Skydiving is an awesome sport that thousands of people enjoy every year, right here at Skydive Langar. With more than 50,000 descents being made in 2023 alone, we’re highly experienced in delivering exciting, memorable, safe experiences to everyone from first time jumpers to experienced hobbyists.
But we also know that one of the questions you’ll be asking before your first jump is ‘is skydiving safe‘. The aim of this post is to explore how safe skydiving is, where the potential risks lie and how our professional skydiving team takes care of you throughout your experience.
Safety in skydive training and experience
Education is the best way to keep skydivers safe and for this reason, ours is a sport where progression is supported and monitored to ensure everyone is working within their skill set and keeping as safe as possible.
In order to qualify to take tandem students, for example, a skydiver has to first complete a minimum of 800 jumps and undertake multiple assessments and training courses before being awarded their Tandem Instructor status.
If you’re a follower of Skydive Langar on our social media channels, you will likely see our regular celebrations of student skydivers graduating student status to achieve their ‘A licence’. This is the first of a sequence of skydiving licence grades, each of which requires additional education and practical training to progress to the next.
We’ve been skydiving at Langar since 1977 and are very proud of our highly experienced, highly qualified team whose job, and passion, is to give you the best experience in a safe environment.
We will also give you training so you can understand what’s happening and how it works. We won’t overload you with information but we will share the basics with you, and give you essential training in what we need you to do during your jump and the landing to keep yourself and your instructor safe.
Safety in skydiving equipment
Skydiving equipment has come a long way since the very first drawing of a parachute by Leonardo Da Vinci in the fifteenth century! Modern equipment is tried and tested to the extremes to ensure it’s as safe as possible for the people jumping it.
Investment in the best gear possible
As a centre of excellence, we believe in keeping our skydiving equipment to the highest standard and this includes investing in new equipment when older gear would benefit from replacement or when new innovations come in. At the time of writing this, we have just invested in another intake of new skydiving parachute systems (known as ‘rigs’) for our experienced jumpers, student jumpers and tandems. This way, we ensure we only use the best equipment available.
Maintenance and packing
We’re very proud to have an on-site equipment maintenance team, led by our Chief Rigger, Karen – whose CV of work includes supporting on movies such as Mission Impossible and travelling the world providing equipment maintenance and servicing to skydivers. Karen and her team of expert parachute riggers and advanced packers are responsible for keeping all of our equipment in great condition and maintained according to (and beyond) the standards set by British Skydiving, the governing body for our sport in the UK.
This includes regular kit assessments and repacks, as well as any ad-hoc maintenance which is needed.
Our team of parachute packers responsible for packing each parachute after use is also highly experienced and qualified, inspecting and packing each parachute with care before it is used again.
Every parachute system includes two parachutes – a main parachute and a reserve parachute. The purpose of the main parachute is to act as the primary parachute which is used the vast majority of the time. Every time a main parachute is used, it is inspected and repacked, ready for another jump.
The purpose of a reserve parachute is as a backup to the main. In a situation where a main parachute fails to deploy correctly or is not safe to land, we can disconnect it and deploy the reserve instead. The current statistics on a main parachute malfunction suggest this happens roughly once in every 1,200 jumps – though this is even less likely in tandems. Every skydiver is highly trained in their emergency procedures and able to implement them if needed.
It’s mandatory in the UK to use a device called an AAD in every kit. An AAD is an automatic activation device and its job is to monitor our altitude and fall rate – recognising if we are falling too fast, too close to the ground and automatically deploying our reserve parachute if needed. This means in a case where the skydiver is unable for any reason to go through their emergency procedures themselves, the system will do it for them.
Pre-jump safety checks
Every skydiver at Skydive Langar is required to undergo a pre-jump safety check.
Everyone jumping is fully trained in checking over their own gear and will do so as a matter of course when they arrive to jump, before they board the plane and before they make their jump. To supplement this, they are also required to be checked by another qualified jumper; this jumper then signs their name to say they have checked their friend.
As a tandem student, you will see this in action as our tandem instructors get ready to jump. They will check their own gear and that of the other instructors and sign for each other to say this is done.
This builds in an extra safety layer and helps us to keep each other safe.
Safety systems around the centre
There are a wide range of safety systems and practices in place around the skydiving centre which you may or may not be able to see. If you can’t see it, it’s because it’s happening behind the scenes but rest assured, it’s there!
First aid and safety training
Our annual first aid training workshops are an important stage of our health and safety system. First aid training ensures our staff are not only well equipped to help in the case where first aid and medical help is needed, but also well educated to be able to implement new safety systems where required.
As an example, we have a comprehensive incident procedure which all of our staff are trained in which means in the case of an incident, even a very small one, the team will mobilise to implement the safety process needed to best deal with it.
Our health and safety practices aren’t just reactive, either. We have proactive processes in place to enable us to constantly review and improve so everyone feels safe and is safe when on the drop zone.
Ground to air safety communication
When you arrive at our skydiving centre, one of the things you’ll see just in front of the landing area is an area called ‘drop zone control’. This is where the nominated qualified person for that day is based with the job of keeping radio communication with all of our aircraft and overseeing the safe operation of the day.
That person also forms a hub of communication for the wider team. Everyone is in constant communication to ensure everything is running to the agreed plan and within our standard operating procedures as well as being in accordance with British Skydiving’s rules, contained in the British Skydiving Operations Manual.
Through these guidelines, we maintain our high safety record.
Aircraft safety and maintenance
Our fleet of aircraft is maintained to the highest standards. This includes daily checks and, after a number of flying hours is met, a full audit and service to ensure everything is as it should be.
As with all of our other equipment, we have made investments in our aircraft in line with advancements in technology and efficiency to keep our planes at the top safety standards possible.
Our pilots are highly trained, too, meaning we have a full team of experts delivering your skydive experience.
It’s normal to be nervous…
We know that, even with all of this information, you’re likely to feel nervous about your very first jump. And that’s completely normal!
If you’re not feeling nervous, you probably will once you reach the open door of the aircraft and for many people, that’s why they do it. It’s that feeling of overcoming the nerves that contributes to the absolute euphoria of that very first jump.
If you do have any questions at all, or you just want to come and see what it’s all about, feel free to drop by any time; you can speak to our instructors and see our operation to help you better understand it and put your mind at ease. We look forward to welcoming you.