Forums: Skydiving: Safety and Training:
let's talk about going low, breakoff etc...

 

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airdvr  (D 10977)

Feb 15, 2008, 6:42 AM
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let's talk about going low, breakoff etc... Can't Post

This idea comes from reading about the incident in February at Titusville.

There doesn't seem to be any consensus in thought about what should be done in the event you go low and can't get back up to the formation.

I think this is a very important subject people need to talk about. My last post read:

Now that the dust has settled a bit I'd like to add my observations.

1. A camera most definitely adds extra hazards to a skydive, and its not just about snags.

2. If you go low and can't get back up (I'm a big man and have too much experience with this problem ) I feel you just gave away your "low man has the right of way" rights. Even if you have a camera on. You are no longer part of the skydive, you are an ostacle in the sky.

A. Get out from under the formation!
B. Keep your eye on the other jumpers until breakoff. Don't track away early, you might just become some other formation's obstacle.
C. At breakoff track like hell
D. When you get ready to dump take a look above you. You'll probably see other jumpers. Wait til you see them begin their deployment before you begin yours.
E. Be ready with your EP's, you're probably low.

3. At breakoff it's your responsibility to make sure there is no one BELOW you. Barrel rolling isn't very useful since there isn't much you can do about someone above you except wait, AND THERE SHOULDN"T BE ANYONE ABOVE YOU. If there's some one below you alter your track so they are no longer below you.

4. I'm not sure I see people waving off anymore. Before you dump take a second to wave off. This is the international symbol for "your about to eat a parachute...get the F#&k off of me".

This is basic stuff...it's like deciding what side of the road you're going to drive on. If everyone would do this there would be far fewer incidents like this one.

Not to be too harsh I am sorry this happened. It's just that it happens again and again. And it's always the same set of circumstances...totally avoidable.



Butters  (C 37840)

Feb 15, 2008, 6:51 AM
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Re: [airdvr] let's talk about going low, breakoff etc... [In reply to] Can't Post

This isssue is usually discussed during the dive plan at my DZ ... this prevents people from assumming what other people will do.


yjumpinoz  (D 13167)

Feb 15, 2008, 7:00 AM
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Re: [airdvr] let's talk about going low, breakoff etc... [In reply to] Can't Post

The airplane exit orders and numbers can be a big factor. If you go low you are still part of your particular formation. If you bail and track off at 8,000' you can be traffic for other loads on that airplane. I believe that you become part of the first brake off if you are low. That means you stay with the formation. even if you are low. I hate tracking off when you know someone was low early and disappeared. For a four way dive its not that big a deal, but a 50+ way its a real big deal. My opinion anyway.


airdvr  (D 10977)

Feb 15, 2008, 7:03 AM
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Re: [Butters] let's talk about going low, breakoff etc... [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
This isssue is usually discussed during the dive plan at my DZ ... this prevents people from assumming what other people will do.

good. There has always seemed to be an attitude of "let's not talk about what to do if it all goes bad" becuse it'll jinx the plan. Of course we all know that every dive goes exactly the way it's planned, don't we. Crazy


airdvr  (D 10977)

Feb 15, 2008, 7:08 AM
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Re: [yjumpinoz] let's talk about going low, breakoff etc... [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
The airplane exit orders and numbers can be a big factor. If you go low you are still part of your particular formation. If you bail and track off at 8,000' you can be traffic for other loads on that airplane. I believe that you become part of the first brake off if you are low. That means you stay with the formation. even if you are low. I hate tracking off when you know someone was low early and disappeared. For a four way dive its not that big a deal, but a 50+ way its a real big deal. My opinion anyway.

I agree. 2 things I know are going to happen if I go low and can't get back up.

1. I get to take an air bath all by my lonesome
2. I'm going to begin my deployment at a lower altitude than I planned to so as to avoid being tagged from above.


