Safety Check

Danger Areas

An informal survey that Parachutist conducted years ago showed that most members read the “Incident Reports” section of the magazine first. Skydivers often say that they read these reports every month to learn from the mistakes of others and become safer skydivers. Yet, despite this focus, jumpers are still making the same six types of fatal mistakes. Over and over and over again. more »

That Little Voice

It is probably safe to say that all of us have a little voice inside our heads (some of the skydivers I know seem to have seven or eight) that helps us make decisions. Usually, that voice does a pretty good job of reasoning with us and keeping us on the right path. Making educated decisions and using good judgment to stay safe often comes down to learning to trust the guidance of that inner voice. more »

Dear Santa

Another year has flown by, and it’s time to send you my wish list. While there have been lots of good things happening in skydiving lately, we have had some low points, too. So, as usual, I have lots of stuff on my wish list. more »

Rules and Recommendations

It seems like a simple enough idea: Skydivers should follow USPA’s rules and recommendations, which have proven to make skydiving safer. After all, not following them has been the cause of almost every skydiving fatality. However, skydiving attracts a unique bunch of people, and whether it is due to sheer ignorance or “rules are for other people” arrogance, jumpers don’t always follow the rules and sometimes ignore the recommendations. And periodically, it leads to tragedy. more »

Landing Off

Almost every skydiver will have to deal with an off-field landing eventually. It might be the first jump or jump 10,000, but most of us will miss the drop zone landing area at some point in our skydiving careers. Visit almost any drop zone and you’ll find jumpers with loving nicknames based on their colorful exploits while landing off: Sparky, Chevy, Tree Hugger... the list is seemingly endless. more »

Wingsuit Flights: Communicate, and Don't Forget the Pilot

Wingsuiting seems to be one of the main reasons skydiving students show up at the drop zone these days, and it’s likely that the inspiration of horizontal flight is a trend that will continue. Although wingsuiting presents specific challenges—most significantly, the addition of horizontal navigation in freefall and a larger surface area to control—it is also driving the growth and popularity of our sport, and it’s not going away. The most effective ways to promote safety and avoid incidents during wingsuit jumps require communication between skydivers, drop zone owners and managers, Safety and Training Advisors, manifest staff, aircraft loaders and jump pilots. more »

Propeller Safety

We get pretty comfortable moving around airplanes in the skydiving world. We board aircraft while they’re running, climb around outside their doors in flight and jump out of them at altitude. With all this familiarity, we can sometimes lose perspective on one plain and simple fact: Spinning propellers maim and kill. And if you make the mistake of getting any part of your body near a spinning propeller, chances are very good that it will be the last mistake you will make. more »

Dropped Cameras

Almost 14 years ago, I received a call from an angry man who had been working peacefully in his garden when “one of those surfboard things smacked into my yard 10 feet away from me!” As it turns out, a new skysurfer lost control in freefall and released his board, which proceeded to smack into the ground next to the unsuspecting gardener. The small parachute that was supposed to deploy if the jumper released the board had failed, and the board hit the ground with a pretty strong impact. more »

Preventing Hearing Loss

Did you ever notice that most of the skydivers who have been around the drop zone for years can’t hear a thing you’re saying unless you’re yelling at them loudly, face to face? This is not a coincidence, and you will find that most if not all of these jumpers have been regularly exposed to years of loud noises without using hearing protection. Not only are they deaf, they are slowly going mad due to the constant ringing in their ears known as tinnitus. Hearing loss and tinnitus are not the same things, although they are often experienced together. The sad and scary thing about hearing loss is that it is permanent, and so is the ringing that comes with tinnitus. Once you damage the inner ear from exposure to loud noise, there is no magic pill, hearing aid or even surgery that can restore your hearing to its previous level. more »

Canopy Collisions

Canopy collisions are many skydivers’ worst nightmare, and for good reason. And while Skydiver’s Information Manual Section 5-1 provides some guidelines for how to deal with a canopy collision, avoiding one altogether is a much better idea. more »