I guess it depends on what you mean by safe. As a student/first jump its safeish in terms of getting killed, I saw thousands of students jump and only saw one almost get killed. In terms of getting hurt in “skydiving”, that’s a little more familiar, maybe 5 – 10 of those, usually ankles and tibia/fibula breaks or sprains.
As an – expert jumper, the sport- varies considerably. Freefly has a decent rate of normally 180mph, but you can go faster. I have gone 264mph, according to my electronic altimeter.
Bellyfly has an average descent rate of 120mph, but I have gone slower than that, 96mph, according to my altimeter. Take the difference between those you get a 60mph-168mph closing speed if you mess it up. It doesn’t occur- often, but it- can arise. But not everyone free flies, or closes on significant formations.
Safety In “Skydiving“
The CReW can get dicey, where you fly canopies touching other canopies, often with your feet linked through the other person lines. The risk of tangling the two chutes, yours and theirs, is there. But it varies wildly depending on the skill and carefulness of the people doing it.
Swooping is extremely risky, where you dive at the ground, then pull out and skim across it at high speed. Some people are incredibly consistent, and for them, it is not that risky, but others are an accident waiting to happen, and it does happen — a lot.
Birdman has its risks, so does relative work, plus there’s the business of pulling at an appropriate time, maintaining your gear, dealing with malfunctions, and odd things like weather and the airplane having issues or even freefalling into an aircraft, or almost as bad an open canopy.
What Are The Things To Do?
There are several things you can do to make it safer, jump a docile canopy, don’t swoop, don’t freely. I did all of those things.
You could do other stuff to make it less safe. The BASE is a prime example, almost zero time to deal with anything that doesn’t work out, and specialized gear that needs to be selected appropriately.
More on it
I lost K (base), A (freefall), G (support), M (birdman), D (swooping), J (swooping), the guy I did my first jump with (canopy collision). Plus, I had several friends break themselves badly, K (swooping), A (landing), J (opening), J (main-reserve down plane), S (swooping), B (swooping), S (base).
Please make no mistake, its an extreme sport, its no joke, but it is fantastic too. As I said before, Swooping is extremely risky, where you dive at the ground, then pull out and skim across it at high speed.
How safe is it? It is not entirely secure, but it is pretty safe, its crazy fun, everyone should try it once. It lets you push your limits, farther than anything most people do, but darwin is there, if you don’t respect it then you will get bitten, And sometimes it is just your time, you can do everything right and still get killed.