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200-way incidents, Arizona

 

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bryanburke  (D 8866)

Dec 8, 2013, 3:10 PM
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200-way incidents, Arizona Can't Post

I'm making this a separate post to cover a few things other than the fatal collision. However, I want to address some of the questions that came up regarding the collision.

Jumper A had a Pilot at a 1.6 wing loading and Jumper B was on a Sabre 2 at 1.4.

I was unable to find a single eye witness to determine what they were doing before they collided. I heard rumors that someone saw one doing a left pattern and one a right, but never was able to confirm that.

It was about 35 minutes before sunset, so the sun was low in the SW. It's there all winter at that time, and of course low in the southeast in the AM, and not very high in the soutn mid-day. Nobody has ever considered it a hazard, or at least not an unmanageble one. The alternative was to point the landing indicators north, which would have put 200 people landing with a 3 to 5 mph quartering tail wind.

The North landing area was in fact closed to all but camera flyers to prevent confusion. After the first day or two it was determined that all landings would be either north or south. This gives the formation the longest and widest possible runway to land on.

On formations over two plane size, we intentionally try to put the spot a little "off" so people have to fly straight to get back. It's hard to do this with precision when the lead plane is working with a 60 mph west wind on jump run, but we want to run south so everyone will be over clear ground rather than over the runway if the spot goes long. In this case it was a little too good, almost over the top. This put a lot of people above the dz.

A 200 way has a break-off spread about two miles across at opening altitude. The people on the outside are landing a mile away from the opposite side. The break-offs looked pretty good to me, with few low pulls. Lots of people on the perimeter will choose (or be forced) to land pretty far out. The ones in the interior don't always have that choice.

The vast majority of the people landing at that time were lined up cleanly on a straight in final. I have no idea how the two collided since my back was to the collision. I was watching one of two cutaways to spot the gear when I heard them hit each other.

The third incident was separate but on the same load; a low flare with a crushed L1. Full recovery expected.

Two days earlier there was an open tib/fib fracture. I interviewed the jumper later. He was on a Pilot 111 at a 1.58 wing loading. (He had upsized from his Sensei 91 for the large formation.) He reported that another jumper S turned in front of him, causing him to turn as well, but he still hit their wake and lost lift.

Personally I'm very concerned that the cult of high wing loading is way out of hand. There were ten reserve rides in the seven day period. The figures are slightly skewed because the guy with the most jumps in the malfunction group, 11,000, had two. This put us at an average of one malfunction every 721 jumps, for that week, about 20% worse than normal. Over the course of a year, high wing loading is by far the biggest cause of malfunctions here.

The average main wing loading among the reserve riders was 1.8, with a low of 1.28, a high of 2.29, and a median of 1.87. On the reserves, the average was 1.55, low was 1.11, high was 2.07, and median was 1.6. All had AADs; I'm not sure they'll save lives at those wing loadings.

Two of the nine reserve riders were women. They were the two lowest wing loadings, well within manufacturers recommendations.

Among the seven men, two exceeded the manufacturer's expert w.l. recommendations AND the absolute max weight on their mains. One was at absolute max (TSO limit) on his reserve, at 2.07. Six of seven men exceeded the recommended wing loading for experts on the main. Five of seven exceeded the expert recommendation on the reserve.

I'll have more on this topic after all the numbers are in for the year.

Bryan Burke
S&TA


yoink

Dec 8, 2013, 5:25 PM
Post #2 of 34 (10138 views)
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Re: [bryanburke] 200-way incidents, Arizona [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks Bryan.

Fanstastic to see some solid data, even for a small sample size. I'd be really interested to see the annual figures.

You know of course, that it'll show that guys are much more aggressive in their canopy choices, and that those choices correlate pretty closely to malfunction and injury rates?
And I'm sure you also know that the people who could most make use of that data, won't... WinkSly

'It doesn't apply to me because x, y, z'...


parachutist  (D 25468)

Dec 8, 2013, 8:44 PM
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Re: [bryanburke] 200-way incidents, Arizona [In reply to] Can't Post

bryanburke wrote:
crushed L1. Full recovery expected.

