How Dangerous is Tandem Skydiving?

Published: May 27, 2021

Each year we welcome thousands of first time skydivers to the Santa Cruz area. Tandem skydiving - where you jump from a plane attached by a harness to an experienced instructor - is the most popular way to experience skydiving. We explore how dangerous tandem skydiving is here.

How Does Tandem Skydiving Work?

Tandem skydiving is ideal for people who haven't jumped before. You'll jump from a plane attached to an experienced tandem instructor. Your instructor will be responsible for the operation of the parachute and management of the equipment, meaning you need very little training to participate.

You will be provided with a brief prior to jumping where you will learn proper body positions and you'll get an introduction to how your skydiving equipment works. You'll also learn about the ideal position for landing and how to lift your legs up to avoid injury.

Official Statistics on Tandem Skydiving Safety

The sport of skydiving is governed by an organisation called the USPA (United States Parachute Association). They provide support and guidance for members of the USPA and the USPA approved skydiving centers. They also collect statistical data on the safety of our sport.

In asking the question of whether or not tandem skydiving is dangerous, it's important to review the stats.

There were 3.2 million skydives made in 2014, according to USPA records. During that year, there were 24 fatalities, making a total of 0.75 fatalities per 100,000 jumps - a statistic that makes driving a car more risky than jumping from a plane.

Tandem skydiving has an even better safety record, with 0.003 student fatalities per 1,000 tandem jumps over the past ten years.

Statistically, tandem skydiving in the US is the safest it's ever been.

Tandem Skydiving Instructor Ratings

To become a tandem instructor, skydivers must first complete a minimum of 3 years in the sport and 500 jumps. This ensures they are experienced enough to be safe in the sky and to understand the risks of the sport themselves.

They are then required to go on a tandem instructor course, which is approved by the USPA. During this course, they are required to complete a series of evaluations and exams to achieve their USPA approved rating.

When you choose to jump at a USPA approved drop zone like San Jose Skydiving Center, you can trust that your instructor has proven his/her abilities and has completed the required examinations.

Skydiving Technology

As skydivers, we want to make our sport as safe as possible. A big part of this is the progression we've made in skydiving technology.

As with any skydive, tandem jumps are made with two parachutes; a 'main' parachute and a 'reserve'. The reserve is there as a backup should the first parachute have an issue (which statistically happens once in every 1,000 jumps).

We also jump with an electronic device called an AAD (automatic activation device). This works on air pressure to recognise the speed at which we're falling and to automatically open our parachutes for us if we're in freefall at an unsafe altitude.

These are just some of the ways technology is making tandem skydiving even less dangerous.

Santa Cruz Skydiving

We love to jump, and we're sure you will too. If you'd like to ask any questions, we're here to help - get in touch today. You can also book your tandem skydive online or take a look at our tips to make the most of your tandem experience.

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