People often want to know, "How dangerous is skydiving?" Usually when they ask this they are thinking about getting into it, and they want to know how dangerous is this for me, but that's only part of the question. The real question is what will I likely lose, and what will I likely gain if I stick with the sport. Also, this question becomes hard to answer over a longer and longer period of time spent in the sport, there are two ways people stop skydiving…either they quit or they die, so you need to also think about from the aspect of how long you stick with it.
What might I lose?
Obviously, you may die or be injured so badly that wish you had died. But that is a small portion of the risk.
If you stick with it for 1-2 years, the odds are pretty good that you will lose a lot of money. Somewhere on the order 0f $10K in the first year would be my guess, but I speak from my experience of learning to skydive in 1997, I'm sure it's more these days. Assuming you're a straight male (this is my experience so I'll speak to it) you will probably also lose at least one relationship to the sport, either because she gets sick of taking a back seat to jumping, or because you just seem to be a less stable choice than the guy who just wants to watch football on the weekends. You'll probably lose some friends as well. Some friendships can't really survive the neglect that a skydiving obsession will bring.
What about if you stick with the sport for 5 years? Well, there the odds of "bad" things happening changes significantly. You will likely go to a funeral of someone you knew who died in a skydiving accident. Maybe not a close friend, maybe just someone you've shared a beer with around the campfire, but you will be somewhat disturbed by the fact that your fun now has a body count. The odds of you having done something to require metal be inserted into your body also go up significantly. With any luck, one of your closer friends at the same experience level will have ponied up their body for the metal insertion in front of you, so you'll have a chance to learn from them and not make the same mistake, but the odds are real good that if you and 10 friends of the same age started together and stuck with it for 5 years one of you would have been carried away by an ambulance or a medivac helicopter.
What if you stick with it for 10 years? The odds of you yourself dying start to go down significantly, you find your sweet spot, you stop taking so many chances with canopy selection and you've acquired the skill to not only get yourself out of trouble when it shows up, but to see it coming and avoid it before you even get on the plane. The odds of you having escaped the phenomenon of a close friend dying in the sport however are quite low, as are the odds of you not having done something to require metal being inserted into your body.
Man…lost of downsides and loss or life events to deal with. So if that's the case, why would anyone do it?
What might I gain?
That is entirely up to you. It is a sport and community where you get out what you put in. But you may gain all of the following:
A life less ordinary. My friends who's lives revolve around the weekend golf outings listen with sincere interest as I talk about my New Year's skydiving trip to Mexico or my weekend skydiving outings. I've given up a lot to get where I am in the sport, but there are no regrets there.
You may never look at a clear blue sky or a limp flag the same way. I have an almost pavlovian response to these stimuli now. It's interesting to me to see people going about their day, blissfully unaware of a world that exists right above their heads.
You may have a group of friends who you may not see every day, but you feel closer and more connected to than you ever did before.
You may gain a perspective on life that few get, the little things will bother you less and you may even learn to focus more on the things that matter and less on the things that don't.
You may notice changes to your problem solving abilities. I think that seeing the world inverted or facing life and death decisions on a regular basis has some effect on the way our brain works, and in turn improves our ability to solve problems.
You may learn to care more about others. As I stick around the sport longer, and have experienced more than my share of loss related to it, I find my self becoming more passionately devoted to keeping others safe. I try to keep the skygod attitude to a minimum, not because I'm humble but because it just doesn't help me get people to listen.
This is just off the top of my head. But for me, while I don't easily dismiss all I have dealt with, lost or given up to be a skydiver for 15 years it has been well worth it.
Methane Freefly - got stink?