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12/2/2017 Fatality at Mid America Sport Parachute Club

 

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nickstoner

Dec 4, 2017, 2:33 PM
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12/2/2017 Fatality at Mid America Sport Parachute Club Can't Post

Quote:
One man is dead and a woman was injured after a sky-diving trip went wrong Saturday afternoon at Taylorville Municipal Airport. Christian County Coroner Amy Calvert-Winans identified the deceased as 74-year-old Giles L. Henderson of Charleston.

Witnesses say Henderson attempted to open his parachute when it became entangled with the other skydiver. He was unable to free the parachute and struck the ground. The second skydiver was able to land and was taken to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Taylorville Police Chief Brian Hile says Henderson was an experienced skydiver, and multiple agencies are investigating the accident.

http://taylorvilledailynews.com/local-news/336384


peek  (D 8884)

Dec 4, 2017, 4:16 PM
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I'll be posting a report here very soon. Please standby.


JohnnyMarko

Dec 4, 2017, 7:46 PM
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Re: [peek] 12/2/2017 Fatality at Mid America Sport Parachute Club [In reply to] Can't Post

Anyone know the name of the other jumper involved?


pchapman  (D 1014)

Dec 5, 2017, 8:40 AM
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Re: [nickstoner] 12/2/2017 Fatality at Mid America Sport Parachute Club [In reply to] Can't Post

I now hear it was the Giles Henderson who was a very well known aerobatic pilot for decades, who for a long time flew a clipped wing Cub expertly.


normiss  (D 28356)

Dec 5, 2017, 11:26 AM
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Re: [pchapman] 12/2/2017 Fatality at Mid America Sport Parachute Club [In reply to] Can't Post

You are correct.
I talked to his son yesterday.


peek  (D 8884)

Dec 5, 2017, 3:22 PM
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Re: [peek] 12/2/2017 Fatality at Mid America Sport Parachute Club [In reply to] Can't Post

It is with great sadness that I am reporting on the fatality of Giles Henderson, a friend to many of us, and a great man.

He was a long time aerobatic airplane competitor, A&P, jump pilot, and retired college physics professor. For all of his aviation knowledge and skill, he was an incredibly modest, friendly, and helpful man. If you search the web for his name you can find a fair amount about him. Pictures of him are linked below.


Giles was 74 years old, in good shape, had about 10 years in the sport, and most of his 490 jumps were in recent years because he flew the jump planes more in the earlier years. He was very current and jumped often this last summer.

The accident was Saturday, December 2nd, 2017, at 3PM and was at Mid America Sport Parachute Club (Skydive Taylorville) in Taylorville, IL at the Municipal Airport (TAZ).

The skydive was a 5 way formation skydive from a Cessna 206. The other jumpers consisted of 3 very experienced jumpers, and the other jumper involved in the accident (Jumper 2) was recently licensed and had about 35-40 jumps.

Giles was wearing weight, as he often did because he fell slower than many jumpers, except on this jump he went low and was low much of the skydive, possibly because Jumper 2 may have gotten nervous and stiff, and fell slower than she usually did. Being low was a situation that Giles did not often experience.

Formation breakoff was at 4500 feet. One of the jumpers on the load said that he briefly saw Giles moving/tracking toward the other jumpers at breakoff rather than away from them, so it seems that he got confused about direction. Giles was known to have difficulty seeing behind him because of a stiff neck, not uncommon for someone his age. He was also known to prefer opening a bit higher than many skydivers. These things combined could have caused this accident.

Giles deployed and Jumper 2 struck Giles' canopy near the center of the canopy. Her body somehow tore off the pilot chute and bridle from his canopy. The pilot chute bridle went between her legs and was "friction-welded" to her jumpsuit, and stayed with her until removed after her entire canopy descent. She did not have broken bones, but her shoulder and hand were both injured. She said she had a concussion (no unconciousness). She worked her way through the pain in her hand and landed normally. She does not remember striking Giles' body but remembers his canopy's lines around her neck temporarily, and then being thrown free.

It would seem that she actually did collide with Giles in some manner due to the damage later found on the rig. It would also seem that the collision caused Giles to lose consciousness temporarily or otherwise incapacitate or confuse him, because he seemed to not take any action for a long time into his canopy descent, until he was very low. One of the experienced jumpers on the load said that he saw an early portion of Giles' canopy descent and it looked like both Gile's arms and legs were limp and being thrown about.

