"Skydiving, since I've started jumping, is roughly 20 times safer," inventor Bill Booth claimed. "I don't know of anything else that's gotten that much safer that quickly."
That increase in safety is thanks, in part, to work done by Booth himself.
Booth invented a three-ring release system that detaches a skydiver from a malfunctioning parachute quickly, efficiently, and with one hand. "When you have a malfunction, time is of essence," Booth said in a video interview with The Huffington Post. "You might be going to the ground at 175 feet a second, which means every second and a half you do a football field." Booth estimates that a skydiver's main parachute malfunctions one out of every 1,000 jumps.
Booth has been skydiving for almost 50 years, and has made over 6,500 jumps in that time. He has dedicated his life to the sport, but originally discovered it by chance.
"I was 19 years old, and while driving on a road, a parachute landed in front of me. I almost ran the guy over," Booth said. "I gave him a ride back to the drop zone, and two hours later, I was up in an airplane making my first parachute jump, and haven't stopped since."
Even though Booth has improved skydiving's safety, it's still somewhat dangerous. "We're not allowed to say that it's safe. It's safer than it used to be," he said. "It's safer than some things, and it's more dangerous than others."
Now Booth runs a large company that makes parachute equipment and has around 12 patents on safety equipment. "I'm amazed that in 40 years, no one's come up with anything better."