Jun 22, 2003, 11:33 PM
Post #1 of 5
Watched a jumper come in yesterday with a canopy that did not look right at all. The leading edge was riding way high. It looked like broken lines on the front and it was steerable in the air. Now I dont know exactly what the problem was and I never made it over to hear any details but everyone was watching to see the landing and expecting the worst. When the canopy was at about 15 feet the early flare immediately put the jumper on his (or her) back where he stayed for quite awhile. The jumper was ok but man, what a scare. Being a lowtimer, Im really thinking about how having a steerable canopy over my head does NOT mean I will have an uneventful landing.
Maybe someone with a little more experience can chime in here being as there were some dot commers there (in Taft), Im hoping someone saw it and will give me some insight.
>edit< blah blah blah, I guess my question is, if you were in Taft yesterday, and you saw it, what the hell happened and why ? There, I feel better now
(This post was edited by dropdeded on Jun 22, 2003, 11:39 PM)
I prefer to use the word "controllable" rather than steerable. I have had several cases of non-perfect canopies, and the first thing you do is evaluate controlability, particularly the flare. There is a term, "deteriorating flight control" which should scare you into the conservative approach, i.e., cut away unless you are 100% certain that you can safely land the canopy. There have been many cases where things got worse as you get lower, rarely will they get better.
I was not in Taft, but what you described reminds me of several - first generation - tandem mains that I tore up over Hemet, California. A canopy with a broken A line or two will ususally turn left and right just fine, however, when you try to flare, it will stall way too early and drop you flat on your back! Ouch! I landed one tandem canopy with a a broken A line. But that landing resulted in so many bruises that I cutaway the second time I broke an A line. A "controlability check" should include a practice flare. If it does not slow down normally when you pull down the toggles, you have two options. You either do a partial flare - and plan to PLF - or you can cut it away. You will be amazed at how some small holes in the top skin cause the canopy to fold up when you flare. On the other hand, I have landed several canopies with the bottom skin torn nose-to-tail. When in doubt, get rid of the ball of cr*p overhead and pull your reserve ripcord.
billvon (D 16479)
Jun 23, 2003, 11:03 AM
Post #4 of 5
I teach that a canopy has to do what a car does. You have to be able to make it go straight, turn left and right, and stop. If it can't do those things you can't safely land it. A flare at 2000 feet will show that the canopy has problems flaring; if they are severe (i.e. the canopy collapses) you can then cut away with plenty of altitude to get a landable reserve.
Excellent advice from all. If you should find yourself too low for a cutaway (perhaps you didn't notice the broken line at first), during your practice flare, find the stall point, make a mental note, and for your landing, prepare for a PLF, flare gently being sure to stop the flare well short of the stall point. Hold the toggles there and roll. I have landed a highly loaded eliptical with a broken A line with this technique before and it works reasonably well.
Again, this is for the worst case scenario. Above all, make your determination above your cutaway altitude, and if you have doubts about how your landing will go, pull the red handle, etc.....