Forums: Skydiving: Tandem Skydiving: 1st time tandem landing, broken ankle, would solo landing be easier?: Edit Log


Apr 27, 2012, 8:23 AM

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1st time tandem landing, broken ankle, would solo landing be easier?

I'm from the TX area and earlier this week was my first time skydiving. I wanted to do my first jump solo but unfortunately was told by the DZ that that was only offered on the weekends. So I went with a tandem jump instead.

When I got there, winds were calm, clear skies all around, absolutely beautiful weather and temperatures.

The tandem instructor I was paired with happened to be one of the more experienced, with I think 5,000+ jumps.

He briefed me on the basics, put me in a blue jumpsuit, and I had to put on that silly looking hat... basically it was pretty fast paced in less than half an hour after I got to the DZ we were already up in the air (not a lot of other tandem jumpers that day, so loading went quick)

The jump itself went perfect. I arched when I was supposed to... everything was stabilized. The instructor didn't forget to deploy the drogue chute or miss a strap or d-link.

Freefall was by far the best part... but I honestly felt it was way too short. I understand for safety reasons (in case he had to cutaway) tandem pulls happen at 5,500ft... but I don't think our airplane ever reached the max of 13,500 ft when we jumped out... barely even 13,000ft... I would have liked longer freefall experience. But oh well.

Even though I had those goggles on and was wearing them correctly, I lost a contact lenses on the way down during free fall shortly after we reached terminal velocity. I have no idea how that could have happened but I guess the wind must have went in on the sides.

During the glide down to earth the straps felt way too tight for comfort... The instructor said that was to prevent me from falling out... I didn't believe him until I got home and researched this and found out there were passengers that have fallen out of their tandem suits/harness before..

Landing didn't seem a big deal at all until I hit the ground and broken/sprained/fractured my ankle really badly...

I've been basically resting the last couple of days and had some time to think about how this incident might have happened and how it could be or could have been avoided or mitigated.

At only 5'11" I'm actually at least three if not four inches TALLER than my tandem instructor. I didn't weight him but they DID weight me, and I was at 199lbs (just under the 200 limit were I would be fined extra for the jump, and 11+ more lbs I wouldn't have been able to jump at all) I'm not fat or rotund, just heavy.

I mean it doesn't help matters that I was both taller and heavier than my instructor by a significant amount... not only does that tilt the center of gravity, it also means a faster fall rate (harder landing) and who knows I have a big head (no kidding, they had to get me the largest hat and even then it barely fit) and I might have blocked some of his visibility...

Between the tight straps, the jump suit and just the overall position of being suspended in the air during the glide to final approach I really had a very hard time of "bringing my knees up", or "bringing my legs up" and then "pointing my toes towards the ground"...

During the brief classroom instruction I was told to keep both my feet and knees together, bring legs up during landing, and keep toes pointing forward... That was easy to do under normal circumstances, but in that suit and with those death grip straps it was nearly impossible to do...

I told the instructor this prior to final approach and he told me to use my hands and grab onto those funky looking green tube-like things on the sides of my leg/thigh on the blue suit itself to basically "pull myself/my legs Up" ... I did this during his flare and I thought everything would go smoothly...

Then he surprised me by saying that we are doing a sit down, at the very last moment.... next thing I know my butt slams the ground, and seemingly at the same moment my right foot/ankle got hurt really bad.

On our way down I chatted with him a bit about the accuracy of his landing ability... he told me he had a stadium rating or something like that and could land within meters of where he intended to land.... I took that to mean he could also provide the softest landing possible... I was less concerned about accuracy and more about gentleness on impact with ground. During classroom he briefed me on the procedure for a standup landing, but not a PLC (I didn't even know what that term was until much later when I read the SIM about types of landing techniques) ... so went he told me we were during a sit down at the very last possible moment, I had no time to react, and even if I did have time, I wouldn't have know what exactly to do....

I think all that coupled with the fact that I've never been a very flexible person (in terms of legs, stretching, arms, etc) meant that under those tight straps it was not possible for me to keep my feet closely together, and I could only bring up my legs with the help of my arms, and when pulling up by the side of my jumpsuit on each side of the thigh, this caused my feet to orient outwards/split.... (as opposed to ideally be straight and pointed directly forward) and on impact that was what strained/fractured my ankle/foot....

The instructor was so concerned about a possible "face plant" (that was what he called it) if my feet hit the ground first and we toppled over, that he obsessed about getting my feet up to the point where I forgot the actual landing/impact and the position/angle of my feet upon impact.

There was a girl beside me doing tandem with another instructor and she had a stand up landing and I felt really bad about myself.

I never intend on doing tandem again (in fact I never wanted to do tandem in the first place, but it was the only option under those circumstances)

Is solo landing any easier? I see others doing perfect running landings, stand up landings at the DZ all the time that morning when I first drove in..... it doesn't seem that difficult at all....

Ironically, is tandem landings more dangerous than solo landings if the passenger is both taller and heavier than the instructor? I see videos on the net all the time when this petite lady just rests on top of her bigger, taller male tandem instructor and she just lands as light as a feather..... in my case it was lopsided and I was larger than my instructor, and believe me it was NOT a soft landing by any means.

Would landing have been easier had I done this on my own instead of worrying about making sure my instructors feet landed first before I was allowed to make contact with the ground?

(This post was edited by bochen280 on Apr 27, 2012, 9:30 AM)

Edit Log:
Post edited by bochen280 () on Apr 27, 2012, 9:30 AM

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