SKYDIVING SAFETY: Plane vs. parachutist crash revives debate - KMSP-TV

SKYDIVING SAFETY: Plane vs. parachutist crash revives debate

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The photographs out of the Tampa area are so dramatic, they almost seem unreal -- but the major mishap that pitted a plane vs. a parachutist is reviving discussions of skydiving safety.

Just last November, another near-miss captured the attention of skydiving enthusiasts everywhere after two planes collided above the twin ports of Duluth, Minn., and Superior, Wis.

The United States Parachute Association is the organization that nearly everyone in the sport of skydiving looks to for the basics, and Saturday was its nationwide Safety Day -- but on the day when the focus was on doing things the right way, someone did something very, very wrong in Florida.

Video frames captured the incredible collision of a solo-piloted plane and a skydiver with a parachute moment by moment.

"It was very fortunate they both walked away from it," Barry Sinex told Fox 9 News via Skype. "I thought that was awesome."

Sinex knows a thing or two about surviving skydiving accidents. He was one of 11 skydivers that lived to tell about the mid-air collision in Minnesota, and he's also a skydiving instructor. He told Fox 9 News he won't let one near-death experience keep him from the sport he loves.

"It's 10 times safer than riding a motorcycle on the highway," he said. "It's three times safer than driving a car. So, as far as safety in sport goes, it's improved dramatically over the years -- but accidents are still going to happen."

According to the USPA, there were 19 skydiving deaths in 2012. Those who love the sport are quick to point out that's out of more than 3 million jumps.

"It's very, very safe if you follow the rules," former Navy Seal Isaiah Maring said.

Maring, who is a current member of a highly-skilled parachuting team, doesn't want anyone who was considering a skydiving attempt this year to be deterred by a few high-profile incidents.

"It's just about head's up -- always pay attention, situational awareness when you're going," Maring said. "If you are going to go tandem -- safest way to go the first time -- just make sure it's at a reputable drop zone."

In fact, Sinex actually declined to jump at the same Tampa area airport where the crash occurred a few years ago because he thought the landing area was too close to the runway.

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