Mar 10, 2002, 6:44 AM
Post #1 of 2
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."
The past few things I remember discussing with him were about downsizing and I remember trying to convince him not too right now (Dec time frame).
Not that this has any relevence to the fact that he is gone...its just that the subject matter makes me sad.
Me and my budding swooper friends all had accidents around the 200-300 jump level learning to swoop. worst had broken ribs, best got really dirty and the shit scared out of him. We all thought we were asking 100s of questions and doing research and having lots of conversations about techniques and safety. We all downsized a little too fast also.
I guess the moral is.... unless you are the consumate student of the sport, read everything you can about canopy flight, and have the corouge to "NOT" swoop if things re not perfect...then..
It is not a matter of "IF" you will biff, but when and how bad.