Many misconceptions surround the skydiving accident. Causes, the people who are most likely to experience them, and the likelihood of being killed while skydiving are often wrongly perceived.
A skydiving accident can be caused by a variety of factors, but some more common causes include collisions between jumpers, difficulty during landing, and malfunctioning equipment. Despite the prevalent myth that equipment problems are the biggest culprits for causing accidents, operator error is actually the root cause the majority of the time.
Collisions are often the result of parachute canopies deploying too close together. Many landing difficulties are attributable to skydivers overestimating how much time they have to complete turns and other maneuvers, or landing near obstacles. A few landing fatalities involve drowning related to landing in water. Equipment malfunctions rarely involve failure of the parachute or reserve to deploy, as may be a common belief, but more often involve lines that become entangled.
Another misconception about a skydiving accident may be that novices are most often the victims of accidents, but students are actually rarely involved in accidents. More experienced jumpers who try maneuvers requiring a high level of skill are more likely to experience a parachuting accident. Accidents took the lives of 21 people in 2004, down from 25 in 2003, 33 in 2002, and 35 in 2001, some of which may have did a jump without parachute.
A comparison of the statistics regarding skydiving fatalities with fatality statistics from sports that may be considered less risky, such as scuba diving, shows that parachuting actually poses less of a risk than most people perceive. For example, according to reports, approximately 30 out of 100,000 skydiving participants are killed in the United States each year. This rate compares to 47 out of 100,000 for scuba diving, 50 out 100,000 for mountain climbing, and 67 out of 100,000 for hot air ballooning. So dont let safety fears scare you from making that first skydive.
On an interesting note, history includes a few cases of people who have survived a jump without parachute from very high altitudes. Some notable survivors of these jumps were airmen from World War II. One fighter pilot was forced to jump from his bomber plane when it came under enemy fire in France. He fell 20,000 feet, crashed through a skylight on the roof of a train station, sustained severe injuries, and eventually recovered. Other scenarios involved airmen leaving their planes for the same reason and falling anywhere from 18,000 to 22,000 feet and surviving because their fall was broken by trees and snow drifts.
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