Skydiving Myths: Part 1

28373565_139cedfd68Skydiving is one of the most rewarding extreme sports you can practice but there is a great deal of misconception around it. Here are four myths about skydiving:

You Can Chat With Your Mates While Falling

Nope. Despite what Hollywood movies would like you to believe, you cannot actually have a life-saving conversation with your mate while freefalling. Perhaps if you are doing a tandem jump with an instructor, he could yell in your ear and you might be able to make out some of the words. The reason for your ‘deafness’ is that the wind travelling around your ears will be cancelling all the noise coming from other sources like your mate trying to let you know you forgot your parachute on the plane.

Pull The Cord!

Pulling the cord has been emblematic in movies…especially when it fails and James Bond once again finds himself in a real tight spot. The truth is that you won’t be pulling any rip cords when skydiving as most parachutes these days use rigs (a contraption of harness, container and canopies). A small chute deploys first that pulls the main chute, which inflates with the help of a slider that holds the lines together and keeps them from tangling. Once the parachute is open you can use steering toggles to navigate to the landing area.

Skydiving Is Deadly

Last year a total of 19 people died in parachuting accidents in the United States, which is roughly one person per 100,000 jumps. This means that you have a 1 in 100,000 chance to die while skydiving. Let’s compare the odds to dying in a car accident. About 34,000 people died in the US in traffic accidents – if you drive 10,000 miles per year, your chance of dying in a car crash is 1 in 6,000. In other words, you accept a much higher level of risk by driving a car than by jumping with a parachute.

There are a few reasons of why people perceive skydiving as dangerous. The first one is that the fatalities are so rare that the media pays disproportionate attention to them and you are likely to hear about them on the news. Car crashes are much more frequent and the media rarely pays attention to them. The second reason is that while you do have a chance of surviving a car crash, things don’t look so good if both your parachutes fail to open. This takes us to the next myth:

You Can Survive a Freefall from 15,000 Feet

While it makes for a good news story, there is actually no way to survive a terminal velocity impact. End of story. There is a way to survive failure in both your chutes but you can read more on that in our Skydiving Myths: Part 2 blog!