Jul 3, 2001, 2:05 PM
Post #1 of 7
"pass the percocet"
As I have said plenty of times before, you really must be sure of your own ability and your equipment. Case in point: My wife and I volunteered to make a demo jump into our unit's organization day this past Friday. There were three other jumpers and we were skydiving out of a Blackhawk helicopter. Anyway, it was a sort of spur of the moment thing. I would have jumped my own main, but everyone else was jumping red/white/blue. Not a problem! Kris (my wife) has two rigs with R/W/B mains, so we just used her U.S. team rigs. She jumped her foil and I jumped her style rig with the Stilleto 120 in it. The area wasn't too tight for swooping in my book, and nobody doubted my ability to stick it in that area, so off we went. Bottom line up front: I blew my approach, landed off target, and busted my ass. Literally. How did it happen? Complacency, pure and simple.
To begin with, I had not made a single jump on that main in over a year (it's a pig compared to what I normally jump). When I DID jump it last, I complained to Kris that I thought the brakes were setup WAY too tight and that the canopy just did not fly right in front risers. She likes it the way it is, so I really had no right to adjust it just so I would like it better. The Stiletto control range is up around your eyes; VERY different than every other performance main on the market. It has a very short recovery arc also. This means that from the point that you would execute a 180 degree maneuver, your canopy loses much less altitude before it comes out of the dive under it's own power. What this also means is that the stall point is much higher in the control range. All of these things snuck up on me when it came time to make my final turn onto final.
There was only one direction that you could approach from: out over this lake, pass over a dirt road, then land on the side of a hill. Go too far and you hit the lodge, not far enough and you hit water or cars. The only out was to the left of the target, around the building. Anyway, I setup out over the lake pretty far in anticipation of the greater glide of the Stiletto. I was going for a standard 180 Degree riser-dive so I was looking back over my right shoulder. I grabbed the right front riser at about 300 feet and cranked it around. My toggles are always in my hand, so the canopy porposed around (remember, the brakes are way too tight), but I didn't lose nearly the altitude I needed. I found myself "way too steep" in accuracy terms. I was too low to do a 360, and there were trees on my left and right preventing me from doing any big S-turns. Also, I could not "sink" the main in. The only option was to grab both front risers and sashay right-then-left. I overflew the target at about 10 feet up, carved left around the building, and flared like I would under my Cobalt. The Stiletto bowtied behind me and dropped me right on my ass and heels: SMACK. I hopped up and dusted the "evidence" off my black jumpsuit, then went over for the lineup. I knew my ankle hurt and that my butt stung a bit, but packed up and enjoyed the party for a while. When it came time to leave, I hopped in the drivers seat of the Del Sol and went "OUCH!" I didn't bother to go to the doctor all weekend because I knew what I had done, but today I got the answer I knew was coming: "it's broken Chuck." Oh well, I got my Percocets and moved out smartly.
The bad thing is that I am strapped to a desk all day at work and have to sit down to beat on this computer! They say that the coccyx never really heals and that it takes up to six months to really stop bothering you. I am obviously not going to stop jumping during that time, but it will definitely not be pleasant during openings.
The moral of the story is this: practice what you preach. I was an idiot to jump my wife's main into that demo. I should have just went by the club and got one of our demo team rigs and been happy. It would have taken me five minutes to do that, but NO, I wanted to swoop. All my fault, I know. 2,700 jumps and I have never busted my ass like that. Next time I will get the right rig for the job.
Jul 3, 2001, 3:22 PM
Post #2 of 7
I am sorry for your accident, and thankful you have posted it. This is not a sport where I get to make all the mistakes, and so I must learn from others. Thanks for being willing to teach me another lesson.
And I hope your butt gets back to normal pretty soon!