I was in the hangar, and other experienced jumpers watched some of the freefall and saw Giles' canopy open, but no one mentioned seeing a collision. After a while they started saying things about "cutaway about to happen". Then they started saying things like "come on, man, cutaway", etc. I came out of the hangar and started watching a canopy that was unstable, descending rapidly and swinging him from side to side, consistent with canopy damage.

At a low altitude (unknown, but seemed like about 500-600 feet), I saw the reserve pilot chute, but it entangled with the main, with no reserve visible. The reserve ripcord handle was found about 50 feet away, consistent with Giles pulling it at that altitude. Perhaps he thought or knew that he was too low to release the main at that point. The rest of the descent looked like Giles was conscious and working on the situation.

He landed on the ramp near the next hangar over from the skydiving operation hangar. He may have landed somewhat on his side and he came to rest face-down. We got to him about 30 seconds later and realized the severity of the fall. Emergency personnel were called and arrived in about 5 minutes, but he most likely passed away before they arrived.

When we initially looked at the gear we found the reserve pilot chute bridle severely tangled with the main, and none of the reserve canopy was out of the bag. We found 6-7 lines severed and the right main riser released. The loop that the cutaway cable goes through was severed, which likely happened during the collision. There were also friction burns on the canopy and some tears to the fabric. All of this would be consistent with how the canopy acted during descent.

His gear was a Vector2 in very good condition, no RSL, PD Spectre at a low wingloading, Vigil Quatro AAD set to "Pro", Protec helmet.

When we inspected the gear further after the coroner's photographer had taken pictures and allowed us to move things, we found the AAD displaying "Pro" and the loop uncut. The cutaway handle was in place and would have been easy to find.

The S&TA went to the coroner's inquest/meeting Monday the 4th and further inspected the gear. The top skin of the main was torn from the center of the center cell back to the tail. As many as 10 lines were severed. The AAD cutter was not fired.

My final conclusion to this accident is that we must be absolutely sure that the airspace above us is clear when we deploy. It seems that Giles thought that it was, but it was not. Sometimes we may need to go beyond what we normally do to insure this, as in, tracking farther (and perhaps taking it lower) than we normally do, or even doing a barrel roll while tracking. We may need to do this if something unusual happens, like if we go low.

We also should recognize that in some cases it may be much safer to sacrifice altitude at pull time for airspace that we know is clear, even if it is an altitude lower than the recommended (or required) altitude.

Investigating this fatality has given me a renewed respect for Bryan Burke, who has written numerous reports like this one for incidents at Skydive Arizona. Every person on Giles' load that I talked to had at least some small piece of information that helped determine what happened. I went into a lot of detail because I was already writing the report for USPA and decided to include most of the information here where we can learn from it.
Attachments: GHcub.jpg (38.0 KB)
  GHpacking.jpg (48.0 KB)


lippy  (D 30348)

Dec 5, 2017, 4:03 PM
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Re: [peek] 12/2/2017 Fatality at Mid America Sport Parachute Club [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for such a detailed report that must have been very difficult to write. All the best for your DZ in what's got to be a difficult time.


chuckakers  (D 10855)

Dec 5, 2017, 5:52 PM
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Re: [peek] 12/2/2017 Fatality at Mid America Sport Parachute Club [In reply to] Can't Post

peek wrote:
peek wrote:
...or even doing a barrel roll while tracking.

Gary, thank you so much for the detailed report and expertly conducted inquiry. Reports like these help everyone understand the possible causes of accidents and that can only be good thing.

Not to hijack, but I think it's important to point out that the above mentioned technique of performing a barrel while tracking is NOT a good idea in general and definitely not unless and until it is practiced to perfection. Performing barrel rolls while tracking can change a jumper's heading and fall rate significantly, and cause them to bobble and move erratically, and that of course can lead to a collision. Also, each jumper's primary responsibility is to yield to those below them and performing a barrel roll makes it impossible to see below during the execution. It can also be disorienting, making it difficult to spot others after completion.

As a best practice it is much better to simply turn one's head and use direct and peripheral vision to clear the air above prior to waving off and deploying.