Maybe descriptions like this are why newer jumpers don't really fear injuries as they should. People who break vertebrae are usually going to experience a long recovery accompanied by lots of pain and sometimes severe complications. These injured people don't pop back into 100%, good as new, which is how most will interpret Full recovery.

I'd rather newer jumpers read this as the reality that I've witnessed over my 15 years in the sport: crushed L1, expected 3 months intensive rehab, followed by 1-3 years pain management adaptation, and eventual realization of never recovering 100%, but getting back to mostly fully functional.


mjosparky  (D 5476)

Dec 8, 2013, 9:31 PM
Post #4 of 34 (9514 views)
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Re: [bryanburke] 200-way incidents, Arizona [In reply to] Can't Post

Quote:
The average main wing loading among the reserve riders was 1.8, with a low of 1.28, a high of 2.29, and a median of 1.87. On the reserves, the average was 1.55, low was 1.11, high was 2.07, and median was 1.6. All had AADs; I'm not sure they'll save lives at those wing loadings.

This is sad. In other aspects of their lives they probably make sound decisions. To afford the cost of big ways today they would have to be fairly sharp. Then they make a choice on a reserve size that offers no advantage other than a fashion statement. Its hard to understand the reasoning.

Sparky


grimmie  (D 18890)

Dec 8, 2013, 11:37 PM
Post #5 of 34 (9316 views)
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Re: [bryanburke] 200-way incidents, Arizona [In reply to] Can't Post

Bryan,
How well were the 3 injuries/fatalities on the same load responded to and did it overwhelm the FD EMS response? Did it overwhelm the DZ's excellent response system? Were all 3 helicoptered out? I know there are usually doctors, medics, EMT's and nurses on the big ways. Was there "extra" help?

I have always been alarmed when there is a serious accident and some DZ's allow jumping to continue, as another mishap will not be responded to as well with enough personnel and equipment.

Thanks for the excellent report as always.


CSpenceFLY  (D 25252)

Dec 9, 2013, 8:24 AM
Post #6 of 34 (8455 views)
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Re: [parachutist] 200-way incidents, Arizona [In reply to] Can't Post

parachutist wrote:
bryanburke wrote:
crushed L1. Full recovery expected.

Maybe descriptions like this are why newer jumpers don't really fear injuries as they should. People who break vertebrae are usually going to experience a long recovery accompanied by lots of pain and sometimes severe complications. These injured people don't pop back into 100%, good as new, which is how most will interpret Full recovery.

I'd rather newer jumpers read this as the reality that I've witnessed over my 15 years in the sport: crushed L1, expected 3 months intensive rehab, followed by 1-3 years pain management adaptation, and eventual realization of never recovering 100%, but getting back to mostly fully functional.

I agree completely. I have a 30% compression fracture of T-12 from back in the early 2000s. Over a year before I wasn't conscious of it every day. Nagging pain much of the time and I can predict the weather now.


bryanburke  (D 8866)

Dec 9, 2013, 5:34 PM
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Re: [grimmie] 200-way incidents, Arizona [In reply to] Can't Post

Our practice on this type of jump is to have one safety guy stationed at the south landing area and one at the north. They secure the landing direction indicators. Both positions have direct radio contact to Eloy FD and both have first aid kits with all the usual BLS stuff. We don't go through the 911 system and haven't for almost 20 years. SDAZ and Eloy FD have a level of trust and cooperation that I am very proud of.

Normally the safety guys just look for cutaways, hard landings, and so on. There were two cutaways on the load. My associate was watching the one to the south east, while I watched the one to the south west, so we could track the gear and recover it quickly.

When I heard the collision north of me, I spun around and saw the two jumpers (only one was visible but obviously two canopies were entangled) spinning down. I jumped in my chase vehicle and grabbed the Eloy FD radio. They (Eloy Fire) knew there was a two person, serious situation before I got to the scene and they scrambled immediately.

