If you’re thinking about going skydiving, you’ve probably also considered several other high-adrenaline activities at some point in your life. We get it! And as people who also love the excitement of extreme hobbies, we know safety is of top concern when picking your thrill of choice. A common comparison to make is skydiving vs bungee jumping, so we’re here to answer the question: which is safer, bungee jumping or skydiving?
While both skydiving and bungee jumping involve the leap of a lifetime, that’s about the only part of the process the two have in common. In bungee jumping, you step off of a platform and fall for a precalculated number of seconds before the bungee cord catches you and slows you down.
Skydiving, on the other hand, is more like flying – but with your body! A skydive is made from a much higher altitude, and you fall for enough time that you reach terminal velocity. This means that you can use your body to move in the air, and the experience feels much more interactive. The extra altitude also allows solo skydivers and tandem pairs more time to deal with anything that may happen during the jump and results in a much smoother, more controlled experience.
The gear involved in each activity is also very different. Skydiving gear is equipped with many safety backups, and what you wear on the jump is specifically designed to protect you. The parachute system has a backup parachute (that makes two, total!), and an Automated Activation Device that automatically deploys the parachute in the event of an emergency. Your body is also protected by what you wear – including goggles and a jumpsuit – and an altimeter keeps track of your altitude.
In bungee jumping, you are relying on a single bungee cord and a series of calculations. If either of those things malfunction, you are looking at an awfully hard landing, likely on your head. Through decades of research and innovation, the leading skydiving manufacturers have developed a system that is tailored toward making every jump as safe as possible, including multiple backups just in case something goes wrong.
Both experiences require a certain level of learning and preparation. After all, no one would expect you to jump into thin air without learning how to do it first! With tandem skydiving, though, your instructor is much more involved in the entire process than is even possible with bungee jumping. Because the act of bungee jumping is relatively simple, most of the focus is on gear and calculations. You will get a super quick overview of how to make the jump, and off the ledge you go!
When you go tandem skydiving, your instructor, who has A LOT of skydiving experience, comes with you on the jump. They will also spend a good amount of time going over what to expect from the jump before you even get in the plane, and actually practice your body position with you during your training. You will be able to talk to your instructor during the entire ride to altitude in the plane, and also for the whole ride under canopy.
During freefall, your instructor can touch your arms and legs or give you hand signals to guide you through the experience. Additionally, because your instructor comes with you on the jump, you can get close-up photos and videos so you can relive the experience over and over again!
Skydiving culture is also more involved and organized than the bungee scene, and presents a plethora of opportunities for growth and progression. As a skydiver, you never stop learning.
When you go bungee jumping, though, your experience ends when you step foot on the ground. You can bungee jump again at different locations, of course, but there is nothing more to learn and no real community to join.
Skydiving is the complete opposite. Every time you go skydiving, you’ll learn new skills and improve on old ones. You can even progress to the point of earning your own license, and beyond! There are several different disciplines in the sport that you can specialize in, and the skills are always evolving and creating new opportunities. The skydiving community is also like a family, and you can form lifelong bonds with people you meet all over the world. Skydiving is much more than just a fall – it truly is a lifestyle of flight!
Here’s the big question: how dangerous is bungee jumping when compared to skydiving? As far as the safety statistics go, they are about the same.
According to the United States Parachute Association (USPA), which gathers data on all skydives made within the US, there has been about 1 fatality for every 500,000 tandem jumps made in the past decade. Interestingly, bungee jumping fatality rates are the same: 1 in 500,000. This means that a person is more likely to be struck by lightning than to die in either of these thrill-seeking activities.
Even though the bungee vs tandem statistics on safety are even, we think it’s clear that the overall experience of skydiving has a lot more to offer when it comes to risk vs reward!