A randomized controlled trial published in the reputable medical journal BMJ in December 2018 proved that whether or not you use a parachute when you jump out of a plane or helicopter made no difference in the rate of death or serious injury.
Sound weird? It’s true! It’s a real study! It was called the concluded that ” Parachute use did not reduce death or major traumatic injury when jumping from aircraft in the first randomized evaluation of this intervention.”
That seems to fly in the face of all conventional wisdom, doesn’t it? Here’s a look at their actual data:
So how can this be? Let’s look critically at this study:
Small Sample Size – 11 people jumped with a parachute and 12 jumped with an empty backpack acting as a control group. That’s not a very large group, so it’s expected that it would be difficult to get a significant result in such a small group. Further, those groups were split roughly in half between airplanes and helicopters.
Generalizeability – This study only looks at domestic flights, not international, and doesn’t include any jetliners. It only looks at small biplanes and helicopter. This limits the application of the data pretty severely.
But the biggest concern with this study is the unsaid assumptions about jumping out of an airplane with a parachute. Have you figured it out yet? All the participants jumped out of planes and helicopters ON THE GROUND.
Sometimes a key piece of information is missing, and without realizing it you fill in the gaps with what seems logical, or what fits with your experience. In fact, if this hadn’t been so far out there, you might have been convinced that parachutes were very ineffective.
Always take a step back and look clearly and what is – and is not – obviously stated in the study!