, at any point in time, gear was 'the state of the art', and accepted as such until it was found lacking in some way.

So, when, up to the present day, was a skydiver least likely to get killed?

My thoughts are that it was probably in the very late 1980s and early 1990s, with the following 'logic'. Parachutes were still fairly big, gear problems were largely elimininated, AADs were becoming common. Static-line trained skydivers were 'the norm' (I hold the view that static line trained skydivers are more determined individuals, and therefore more likely to be better at following training - I might be wrong.. :-) )

I'm just interested as to what those with a proper long perspective think. I'm equally open to the idea that people find a way to funk up, no matter what..

Darren


airtwardo  (D License)

Jan 5, 2012, 2:39 PM
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Re: [dgw] When was the safest period in skydiving? [In reply to] Can't Post

 I'm equally open to the idea that people find a way to funk up, no matter what..

In reply to:

You're kinda asking a couple different questions.

I think the gear now is of course safer than it's ever been 'generally' speaking.

The 'days' back when everyone was jumping 7 cell rectangular F1-11 canopies also had it's problems...

The 'culture' of the sport has changed several times in the 3 and a 1/2 decades that I've been involved.

I seem to remember in the 'PPB' days (pre Point Break) those involved were possiblly a bit more dedicated to becoming a different 'type' of Skydiver than many of the crew coming through the gates these days...

But for better or worse YOU can make your involvement in the sport as safe or as risky as YOU see fit.

So to answer your question of WHEN is the safest period of time...for ME it's always 'the next jump'! Wink


(This post was edited by airtwardo on Jan 5, 2012, 2:53 PM)


dgw  (C License)

Jan 5, 2012, 3:53 PM
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Re: [airtwardo] When was the safest period in skydiving? [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
I'm equally open to the idea that people find a way to funk up, no matter what..

In reply to:

You're kinda asking a couple different questions.

I think the gear now is of course safer than it's ever been 'generally' speaking.

The 'days' back when everyone was jumping 7 cell rectangular F1-11 canopies also had it's problems...

The 'culture' of the sport has changed several times in the 3 and a 1/2 decades that I've been involved.

I seem to remember in the 'PPB' days (pre Point Break) those involved were possiblly a bit more dedicated to becoming a different 'type' of Skydiver than many of the crew coming through the gates these days...

But for better or worse YOU can make your involvement in the sport as safe or as risky as YOU see fit.

So to answer your question of WHEN is the safest period of time...for ME it's always 'the next jump'! Wink

Well, that is a view that I am certainly on board with Smile. I'm always very interested in who's getting out after me, and all the usual factors. I know that I asked a very general question, but general views are welcome. I'm interested in every view.

And, whilst I always hope the next lob will be the safest ever, I'm still curious about the long view on the matter. There have been transitions in nearly every aspect of the sport. It might be the case that the 'safe' line on the graph just goes up, in which case, great. I just wondered if there was a 'goldilocks' period... I'll leave it at that.

Darren


lekstrom10k  (D 3001)

Jan 5, 2012, 8:28 PM
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Re: [dgw] When was the safest period in skydiving? [In reply to] Can't Post

 I started in 1967, You had the max of three people in the air at once on C-182 DZ's .No body was good enough to crash a formation let alone dock. PC's and rags were extremely reliable . Piggybacks had RSL's if there was a mal. You couldnt do any "Turf- Surfing" at 7mph. Chances of landing with in 30 yards of each other was unlikely or even at the same time.The most dangerous thing was driving home trying to get your Cardinal Puff Card.Early Ropes and Rings Squares opened a new ball game


Premier wmw999  (D 6296)

Jan 6, 2012, 2:54 AM
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Re: [lekstrom10k] When was the safest period in skydiving? [In reply to] Can't Post

In the early 1980's, with the advent of AADs, AFF (but it was by no means universal), and the falling out of grace of low pull contests there was a significant drop in fatalities/jump (reference set of numbers: fatalities 1963-1997

Right now we probably have the lowest fatality/jump ratio; we've ameliorated a lot of old problems, and changed gear to bring about new ones (swooping, the differences in differnt canopies' speeds, and the greater number of people in the air lead to a greater need for landing patterns).

Factors are more external now, however -- you're far more likely to be killed by someone else (collision) than used to be the case, if the last couple years' fatality counts are to be considered statistically significant. That makes it scarier, but not necessarily more dangerous.

Wendy P.


(This post was edited by wmw999 on Jan 6, 2012, 2:56 AM)


AggieDave  (D License)

Jan 6, 2012, 6:11 AM
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Re: [wmw999] When was the safest period in skydiving? [In reply to] Can't Post

It really is an opened ended question. Number of total injuries or fatalities in a year or the number per active jumpers or the number per jumps completed?

I would argue that the number of injuries/fatalities per jump completed in the US is probably at the lowest now than ever. There is a lot more skydiving completed a lot faster due to the proliferation of easily packed gear and large aircraft.


Premier wmw999  (D 6296)

Jan 6, 2012, 1:44 PM
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Re: [AggieDave] When was the safest period in skydiving? [In reply to] Can't Post

I agree completely. Only I used a whole lot more words, to not communicate the thought nearly as effectively Laugh

Wendy P.


Trae  (Student)

Jan 9, 2012, 5:52 AM
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Re: [dgw] When was the safest period in skydiving? [In reply to] Can't Post

in reply to "I was wondering, with the benefit of hindsight, what the general view is on during which period of time it was 'most safe' to be a skydiver. "
...........................


It might be safer in freefall but more dangerous under canopy.

