Identifying the Dangers - The 2013 Fatality Summary

We are in the safest decade of the sport: During the last 10 years, an average of just over 22 people died skydiving in the U.S. each year. In the 1960s—when USPA membership was about a third of what it is today—an average of 43 people died per year. more »

The RSL: Separating Fact from Fiction

There is probably no other piece of skydiving equipment more misunderstood than the reserve static line (RSL). If you want 10 different opinions on why you should or should not equip your container with one, simply ask 10 different skydivers. Unfortunately, most jumpers choose their positions and make their decisions based on raw opinion and contrived scenarios rather than facts. To separate fact from fiction and make a truly informed decision on whether to use an RSL, we need to look at a little history and actual data. more »

Unintended Consequences

There is no doubt that skydiving is safer now than it has ever been in the past. Better equipment, better student training, advanced coaching and easy access to wind tunnels have combined to allow skydivers to rapidly improve their aerial skills. But are we now seeing fatalities and injuries caused in part by our new technologies? Lack of altitude awareness, poor canopy control and lack of action or improper action during emergencies have made up a large percentage of the fatalities so far this year. We as a community need to reverse this trend. more »

Hard Openings

Chances are that any jumper reading this has either experienced a main canopy that opened hard or will at some point in the future. Although the definition of a hard opening is very subjective (what one person may consider a hard opening, another may call normal), it is actually possible for a parachute to open so hard that it can cause severe physical trauma or even death. The range of possible injuries is wide, from minor strains and pulled muscles to broken necks and backs to torn aortas. more »

USPA and PIA Jointly Issue Skydiver Advisory


On March 31, USPA and the Parachute Industry Association (PIA) issued a joint “Skydiver Advisory” to address concerns regarding some unexplained fatalities in recent years. While USPA and PIA do not yet fully understand the causes of these incidents, there are actions every skydiver and rigger can take to reduce the chances of a similar occurrence while PIA gathers more data for an in-depth review by equipment and rigging experts. The full advisory appears below: more »

Pierced Bridles Pose Continuing Problems

USPA recently learned of another jumper who experienced a pilot-chute-in-tow malfunction due to a main closing pin piercing the bridle on a Velocity Sports Equipment Infinity rig. In the past four years, a number of jumpers have experienced this type of malfunction on various brands of rigs, including the Infinity. In this case, the pilot chute deployed the main canopy after a short delay, just before the jumper initiated emergency procedures. When the jumper landed, he discovered that the main pin had pierced the bridle and then tore completely through the bridle’s edge. more »

Wingsuit Rodeos

As wingsuiting has grown in popularity, so have wingsuit rodeos. YouTube and Facebook contain lots of footage of scary wingsuit rodeos performed by inexperienced—and sometimes experienced—wingsuit pilots (aka “horses”) and riders. Even jumpers with extensive wingsuit experience need to learn new exit positions, spotting techniques and instability recovery skills to perform rodeos safely. more »

A Letter from Skydive Arizona S&TA Bryan Burke

Every Safety Day, Skydive Arizona in Eloy tries to combine practical safety exercises in the daytime with a more generalized, thoughtful look at safety trends during an evening presentation. The latter element has always been my job and my passion. I’ve been a Safety and Training Advisor since they were known as Area Safety Officers, and although I only have a few thousand jumps, I’d be willing to bet good money that I’ve seen more jumps than anyone alive. The downside to my job is the 25 fatalities I’ve worked over the last two decades and the hundreds of serious accidents. I want to do everything I can to reduce that, and education based on solid facts is my best tool. Most of those accidents were preventable. more »

Know Your Gear

As a student, your instructor taught you (or should have taught you) how to perform a proper gear inspection, as well as basic rig maintenance such as replacing a closing loop and maintaining the 3-ring release system. Remember that training? If a recent Safety Day seminar gives any indication, the answer is probably not! During the seminar, a USPA Safety and Training Advisor had participants examine an intentionally fouled-up rig to try to find 17 different rigging errors. A surprising number of participants missed basic items such as leg straps that were improperly routed through the friction adapters, a misrouted main bridle and an incorrectly assembled 3-ring system. Surprisingly, the newly licensed jumpers scored better than the more experienced skydivers! more »