Skydiving, also known as parachuting, refers to jumping out of an aircraft or a helicopter and descending due to gravity, while using a parachute to slow down the terminal velocity. A parachute plays the pivotal role in saving the lives of the skydivers, and it is the most important factor behind the survivors of the skydiving accidents. The dive may or may not involve free fall in the initial stage to cut short the descending time. The term skydiving usually refers to this act when used for recreational purposes as a sport, and parachuting is preferentially used for professional endeavors like deployment of military personnel, fire fighters for forest fires, etc. Light aircrafts like Cessna 172 or Cessna 182 have been conventionally used by the individual jumpers. A skydiver exits the aircraft usually at an altitude between 1,000 and 4,000 meters.
1. Shayna Richardson
Shayna Richardson was born in 1984 and she was a student of skydiving from Joplin, Missouri. She attracted media attention after she survived a skydiving accident on October 9, 2005 following her first solo skydive in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. In the accident she had a free fall in a face first position in a parking lot. She was rescued and taken to a hospital in Fayetteville, Arkansas. She had multiple fractures and injuries including a pelvic fracture, leg fracture and six broken teeth. She has 15 steel plates in her body now. As she was not insured, doctors donated their time and services to save her life. In her words, ‘I went into the first surgery where they cut me from ear to ear and they cut my face down and they took out all the fractured egg-shelled bones and put in steel plates.’ It was during the surgery that the doctors came to know that she was pregnant, and whether or not the fact was known to Richardson remained controversial. On June 17, 2006, she gave birth to her child who weighed 7 pounds and 13 ounces at birth. According to doctors, he was a ‘happy, healthy little boy.”
2. Dolly Shepherd
Elizabeth Shepherd, better known as Dolly Shepherd, was born in 1887 at Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, England and died in 1983 at the age of 96 years. She started working as a waitress at Alexandra Palace in North London. Many times in her life, she opted to play dangerous games, but each time she survived. In one case when both her balloon and parachute malfunctioned, she ascended to an altitude where there was every possibility of her collapse due to cold and insufficiency of oxygen, but luckily the parachute descended safely before it was too late. In another case she jumped with another girl who, after the malfunction of her parachute, wrapped herself around Dolly, who consequentially was paralyzed temporarily and survived from a nearly fatal skydiving accident.
3. Joan Murray
Joan Murray was born in 1952 and she worked as an executive at Bank of America. She lived in Charlotte, North Carolina and she was an occasional skydiver. On September 25, 1999 she jumped from an altitude of 2.7 miles but her parachute could not open. The backup parachute opened on time but deflated soon afterwards and she fell at the speed of 80 miles per hour, onto a heap of fire ants. She was stung by the fire ants more than 200 times. This caused an abundant release of adrenaline in her blood; therefore, her heart kept on beating. She remained in a coma for two weeks at Carolina Medical Center. She survived after 17 blood transfusions and 20 reconstructive surgeries.
4. Lt. Colonel William Henry Rankin
Lt. Colonel William Henry Rankin was born on October 19, 1920 and died on July 6, 2009. He was a U.S. Marine Corps pilot and a World War II and Korean War veteran. He is considered to be the only survivor, falling from the top of Cumulonimbus thunderstorm clouds. These clouds are known for their capability to produce dangerous atmospheric conditions, including severe gusts, thunderstorms, hailstorms, torrential rain, lightning and tornadoes. On July ,1959 ,while flying from Naval Air Station of South Weymouth in Massachusetts to Marine Corps Air Station, Beaufort in South Carolina, the engines of his F-8 jet fighter failed right on top of the Cumulonimbus clouds and he was constrained to eject. He survived after severe frost bite and multiple injuries.
5. Michael Holmes
Michael Holmes is a qualified AFF instructor, tandem instructor, videographer and an experienced skydiver. On December 13, 2006 he jumped from an altitude of 14,000 feet. He was constrained to a free fall after his parachute failed to function properly. He fell in a blackberry bush and survived, although he received multiple injuries. In his words, ‘In December 2006 I had a skydiving accident, hitting the ground at a speed of around 100 kph, which should have resulted in my death. The incident was one in a million, and was amazingly recorded by my helmet camera all the way to impact and beyond. In conjunction with this, my terrifying plunge to earth was captured by another skydiver who was also filming at the time.’
6. Joe Herman
Joe Herman was an Australian Royal Air force pilot. He was flying a Royal Australian Air force Halifax on a bombing mission to destroy the German munitions factory at Bochum. Soon after he had released the bombs, he was counterattacked by the German force. His aircraft was hit and he was tossed out of his aircraft without a parachute. Falling freely, he caught the leg of the gunner who was just opening his parachute. Joe Herman survived, receiving only a few minor injuries.
7. Bahia Bakari
Bahia Bakari was a French schoolgirl who attracted the attention of the international media as the sole survivor of an Airbus A310, Yermenia Flight 626. On June 30, 2009 the plane crashed in the vicinity of the north coast of Grand Comore, Comoros. All the 152 people on board died. She was plunged into the ocean without a lifeboat or swimming experience. She clung to the plane debris and remained in the deep sea for more than thirteen hours. She was rescued by Maturaffi Selemane Libounah, a sailor of a private ship Sima Com 2. Her mother, who was also traveling with her, could not survive.
8. John Hart
John Hart 3 participated on the skydiving event at 2012 Work Stinks Boogie, on August 2012. Soon after the jump, he realized that many cords of his parachute were broken and instead of going for the reserve parachute, he decided to descend with the damaged parachute, which gave way fully in the way. Consequently he had a free fall and hit the ground, hurting him very badly. His spinal cord was fractured at three places, and he had also a pelvic fracture, while he was suffering from a collapsed lung, too. To the amazement of all medical staff and his near dear ones, he made a quick recovery miraculously, and he was fit for another jump in 2013.
9. Laverne Everett
Eighty years old, Laverne Everett went for a tandem jump to fulfill her longtime wish by skydiving on her eightieth birthday. She was a bit reluctant prior to jumping and her instructor had to push her a little. The parachute harness slipped from her left shoulder and she grasped her instructor tightly. She landed on a grassy plot and survived after suffering from only a few minor injuries. On being informed that her falling video has been viewed by more than 500,000 people, Everett told NBC News, ‘I’m in shock.’
10. Vesna Vulovic
According to the Guinness Book of Records, Vulovic holds the record as the highest fall survivor, falling without a parachute from an altitude of 33,333 feet. She was a 20-year-old JAL flight attendant on the Yugoslav Airlines DC-9, flying from Stockholm to Belgrade. An implanted bomb in the plane exploded, killing all the 28 passengers and crew on board, except her. She landed on a snow-covered mountain, causing paralysis of both her legs. After remaining in coma for 27 days, she recovered in 17 months and served Yugoslav Airlines for 20 years.
All the sports, like hiking, car racing, bungee jumping and skydiving are related to the fear factor and require lot of fearlessness on the part of the player. Courage or fearlessness is perhaps what cannot be learned through training. An untrained courageous person is a better candidate for these recreational sports, than a trained but a timid person. Contrarily, some recreational sports like fishing and indoor games, are all about tranquility, rather than thrill. Much depends upon the sportsperson, rather than the sport itself, to determine the suitability and compatibility of a sport with a sportsperson.