Is Paragliding Safer Than Skydiving?

Paragliding and Skydiving are popular picks for people looking for a full-body adrenaline rush. Skydiving is more intense than paragliding, but both sports come with risks. If you’re looking to get started in either sport, how do you gauge the safety of paragliding versus Skydiving?

Whether you’re sailing through the sky or jumping out of a plane, both sports aren’t as dangerous as most people suppose. Fascinating fact: You’re more likely to die in a car accident. But one is safer than the other. Would you have guessed Skydiving? If you did, you guessed correctly.

Paragliders and skydivers are doing their thing daily in America, and many days pass without fatalities or injuries. Here are the numbers:

Paragliding sees 18 deaths out of 242,355 flights. As for Skydiving, there are 13 deaths out of 3,000,000 jumps.

Of course, neither sport is truly safe. That small window of risk is a big part of where the thrill comes from. But the person taking part in these sports has a lot of control over just how dangerous their jump or their flight is. By looking at the risks, we can appreciate the precautions.

Is Paragliding Safer Than Skydiving

The Risks: A Bird’s Eye View

The risks and danger levels of paragliding and Skydiving are at an all-time low. Technology has contributed to great strides in safety. Veterans of the sport have passed on what experience has taught them and made those lessons practical.

Be that as it may, nobody is more responsible for your safety than you are, no matter what kind of lifesaving technology you have strapped to your back as you fall out of an airplane.

By being fully informed, you can be fully prepared. When done correctly, Skydiving and paragliding are both exhilarating experiences. Some call them the closest thing to flying that humans can experience.

You don’t want to sour that once-in-a-lifetime experience by turning it into a last-in-a-lifetime experience.

How Safe is Paragliding

Paragliding has become a staple of tourists trying to snatch up every last experience of freedom before their holiday is over with.

It’s easy to see the appeal of soaring through the sky like a seagull with no big airplane obstructing the view.

A paragliding pilot has nothing blocking their view except a few straps of the harness that they’re sitting in and the large glide-friendly parachute above their head. There’s no motor to make noise since the pilot manages their flight by catching air currents.

Just to be sure of all things, the pilot is also equipped with an emergency parachute.

Paragliders don’t have brakes like bicycles do, so the risks and dangers in paragliding tend to come from the challenge of mastering free-flight. Pilots that are just getting used to steering could lose control. Overconfident pilots might take unnecessary risks. So there’s a unique responsibility to the individual flyer to be sure that they aren’t a hazard to themselves or others.

This report reveals that only 18 deaths were recorded out of a total of 242,355 paragliding flights, also with 64 injuries.

Most of those weren’t deadly injuries and nothing grievous, amounting to sprains and minor scrapes. The rest were lower and upper fractures of extremities. Out of those 18 deaths, the majority were due to multiple injuries. So incidents in paragliding do not automatically spell death.

The Novice Pilot is More Dangerous Than the Flight

Instructors have a name for the cause of most paragliding accidents, and it’s called “intermediate syndrome.”

After two or three successful flights, the pilot suddenly feels that they’re a superhero with no need for caution and no vulnerability to danger.

It isn’t a light-hearted joke. Those first 10 flights are where 90% of the big accidents take place. This calls for constant vigilance and caution even when you’re pretty sure that you’re in control.

There are the odd times that equipment malfunction is to blame, but 95% of these accidents can be attributed to human error. Actual equipment malfunction is extremely rare.

First-time and one-off paragliders are actually at much lower risk than novice pilots. Having an experienced instructor with you lowers that first-time window of disaster even more.

Injury-free paragliding is more about self-control than quality control.

If you have persistent fears about paragliding, you have options. You can get in touch with the company that booked you, and they will fill you in about all the safety precautions as many times as you need to.

Paragliding is safe enough that it can be carried out by pilots of all ages.

Children as young as five (with the supervision of an adult or parent, of course) have partaken in the sport. Other pilots have been as old as 90. But anyone that’s under the age of 18 will need to have written consent from their parents.

How safe is Skydiving

While paragliding is a pleasant cruise through the sky, Skydiving is jumping out of an airplane and plummeting like rock with arms and legs.

Onlookers tend to think that Skydiving is a fairly dangerous sport. Believe it or not, you’re still safer jumping out of an airplane than you are driving your car.

Especially if you’re a first-time jumper, the odds of disaster are very, very low.

Chances of Fatality While Skydiving

Out of the 3,000,000 skydiving jumps taken per year, only 13 fatalities were recorded in 2018, that’s nearly half the rate since the 1970s, the lowest rate since 2000. You can view the source for this information here. So if you took one jump per year, your rate of a fatality would be one in 100,000.

If you want the safest skydiving experience possible, then you want to look into tandem jumps. They’re just as the name suggests.

Tandem jumps are usually the first experience for anyone on their first jump. You’re strapped to the person of an experienced instructor who’s going to make sure you’re alright through the whole experience.

The odds of a fatality in a tandem jump are 1 in 750,000. Injury rates are 1 in 1100. So while not danger-free, Skydiving is still a statistically safe undertaking.

How To Be Sure You’re Safe

Believe it or not, you’re the safest when you’ve never flown before. If you’re throwing yourself out of an airplane for the first time, you’re at much lower risk of life and limb than the people that have done it 10 times or 50 times.

The reason is simple. You’re scared out of your shorts. Your survival instincts are making you memorize the manuals and safety videos until you can recite them from memory forwards and backward. You’d rather burn at the stake than go against anything in the manual.

Safety checks and procedures become dull routine after the hundredth time you go through them, so it becomes easier to hand-wave them away as unnecessary. To quote a pilot that had been flying an airplane for years but still took the time to do a preliminary systems check:  “Anyone that doesn’t do this before they get in the air is a fool.”

If you’re looking for an experience that is 100% safe without any risks whatsoever, then you might want to look for another hobby. Skydiving and paragliding wouldn’t bring that zing if they were danger-free.

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