Jumping with a video camera has many challenges, many of which are not obvious to those who decide to start jumping with one. The danger of an entanglement between the camera and parachute equipment is just one in a long list of hazards to consider. When you decide to jump with a camera, be sure to mount it so that it is as snag-proof as possible. There are lots of variables, so spend time learning about your equipment, and invest in a system that is as sleek and safe as possible.
Just about every student questions USPA’s recommendation of a C license before beginning to jump with a camera. These conversations generally start with, “I don’t see why …,” and continue from there. To fully understand why this is a recurring theme with new jumpers, you need to understand the Dunning-Kruger Effect, a type of cognitive bias in which people believe that they are smarter and more capable than they really are. Director of Information Technology Jen Sharp wrote a terrific article, “The Dunning-Kruger Effect and Its Implications for Safety in the Skydiving Industry” (July 2015 Parachutist), in which she quotes Charles Darwin, who said, “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.” This article should be required reading for every student and also for any skydiver seeking an instructional rating.
The USPA C license recommendation exists for good reasons. So, when it comes time for you to enter the world of freefall camera flying, make sure you exercise extreme caution and that you are truly ready for the challenges. The life you save could be your own!