On that note, Gary mentioned that Giles had a stiff neck that may have limited his ability to clear the air above and may have contributed to this incident. It is critical that skydivers understand that this sport requires a certain degree of physical ability to conduct safely. If a jumper's fitness level limits their abilities to the point of compromising safety they need to objectively consider whether they should be in the air.

RIP and condolences to all.


normiss  (D 28356)

Dec 5, 2017, 10:00 PM
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Re: [peek] 12/2/2017 Fatality at Mid America Sport Parachute Club [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for that painful report Gary, it helps understand and I agree with your assessment too.
Dammit man.

Sadly, I've lost a couple of friends to this situation it seems.


wmw999  (D 6296)

Dec 6, 2017, 4:40 AM
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Re: [normiss] 12/2/2017 Fatality at Mid America Sport Parachute Club [In reply to] Can't Post

Incidents like this probably do more than anything else to convince me of the wisdom of the recent raising of deployment altitudes, because they give someone low more time to suck it a little low before deploying. It's no guarantee of safety, but it does reduce the chances of opening as someone else is, when you've lost track of them.

When everyone else is opening at 2000', well, there's not a lot of lower there. When everyone else is opening at 3000', there's a little more time, especially if you don't pack for 1000-ft snivels.

Clearing the air above is not that easy; you've been looking down, and a quick glance up (so you don't deviate from your track) might not find anyone much farther away than 100 feet or so. I'm not used to going low, either, so this thought pattern matters to me; it's better to have pre-thought it out, rather than dealing with it when I'm in the situation.

Wendy P.


obelixtim  (D 84)

Dec 6, 2017, 5:14 AM
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Re: [chuckakers] 12/2/2017 Fatality at Mid America Sport Parachute Club [In reply to] Can't Post

 Agree about barrel rolls being not the best thing to be doing while tracking.

Jumper 2 with only 35 - 40 jumps might have been a little inexperienced to be doing a 5 way, even if the other 4 jumpers were experienced.

Did she track or was she told to stay in place and let the others track away? Sometimes a better option with a low timer on a bigger formation.

RIP.


fcajump  (D 15598)

Dec 6, 2017, 6:06 AM
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Re: [obelixtim] 12/2/2017 Fatality at Mid America Sport Parachute Club [In reply to] Can't Post

obelixtim wrote:
Jumper 2 with only 35 - 40 jumps might have been a little inexperienced to be doing a 5 way, even if the other 4 jumpers were experienced.

Did she track or was she told to stay in place and let the others track away? Sometimes a better option with a low timer on a bigger formation.

I was raised at a small Cessna DZ and this was a common way to include/educate newer jumpers to RW. Generally speaking, I would not think a 5 way with 4 experienced jumpers to be an issue as they should be able to keep things clear for the newbie.

As to whether or not she was told to track or take center (also generally an acceptable option where there is no camera), keeping track of others and clearing your airspace below is a necessary skill that only comes with practice. (why the others must keep the newbie clear)

At about that same skill level on a solo, I looked down and found I had drifted overtop of another solo jumper (got outta there fast), so it doesn't take a 5 way to be there.

Thanks very much for the comprehensive write-up. While some will say 'nothing to learn here' I think the report is the least we can do for him and all of us can use the reminder to keep everyone a bit safer. Any of us can be in his shoes, or those of jumper2...

I wish jumper2 all the best in dealing with the experience.

JW


obelixtim  (D 84)

Dec 6, 2017, 6:18 AM
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Re: [fcajump] 12/2/2017 Fatality at Mid America Sport Parachute Club [In reply to] Can't Post

fcajump wrote:
obelixtim wrote:
Jumper 2 with only 35 - 40 jumps might have been a little inexperienced to be doing a 5 way, even if the other 4 jumpers were experienced.

Did she track or was she told to stay in place and let the others track away? Sometimes a better option with a low timer on a bigger formation.

I was raised at a small Cessna DZ and this was a common way to include/educate newer jumpers to RW. Generally speaking, I would not think a 5 way with 4 experienced jumpers to be an issue as they should be able to keep things clear for the newbie.

As to whether or not she was told to track or take center (also generally an acceptable option where there is no camera), keeping track of others and clearing your airspace below is a necessary skill that only comes with practice. (why the others must keep the newbie clear)

At about that same skill level on a solo, I looked down and found I had drifted overtop of another solo jumper (got outta there fast), so it doesn't take a 5 way to be there.

