Category Archives: Risks of sky diving

The Dark and Dangerous Side of Skydiving

What Goes Up, Must Come Down

As children, we may have dreamed of what it would be like to fly. As adults, we fulfill those curiosities with perhaps flying an airplane, base jumping or even skydiving.

“Odds in favor of an event compares the number of successes to the number of failures.” – Thought Company

Most of us are not Statisticians that scrutinize the potential risks of skydiving. When you defy gravity, there are inherent risks. In challenging the natural state of gravity, there will always be the chance that something could happen, but that occurs in everyday life as well.

Researchers noted that of 3.2 million jumps made within one year, only 2.3 injuries were reported per 10,000 jumps.

Risks of Skydiving

There are risks in skydiving, however, to have a successful jump, it is essential to know the safety guidelines in place and follow them. 92% of fatalities in skydiving were a result of poor judgment and overestimating one’s capabilities.

  • Equipment: There are rare occasions when equipment fails to operate. Parachutes may not open, but a seasoned skydiver will have a reserve to rely on.
  • Weather: A sudden shift in wind can whisk a skydiver away causing a sudden downfall and crashing. Always be aware of the surrounding climate.
  • Health Issues: Those with medical conditions (heart, lungs, ears, bones, mental) should not skydive without permission from their physician.  The high altitude and impact of landing forces additional stress upon the body.
  • Landing: This may perhaps be the most common point of a skydive where injury may occur due to not following instructions.  The wind also forces a high impact landing.
  • Bravado: Some skydivers have an embellished image of themselves as being experienced, when in fact they are not. Attempts to do tricky maneuvers end up in either injury or death.

Riskiest Aspect of Skydiving

Landing is the most dangerous part of skydiving. 83.8% of injuries have been caused at this stage of skydiving while 9.3% were due to parachute issues. Inexperience and ignorance have lent to the noncompliance of safety guidelines.

Most Dangerous Form of Skydiving

HALO (High Altitude Low Opening) skydiving is the most dangerous form of skydiving. Originally developed for military operations, HALO provided the ability to jump in zones undetected by the enemy. This extreme sport has caught on to civilians, and while it poses more risks than traditional skydiving, the cost to do a HALO jump is costly.

  • 28,000-30,000 Feet Tandem Jump costs $3,700
  • 28,000-$30,000 Feet Solo Jump costs $560

Jumpers freefall for up to 2 minutes at a speed of 126 mpg. Oxygen is required to be worn due to the high altitude. The risks of hypoxia (lack of oxygen in the blood) and decompression sickness (the “bends”) can happen on any HALO jump.

Safety Above All Else

You want to have a fun and successful jump. Do your homework before you go!

  • Dropzone should be a U.S. Parachute Association Member.
  • Read up on reviews of the Dropzone.
  • Be wary of low prices – you get what you pay for!
  • Ask questions! Reputable Dropzones and Instructors welcome inquiries.
  • Trust your gut! Ultimately, your safety is your responsibility.

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Supersonic Jump

A Skydive that lasted 15 minutes

Twenty-Five miles up into the atmosphere,  a man hung from a balloon contemplating what he was about to accomplish for the advancement of science. Little did he know he was about to set a world record. At such a high risk, he would pave a new road for aviation history.

 

The Man, The Jumper

Alan Eustace, a Computer Scientist with Google, made a historic jump from the stratosphere in 2014. He has been passionate for skydiving since the age of 18 years old. This precipitated the spark for this adventure to the edge of the earth.

 

Alan had a concept for the design of a suit for space jumping based on the idea of a scuba diving suit. With scuba diving, “you only take what you need” as he mentioned. He proved that to travel to the stratosphere, a capsule was not required.

His jumpsuit had an inner frame structure with the dual capacity to warm and cool. The dual temperature environment within the suit would prevent the face shield from fogging over and allow him to maintain a comfortable (life-saving) temperature level.

 

What is a stratosphere?

 

The earth’s atmosphere consists of five layers. The higher the layer, the thinner the air is. Each layer has its unique properties and temperatures. Eustace traveled up to the stratosphere where he jumped.

 

Troposphere

  • Closest to Earth’s Surface; this is where we live
  • 4-12 miles high
  • Warm at the lower level near Earth but colder higher up

 

Stratosphere

  • Second layer just above Troposphere
  • 12-31 miles high
  • Jets and weather balloons fly in this layer

 

Mesosphere

  • Third layer just above Stratosphere
  • 31-53 miles high
  • The coldest part of earth’s atmosphere average -130 degrees

 

Thermosphere

  • Fourth layer just above Mesosphere
  • 53-620 miles high
  • The hottest part of atmosphere up to 2,700 degrees
  • Space shuttles and International Space Station orbits Earth in this layer

 

Exosphere

  • Fifth layer just above Thermosphere
  • Highest layer and it merges into outer space

Going Up

 

Alan began his ascent hooked onto a weather balloon filled with helium. He traveled upwards for two hours while he dangled beneath the balloon in his specially designed suit.

 

At the peak of his flight up, he was in awe of the beauty. “It was amazing,” he said. “You could see the darkness, and you could see the layers of the atmosphere.” He had traveled up to an altitude of 135,890 feet!

 

Coming Down

 

Releasing a tether hooked from his suit to the balloon, he began to plummet downward. The tremendous speeds of up to 822 mph, caused him to break the sound barrier and was heard by some on the ground. He was not even aware he had broken the sound barrier!

 

It was a wild, wild ride. I hugged on to the equipment module and tucked my legs and held my heading.”

 

Gravity Wins Again!

 

 

Regardless of the two hours it took to reach the targeted altitude, once gravity took hold of Alan Eustace, he was pulled back down in a matter of 15 minutes! Something to ponder within one’s mind.

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