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MIKELOCK34

Is skydiving dangerous? (Was - Fatality Perris 18 Mar 2019)

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On 3/28/2019 at 10:09 AM, MIKELOCK34 said:

I disagree. Skydiving is a very safe sport. It can be made dangerous by poor training, poor ability, poor decision making, equipment malfunction and so on.

Millennial fantasyland.. 

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(edited)

Anyone who disbelieves the dangers or disregards the predicament they are in after exiting an aircraft in flight best remember... Skydiving is an activity where you can do everything right and still die. The air, like the sea, is unforgiving to those who err. 

Edited by jonstark

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On 3/31/2019 at 11:39 PM, Orthoclase said:

Well, the American Alpine Club publishes “Accidents in North American Mountaineering” annually — though according to that micromort list, saying “skydiving is less dangerous than mountaineering” doesn’t really mean squat. ;)

Skydiving is dangerous.

 

On 4/4/2019 at 2:05 AM, skydiverwannabe said:

On a more positive note, skydiving reached record safety last year:

https://parachutistonline.com/p/Article/skydiving-reaches-record-growth-and-safety

I wonder, of those 13 fatalities, how many are caused by human error and could have been prevented.

On an interesting note, this has been a very deadly year on Everest.

 

11 climbers are known dead. 

8 more are dead (or missing & presumed dead) after an avalanche on another peak.

So more people have died in the Himalayas in the past month than died jumping in the US all of last year. 

 

Which, of course, doesn't mean skydiving isn't dangerous.

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2 hours ago, wolfriverjoe said:

 

On an interesting note, this has been a very deadly year on Everest.

 

11 climbers are known dead. 

8 more are dead (or missing & presumed dead) after an avalanche on another peak.

So more people have died in the Himalayas in the past month than died jumping in the US all of last year. 

 

Which, of course, doesn't mean skydiving isn't dangerous.

Well people try to climb Everest one time in life

We jump every week every year!

It's like comparing risk of 1 year skydiving to one time climbing Mt Everest and resulting that Skydiving is safer(of course it is!) but how about 50y of skydiving vs one time Everest climbing?

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7 hours ago, douwanto said:

Millennial fantasyland.. 

Nah, people were saying the same thing 30 years ago.  I think this is due to some people having to subconsciouly fool themselves that it is perfectly safe in order to do the sport.  It is part of a "cannot happen to me" mentality.  So all incidents cannot be due to chance, the skydiver must be at fault, so that "it cannot happen to me".  It is why if a parachutist makes a mistake and injuries himself some people react with anger, as it contradicts their requirement that what they are doing must be perfectly safe.

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11 hours ago, neilmck said:

Nah, people were saying the same thing 30 years ago.  I think this is due to some people having to subconsciouly fool themselves that it is perfectly safe in order to do the sport.  It is part of a "cannot happen to me" mentality.  So all incidents cannot be due to chance, the skydiver must be at fault, so that "it cannot happen to me".  It is why if a parachutist makes a mistake and injuries himself some people react with anger, as it contradicts their requirement that what they are doing must be perfectly safe.

I think that's most skydivers in general. Every time the topic of skydiving safety comes up hordes of skydivers are quick to chime in on how you're more likely to die in a car accident or or more likely to die in your sleep, or more likely to die tripping down the stairs, ect, ect. Of course that's all completely false, but many skydivers don't seem to want to hear it. They think skydiving is perfectly safe and they get pissed off if you try to convince them otherwise.

I agree that a lot of skydivers also seem to think that it cant happen to them. "Well of course that guy died, he cutaway too late, I would never do that." ect. However, if you look at the statistics, a lot of people who are dying have thousands of skydivers. They are not AFF students here and so they too thought that it would not happen to them. That's the issue. No one thinks it's going to happen to them, and then it does happen. So someone thinking it wont happen to them because they are too skilled and too heads-up does not in fact mean it wont actually happen, especially considering that chances are they are less skilled and less attentive than they think they are.

Edited by 20kN

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14 minutes ago, accumack said:

Sky Diving is dangerous and has been since the beginning! However there are things you can do to lessen the danger.

