After the royal suckage last weekend had to offer, it’s likely that memorials and remembering will be abundant around the country this weekend. Some reflecting, too – on own mortality and others in this ‘Sport of Life’ as famously coined by Douggs.
Along those lines, Krisanne Combs, a NorCal jumper has graciously allowed us to share her thoughts on the Black Death portion of the popular skydiving saying of “Blue Skies, Black Death”.
There’s a phrase in skydiving, “Blue Skies, Black Death.” The sentiment is that there’s a price to pay for the freedom that skydiving allows us to experience, and more often than we would like, it is the ultimate price.
Back in “the day,” skydivers died at a higher rate than they do today; for the last 20-some odd years, the fatality rate has stayed roughly constant, with some good years and some bad years (it’s ultimately such a small number that it’s difficult to attach any statistical significance to it). Years ago, the equipment was much less reliable; it was not uncommon for people to die because their equipment flat out didn’t work the way it was supposed to. Today, gear failures are much less common, and when they do cause injury or fatality, it’s usually because the equipment wasn’t maintained or used properly, not because the design of it was unreliable.
But the reality is there are still plenty of ways to die in this sport, the vast majority of which involve some sort of human error (generally a chain of events). It’s a risk that I accept each time I choose to make a skydive, and a risk I try to manage as much as I can (but the reality is you can’t manage out all the risk; this shit is and always will be dangerous). I do regularly reassess the risk/reward relationship in skydiving, and so far (almost 9 years now) I’ve decided the balance is still such that I want to keep doing it, though it’s likely that at some point, that will change, and it will be time to hang it up.
Incidents do seem to come in waves, and this was one of “those” weekends, in which (so far) there were four incidents, leading to three fatalities, and one skydiver who is in very bad shape at the moment, though he’s still alive at last report. What was unusual about this weekend was that each of the four was highly, highly experienced and a prominent name in the sport. I think all had been active for more than 20 years, some for more than 30. These are the folks that have beaten the odds for so long you start to imagine they must be invincible and are more likely to go from illness or old age than they are skydiving.
I didn’t know any of these men personally, but I know of all of them, and I know it’s been a shocker for the community to see these icons involved in incidents. It’s a sad reminder of the crashing reality of what we do.
Orignal post can be found here.