How Many People Died in Skydiving?

March 21, 2024

As with any sport, there are inherent risks in skydiving. But when compared with other recreational activities, skydiving is relatively safe.

The United States Parachute Association (USPA) started keeping track of skydiving deaths in 1961 and that first year there were only 14 confirmed jumper fatalities. But the number spiked over the decades, reaching its peak in the 1970s when the annual death total topped 50 for several years.

But the sport is getting safer. Over the past decade, there has been a steady decline in the number of skydiving deaths and that trend is continuing. USPA's 2022 death tally is below the annual average from five years ago and well below the average from just four years before that.

Those declining figures are an important reminder of the safety gains that have been made in skydiving. But it's also an important reminder that no sport is entirely risk-free, and that a bad landing can still lead to tragedy.

In fact, the most common cause of skydiving deaths is failure to properly land a perfectly functioning parachute. This is especially true for jumpers who try to perform high-performance landings in unfamiliar landing areas. Attempting such a landing in an unfamiliar area can quickly turn tragic when the skydiver's movements are not coordinated. This is an area where further improvements in training and education can make a real difference.

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