Eloy Fire is about seven minutes away. They immediately put Casa Grande's helicopters on stand-by. I'm pretty sure they launched three trucks before they even knew of the second scene, but I'm not positive. They usually send two to any one situation that might involve a life flight.

When I got there, after a quick survey I was pretty sure both jumpers from the collision were dead. A capable team of first responders was already converging on them, clearing the parachutes and exposing the jumpers. An anesthesiologist who was clearly very familiar with CPR in it's current form was supervising the response. (Not that CPR has an effect when people code from trauma, but they gave it their best and it was well done.)

As I usually do if there are capable first responders, I went to the radios to sort out the response: paperwork with names, meds, allergies, etc. along with watching the airspace. It was the last load of the day, so other activity was no factor. It was at this point that I told Eloy FD that my scene probably would not need helicopters. You don't tie up that kind of resource for dead guys, but they did keep them standing by, and soon launched one to the secondary accident.

For the record, over the years I've been EMT, Ski Patrol, and Wilderness First Responder certified. None are current, card wise, but I keep up with the changes and get a lot of hands on experience.

Two ambulances - maybe three - were already on the way to my location, along with a supervisor in a smaller truck, when it became apparent that a third, separate incident was taking place at the South landing area. My colleague at that end also has good training and experience, including teaching Red Cross First Aid, so he had it well in hand. At the south area, they determined to send that person off by helicopter to Phoenix, where we have two level one trauma centers.

Eloy FD does a great job. They are about seven minutes away and responded, as always, immediately and effectively to a very complex situation. We had one vehicle per casualty within minutes and back-up from the supervisor's trucks. The Eloy Fire District covers a huge swath of I-10 and a large prison complex, so they are not just a small town outfit. They give us everything we need and were on top of their game that afternoon.

Finally, I have to agree with the poster who questioned my statement, "full recovery expected." Yes, as full as you can expect from a broken back, or a shattered femur, or skull fractures. Coming back from injuries takes a long time, and they will haunt you forever. Best not to count on the surgeons to patch you up. Life will never be the same after a major injury.

Looking back, we would not have done anything differently and we could not ask for, or expect, a better response from Eloy FD. The bottom line is that you can do everything right, and people still get hurt or die.

Bryan


grimmie  (D 18890)

Dec 9, 2013, 8:11 PM
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Re: [bryanburke] 200-way incidents, Arizona [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks Bryan. I hope all DZO's reading this will take the time to review their emergency response system and management of incidents.

And to any DZO's out there that need assistance with an emergency plan for your DZ, please feel free to contact me, or Bryan.


yoink

Dec 9, 2013, 9:24 PM
Post #9 of 34 (7124 views)
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Re: [bryanburke] 200-way incidents, Arizona [In reply to] Can't Post

bryanburke wrote:
Looking back, we would not have done anything differently and we could not ask for, or expect, a better response from Eloy FD. The bottom line is that you can do everything right, and people still get hurt or die.

Bryan


Hi Bryan,

not to second guess - what are the winds like at Eloy at sunset?
Are they regularly low enough that you could set a landing direction out of the low sun for these type of events?


flyingmontana  (D 31509)

Dec 9, 2013, 10:10 PM
Post #10 of 34 (7078 views)
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Re: [bryanburke] 200-way incidents, Arizona [In reply to] Can't Post

The jumper who crushed his L1 landed just behind me, seconds after I did. Literally within MOMENTS the guy in the truck was at his side with first aid equipment. Anyone who had medical expertise ran to help until the ambulance arrived.
I was impressed by the quick response, and impressed all week by Bryan and his staff's care and concern for our safety. Eloy is a great place to do big ways, and although the sun was in my eyes on morning and sunset loads, I always had (and took) the option of landing far out in the desert, where a truck soon picked me up every time. Thank you Bryan for the meticulous and clearly conveyed information you've posted here.


