Skydivers return to Arizona site where 2 died

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 4, 2013 at 6:33 pm •  Published: December 4, 2013
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Skydive Arizona, between Phoenix and Tucson, has become one of the nation's top skydiving spots since it opened in the 1980s. The location is ideal because the weather almost always cooperates, providing clear, sunny skies most days of the year. And the vast, uninhabited desert provides plenty of jumping opportunities.

Skydive Arizona bills itself as having the largest aircraft fleet in the world for skydivers with 12 planes, as well as the world's largest drop zone.

Company officials said in a statement there were no problems related to the aircraft or equipment, and the weather was optimal at the time of the deaths, which occurred on the group's fifth jump of the day. They declined to comment further.

Participants in this week's event said the setting sun around the time of Tuesday's jump was bright and might have caused the victims to lose sight of each other. They also noted it's important during group jumps to not get caught up in taking in the scenery.

"The first thing I do is look around," said Martial Ferre, from France. "I don't enjoy the view of this desert of Arizona. I just look for the others, and I look for a safe landing zone."

As he carried around his parachute gear after a group jump Wednesday with about 180 others, Ferre said getting back in the air was the right thing to do after the tragedy.

"We had to increase the morale of everybody," said Ferre, who was close friends with the victims. "The first thing that we did was to ask people, 'Do we want to continue jumping?' Everybody wanted to get back into action to bring this record in memory of these two guys."

According to the United States Parachute Association, there were 19 fatal skydiving accidents in the U.S. in 2012 out of roughly 3.1 million jumps as the industry's safety record continues to improve. In the 1970s, the sport averaged about 42 skydiving deaths per year.



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