Over the past five years, the number of annual civilian skydiving deaths has been on the decrease. Ten people died making sport skydives in the U.S. in 2021, the fewest number of U.S. civilian skydiving deaths since recordkeeping began in 1961. The recent downward trend began in 2018, when 13 fatalities occurred in the U.S. for a fatality index of 0.39 per 100,000 jumps. Rising slightly in 2019 to 15, the number again fell in 2020 to 11 with an index rate of 0.39 (matching 2018’s index rate, but with fewer fatalities and fewer skydives made). Although the final data is not in on the number of jumps made in 2021, it is nearly certain that the fatality index will be at an all-time low, as well. This downward trend is a result of the efforts of drop zones and their staff, the parachute manufacturing industry and skydivers across the country.
Although every life lost is tragic, leaving behind friends and family mourning, there is comfort in knowing that each year skydiving is getting significantly safer. This smaller fatality count is a testament to all the hard work drop zone operators, safety and training advisors, instructors, the skydiving industry and jumpers themselves are performing daily. With a bit of luck and continued vigilance, maybe we can see our first single-digit year next year. One way to help us achieve this goal is by attending your local drop zone’s Safety Day, this year scheduled for March 12 (but dates can vary by location).