Premier Remster  (C License)

Dec 10, 2013, 3:28 AM
Post #11 of 34 (6761 views)
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Re: [yoink] 200-way incidents, Arizona [In reply to] Can't Post

yoink wrote:
bryanburke wrote:
Looking back, we would not have done anything differently and we could not ask for, or expect, a better response from Eloy FD. The bottom line is that you can do everything right, and people still get hurt or die.

Bryan


Hi Bryan,

not to second guess - what are the winds like at Eloy at sunset?
Are they regularly low enough that you could set a landing direction out of the low sun for these type of events?

From the 1st post:
Quote:
It was about 35 minutes before sunset, so the sun was low in the SW. It's there all winter at that time, and of course low in the southeast in the AM, and not very high in the soutn mid-day. Nobody has ever considered it a hazard, or at least not an unmanageble one. The alternative was to point the landing indicators north, which would have put 200 people landing with a 3 to 5 mph quartering tail wind.


yoink

Dec 10, 2013, 8:55 AM
Post #12 of 34 (6266 views)
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Re: [Remster] 200-way incidents, Arizona [In reply to] Can't Post

Remster wrote:
From the 1st post:
Quote:
It was about 35 minutes before sunset, so the sun was low in the SW. It's there all winter at that time, and of course low in the southeast in the AM, and not very high in the soutn mid-day. Nobody has ever considered it a hazard, or at least not an unmanageble one. The alternative was to point the landing indicators north, which would have put 200 people landing with a 3 to 5 mph quartering tail wind.

D'oh! Missed that.


Wharewaka  (D License)

Dec 10, 2013, 3:53 PM
Post #13 of 34 (5806 views)
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Re: [bryanburke] 200-way incidents, Arizona [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi Bryan,

Thank you for your post and your serious work with skydiving safety.

I have recently had to experience a fatality of a skydiver I knew where he decided not to use an AAD and It seems pretty clear the AAD could have saved him (from reading the investigation), I think no matter what his wing loading was he would have stood a better chance of surviving if he had used an AAD. Could you please clarify your statement below?

"The average main wing loading among the reserve riders was 1.8, with a low of 1.28, a high of 2.29, and a median of 1.87. On the reserves, the average was 1.55, low was 1.11, high was 2.07, and median was 1.6. All had AADs; I'm not sure they'll save lives at those wing loadings."

I am not trying to say your push towards bigger reserves and mains is wrong, absolutely not, but I think to say that sometimes an AAD might be useless if your wing loading is high might be wrong?


jsaxton  (D 26818)

Dec 10, 2013, 4:15 PM
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Re: [Wharewaka] 200-way incidents, Arizona [In reply to] Can't Post

he probably means that landing unconscious (aad fire) with reserves at those wing loadings would likely be a fatal incident.


bryanburke  (D 8866)

Dec 10, 2013, 9:03 PM
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Re: [Wharewaka] 200-way incidents, Arizona [In reply to] Can't Post

Those who know me are well aware that my take on many issues, including safety, can be rather sardonic. I feel that someone landing unconscious on a reserve at a 1.8 wing loading is unlikely to dust themselves off and walk away after they wake up. More likely they'll spend the rest of their life on life support or go through years of rehabilitation. Then again, that's just an opinion. We don't have a big enough data base to draw solid conclusions. Maybe it will work out just fine.

In my opinion, to have an AAD when you are jumping a reserve at 1.8 is to make a mockery of sound safety choices. Maybe it makes your mom feel better because that's something she understands - cool, a gadget that will pull the reserve if you can't! And then that reserve will fly you into the ground at a terrifying speed.

That said, if you look at the Vigil and Cypres web sites for real saves, it's amazing how many fully functional people were unable to locate or pull their reserve handle after they cut away. And of course there are scores of real saves where the people were incapacitated or unaware. I'm not saying AADs are a bad idea. I like AADs.