 

Yes, but most  skydivers choose not to learn from incidents and don't lessen the danger.

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3 minutes ago, FrancoR said:

Yes, but most  skydivers choose not to learn from incidents and don't lessen the danger.

I'm going to disagree with this.

I think that most jumpers understand & accept the risk. They take steps to mitigate it, but understand that it will never be 'safe'. 
They try to learn from other's mistakes, yet understand that they are not immune to making them.

 

As an example, look at the ratio of "It's not dangerous" to the "Yes it is" posts in this very thread.

It's just that the 'I'll be fine' folks seem to be more apparent than the 'it's risky but I can make decisions that make it less so' crowd.

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I was going to list all the skydiving related funerals I have been to, but I got depressed writing it so I won't.

But please, keep telling me about micromorts and how safe skydiving is, statistically speaking.

 

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On 6/8/2019 at 1:22 PM, evh said:

I was going to list all the skydiving related funerals I have been to, but I got depressed writing it so I won't.

But please, keep telling me about micromorts and how safe skydiving is, statistically speaking.

 

I'd be interested in seeing how your experience aligns with the skydiving community as a whole, at a statistical level. To do that would require:

1. Knowing how many skydivers you know that have gone in (well enough to attend their funerals)

2. Knowing how many skydivers you know (well enough to attend a funeral)

3. Knowing how long you have been skydiving

4. Knowing how many jumps the jumpers you know have (or had)

If you know that, we can calculate whether your friends' fatality rate is above or below the mean for all skydivers (per jump or per year). Maybe there is something about where you jump or the kinds of people you befriend? But I suspect that if your stats are high, eventually reversion to the mean will bring your fatality rate/micromorts in line with the micromorts of the community

 

 

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(edited)

Started jumping in 2002, on average I would say one funeral every 2 to 3 years.

I do not believe our local safety record is worse than average, or worse than that of the US.  I would be surprised if my experience is extreme compared to others who have been jumping for ~ 17 years.

The point is, I keep hearing about other dangerous stuff - driving to the dropzone, driving to work, riding a motorcycle, scuba diving.... The fact is, I know a lot of people who participate in those (probably more than I know skydivers) , yet I have never been to a funeral for one of those. I do understand that some of you have, but again, I would be surprised if that number is anywhere near as high.

Asking if skydiving is "safe" is mostly a matter of how much risk you find acceptable.

 

 

 

 

Edited by evh
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5 minutes ago, evh said:

 

The point is, I keep hearing about other dangerous stuff - driving to the dropzone, driving to work, riding a motorcycle, scuba diving.... The fact is, I know a lot of people who participate in those (probably more than I know skydivers) , yet I have never been to a funeral for one of those. I do understand that some of you have, but again, I would be surprised if that number is anywhere near as high.

Asking if skydiving is "safe" is mostly a matter of how much risk you find acceptable.

I have been to more funerals for car accident victims than anything else (other than natural causes). But everyone either drives or rides in a car. So the 'base sample size' is far, far larger. 
I know a fair amount of 'motorcycle type' folks. I can't think of any that wear 'colors' (vests with club patches) that don't have at least one of the 'RIP' patches. I've lost a few of those friends too.

 

The micromort stats are just that - statistics.  They show that overall, jumping is pretty dangerous.  Other stuff is too. Some more so, some less.

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(edited)
On 6/7/2019 at 11:59 AM, wolfriverjoe said:

 

 

As an example, look at the ratio of "It's not dangerous" to the "Yes it is" posts in this very thread.

 

I dont think that this thread is an accurate representation of the general community. Most modern skydivers when asked at the DZ would probably dismiss skydiving as not being that dangerous. I've asked. Many times. I rarely have a skydiver tell me that they do in fact believe that skydiving is dangerous. Nearly every conversation I've ever heard about skydiving risk results in most of the participants dismissing it as being a fairly safe activity. I recall where someone I know was seriously injured from landing a malfunctioning canopy and his very first post on Facebook once he recovered was him trying to reassure his friends that skydiving is in fact safe and his friends should not worry.

