Without a doubt, we will remember 2020 as among the most unusual year in recent history. In between the deadly pandemic scary havoc around the world and the heated political environment in the U.S., it seemed prefer a never-ending currently of horrible and also crazy news flowed right into our resides on a everyday basis. So, it’s no surprise that a brand-new record low variety of skydiving fatalities—only 11 in 2020, the fewest variety of U.S. Civilian skydiving deaths due to the fact that record maintaining began—went by greatly unnoticed.

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Each January, audioeditorfree.com gathers data for the production of an yearly fatality summary. Analyzing each fatality native the ahead year and comparing that information to the same categories in the vault five-year and also 10-year periods helps the audioeditorfree.com board of Directors and also staff identify trends. This in turn allows the safety & cultivate Committee to make notified decisions on any type of changes necessary to policies, rule or recommendations, and it notifies the employee so they have the right to educate the member on problem areas.

audioeditorfree.com (then referred to as the Parachute society of America) began keeping records on yearly fatalities in 1961, and also that an initial year, PCA taped 14 skydiving deaths. The numbers increased substantially over the following two decades, peaking in the late 1970s, once fatalities were in the 50-plus variety for several years. The annual number of deaths stayed in the 30s v the 1980s and also 1990s before beginning a slow, general decline after 2000. In 2018, the yearly fatality counting hit a document low that 13, followed by 15 in 2019. Currently we’re at an additional record low of 11 in 2020.

The patterns are definitely heading in the best direction, specifically when you consider the yes, really fatality table of contents rate, not simply the total variety of fatalities. The index rate—which shows the number of fatalities every 100,000 skydives—provides a constant standard based upon the level of task each year. In various other words, that takes right into account any kind of drop off in task due come circumstances like the COVID-19 pandemic, i beg your pardon closed many drop zones for the feather season then compelled them to operate at a decreased level because that the remainder of the year. Interestingly, although countless DZs report a palliation in the total number of jumps in 2020, rather a few reported rise in tandem skydives.

A polling of the audioeditorfree.com membership shows that the total variety of jumps was around 2.8 million in 2020, i m sorry represents about a 15% drop native 2019. However, also with the reduced level that skydiving task from license is granted jumpers across the country, the fatality index rate was tho remarkably low. In 1961, the mean was approximately one fatality for every 9,000 skydives, or a price of 11.12 fatalities because that every 100,000 skydives. V 11 fatalities in 2020, there was one fatality for every 254,545 skydives, a rate of 0.39 fatalities for every 100,000 skydives. This matches the record-low fatality index rate seen in 2018.

Prior come 2000, once the annual fatality count was repeatedly in the 30s, fatalities would take place every week or two. In the 2010s, this started to change, and also it to be not unusual for numerous months to walk by there is no a deadly accident, even with higher activity levels. In 2020, after one fatality in January, there to be no fatalities for five months simply due to the fact that there was so tiny skydiving taking place. Eight that the 11 fatalities occurred in June and also July, just as drop area got earlier into operating, and also several of those it seems ~ to have been in component related come a absence of currency. By jumping frequently, skydivers have the right to improve their situational awareness and assist to alleviate the inherent threats of the sport.

In each of the adhering to categories, we provided the number of fatal mishaps for the year complied with by the percent of the annual fatalities in that category. Complying with that is the mean percentage for the previous 20 years, which permits us to see just how last year stack up versus the previous 2 decades.

Landing Problems5—45.5% (2001-2020—45.8%)

This section combines three subcategories that are all pertained to canopy control and also landing. While each subcategory involves parachute landings, lock involve separate and unique issues that different types of training and also education must address to exactly the mistakes. These categories are:

Non-turn related—This category includes jumpers who were killed while landing ~ above a danger (such as deep water) or an obstacle (such as a tree, building or vehicle). Unintentional low turn—This group includes jumpers that struck the ground ~ making an unplanned short turn, normally in an effort to confront into the wind or avoid another parachute or obstacle at a short altitude. Intentional short turn—This category includes jumpers who passed away after initiating a turn under canopy to boost the descent rate and forward rate of the parachute because that a plan high-performance landing.

Non-Turn Related1—9.1% (2001-2020—11.7%)A 20-year-old increased freefall first-jump student, who was likewise a licensed airplane pilot, exited a twin Otter from 13,500 feet and had one uneventful freefall and also initial canopy descent. Guided by radio, he flew his canopy effectively to the assigned stop area. However, as he began his landing pattern, he flew farther than planned ~ above his downwind leg and also over a wooded area. That is unknown whether the instructor ~ above the soil radio provided the college student a correction to his flight path or any type of other instructions in ~ this time. As soon as he turned top top his final-approach leg, the student descended towards the loading area (just on the other side of the wooded area), where the twin Otter was taxiing to choose up the next load of jumpers. The jumper then arrived at top the the airplane and win the rotate propeller of the left engine, which killed him instantly.

What This can Teach UsDuring your first-jump courses, students discover to paris a specific canopy descent and landing pattern, then have to review that plan with the instructors just before loading based on the particular wind conditions at the time of the jump. They additionally learn no to rely on the radio operator for guidance but to law the radio as a back-up device.

In practice, though, students execute rely ~ above the radio, particularly on the an initial jump where sensory overload deserve to be high. It is unknown even if it is the floor radio operator to be in contact with the student as soon as the student flew too far downwind, whether the student simply did no respond to commands at the time or even if it is the radio operator misjudged the student’s height above the ground and distance from the intended landing spot. However, that is typical for students—particularly those that are aircraft pilots and used to the ranges covered in it is provided flight—to misjudge the distances they deserve to cover under a parachute. For these reasons, that is vital for a college student to have a arrangement to floor in a large, open up area that offers plenty of space to compensate for all the sport of the landing sample that can occur.