Andy_Copland  (A 105852)

Feb 15, 2008, 7:14 AM
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Re: [airdvr] let's talk about going low, breakoff etc... [In reply to] Can't Post

Pull low for safety, sounds kind of odd doesn't it? Laugh

I think there is a little catch where as a student you dont get taught about this, there is no need to. Then as you start RW its normally with people around your own skill level and it can easily get swept under the carpet with lack of knowledge and excitement.

I hear it discussed on some dives and then i dont on others. Sometimes i think its through assumption that people know what to do.


airdvr  (D 10977)

Feb 15, 2008, 7:28 AM
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Re: [Andy_Copland] let's talk about going low, breakoff etc... [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
Pull low for safety, sounds kind of odd doesn't it? Laugh

I think there is a little catch where as a student you dont get taught about this, there is no need to. Then as you start RW its normally with people around your own skill level and it can easily get swept under the carpet with lack of knowledge and excitement.

I hear it discussed on some dives and then i dont on others. Sometimes i think its through assumption that people know what to do.

Exactly my thoughts. I was shocked at the lack of a consensus on what to do in this situation. It seems it just doesn't get talked about, and I fear it's only through pure luck we don't have more collisions.

I haven't looked lately, is it discussed in the SIM?


deadbug  (D 21098)

Feb 15, 2008, 8:35 AM
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Re: [airdvr] let's talk about going low, breakoff etc... [In reply to] Can't Post

Awareness of your environment is the key. If for some reason I find myself so low on a dive with multiple groups and there is no chance of getting back up to the formation, I track away 90 degrees from jump run. This requires that I know what way jump run is and can maintain my situational awareness throughout the dive. 90 degrees assures that I won't track into another group. If your the only group on the dive the 90 degree rule does not apply. Some people may argue that the people left in the formation will not know where you are. I don't agree with that argument. Do you have everyone in constant view during track off? The idea of going low to assure seperation does not provide real seperation, that person that deployed above you might have a mal and have to chop droping right into you. The only way to ASSURE seperation is to have horizontal seperation.

Doug


airdvr  (D 10977)

Feb 15, 2008, 8:52 AM
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Re: [deadbug] let's talk about going low, breakoff etc... [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
Awareness of your environment is the key. If for some reason I find myself so low on a dive with multiple groups and there is no chance of getting back up to the formation, I track away 90 degrees from jump run. This requires that I know what way jump run is and can maintain my situational awareness throughout the dive. 90 degrees assures that I won't track into another group. If your the only group on the dive the 90 degree rule does not apply. Some people may argue that the people left in the formation will not know where you are. I don't agree with that argument. Do you have everyone in constant view during track off? The idea of going low to assure seperation does not provide real seperation, that person that deployed above you might have a mal and have to chop droping right into you. The only way to ASSURE seperation is to have horizontal seperation.

Doug

Good points. And at 1000 jumps and 14 years one would expect that you would have the situational awareness to do what you're suggesting.

What about if you're at a DZ you've never visited before...would you still know where 90 degrees from the flightline is? I have jumped at small DZ's with grass airstrips that are difficult to spot from the air.

There are situations where you can make the decisions you suggest to assure you are not a hazard if you go low. I'm talking about low time jumpers who might not understand their responsibilities in the situation. Some still think they're part of the group. I think not.

One thing I forgot to add is that if you're going to track 90 degrees don't open high regardless of whether you think you're in the clear or not.


DanG  (D 22351)

Feb 15, 2008, 2:38 PM
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Re: [deadbug] let's talk about going low, breakoff etc... [In reply to] Can't Post

Quote:
If for some reason I find myself so low on a dive with multiple groups and there is no chance of getting back up to the formation, I track away 90 degrees from jump run.

I respectfully disagree. I believe that the low jumper needs to stay as close as possible and break-off at the predetermined altitude. That's what I brief people I'm jumping with and I really think it is the safest practice. If I'm in the dive I'd much rather try to keep track of someone who is low and close than someone who is low and far away. The most dangerous situation is when the jumper tries to get back up until about 1,000 ft before break-off and then starts tracking. A good tracker will easily catch up to that person and may very well not see him.

