Skydiving Safety — How Safe Is Skydiving

Skydiving Safety — How Safe Is Skydiving

Published: December 11, 2020

You're looking down at the earth from 13,500 feet up in the air, and you're not in a commercial airliner. You're on your way to jump out while harnessed to an instructor. Sound crazy? To most people, yes. That's because skydiving is rather an unknown sport. If you landed here, you may be wondering - is skydiving safe?

Let's get it all out in the air - skydiving IS a dangerous sport. There's no doubt about it. There are absolutely no guarantees, and there is a release of liability pages to consider before embarking on this adventure. However, we'll let the statistics, technology and our efforts at Skydive OC tell more of the story on how dangerous is skydiving.

Skydiving Safety Statistics

The United States Parachute Association (the national skydiving organization also known as USPA), reported that in 2019 there were 15 fatalities of the 3.3 million sport jumps that occurred nationwide. To put that in perspective, that is one fatality for every 220,301 skydives, or 0.45 fatalities per 100,000 jumps.

That's sport jumping, but is tandem skydiving dangerous? USPA again reports that tandem skydiving has an even more impressive record with one student fatality for every 500,000 tandem jumps over the past 10 years.

Skydiving is still a relatively young sport as its popularity grew in the 1970s. Since our skydiving organization started tracking skydiving safety statistics, the sport as a whole has become relatively safer to participate in. That's because of the advent of technology, training, and operational standards.

Instructor Training

In order to become a tandem skydiving instructor, one must first have the requirements to attend a training with a designated tandem examiner - one who bestows the knowledge, procedures and safety protocol to future instructors.

Tandem instructor candidates must be at least 18 years of age, have a minimum of 500 skydives, have three years in the sport, hold the highest license with USPA, have a Coach rating (the first step in training to become an instructor), have a Federal Aviation Administration class 3 medical, and prove it all! Then, the training can commence in an intense curriculum of ground and in-air training.

Skydiving Technology

We owe a lot of skydiving safety advancement to the innovating minds that continuously innovate new technology in this sport. Here are a few pieces of safety equipments that we use at Skydive OC.

Automatic Activation Device

This mini computer is installed in the parachute container and reads altitudes and speeds based on barometric pressure. The device is especially handy should you get knocked out or simply do not pull the main parachute by a designated altitude, and it will kick in and fire to deploy the reserve parachute. Since one of the AAD manufacturer CYPRES has been in operation, it has saved over 4,000 lives with this incredible device.

Two Square Parachutes

How safe is parachuting? Two square parachutes may sound silly, but back in the day they used round parachutes that weren't easy to maneuver and didn't have the capabilities to control the landing speeds. Today, parachute technology has advanced not only to accommodate two people suspended under a wing but also include better steering (much like power steering in modern cars) and landing capabilities.

And two parachutes? Yes, every skydiver wears an approved skydiving container that can fit two parachutes: a main parachute, and a reserve parachute. Should the main parachute malfunction, there is an opportunity to release the main and open the reserve parachute.

If you are wondering about the safety of tandem skydiving, using the reserve parachute may sound intense. Just know if you are tandem skydiving, your instructors have the experience and training and use their best judgement if this ever needs to take place. Your biggest job is to maintain the body position they'll teach you and listen to their instructions!


Altimeters have also come a long way! From the days of analog (which are still used, but less popular), we have an array of digital altimeters which are easily read and has other features such as logging your jumps, reading your freefall speeds, what altitude you exited from and pulled at. There are also audible altimeters which sit in a pocket of a helmet that is another additional method to stay altitude aware!

Skydiving Safety Culture

At Skydive OC we have several instructors and a USPA Safety and Training Advisor (S&TA) that help encourage awareness and safety conscious behaviors. A skydiving safety culture isn't always the norm, but it is becoming more common as the sport is growing and evolving. Take a peek at our reviews to get a first-hand look at our culture!

Our Dedication to Skydiving Safety

According to statistics, you can see skydiving has a really great safety record. However, skydiving is an extreme sport and we cannot make any safety guarantees. At Skydive OC, safety is our priority, and there are several steps we take to help ensure a great experience. Contact us with questions or book your first skydive today!

This was a fantastic experience, we had an amazing time!

» richard schlegel | Read More Testimonials