I'm just saying that there are other equipment choices people make that, in my opinion, have a lot more influence on their safety. Again, looking at the incident record, a lot more skydivers would have been saved by a bigger parachute over their head than by an AAD.

If I had to recommend equipment configurations for best survival prospects, it would go something like this:

Main wing loading less than 1.4, with 1.0 to 1.2 ideal. Pack it yourself, maintain it carefully, and deploy it carefully. If you have a 7-cell you may never even have line twists, let alone a cutaway.

RSL and/or Skyhook.

Reserve at 1.0 to 1.2.

Wear a helmet, even on solo jumps.

AAD.

All but the low wing loadings are considered cool. (Well OK, RSLs not so much, especially on highly loaded mains. But they should be cool because they work.) Why is that conservative wing loadings are not cool? I have not been able to get a grip on this issue. Sure, fast sporty parachutes are fun. So is walking. I've been thinking about it a lot and plan to publish some thoughts on the wing loading issue as soon as I have some time. That could be a while.

Like I said, I'm trying to gather data on this whole wing loading thing. If you have a well considered opinion or some interesting facts, please e-mail me.

Bryan


"Verily I say unto you, no prophet is accepted in his own country."


Wharewaka  (D License)

Dec 10, 2013, 11:07 PM
Post #16 of 34 (5270 views)
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Re: [bryanburke] 200-way incidents, Arizona [In reply to] Can't Post

I just want to say: To say that to choose not to use an AAD because the reserve is small and you might not make it anyway if you land unconscious is a bad argument and because you have so many smart things to say this stands out (for me).
To die because you lost altitude awareness and didn't pull your parachute in time, having made the choice not to use an AAD due to having high wing loading on the reserve would be a bit silly maybe?

An old argument was also that the reserves (parachutes) will somehow automatically land downwind if no input is done...so AAD would not be useful anyway..
Wrong eh?

I think it's a good idea to use an AAD, no matter what gear you use.


Andy9o8  (D License)

Dec 11, 2013, 2:18 AM
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Re: [Wharewaka] 200-way incidents, Arizona [In reply to] Can't Post

You're still misunderstanding what Bryan's saying about AADs, and over-focusing on his choice of phrasing-for-effect. He isn't advocating not having an AAD at higher reserve wingloadings. He specifically says he thinks having an AAD is a good idea. He's simply saying that if you're too incapacitated to pilot and flare an imprudently highly-loaded reserve, the fact that its deployment was activated by an AAD won't improve your chances of having an acceptably soft landing.


Wharewaka  (D License)

Dec 11, 2013, 2:57 AM
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Re: [Andy9o8] 200-way incidents, Arizona [In reply to] Can't Post

You are right but anyway wanted to say this because I know of two people who's deaths affected a lot of people and no AAD was used simply for stupid reasons.


Boogers

Dec 11, 2013, 9:52 AM
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Re: [bryanburke] 200-way incidents, Arizona [In reply to] Can't Post

bryanburke wrote:
I've been thinking about it a lot and plan to publish some thoughts on the wing loading issue as soon as I have some time. That could be a while.

We should lock you up in a room with food and wine so that you have the time to give us the benefit of your experience! Wink




Bluhdow  (B 37052)

Dec 11, 2013, 2:04 PM
Post #21 of 34 (4230 views)
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Re: [ChrisD] 200-way incidents, Arizona [In reply to] Can't Post

This thread has nothing to do with pro/anti AAD arguments. Most everyone is pro AAD so you can stop defending them now.

His point was that landing unconcious under a highly-loaded reserve is going to be bad...so don't let your AAD provide you with a false sense of security.


Andy9o8  (D License)

Dec 11, 2013, 3:07 PM
Post #22 of 34 (4098 views)
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Re: [Bluhdow] 200-way incidents, Arizona [In reply to] Can't Post

Bluhdow wrote:
This thread has nothing to do with pro/anti AAD arguments. Most everyone is pro AAD so you can stop defending them now.

His point was that landing unconcious under a highly-loaded reserve is going to be bad...so don't let your AAD provide you with a false sense of security.