Thanks very much for the comprehensive write-up. While some will say 'nothing to learn here' I think the report is the least we can do for him and all of us can use the reminder to keep everyone a bit safer. Any of us can be in his shoes, or those of jumper2...

I wish jumper2 all the best in dealing with the experience.

JW

I agree, it should not be that big a deal doing a 5 way with an inexperienced jumper, you just have to be sure the breakoff protocols are clearly understood by all. (not saying this was an issue in this incident)


pchapman  (D 1014)

Dec 6, 2017, 6:21 AM
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Re: [wmw999] 12/2/2017 Fatality at Mid America Sport Parachute Club [In reply to] Can't Post

wmw999 wrote:
Incidents like this probably do more than anything else to convince me of the wisdom of the recent raising of deployment altitudes

Fair enough, but I kinda thought the raising of typical deployment altitudes makes it worse, as people now get antsier about pulling "low".

Raising the breakoff helps. Normal breakoff is now 4500' not 3500'. But that doesn't help if people are now starting to think of 3000' as a normal pull altitude, and the scaredy cats want a bit higher.

Sure, higher pulls are nicer for us to not die in case of a mal, but it increases the chance of us having mid airs. I'd rather have the high pullers stop doing so, to decrease my chance of death (even if it increases theirs.) Tongue

If high pullers now want somewhat over 3000', and one breaks at 4500', it isn't any better for separation than pulling at somewhat over 2000' and breaking at 3500'.

And in this accident 4500' breakoff wasn't enough, even when by present standards that should be plenty of altitude to deconflict openings.

I think people forget that they may need to have a Plan B if they allow one person in the group to plan to "pull high" relative to the others. There still has to be sufficient tracking time planned, or else, the plan to pull high should only be valid only "everything is going well" at breakoff time, with everyone close and visible to each other.

(In this accident we can't quite tell what the exact mix of issues were. Although the guy's track may have been in the wrong direction, one error could have been dealt with. Did the newbie not watch the airspace below? Did she try but was surprised by the guy coming from an unexpected direction? How bad was his trick or her track? How suddenly did he pull? Did he still pull as high as planned, despite having gone low and presumably lost sight of the formation? How high was that relative to breakoff? I don't expect we would ever know the details for sure.)


michaelmullins  (D 1643)

Dec 6, 2017, 9:13 AM
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Re: [peek] 12/2/2017 Fatality at Mid America Sport Parachute Club [In reply to] Can't Post

Gary,
Thanks for the detailed and timely report.
Mike Mullins


Bob_Church  (D 8195)

Dec 6, 2017, 9:26 AM
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Re: [pchapman] 12/2/2017 Fatality at Mid America Sport Parachute Club [In reply to] Can't Post

I've noticed over the years that the higher the break off altitude is the fewer people who pay attention to it. Also, the more altimeters on a load fewer jumpers who actually pay attention to one.
Any time I'm on a load with a novice jumper who is doing RW, whether I'm with their group or not, I warn them about this and to take care of themselves. If doing the things you agreed to, like break off altitude, pisses them off then don't worry about it, keep yourself alive and do what you can to make the jump safe for everyone. But especially for yourself, being new to it all.


Neversurfaced  (A License)

Dec 6, 2017, 11:25 AM
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Re: [Bob_Church] 12/2/2017 Fatality at Mid America Sport Parachute Club [In reply to] Can't Post

As a newly licensed jumper with only 38 jumps myself, I scour these incident reports to glean any information I can to keep myself, and everyone else on the load, alive.

Thanks for taking the time to post your detailed report. Likewise, thanks to everyone else with constructive contributions. Please know there are new guys/gals out there reading these reports and (hopefully) learning.

Condolences all around.


johnmatrix  (E 9999)

Dec 6, 2017, 12:10 PM
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Re: [peek] 12/2/2017 Fatality at Mid America Sport Parachute Club [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for the detailed report. Seems lucky that Jumper 2 got away with relatively minor injuries from that.