Edited by 20kN
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10 hours ago, 20kN said:

Most modern skydivers when asked at the DZ would probably dismiss skydiving as not being that dangerous.

The problem with that question is that it lacks context. My definition of dangerous is different than yours. Personally I don't feel I should do "dangerous" things, IOW "dangerous and too dangerous" are synonymous. But that is me. As a result, I would probably say "skydiving is not that dangerous". But I would rather respond that "skydiving is as dangerous as X or Y" and then you the questioner can make your own judgement of what that means.

Dan BC's answer "skydiving is a dangerous activity that can be done safely" is a nice turn of phrase which I like, but it also provides no context. Is driving a car a "dangerous activity that can be done safely?" how about mountain biking? or downhill skiing? If you say that phrase to your partner, is he or she going to worry about you more or less?

The fact is skydiving is getting safer; the fatality rate is going down, and that is despite all the millennials who apparently can't tell the difference between their asses and the holes in the ground they are going to make on their next jump.

One other comment, going through a fatality list and removing ones that don't apply to you IS valid. I don't concern myself with suicides and other medical events, or people dying while fucking up a reach for their rears while swooping, cause I don't reach for my rears, and am not planning on committing suicide, and heart attacks are a "you are gonna go sometime" thing with me.

 

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Of course it's dangerous. Just not *too* dangerous for most of us, obviously. Now that that's out of the way...

I've only been skydiving for two years, so I'm pulling what I'm about to say more from years of climbing and freeride / backcountry skiing than skydiving, though it obviously applies in the same way. An important distinction when discussing danger, which I don't think is made enough, is the distinction between risk and consequence. Risk, meaning how likely it is that something goes wrong, and consequence, meaning what is likely to happen when something goes wrong? Understanding both those factors is key to making informed decisions. For example, how would you compare an activity where you're unlikely to die, but you run a 1/10 chance of badly twisting your ankle, to an activity where you're unlikely to sustain a minor injury, but 1/1000 of the time something goes catastrophically wrong and you probably die? Not so easy, is it? I've climbed routes where I'm at my limit and I know I'm probably going to fall, but the rope anchors are solid, the fall angle and expected distance isn't too bad, and I know that I'll probably end up with some scrapes or bruises and nothing more. I've also free-solo'd routes that are so far below my limit that the chances or me falling are only marginally higher than the chances of me spontaneously falling on my face while walking from my bedroom to my kitchen, but I know that if I *do* fall, it's not going to be pretty. Again, how do you compare those situations? Is a laughably high chance of bruising the same as a very very small but none the less quite real chance of broken legs or worse?

Being able to think about risk and consequence in a semi-independent way (and understanding when and where they are and aren't linked) is important for evaluating what's a reasonable level of danger for you, and if you aren't taking the time to think about those two aspects first separately, and then in terms of how they interact, you're not evaluating danger right (in my admittedly amateurish opinion).

One of the things that I've found to be most jarring about this sport is that there isn't much of a range of injuries. Most other sport have a sort of continuous range of possible injuries, ranging from bruising and sprains to minor broken bones to major broken bones to the really horrible stuff. But you can sort of see the whole range, and see how the worse injuries often correspond with the higher levels of the sport. In skydiving (with the possible exception of injuries from swooping - bad injury, high level in the sport), you don't have that nearly as much. The continuous range we're used to is broken - injuries are either minor (hahaha your buddy rolled a no-wind landing and broke his thumb) or unspeakable (holy shit your buddy turned low to avoid someone on final and femured). There's very little in between (or at least that's my impression). This makes our usual, learned-over-years-of-life evaluation tendencies a bit hard to work with, so you really have to stop and think about these things.

Anyway, done rambling for now :-) Blue skies!