This is now the second time we've had to explain this to the reading comprehension impaired.
Enough, people. This is an excellent thread. Let's keep it that way.


ChrisD  (No License)

Dec 11, 2013, 7:06 PM
Post #23 of 34 (3778 views)
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Re: [Bluhdow] 200-way incidents, Arizona [In reply to] Can't Post

Bluhdow wrote:
This thread has nothing to do with pro/anti AAD arguments. Most everyone is pro AAD so you can stop defending them now.

His point was that landing unconcious under a highly-loaded reserve is going to be bad...so don't let your AAD provide you with a false sense of security.

I agree with ya.

The stuff about the Big Sky thing stands however. It's like this, if you could indulge me for a moment...

I start to make my decisions about where I am headed in heavy traffic almost before my canopy is fully open. I don't touch my slider, ever....

Why??

Because you need every second to put your head on a swivel and waiting is the last thing that anyone in heavy traffic should be doing. You need to decide early, fast, and be prepared to change heading instantly. The sky is not as big as it seems. The time spent focusing on anything other than avoidance is the time that killed these poor people. The tip off is when I hear the words landing pattern and see the vid of multiple people heading for space near the "normal" landing areas. It's all over the place now, all yo have to see is how so many have bunched up in certain areas.

Time is spent on anticipating 60 seconds ahead of where and when your going to be, time is spent totally absorbed in avoiding others and where they might be in a few moments.

Rarely in heavy traffic am I the one making the decision where to go. Someone close or anyone even with the slightest "LOOK" that they could potentially come a little to close to comfort, and I have already moved away to cleaner airspace. This is what I do in the first 60 seconds taking advantage of the big air theory.

This is why these events are scheduled there, to take advantage of the space.

But we have yet again seen the tragic outcome of when the basic plan isn't followed by a few well meaning individuals.

Your actions affect everyone else, this is the pool table theory. This is what is and has been missing in this discussion.

C

IMO

A number of people have already pointed out how there is a truck to get you, and the vastness of the scrub, hearing things like this just brings my blood to a full boil because this kind of talk shouldn't even be necessary to point out!

Everyone should be out (Period)

and if you don't like the potential of landing downwind or cross wind because you'll end up a mile away, then don't participate.


(This post was edited by ChrisD on Dec 11, 2013, 8:14 PM)


mjosparky  (D 5476)

Dec 12, 2013, 1:02 AM
Post #24 of 34 (3504 views)
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Re: [bryanburke] 200-way incidents, Arizona [In reply to] Can't Post

Quote:
Like I said, I'm trying to gather data on this whole wing loading thing. If you have a well considered opinion or some interesting facts, please e-mail me.

Bryan, PM me an email address.

Sparky


winsor  (D 13715)

Dec 12, 2013, 4:15 AM
Post #25 of 34 (3354 views)
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Re: [Andy9o8] 200-way incidents, Arizona [In reply to] Can't Post

Andy9o8 wrote:
You're still misunderstanding what Bryan's saying about AADs, and over-focusing on his choice of phrasing-for-effect. He isn't advocating not having an AAD at higher reserve wingloadings. He specifically says he thinks having an AAD is a good idea. He's simply saying that if you're too incapacitated to pilot and flare an imprudently highly-loaded reserve, the fact that its deployment was activated by an AAD won't improve your chances of having an acceptably soft landing.

A good rule of thumb is to pick a reserve size you are comfortable landing without flaring, with or without brake lines set.

I know of cases where people have gone to reserve because of having a collarbone broken in a midair. If you can flare with one arm seriously inoperable, great. For most of us, however, we are going to try to steer with risers toward an open area and execute the best PLF possible.

Even in rigs with a 2:1 loaded main, my reserves are loaded less than 1:1. Only one of my rigs has a reserve loaded more heavily than the main, at 0.8:1.

Whether you are conscious or not, Plan B should involve a nylon overcast.


BSBD,

Winsor


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