And on the subject of clearing airspace, I agree that you are primarily responsibly for the space below and in front of you, so I don't believe in barrel rolls, but I do believe in looking over your shoulder, especialy with a larger group, or a group of people of varying skill levels.

This is certainly a tough topic, but it is great to see a civil discussion here.

- Dan G


deadbug  (D 21098)

Feb 15, 2008, 8:35 PM
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Re: [DanG] let's talk about going low, breakoff etc... [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
Quote:
If for some reason I find myself so low on a dive with multiple groups and there is no chance of getting back up to the formation, I track away 90 degrees from jump run.

I respectfully disagree. I believe that the low jumper needs to stay as close as possible and break-off at the predetermined altitude. That's what I brief people I'm jumping with and I really think it is the safest practice. If I'm in the dive I'd much rather try to keep track of someone who is low and close than someone who is low and far away. The most dangerous situation is when the jumper tries to get back up until about 1,000 ft before break-off and then starts tracking. A good tracker will easily catch up to that person and may very well not see him.

And on the subject of clearing airspace, I agree that you are primarily responsibly for the space below and in front of you, so I don't believe in barrel rolls, but I do believe in looking over your shoulder, especialy with a larger group, or a group of people of varying skill levels.

This is certainly a tough topic, but it is great to see a civil discussion here.

- Dan G


I guarantee you that if I find myself low on a skydive for some reason and I decide to track off at 7000 grand that theres no way in hell that you will catch me. I don't care if you know where I am or not. I know I will be clear of the formation at track off. I am not saying this is the right course of action for everyone, but I know it works for me.

Doug


DanG  (D 22351)

Feb 15, 2008, 10:36 PM
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Re: [deadbug] let's talk about going low, breakoff etc... [In reply to] Can't Post

Quote:
I guarantee you that if I find myself low on a skydive for some reason and I decide to track off at 7000 grand that theres no way in hell that you will catch me. I don't care if you know where I am or not. I know I will be clear of the formation at track off. I am not saying this is the right course of action for everyone, but I know it works for me.

Okay, there's your problem. I DO care if I know where you are, and so does everyone else in our hypothetical formation. The time we have to spend figuring out where you are is time we can't spend making sure we're clear of each other.

And this thread is not about you, me, and our formation, it is about proper procedures that everyone should follow. The fact that you are a good tracker doesn't have anything to do with what Johnny Skyjumper should do at 7,000ft if he's low on his formation.

- Dan G


shermanator  (B License)

Feb 15, 2008, 10:38 PM
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Re: [deadbug] let's talk about going low, breakoff etc... [In reply to] Can't Post

I hope that when you track off, that the people jumping with you knew that was your plan. It is not a fun feeling when someone goes low, then the people above them, have NO CLUE where they went.


airdvr  (D 10977)

Feb 16, 2008, 4:42 AM
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Re: [DanG] let's talk about going low, breakoff etc... [In reply to] Can't Post

I thinks it's a bigger subject than just what will you do...it's about your responsibilities to your fellow jumpers.

So, you track off at 7K. How do you know that wasn't what somebody else did on another formation...and the 2 of you are tracking towards the same spot in the sky?

As a rule I think you ought to stay close to your formation. I can assure you that your fellow jumpers are very concerned about where you are at breakoff, and the fact that they don't know only adds more stress.