BSBD


pms07  (D 7571)

Dec 6, 2017, 7:08 PM
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Re: [peek] 12/2/2017 Fatality at Mid America Sport Parachute Club [In reply to] Can't Post

Gary Peek Said: "My final conclusion to this accident is that we must be absolutely sure that the airspace above us is clear when we deploy. It seems that Giles thought that it was, but it was not. Sometimes we may need to go beyond what we normally do to insure this, as in, tracking farther (and perhaps taking it lower) than we normally do, or even doing a barrel roll while tracking. We may need to do this if something unusual happens, like if we go low. "

Sad news to hear about Giles. Thanks Gary for a well written report. I want to present some additional thoughts.
I have long practiced the "take it down" solution if there's a airspace conflict with another diver although I have to moderate that because I've worn an AAD for the past 20 years. Pulling at the altitudes we did in the '70s and '80s invites it's own incident if wearing an AAD. Being near the AAD firing altitude while your main is opening is not a great idea. So, taking it down becomes impractical at some point. Second, there is really no practical way to "be absolutely sure that the airspace above us is clear when we deploy". There are large blind spots behind and above you, regardless how dedicated (or young) you are to looking. Add to that, barrel rolls while tracking, generally, are stupid, and result in heading changes and less effective tracking (I know this may not apply to someone with your experience but it's clearly the case for many. And it is not taught in any mainstream student progression I've seen so should not be some adhoc plan that random jumpers should consider. It's just not practical to assume you will see everyone while tracking off on many dives. So, maybe just as importantly, not being above another diver once you are below breakoff altitude or approaching pull altitude is equally or more important, and should get more emphasis. Understanding where each jumper in your group intends to pull (if non-standard) is also important and should be part of the plan. Bottomline, when you reach pull altitude, others should assume you will pull. If they are above you, they have significant responsibility to avoid a collision.


fcajump  (D 15598)

Dec 7, 2017, 5:50 AM
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Re: [pms07] 12/2/2017 Fatality at Mid America Sport Parachute Club [In reply to] Can't Post

pms07 wrote:
Add to that, barrel rolls while tracking, generally, are stupid, and result in heading changes and less effective tracking (I know this may not apply to someone with your experience but it's clearly the case for many. And it is not taught in any mainstream student progression I've seen so should not be some adhoc plan that random jumpers should consider.

Especially at the low end of a dive, without significant practice and/or for our newbie's who may take longer to recover (orientation in all 3D) from a poorly performed maneuver .

JW


fencebuster  (D 29918)

Dec 7, 2017, 6:13 AM
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Gary: Thanks for the very informative and fact-based report. Very sorry for the loss -- it really sucks.


lyosha

Dec 7, 2017, 6:43 PM
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Re: [peek] 12/2/2017 Fatality at Mid America Sport Parachute Club [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm sorry to hear of your loss. Did they have/discuss a contingency plan? Someone going low on a 5 way is not terribly uncommon...


SCOTT735  (C License)

Dec 9, 2017, 1:14 PM
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Re: [lyosha] 12/2/2017 Fatality at Mid America Sport Parachute Club [In reply to] Can't Post

I hear different opinions alot regarding when to track if you go low.
1. If low and sure you won't get back up then track off immediately to get as far away as possible (maximizes horizontal separation, but makes it harder for the group to keep track of you when they get to breakoff altitude).
2. If low and sure you won't get back up then stay in place until you get to the breakoff altitude and track away.

Any opinions?


skydave89  (D 34598)

Dec 9, 2017, 2:25 PM
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Re: [SCOTT735] 12/2/2017 Fatality at Mid America Sport Parachute Club [In reply to] Can't Post

SCOTT735 wrote:
I hear different opinions alot regarding when to track if you go low.
1. If low and sure you won't get back up then track off immediately to get as far away as possible (maximizes horizontal separation, but makes it harder for the group to keep track of you when they get to breakoff altitude).
2. If low and sure you won't get back up then stay in place until you get to the breakoff altitude and track away.

Any opinions?


I almost died on a zoo dive where a guy went low and tracked off way before planned altitude. I ended up tracking within 4ft of him as he was opening. (Its a Friday Freakout video on Teem). Because of that personal experience, I recommend staying with the group until planned breakoff so that everyone can keep an eye out.


gowlerk  (C 3196)

Dec 9, 2017, 4:38 PM
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Re: [SCOTT735] 12/2/2017 Fatality at Mid America Sport Parachute Club [In reply to] Can't Post

Opinion? Yes.

If you are part of the skydive you need to do your best to stay with the skydive. Stay with it as best you can and do the break off as planned. This is just as simple as "Plan the dive, and dive the plan". YMMV


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