Recreational Skydiving Continues Record-Setting Growth

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Bucking the downward trend of general aviation, the U.S. Parachute Association (USPA) is reporting record-high membership for the second consecutive year. With roughly 3.2 million skydives made last year in the U.S., it announced that more and more people are taking not only a first leap but continuing to pursue skydiving as a hobby and passion. The USPA ended 2013 with nearly 35,700 members, the highest in the association's 67-year history. Last year, more than a half million people experienced their first skydive at more than 240 USPA-affiliated skydiving schools and centers across the country. USPA also welcomed 6,700 new members and issued nearly 3,700 basic skydiving licenses, indicating that more first-timers are coming back to pursue the sport and become certified solo jumpers.

Even as the sport shows increased growth, accident numbers continue to remain comparatively low. In 2013, 24 people died in the U.S. while skydiving, or less than 0.008 fatalities per 1,000 jumps—nearly the lowest rate in the sport's history. Tandem skydiving has an even better safety record, with no tandem student fatalities out of a half million tandem jumps last year and 0.002 student fatalities per 1,000 jumps in the past decade. Skydiving continues to improve its safety record due in large part to safer equipment and better training. The USPA institutes safety standards, certifies skydiving instructors and establishes training programs for new skydivers. The USPA also holds its annual Safety Day—scheduled for March 8 this year—where drop zones across the country offer safety seminars and refresher training.