Male and female confidence in skydiving abilities


So a while back I wondered, “Do we fly differently?” First, thank you to everyone who participated in the survey!

As promised, here are charts and graphs and numbers and some surprises.1

We asked three questions:

  1. I am a ☐ female – or – ☐male.
  2. I felt confident in my canopy-flying and -landing skills at jump #___. [Fill in the number.]
  3. I felt confident in my freefall skills at jump #___. [Fill in the number.]

We’ll start you off with the takeaways: the four TL;DR graphs.

First, answers to the canopy confidence question, grouped by male and female answers (click any graph to enlarge):

Grouped answers to the question "I felt confident in my canopy-flying and -landing skills after about jump #___." |


As I expected, females reported lower overall confidence than males did.

But then we get to freefall confidence:

Grouped answers to the question "I felt confident in my freefall skills after about jump #___." |

What?! Women are confident in freefall earlier in their jumping careers than men are? Knock me over with a feather.

And now, differences in the males’ confidences in freefall and under canopy:

Male confidence levels in canopy versus freefall skills. |


And female confidence:

Female confidence levels in canopy versus freefall skills. |

“Confidence” is a very subjective term. I’m sure if we asked the exact same people the exact same questions again on a different day, they would answer differently. Confidence also doesn’t equal skill, obviously, and I wasn’t particularly interested in actual skill levels. I was interested in how people felt about their skill levels.

From our little (highly unscientific) survey, it seems that women are confident in freefall sooner than they are confident under canopy — but also sooner than men are! So there are two issues here: Proportionally lower female confidence in canopy skills and proportionally lower male confidence in freefall skills.

I have a few theories why, but I would really love to know what you all think, especially you instructors.

Do women function better in the structured world of AFF, where freefall is the emphasis, and therefore gain more confidence, and earlier? Is it because women are more easily coachable in freefall? Or is it because newbie women get invited on more jumps and have more free coaching offered to them? Are women more flexible and find it easier to arch into a good boxman? Are men more genetically suited to flying canopies and women to flying their bodies?

And, does any of this actually matter?


Nitty gritty details only numbers nerds will love

More charts and tables. Yippee!

The raw data (minus comments) is here if anyone would like to make their own charts or analyses: BSM-ConfidenceSurvey-2014-10-30 . Please let me know what you come up with!

287 people responded in total; 203 male and 84 female

287 people responded in total; 203 male and 84 female

Respondent Data

Female membership in the U.S. Parachute Association2 is, on average, about 14% and so is our readership. It’s not surprising to me that a proportionally higher number of females responded to this survey, especially because it was about a gender issue. Personally, and with no data to back this claim up, I see females responding at proportionally higher rates than males do whenever we have surveys or discussions.


(Complete side note: Ever wonder why most of the articles in our magazine are written by women? I’m not discriminating against men; women contribute way more than 14% of our content. It’s just who shows up and participates.)

Raw chart of responses to the question, “I felt confident in my canopy-flying and -landing skills after about jump #___.” with some milestone jump numbers highlighted:

Raw answers to the question "I felt confident in my canopy-flying and landing skills after about jump #___." |

“I felt confident in my canopy-flying and landing skills after about jump #___.”

Male Female
Mean 152 226
Median 75 150
Mode 50 200, “Not yet.”

So on average, men felt confident around jumps 75-150ish, and women felt confident somewhere between 150 and 200ish. For me, the most interesting number there is the mode, the answer most reported. 29 males, or 14% of the males, responded that they felt confident under canopy at jump 50. The mode for females was jump 200 and “not yet,” both with 10 female (12%) responses.

Most people felt confident under canopy by jump 100. Let’s look closer at those people:

Details for people who felt confident under canopy at or before jump 100. |

Woah. A not insignificant number of dudes were confident in their canopy skills at jump NUMBER ONE. Not a single female reported confidence with fewer than ten jumps.



“I felt confident in my freefall skills after about jump #___.”

Male Female
Mean 206 120
Median 100 73
Mode 100 40

So, males reported feeling confident in their freefall skills somewhere between 100 and 200 jumps; females felt confident between about 75 and 120.




And a bonus gif for anyone who’s stuck around this long, comparing canopy confidence to freefall confidence. Because gifs.

Women are far more confident in their freefall skills than men are. Who knew?


So after all that, what do you think?



1. Caveat: I am not a data scientist. I have mashed this data in obscene ways and presented it even worse. If you know what you’re doing and would be kind enough to offer me some guidance, please please do.