However for me I felt the safest when I had a 7cell main and a round reserve.
I did over 1000 jumps on the same F111 canopy which never malfunctioned. !000 deployments in a row like clockwork.
It took a little longer to open by the time it had 1000 jumps on it but had only needed a new slider and still had the same lines. The reserve stayed like brand new.
Oh, I REALLY looked after my gear...and still do.

I've never got the same feeling back that rig gave me. Every other rig has chucked a wobbly within a couple of hundred jumps.

The nearest feeling is supplied by my base gear. It is built so well and tough...just like the old days.
Slow but dependable.


diablopilot  (D License)

Jan 10, 2012, 7:51 AM
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Re: [dgw] When was the safest period in skydiving? [In reply to] Can't Post

By what criteria are you defining safe?

If it's a total number of jumps to fatalities ratio then I'd say the current era.

If it's a measure of skill vs the hazards I'd say sometime in the late 70's through the late 80's by all accounts.


dgw  (C License)

Jan 10, 2012, 3:36 PM
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Re: [diablopilot] When was the safest period in skydiving? [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
By what criteria are you defining safe?

If it's a total number of jumps to fatalities ratio then I'd say the current era.

If it's a measure of skill vs the hazards I'd say sometime in the late 70's through the late 80's by all accounts.

Replying to Diablopilot, mainly because I like the view..

I'm aware the question is open to personal interpretation, but that is part of the question. I was just curious about how people with a bit of history, and a longer view, consider the issue.

The skill versus the hazards argument is a neater way of phrasing the question I had in mind. Thank you.

The ratio argument is compelling, but I dislike it only because I see many individual acts of poor skydiving practice regularly, and they don't end up with dead folk. I'm picky... :-) The absence of fatalities doesn't really go to address the 'safe' issue, in my view.

Many thanks to all. All good food for thought.

Darren


BIGUN  (D 23385)

Jan 11, 2012, 8:11 AM
Post #11 of 16 (906 views)
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Re: [dgw] When was the safest period in skydiving? [In reply to] Can't Post

When was the safest period in skydiving?


January 2nd - January 3rd 1954


fastphil  (D 5801)

Jan 11, 2012, 10:29 AM
Post #12 of 16 (886 views)
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Re: [diablopilot] When was the safest period in skydiving? [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
By what criteria are you defining safe?

If it's a total number of jumps to fatalities ratio then I'd say the current era.

If it's a measure of skill vs the hazards I'd say sometime in the late 70's through the late 80's by all accounts.


To lend credence to the ôskills vs hazardsö theory of the late 70s through late 80s, it was during that period we became confident enough in our skills and gear to accept a new arena of hazards, thus spinning off the sport of BASE. This was a very developmental time for skydiving gear, freefall and canopy maneuvers and training. Most skydivers were much immersed in their sport during that period.


riggerrob  (D 14840)

Jan 11, 2012, 3:59 PM
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Re: [dgw] When was the safest period in skydiving? [In reply to] Can't Post

I would guess the late 1980s to early 1990s.

All the major bugs had been worked out of student piggyback rigs containing square mains (e.g. Manta 288).
Handles had been standardized.
Static-line was still extremely popular, so chances were that any student would have 'something" overhead shortly after exit.
AFF was still in its early - cautious - stages.
Tandem was still comparatively rare.

Fatalities among experienced skydivers were still 1/3 "no pull/low pull."
It was not until the mid-1990s - after Tom Pirus(sp) "went in" - that Cypres became popular. After the mid-1990s, electronic AADs dramatically reduced fatalities among licensed jumpers.

The late 1980s were also before the massive surge of students were inspired by the movie "Point Break." That meant that schools still had the man-power to focus on individualized instruction.

Also remember that the late 1980s and early 1990s saw a "Perfect Storm" of technological advances that led to the current rash of fatalities under fast canopies.
In 1988 Parachutes de France introduced the first ZP fabric and Performance Designs followed suit with in a year. That soon led to thin Spectra suspension lines and wing-loadings began to exceed one pound per square foot.
At 1993 PIA Symposium, the industry responded to problems with broken main risers by publishing specs for reinforce mini-risers (Type 17 webbing with mini-rings).
Collapsible main pilot-chutes added a opportunity to "pack like an idiot" during the early 1990. I got my first (bungee) collapsible pilot-chute in 1992.


mjosparky  (D 5476)

Jan 13, 2012, 3:44 AM
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Re: [dgw] When was the safest period in skydiving? [In reply to] Can't Post

Skydiving has never been ôsafeö. Whenever advancements in gear, training and skills eliminated fatalities in one area skydivers would just come up with different ways to kill themselves.

Sparky


AndyMan  (D 25698)

Jan 13, 2012, 2:05 PM
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Re: [dgw] When was the safest period in skydiving? [In reply to] Can't Post

In the following terms:

Deaths:jumpers
Deaths:total number of jumps

The answer is easy - right now is the safest skydiving has ever been. You can see these details outlined in the 2011 USPA "Safety Day" statistical analysis Powerpoint, available here: http://www.uspa.org/...0FatalitySummary.ppt

I would expect to see the numbers improve this year again, as the number of jumpers and jumps made continue to increase, while the number of fatalities remains relatively constant or declines.

One differing aspect is that I suspect the number of serious injuries (femurs, broken pelvis, etc) is increasing, as more and more people jump very high performance parachutes, something that was previously less common.


Conclusion:
USPA stats indicates death/USPA members and death/jumps is at historical lows, but I suspect the number of serious injuries is rising.

_Am


DBCOOPER  (D 24112)

Jan 21, 2012, 6:24 AM
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Re: [BIGUN] When was the safest period in skydiving? [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
When was the safest period in skydiving?


January 2nd - January 3rd 1954

Nope.

9-12-2001 thru 9-19-2001

at least in the US



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