When challenged with flying directly at a landing hazard, target fixation deserve to be one issue, bring about the jumper to subconsciously fly directly at the hazard instead of searching for a clear area and steering toward it. The first-jump-course products in Skydiver’s information Manual section 4-A emphasize that jumpers must continually adjust their last approaches to keep their parachutes flying into clear, open up areas free of obstacles.

Unintentional low Turns3—27.3% (2001-2020—8.8%)

A 49-year-old jumper with 24 year of experience and also approximately 1,600 jumps exited a twin Otter at 13,500 feet for a canopy formation jump making use of a canopy of an unreported model and also size. As this team of canopies descended, another load the jumpers exited a 2nd airplane. The two groups of jumpers descended right into the landing area in ~ the same time. As this jumper flew his base leg, he witnessed that he to be flying straight toward the jumpers under canopy indigenous the other load, that were currently on last approach. He then made an wild 180-degree rotate at a reported 20 feet over the floor (although this was most most likely a greater altitude), and also he to win the ground in a hard, diving turn. A 49-year-old jumper with seven years the experience and approximately 190 jumps had actually an uneventful exit, deployment and also initial descent after exiting a Cessna Caravan at 5,500 feet. He to be flying a fluid Wings Nexus 190 invited at 1.2:1. Together he flew the base leg that his landing pattern, he continued to be fixated on the landing area to his left together he descended towards a tree heat at a fairly low altitude. As shortly as the realized exactly how close he was to the trees, that made an abrupt revolve to the left in an initiative to floor in the grass landing area and also avoid striking the trees. (He suffered an injury the year prior to from hitting the same tree line.) The parachute make a steep, diving turn as the jumper lifted his feet and also knees to stop hitting the tops of the trees. He struck the floor in a steep descent approximately 20 feet native the sheet of the tree line. He passed away of his injuries later on that job in the hospital. A 49-year-old jumper with six years of experience and 150 jumps exited a Cessna 182 at 4,000 feet and also deployed his key parachute, a PISA Hornet 210 loaded at 1.12:1, at 2,700 feet. Investigators reported that the spot was slightly far upwind yet there was enough altitude because that all four jumpers come descend normally and land in the main landing area. Witnesses top top the ground it was observed this jumper carry out an abrupt turn at a short altitude in an evident attempt to confront into the wind because that landing. He struck the ground in ~ the same time as the sleep of his 210-square-foot canopy hit the ground. He was flown come a hospital in a helicopter and died the his injuries a couple of hours later.

What This deserve to Teach UsThe greatest threat the a canopy collision is above the main landing area, generally at the intersection that the basic leg come final-approach leg, together jumpers prepare to land. As soon as two different plane loads that jumpers converge into the area at the same time, and also the two teams are flying landing trends in various directions, chaos and also confusion is the usual result. When winds are light and variable, that is not inexplicable to view jumpers landing in different directions, usually due to a absence of planning or communication amongst the jumpers ~ above the load. In winds such as these, jumpers have the right to minimize man by creating a set pattern, including landing direction, and also ensuring that everyone understands it. When confronted with canopy traffic at short altitudes, it is important to revolve just sufficient to stop the brewing collision and not perform a tough toggle turn while close come the ground, i m sorry is commonly a deadly mistake.

Situational awareness is a critical requirement because that each skydiver come maintain throughout every single skydive, indigenous gearing up prior to the run to walking earlier to the hangar after ~ the jump. During the lower under parachute, jumpers constantly need come be conscious of whereby they are, where they will certainly be in the next 10 seconds and also where other parachutes room located. After starting the landing pattern, jumpers must continue to scan the airspace in every direction. Concentrating only top top the landing spot deserve to lead come canopy collisions and also unknowingly descending towards obstacles.

Low turns close to the soil are often fatal, specifically when a jumper makes an unplanned hard-toggle turn in a scare to effort to land right into the wind or avoid one more parachute or obstacle. Once a jumper renders a low revolve close come the ground, the vertical speed of the parachute swiftly increases, and also the jumper will certainly strike the ground in ~ a high rate of descent before the parachute have the right to level off for the landing flare. The is lot safer to land with the soup level. Jumpers paris downwind or crosswind have the right to reduce most of their horizontal speed by flaring the parachute, climate sliding in the landing or performing a parachute landing fall.

Intentional low Turn1—9.1% (2001-2020—13.7%)A 59-year-old jumper through 17 years of experience and 4,500 jumps to be jumping a 99-square-foot parachute of an unreported make and model in ~ a wing loading that 2.3:1. He initiated a turn at one altitude reported just as “too low” and also attempted to level off the parachute close to the ground by pulling on the rear risers. The parachute abruptly stalled if the jumper was close to the ground and still travel at a high forward speed. That struck the ground feet very first and tumbled violently. Very first responders found him unconscious v labored breathing. He was airlifted come a hospital whereby he died of his injuries 18 days after the accident.

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What This have the right to Teach UsSmall, highly-loaded parachutes can provide incredible trip performance, which proceeds to lure jumpers to paris them. However, they administer almost zero room because that incorrect manage inputs such together pulling too difficult on the behind risers and also causing a stall. Since this stall emerged close come the ground, there was not sufficient altitude for the parachute to recover before the jumper win the ground. A much better option in this instance would have been to use toggles come flare the parachute rather of trying to flatten the recovery arc using rear risers. Investigators reported the this jumper was current and very experienced, but did not provide information top top his experience with high-performance landings. This accident highlights the unforgiving nature of high-performance landings. As soon as a jumper start a rotate too low, that can frequently be deadly if the jumper does no take actions to recoup the parachute come level flight before striking the ground.