Is Skydiving Dangerous?


by Benjamin Centurion

Many adventurous people have always wanted to fly and defy gravity; however, that is a problem because humans can't fly, at least not without help. Leonardo Da Vinci drew the first model of parachute back in l495, but the development of parachuting as a sport began in the early 1960's. Today Skydiving is a very popular sport practiced world wide. It consists basically of jumping out of a plane flying around 14 thousand feet above sea level and at four thousand feet from ground  opening a parachute in order to stop the freefall.

There is a dilemma when it comes to skydiving. Many people consider skydiving one of the most dangerous sports because of (1) the fatal outcome of mistakes in skydiving, (2) the bad luck of some skydivers regarding equipment, and (3) the suicidal ideas that may appear in skydivers. On the other hand, many others consider the sport as one of the safest because of (1) all the safety involved in the sport, (2) the reduced risk when the jumper is well trained, and (3) the very low death rate in skydiving.

The purpose of this essay is to look at both opinions concerning skydivers. First I'll write about the arguments against skydiving. Then I'll state the arguments given by skydivers themselves and by people supporting the sport. That way is possible to understand both points of view concerning skydiving.

Arguments Against Skydiving - Why is Skydiving Dangerous?

The first argument against skydiving is that you can't afford to make mistakes when skydiving. Because of the nature of the sport, all accidents are fatal. “ As soon as you leave the aircraft, you'll be falling at speeds ranging between 90 and 110 miles per hour. ” Not being able to handle your parachute in various situations can send you to a freefall state again and leave you with very little time to react. Many jumpers have died because when they realized that their main parachute was tangled or stuck, they where too close to the ground for the reserve parachute to open. The chances of surviving a fall going that fast are minimal. The smallest mistake can be the difference between life and death, and beginners make a lot of mistakes.

The second argument is that luck doesn't come to all. There is a percentage of deaths in skydiving related to equipment malfunction. Even the most experienced skydiver may have technical difficulties with his/her equipment. “Skydiving has been my life, and it will probably be my death too. But hopefully not yet, for I have many years of jumps left in me,” said Robin Wilcox, an experienced jumper, four days before his parachute failed. There is no way to guarantee that the parachute will open, that's why in the drop zones before jumping, you sign a paper where it says there is a chance you might die.

The third argument against skydiving is related to the mentality of the jumpers. Given the situation which jumpers face, suicidal ideas periodically appear. Some of these jumpers don't even try to open their parachutes . From the deaths due to skydiving, around ten percent is linked to suicides. These jumpers find easy not to pull the cord that releases the parachute, and impact the ground at full speed. Some of them deliberately take off the harness after leaving the plane.

After listing the arguments against skydiving, let us analyze what people in favor of skydiving have to say.

Arguments In Favor of Skydiving - Why is Skydiving Safe?

First of all, there are a lot of safety procedures involved in skydiving, so jumpers just have to carry them out to have a successful jump. “ Safety in skydiving is determined by the individual .” Besides the safety procedures taken by the jumper, there is always technology to help us. Today skydivers use automatic activation devices (AAD) that activate the reserve parachute when the jumper is falling faster than he/she should at a predetermined altitude. A check list including everything you should do, from packing the parachute to checking the AAD, should be enough to prevent accidents.

The second argument in favor of skydiving is that the danger is reduced to minimal when the jumper has skill and knowledge. “ Parachuting has complex skills that can take thousands of jumps to master, but the basics are often fully understood and useful during the first few jumps .” A rookie can make many mistakes; therefore, instructors must jump along with the student until he learns the basic skills. Accelerated Free Fall is a program, validated by the United States Parachuting Association , that consists of a series of seven jumps where the student and the instructor jump together. Accidents occur more often when beginners jump without help. After taking the program, the jumper becomes a licensed skydiver and should not have problems in jumping alone.

Finally we can compare some skydiving facts with other sports. Skydiving has a very low death rate compared to other activities . The risk of dying while skydiving is less than the risk of dying while bicycling or skiing , for example. Skydiving accidents are not frequent, so when there is an accident many people talk about it, giving the sport a bad reputation. On the other hand car accidents, that happen daily, aren't considered a big deal any more, but driving a car is far more dangerous than skydiving.

We have noticed that there are arguments against and in favor of skydiving. In all activities in this world, from driving to skydiving, you must take risks. I've skydived before and I can tell you, that taking that little risk involved in skydiving is totally worth it. It is true that a mistake during the jump will probably send you to the grave, that is why a good training is obligatory. Equally important, it is a good idea not to jump in days that you are feeling suicidal, not concentrated, or intoxicated.

Don't let the manipulated statistics blind you, skydiving is safe as it gets. Jumping out of a plane is the best experience I've had in my life so far. I'll definitely do it again, and I strongly recommend skydiving to everyone. No thing compares to the feeling that you get while exiting the plane, it is absolutely wonderful.



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