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I think there are factors affecting the perception of this. On the whole I think skydiving has gotten safer over the years that I was involved in it. It seems like accidents and even more so injuries have come in waves. It seems that we go through cycles where some thing new is introduced to the sport and the malfunction, injury, fatality rates spike for a time till we adapt. Having lived through those lessens I would have to say that the equipment and sky diving has gotten safer. But there are other factors that affect the perception of it's safety. It would be interesting to corrolate the attitudes expressed here with the age of the jumpers in the sport. The longer you stay in the sport the more likely you are to bairy a friend. It's a reality check when you watch some one die. I think average time in the sport has gotten shorter. We used to say that the average time was 5 years. A few years ago some one told me that it was down to three before they wondered off and... took up golf. If you stay in the sport long enough statistics catch up with you and you have to attend a funeral. So I think there is a disconnect between lifers and average jumpers in terms of the perception of the dangers in the sport. And I think that difference is growing larger with the lower average time in the sport. 

 

So I would say that there is a difference in perspective between older jumpers and the average. It's both from Lifers having lived through times that were actually more dangerous and the average jumper not having been bitch slapped with reality yet primarily do to the lower average time in the sport. I remember when a well liked local jumper died. For a number of that generation it was the first close friend that they had lost and it really affected them. Some of them stopped jumping after that. It was a big reality check. 

 

Lee

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On 6/7/2019 at 11:59 PM, wolfriverjoe said:

I'm going to disagree with this.

I think that most jumpers understand & accept the risk. They take steps to mitigate it, but understand that it will never be 'safe'. 
They try to learn from other's mistakes, yet understand that they are not immune to making them.

 

As an example, look at the ratio of "It's not dangerous" to the "Yes it is" posts in this very thread.

It's just that the 'I'll be fine' folks seem to be more apparent than the 'it's risky but I can make decisions that make it less so' crowd.

I think it has gotten better with the realisation of  the risks involved in skydiving. Looking that the incident reports though there are still plenty of incidents where a larger more doctile canopy could have made the  incident less severe or not happen at all. I am not just talking about missjudged high  performance landings.  I don't see meaningfull change in that area given that is  is  still  the biggest single cause for accidents.

 

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23 hours ago, wolfriverjoe said:

I have been to more funerals for car accident victims than anything else (other than natural causes). But everyone either drives or rides in a car. So the 'base sample size' is far, far larger. 
I know a fair amount of 'motorcycle type' folks. I can't think of any that wear 'colors' (vests with club patches) that don't have at least one of the 'RIP' patches. I've lost a few of those friends too.

 

The micromort stats are just that - statistics.  They show that overall, jumping is pretty dangerous.  Other stuff is too. Some more so, some less.

Also, it's fair to say that climbing Everest (or any other 8000m peak, really) represents a pretty elite level of mountaineering that most people will never engage in. I don't know what the skydiving analogy would be, but I do remember them mentioning at Safety Day this year that a significant percentage of the skydiving deaths in 2018 were D-licensed jumpers.

It's probably fair to say that with most "adventure sports," the more advanced/technical you get, the lower the margin for error and higher the consequences are. And then there's the "the more times/longer you do something, the more likely it is that eventually, something bad will happen."

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12 hours ago, SethInMI said:

The problem with that question is that it lacks context. My definition of dangerous is different than yours. Personally I don't feel I should do "dangerous" things, IOW "dangerous and too dangerous" are synonymous. But that is me. As a result, I would probably say "skydiving is not that dangerous". But I would rather respond that "skydiving is as dangerous as X or Y" and then you the questioner can make your own judgement of what that means.

Dan BC's answer "skydiving is a dangerous activity that can be done safely" is a nice turn of phrase which I like, but it also provides no context. Is driving a car a "dangerous activity that can be done safely?" how about mountain biking? or downhill skiing? If you say that phrase to your partner, is he or she going to worry about you more or less?

The fact is skydiving is getting safer; the fatality rate is going down, and that is despite all the millennials who apparently can't tell the difference between their asses and the holes in the ground they are going to make on their next jump.

One other comment, going through a fatality list and removing ones that don't apply to you IS valid. I don't concern myself with suicides and other medical events, or people dying while fucking up a reach for their rears while swooping, cause I don't reach for my rears, and am not planning on committing suicide, and heart attacks are a "you are gonna go sometime" thing with me.