I've always felt that my biggest responsibility was not to save my own ass but to make sure I didn't kill anyone else in the process. And that means sometimes you have to sacrifice your jump. Not so sure people still think that way.


deadbug  (D 21098)

Feb 16, 2008, 6:52 AM
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Re: [airdvr] let's talk about going low, breakoff etc... [In reply to] Can't Post

You guys are all missing the point. I started my first post by saying that the most important thing on any skydive with multiple jumpers is situational awareness. I have also said that what I might do if I find myself in this situation is not what I advocate everyone (ie. low jump # jumpers) do. If I'm on a dive with less experienced skydivers I do talk about what to do if this happens. As far as tracking into another group, read above post, I already addressed that. As far as you knowing where I am at breakoff, when was the last time you were on a 50 way that you knew where every skydiver was during breakoff. You are responsible for the airspace in front and below of you. If I find myself seperated from my group during a skydive, it's my duty to assure that I'm not in a position to cause a potential problem during deployment. Every dive is different, (2-way,4-way,big way,multiple groups from the same A/C, multiple A/C). The proper plan of action varies depending on the situation. This is where situational awareness and having a plan that everyone discusses before hand comes in. The bottom line is that if you don't have the skills to get yourself out of the way, you need to develop those skills before you start jumping with groups of people. If that means doing one on one tracking dives until you learn to flat track on heading, so be it.

Doug


airtwardo  (D License)

Feb 16, 2008, 7:13 AM
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Re: [deadbug] let's talk about going low, breakoff etc... [In reply to] Can't Post

that the most important thing on any skydive with multiple jumpers is situational awareness.

In reply to:

I think what people are saying is that by doing a high track off you are taking away the situational awareness of all the other jumpers in the formation.

Tracking off high is usually not recognized as the 'proper' procedure and unless you tell everyone that's your plan, then they have no idea what's going on with you.

I know that if you did tell everyone in the dirt dive that you plan on tracking away high if you go low...you would most likely be discouraged from doing so.


deadbug  (D 21098)

Feb 16, 2008, 7:45 AM
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Re: [airtwardo] let's talk about going low, breakoff etc... [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
that the most important thing on any skydive with multiple jumpers is situational awareness.

In reply to:

I think what people are saying is that by doing a high track off you are taking away the situational awareness of all the other jumpers in the formation.

Tracking off high is usually not recognized as the 'proper' procedure and unless you tell everyone that's your plan, then they have no idea what's going on with you.

I know that if you did tell everyone in the dirt dive that you plan on tracking away high if you go low...you would most likely be discouraged from doing so.


Thats why you make a plan before the dive. 20 way out of an Otter. Only group on the plane. Base funnels, attempt to rebuild not successful, you look around at 7000 and see skydivers seperated both vertically and horizontally. You telling me that your not going to turn 180 and track for all your worth. Theres no way that I can account for all jumpers on the 20 way in this situation. I'm going to get as much seperation as I can.


airtwardo  (D License)

Feb 16, 2008, 7:56 AM
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In reply to:
In reply to:
that the most important thing on any skydive with multiple jumpers is situational awareness.

In reply to:

I think what people are saying is that by doing a high track off you are taking away the situational awareness of all the other jumpers in the formation.

Tracking off high is usually not recognized as the 'proper' procedure and unless you tell everyone that's your plan, then they have no idea what's going on with you.

I know that if you did tell everyone in the dirt dive that you plan on tracking away high if you go low...you would most likely be discouraged from doing so.


Thats why you make a plan before the dive. 20 way out of an Otter. Only group on the plane. Base funnels, attempt to rebuild not successful, you look around at 7000 and see skydivers seperated both vertically and horizontally. You telling me that your not going to turn 180 and track for all your worth. Theres no way that I can account for all jumpers on the 20 way in this situation. I'm going to get as much seperation as I can.

Me personally?
No... I hang around and try to get something out of whoever is left, I have more than enough tracking practice.Wink

But how about the scenario in which you alone go low and 19 other people are building something...I know from my own experience it kind of weirds me out to see the low guy turn and head to points unknown 1/2 through the dive.

I guess it's good to talk about this stuff in a thread like this because I always thought it was the 'unspoken' rule of thumb that if you go low and know you can't get back up...you back away and watch, then track away with the whole band.


deadbug  (D 21098)

Feb 16, 2008, 8:06 AM
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I like more seperation rather than less. I agree with you that if I see someone that I know does not track well tracking off it concerns me because if I track in there direction I might well catch them. Thats why I don't advocate this to newbies.


kallend  (D 23151)

Feb 16, 2008, 10:43 AM
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In reply to:
I like more seperation rather than less. I agree with you that if I see someone that I know does not track well tracking off it concerns me because if I track in there direction I might well catch them. Thats why I don't advocate this to newbies.

