The sport of skydiving continues to improve its safety record. In 2015, USPA recorded 21 fatal skydiving accidents in the U.S. out of roughly 4.2 million jumps. That’s 0.005 fatalities per 1,000 jumps—among the lowest rate in the sport’s history! Tandem skydiving has an even better safety record, with 0.002 student fatalities per 1,000 tandem jumps over the past decade. According to the National Safety Council, a person is much more likely to be killed getting struck by lightning or stung by a bee.
In the 1970s, the sport averaged 42.5 skydiving fatalities per year. Since then, the average has dropped each decade. In the 1980s, the average was 34.1; in the 1990s, the average was 32.3, and in the first decade of the new millennium (2000-2009), the average dropped again to 25.8. Over the past six years, the annual average continues its decline to 22.3.
With 14 fatalities, 1961—the first year records were kept—stands as the year with the fewest skydiving fatalities. However, USPA was considerably smaller then, with just 3,353 members, and the total number of jumps was far fewer than today’s 3.2 million-plus jumps. To put this in perspective, in the 1960s, there was an average of 3.65 fatalities per thousand USPA members. In contrast, 2015 had 0.56 fatalities per thousand USPA members. And estimating about 4.2 million jumps last year, that’s one fatality per 200,532 skydives.