Drowning has been among the most lethal events in paramotor flying up until 2017 when flotation became common. But there’s more to it. This video includes testing where a bunch of pilots actually go into the water with sometimes surprising outcomes.
Statistics do suggest that flotation is the difference between life and death, even when it doesn’t completely inflate. Those numbers represent a small sample, though, so it’s not surprising that life-saving results are far from guaranteed as you’ll see. Even here, where a guy gets out of his paramotor quickly, all it would take is one single line to snag a leg and cancel that quick escape. A hook knife may save the day, but getting to it and wielding it are a lot harder in the adrenalin-fueled fog of submersion. Especially if we haven’t just rehearsed it.