The Dropzone Diaries: funnier than ever


And now coming to a website near you!

Being huge fans of the Dropzone Diaries and their quirky comedy, we are happy to announce a little partnership. Approximately twice a month you will enjoy a carefully curated, hand-picked guest post from DD appearing right here on the Blue Skies Mag website.

The Dropzone Diaries is a humorous, satirical blog about the everyday life of a skydiver. Written through animated GIF’s and photos, the site pokes fun at the emotions, malfunctions, and day-to-day madness of dropzone life. Much of the content is submitted by fans, so check it out and submit your ideas today!


While we prepare the first post, please feel free to head on over to the Dropzone Diaries website and use your ENTIRE lunch break to laugh at the previous posts.

Follow The Dropzone Diaries on Facebook or Twitter.

Reader question: What’s your dream life?


We wax damned poetically about Living The Dream. The elusive, beautiful, mystical LTD. We post amazing videos of people flying these unbelievable lines in European mountains and print stories about people who have cut away to live the dream.

Sometimes I get a little down on myself and wonder why I’m not out there LTD’ing it up, living in a tent at the base of an Italian mountain, hitchhiking to Kathmandu for a BASE documentary with a quick SCUBA excursion in the Caribbean before paragliding in outer Mongolia. When my idea of a good weekend is a few fun jumps and maybe some Bed Bath and Beyond, if there’s time – am I really living the dream? Does anyone else’s dream include naps and gardening?

So this month’s reader question is:

What is your LTD?

What would you really be doing if you won the jackpot?

My LTD is owning my own tiny, slightly shabby house in Florida, flying in the tunnel every now and then, putting out a smutty little magazine every month, being my own boss, making a high hop & pop every once in a while, reading in a kayak on a lake on a sunny day. If I won the lottery, I’d pay off all my debt, buy a few paragliding trips to Utah, and keep on keepin’ on. Shamefully bland dream life, but totally the one I’d pick. Thankfully, it’s also the life I live! LTD, yo.

Select responses will be printed in the upcoming issue of Blue Skies Mag. Comment here or email me at Sign your comment or email with your name or nickname as you would like it printed. Responses might be edited for spelling, grammar, clarity or space.

PD Factory Team Raffle 2.0

pdft raffle poster 2014

Our neighbors across the street (well, across a few streets if you want to get all technical about it) are doing their raffle thing again – with some quality gear on the line. Tickets are $60.00 each, and a total of 750 of them are up for sale. The odds just might be in your favor this time.

pdft raffle poster 2014Grand Prize: (1 available)
1 custom color main canopy from Performance Designs
1 Optimum reserve from Performance Designs
1 custom Javelin Odyssey with all the options from Sun Path Products, Inc
1 Cypres 2 Expert/Speed from CYPRES
1 helmet (G3 or Fuel) from Cookie Composites
2 N3s from Alti-2
1 jumpsuit from LiquidSky Sports
1 pair of shoes, socks and CSE shoelaces from ChutingStar

2nd Place Prize: (1 available)
1 helmet (G3 or Fuel) from Cookie Composites
1 N3 from Alti-2

3rd Place Prizes (10 available)
$150 voucher for Flight-1 course

4th Place Prizes (5 available)
PDFT swag bag

This year everyone that buys a ticket will also get personalized high-resolution digital thank you poster.
The PD Factory is an international team with members all around the world. The raffle is open to all jumpers, with last year’s winner hailing from Ireland.

Instructions from the PD Factory Team on how to purchase:
Visit the PD Factory Team website to purchase your ticket(s).  On that page is a form field you should fill in with the name you’d like to have on the poster.  You may purchase than one ticket on the time – but only one poster is supplied per order. If you’d like different name, do it as a separate order.  Posters will be sent out once all tickets are sold.  Since it’s a digital poster, you don’t need to worry about your shipping address; the poster will be emailed to the email used to purchase the poster.

Friday Photo Challenge: Halloween Costumes

A skydiver's Halloween decorations.

It’s Friday, which is the best of all the days to issue challenges. And the f/ph sound, you know, it sounds like a good day to challenge you to dig up and post photos of your best skydive/BASE/paraglide Halloween costumes from years past.

We’ll start with one that doesn’t even follow the rules, because it’s a Halloween decoration, not a costume.

A skydiver's Halloween decorations.

A skydiver’s Halloween decorations.

Okay, go dig out your photos and share!