COVID 19 & Skydiving

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The health crisis sweeping the world is mirrored in the skydiving community…

Image – AirWax Freefly composite with COVID-19

As Europe has been declared the ‘epicentre of the pandemic’ by the WHO, radical action is in place, with many governments declaring a ‘state of emergency’. Quarantines have been introduced in some countries; in others, individuals are choosing to stay at home. Generally the same pattern has been followed European countries… some organisations in the skydiving/tunnel scene close voluntarily, so as not to be public places that pass on the infection. Sometimes the air/parachute federation closes all DZs. Then the government closes schools, and/or announces a lockdown and/or declares a state of emergency. Then all the DZs/tunnels are closed due to the situation.

Most European DZs closed

All dropzones in France, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Spain and Germany are closed.  Skydive Algarve (in Portugal), and Skydive Dubai’s two dropzones (Palm and desert) are closed. Countless wind tunnels are also closed, such as Voss Vind, Windoor, Clym (Abu Dhabi), Milan as well as all those in France, Belgium, the Netherlands. There is no real indication of when these businesses will reopen. Some are closed until the end of March but the situation will have to be reassessed at that time before reopening.  Drop zones and wind tunnels are still open in Russia but do not have many customers. The UK’s dropzones and wind tunnels are still open as of today, Monday 16 March. Update: 23 March, British Skydiving advised the UK to stop skydiving activities.

USA & Australia

In the USA and Australia, it seems most DZs and wind tunnels are still open for the moment, and are waiting to follow the lead set by the airlines. But Skydive Perris cancelled Safety Day and their Freshmeet. Skydive Spaceland broadcast their Safety Day seminars on a live stream. Skydive San Diego announced it will be closed until 3 April. Update – Skydive Perris closed on 17 March. 

Events cancelled

Almost all countries are limiting gatherings – groups of more than 5, or 50, 500 or even 5,000 participants. With some countries closing borders and airlines stopping flights to some areas it is hard or impossible to travel.

The Bodyflight Bedford World Challenge and the Indoor Skydiving World Cup at Airspace, Belgium, are both cancelled, with a hope to reschedule the World Challenge. The Shamrock Showdown (Florida, USA) and the German Indoor Skydiving Nationals were cancelled. Many skydiving events in March and April and May are cancelled or under threat.

Economics

Of course the crisis will badly affect the skydiving economy, with a large loss of income to drop zones, wind tunnels, instructors, tunnel coaches, packers, event organisers, etc. Manufacturers and retailers are also likely to be hit as gear-related sales have reduced and will continue to fall.

Perhaps though the enforced break from work routine will yield interesting and positive results. It forces us to think more creatively – about how to be productive remotely, how to divide tasks with a physically separated workforce and how to keep the team pulling together. It may spark off new practices in future. And many people can now find the time to cross a lot of things off their ‘To-Do’ List.

Outlook

We can expect disruption to all events and skydiving/tunnel activity for the next month. Beyond that we cannot predict, it depends on the world medical situation. If you hope to attend an event in the near future, check out its status (try online, don’t all email the organiser or it will be chaos). If the event is in June or beyond, sit tight for a month, don’t pester the organise/DZ and see what happens. It’s too early to speculate about the World Championships etc. As a community, I’m sure we will support each other; refunding enforced cancellations, minimising financial losses, and staying in touch online for vital human contact.

COVID-19 Cases are spreading exponentially

What Can We Do?

As a tight-knit community we can ether be responsible for helping the virus spread like wildfire or damping it down. We can follow the sanitation advice online. We can all choose to self-quarantine for 2 weeks. The number of confirmed cases is doubling in a matter of days in most countries, meaning an exponential growth. Each person with the virus is infecting 2 to 3 others, so 60,000 people can be infected by one person in 10 cycles – 14 million in 15 cycles. (The ‘R-0’ value shows how contagious the disease is and is estimated between R2 and R3.11) . If we can collectively lower the R-0 to less than one, the outbreak will start to peter out.

I realise self-isolation will have a poor economic effect on many individuals and businesses – but we have no idea of the possible economic effect of the virus continuing to spread (never mind the loss to life). As Shannon said his Facebook post today, “Either you hunker down and help flatten the curve or you remain part of the problem”

Either you hunker down and help flatten the curve or you remain part of the problem”

Shannon Harn-Noy Pilcher

Very few things unite people and countries like a shared catastrophe or enemy to fight. COVID-19 is both. This is when we see the true power of the human spirit.

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Meet: Lesley Gale

Lesley has been in love with skydiving for 35 years. She is a multiple world and national record holder and a coach on 20 successful record events worldwide. She has over 100 competition medals spanning more than 25 years and has been on the British 8-way National team at World events. She started Skydive Mag to spread knowledge, information and passion about our amazing sport.
Lesley is delighted to be sponsored by Performance Designs, Sun Path, Cypres, Cookie, Symbiosis suits and Larsen & Brusgaard

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