Mar 10, 2002, 6:44 AM
Post #1 of 4
Low Turn Fatality
This post is a follow-up to Richard's "Blue Skies Shane" thread in the Talk Back forum. I'm crossposting it in Talk Back, Safety & Training, and Swooping & Canopy Control forums so that maybe people can learn from it.
As I said in my post, I wasn't there when it happened, but I've talked to people who witnessed it. One point of clarification... Shane wasn't filming a tandem. He never filmed tandems, though he was learning to fly camera.
This is what happened as far as what I've gathered from others...
Shane exited a Cessna and had an uneventful jump & canopy deployment. At somehere between 60 and 100 feet, flying downwind, he initated a hard front riser 180. He hit the ground still in double-fronts. My understanding is that he wasn't flying too-heavily a loaded canopy... somewhere between 1.4 & 1.7. Still obviously enough to kill you.
It is also my understanding that he was not really known for doing hook turns. That's what puzzled a lot of people.
The two theories being floated around are:
1. He was low, downwind and heading for the tree-lined fenceline. Being boxed in, he decied to try to get back into the wind, opting for a riser turn rather than a toggle hook.
2. The fact that he, procedurally, did a textbook 180 front riser turn indicates he was doing an intentional hook. He initiated with a front riser and finished in double fronts.
Both theories have their problems. If he was boxed in, why not opt for a braked turn? And why would you be in double fronts at the end of it if you're just trying to get turned around? If he was really trying a hook turn for the first time, why so incredibly low?
Ultimately, why he decided to try a hard front riser 180, so close to the ground, for apparently the first time, is only known by him. None of this is intended to be casting blame. The best we can do from terrible accidents such as this is to try and learn from them. That is the spirit in which this is offered.
And if anyone here did witness the accident or knows I got something wrong, please offer your correction.
Blue skies forever Shane. Let's all play safe!
"Zero Tolerance: the politically correct term for zero thought, zero common sense."
Just an idea, but maybe he was trying to turn and flair with his rear risers but instinctively grabbed his front risers instead. That would explain flying into the ground pulling both front risers. Personally, I've been flying ram-airs for 25 years, and I think there is way too much emphasis placed on riser flying for young jumpers with low experience. I don't mean to say that they shouldn't learn to use them, but reading a lot of posts, they think if they're not landing with risers they're not cool. Unfortunately you can't practice landings up high and get a feel for the ground. Blue skies Shane. Tad
I have to agree Ted I had few time openinig when my canopy was in a dive (left or right) and I found out that the easy way out was rear riser pull dive to the left pull the rear left, but at least one I miss and was pulling the front one for a second or so noticing I was not leveling out to look again and pull the rear one. only me amir
I was one of Shane's instructors. He was trained, and practiced in his training to perform a "flat turn" with toggles, if he found himself in a "need to turn, but I am low" situation. This was, without a doubt, an intentional hook turn executed too low. Why would someone, finding themselves downwind, at low altitude, waste the time to find both front dive loops, perform a front riser turn (which he also had been taught about), which loses more altitude than a toggle turn, then pull down on the other front riser to keep the canopy in a dive, (which he was also explained to him)?. Shane understood how the risers worked, what they did, and the dangers involved. He knew front riser turns were to be done at altitude only and explained the danger of low turns.
There is tremendous peer pressure in skydiving today to downsize canopys and perform high performance landings, ie. hook turns. The instructors fly small x-braced canopys and so do all the "high-speed" skydivers. The challange is for the individual skydiver to make sound deciscions and heed the advice of the better canopy pilots, instructors, and the S & TA. Sometimes the new skydiver will not accept the advice, sometimes it isn't offered. The bottom line is that w/ the current system, attitude, atmosphere, training, and lack of regulation, these incidents will continue to happen.