 

The question is perfect. It allows the respondent to set the tone of their response and thereby expresses through their answer their attitude concerning the danger of Skydiving or lack there of in their perception.

Adding any more context would stear their answer.

The first question I ask when teaching a FJC is how Safe or dangerious fo you believe Skydiving is and why do you believe this?

I'm amazed at the answers.. millennials believe it is a safe sport and that they are immune to its dangers. It is an attitude from trophy getters not trophy earners. They need to know they can die at any moment and that their actions can kill others. 

 

In 21 years I've been to as many Skydiving funerals as car crashes and bike crashes and suicides and drug overdoses. 

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2 hours ago, douwanto said:

The question is perfect. It allows the respondent to set the tone of their response and thereby expresses through their answer their attitude concerning the danger of Skydiving or lack there of in their perception.

It seems like the question means different things to different people. Some, seem to be looking for some kind of objective statistics, comparing it to other activities, while others (as in the quote above) use the question as a gauge for the "attitude" of the person who responds, trying to judge if they have the proper "respect" for the sport and its dangers.

To me, what's interesting is, how do I actually respond to the perceived danger or safety of the sport. What does it mean to me "it's dangerous" or "it's safe". I do wonder about this a lot at this stage in my jumping "career": In the beginning it was quite simple: As soon as the airplane door opened, I could feel my fear and it told me quite clearly: "this is dangerous!" (was this helpful or hurtful? Did it make me more careful and awake, or did it interfere with performing at my best? Maybe a bit of both)
Later as the fear of "the door" disappeared, I still noticed for a while, that whenever I performed my EPs on the plane, a little flash of fear flashed by, as it made me conscious of my dependence on the equipment functioning properly (and me using it properly)
Now, as time after time I've looked up at my perfect parachute, and experienced my ability to steer and land it, these natural indicators of "danger" have pretty much completely disappeared. I used to get panicked when the 15 minute call came and I wasn't already geared up ("Do I have time to check all the gear, will I forget something because I'm in a rush? Should I unmanifest because I'm too late?") Now if I get to the DZ and a plane is 5 minutes from going up and there is a spot on it, I'll be calmly climbing in 5 minutes later (AAD on, check handles, check pins, check rings, quick check of the straps, webbings, RSL; decide to do a solo in my plain clothes, since I won't have time to prepare anything else, and off I go!)
Am I less safe now? Probably not, but I notice I have to find a way to replace my natural feeling of fear/unsafeness with something else that, while more conscious and requiring more effort, may not be as reliable?! I'm not sure. 

So: If someone says "skydiving is safe", does that mean they do not have the proper respect for the dangers of the sport? If they say "it is dangerous", does that mean they'll be safer? Or does it mean it makes them feel more important thinking of themselves as participating in a "dangerous" activity? I bet either can be true.

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10 hours ago, mbohu said:

It seems like the question means different things to different people. Some, seem to be looking for some kind of objective statistics, comparing it to other activities, while others (as in the quote above) use the question as a gauge for the "attitude" of the person who responds, trying to judge if they have the proper "respect" for the sport and its dangers.

...

So: If someone says "skydiving is safe", does that mean they do not have the proper respect for the dangers of the sport? If they say "it is dangerous", does that mean they'll be safer? Or does it mean it makes them feel more important thinking of themselves as participating in a "dangerous" activity? I bet either can be true.

That is well put. 

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16 hours ago, douwanto said:

I'm amazed at the answers.. millennials believe it is a safe sport and that they are immune to its dangers. It is an attitude from trophy getters not trophy earners. They need to know they can die at any moment and that their actions can kill others.

We millennials learned our attitudes from older generations. So anytime you or any boomer/gen-x that raised a millennial, remember, we learned it from you. 

Anyway, there is no such thing as adding to much context. It is one of the most important aspects of interpersonal communication. Asking "is skydiving dangerous?" is so incredibly vague it is nearly impossible to have a consistent quantifier.  

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11 hours ago, meat.missile said:

We millennials learned our attitudes from older generations. So anytime you or any boomer/gen-x that raised a millennial, remember, we learned it from you. 

Hah, snap! :-)

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