Forums: Skydiving Disciplines: Relative Work: Re: [jcunniff] Tracking... (big-way, especially): Edit Log

mdrejhon  (C 3268)

Dec 29, 2008, 2:25 AM

Views: 4176
Re: [jcunniff] Tracking... (big-way, especially)

Thanks for the good info. Most of this stuff I already do but I am after all, only 400 jumps (+7h tunnel) and want to make it into the invitationals and records.

Now, it gets tricky when you're squeezed for the first time between two people and have to make a split-second decision:
On one occasion at a bigway camp, I got squeezed between two people in my radial (during the team tracking period). A person next to me got low and then enroached into my radial. I had a choice between staying in my tight radial (only 2 degrees of clear angle) or immediately crossing over to space that was at least 30 degrees of clear angle on the opposite side (i.e. a 30 degree section of pie that had nobody tracking). That was in the first 3 seconds of breakoff. He overrotated slightly and I overrotated slightly, so I had a choice to squeeze myself in a tight radial with ~2 degree of clear airspace room, or continue and cross over to a ~30 degree of clear airspace. I chose to crossover -- keeping a hawk eye on him 20 feet below me. By less than 5 seconds after breakoff (for a 20+ second track), I was in the middle of the roomy radial. First I apologized. Then later I wrote to Larry Henderson about this asking for more info given the circumstances, and such complex situations are a tough call -- considering both of us overrotated -- but that I intentionally decided to cross to the roomy radial in a hurry, as a preemptive action just in case he would later start to track underneath me in a tight radial of little safety margin. Correcting my overrotation was thought of but I decided to continue the crossover because there was more than 10 times as much clear airspace on the other side of him, now being squeezed myself.

Best thing is to avoid this situation in the first place.
This is often why bigway camps now use the "tracking team" technique, where groups do tracking RW for the first 5 seconds of a breakoff (staying close together: The high guys need to dive down to match the level of the lowest tracker). Usually these tracking grouips are between 2 and 5 people, often a weed whacker's worth at a time. Then after a few seconds, fan out. The purpose is to establish continuous visual contact with your tracking neighbours and make sure everyone is tracking at the same level.

However, in my case, I was the leftmost person in my tracking team and the other guy was low, so I was ending up being 'squeezed'. There are many opportunities for action, depending on the situation.
- Allow myself to be squeezed between two neighbours' tracking radials that's very tight, and being prepared/hyper-aware for evasive action (tracking longer, even to under 2000ft if necessary)
- Execute immediate evasive action to cross over to the "roomy airspace" opposite side of a low tracker that's about to go underneath me, if I'm already crowded on my radial. (Again -- only if in the very first few seconds of a breakoff, the 'tracking team' stage of a breakoff)
- Dive down to same level if he's only a few feet below, so he can establish visual contact and steer back into his radial. (only if still in the 'tracking team' stage of breakoff -- the first 5 seconds -- and he's not enroaching into my radial already)
.... There's really no one size-fits-all for all situations.

Again, this happened on only one jump, but it has lots of lessons worth learning as there are clear dangers apparent from these situations. I just accepted the comments that I crossed a tracking path, then later explained what happened to ascertain how serious the situation was, and it's never easy to determine what the right choice of action was. Given a pickle of a situation, I was told I potentially did the correct course of action, although that ideally it shouldn't have happened in the first place if *everyone* stuck to their radials.

Mistake or not? Even the organizers are not sure, given this information supplied.
Moral of the story: Jumpers need to be careful about enroaching in each other's tracking path. If you are low, don't make it complicated for the jumpers above you. The high jumper has more ability to do evasive manoevers than the lower jumper does. Work very hard at the tracking team. Have an accurate radial if you're forced to track while low -- and breakoff quickly (don't be tardy) at designated altitude if you're low. Or whatever altitude is assigned by the organizers for people who go low: i.e. breaking off along with the outers.

And finally, if you're low, please get the hell away from the formation (not to track, but put some good horizontal separation while watching the formation) if you can't maintain horizontal stability while trying to fall slow. Some people fly wildly sidesliding back and forth when they're low, like some newbie skydiver. Thanks to 7 hours of windtunnel I'm now getting good at staying still horizontally while trying to fall slow, and I've elevatored back up into my stadium more than once and continued my approach. But so many people fly wildly after they go low -- I've had myself and my neighbours taken out by people flying under the formation! Staying horizontally still while falling slow is not very easy at first, but please do the formation a favour and back away, sideslide away, or whatever reasonable evasive manoever to get the hell away from the formation so you don't take all of us out! (And please keep your head down: Looking up while low, makes you fall faster, and make you even lower faster. Looking up reduces drag and speeds up your fall. That's why you turn 90 degrees so you can keep your head down and still see formation while trying to fall slow. And if you're just two or three feet low, immediately resist the temptation to lift your head (so you don't suddenly drop low). That may mean looking up with your eyes alone, at least until you're more than a few feet low -- then you immediately turn 90 degrees, rather than tilting your head upwards. Valuable tips that can slow you by as much as a few mph in some cases. Bigway camp league stuff, most bigway veterans will be familiar with all of this. But people who are recently entering the 40-to-100-way leagues have to learn these essential skills (myself included!) of slowfall recovery.

Now I need breakoff funnel practice -- (okay, just kidding, but something I need to be prepared for) -- I've never been in a breakoff funnel before.

(This post was edited by mdrejhon on Dec 29, 2008, 2:49 AM)

Edit Log:
Post edited by mdrejhon () on Dec 29, 2008, 2:32 AM
Post edited by mdrejhon () on Dec 29, 2008, 2:34 AM
Post edited by mdrejhon () on Dec 29, 2008, 2:39 AM
Post edited by mdrejhon () on Dec 29, 2008, 2:39 AM
Post edited by mdrejhon () on Dec 29, 2008, 2:43 AM
Post edited by mdrejhon () on Dec 29, 2008, 2:49 AM

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