Just because you think you are an excellent tracker doesn't mean that people with thousands of jumps more than you will think that you are.


airtwardo  (D License)

Feb 16, 2008, 11:25 AM
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Re: [kallend] let's talk about going low, breakoff etc... [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
In reply to:
I like more separation rather than less. I agree with you that if I see someone that I know does not track well tracking off it concerns me because if I track in there direction I might well catch them. That's why I don't advocate this to newbies.

Just because you think you are an excellent tracker doesn't mean that people with thousands of jumps more than you will think that you are.

Yup...almost everybody is a newbie to some! Wink

I think D~1 has something like 50 consecutive years of jumping.Cool


kallend  (D 23151)

Feb 16, 2008, 12:19 PM
Post #22 of 35 (2267 views)
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Re: [airtwardo] let's talk about going low, breakoff etc... [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
In reply to:
In reply to:
I like more separation rather than less. I agree with you that if I see someone that I know does not track well tracking off it concerns me because if I track in there direction I might well catch them. That's why I don't advocate this to newbies.

Just because you think you are an excellent tracker doesn't mean that people with thousands of jumps more than you will think that you are.

Yup...almost everybody is a newbie to some! Wink

I think D~1 has something like 50 consecutive years of jumping.Cool

If you've been on an SOS record you'll also know there are also some old timers who track like bricks. Wink

However, no-one should pride themselves on their tracking skills until they can out-track, say, Rook Nelson.


airdvr  (D 10977)

Feb 16, 2008, 1:14 PM
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Re: [kallend] let's talk about going low, breakoff etc... [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
In reply to:
In reply to:
In reply to:
I like more separation rather than less. I agree with you that if I see someone that I know does not track well tracking off it concerns me because if I track in there direction I might well catch them. That's why I don't advocate this to newbies.

Just because you think you are an excellent tracker doesn't mean that people with thousands of jumps more than you will think that you are.

Yup...almost everybody is a newbie to some! Wink

I think D~1 has something like 50 consecutive years of jumping.Cool

If you've been on an SOS record you'll also know there are also some old timers who track like bricks. Wink

I resemble that remarkCool

However, no-one should pride themselves on their tracking skills until they can out-track, say, Rook Nelson.


airdvr  (D 10977)

Feb 16, 2008, 1:27 PM
Post #24 of 35 (2251 views)
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In reply to:
In reply to:
In reply to:
I guess it's good to talk about this stuff in a thread like this because I always thought it was the 'unspoken' rule of thumb that if you go low and know you can't get back up...you back away and watch, then track away with the whole band.

That used to be the consensus but somewhere along the road it got lost. Maybe it's because every FF jump I see looks like a funnel Wink


popsjumper  (D 999999999)

Feb 17, 2008, 5:32 AM
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Re: [airdvr] let's talk about going low, breakoff etc... [In reply to] Can't Post

OK...two schools of thought here and I've participated in FS jumps where the organizers planned one or the other.

If you're low, and can't get back up:
A) stay with the formation until the first break-off, track like hell and don't pull high.
B) get the hell out of dodge immediately, track like hell and don't pull high.

I personally prefer option A and here's why:
A low guy is easier to spot, and dodge, if he's near at break-off.

I've already had close call with option B where a relative low-timer guy tracked away at 8K. At break-off here's what happened.
The guy "tracked like a brick". I looked up for traffic, I looked down for low guys. I could not see him amongst the ground clutter. I spotted him when his main came out. Fortunately it was just in time to be able to veer left, dodge the canopy and pitch low.

I had a discussion with him about flat-tracking skills and participating in group jumps that were beyond his real skill level. To his credit, he stepped off the jumps.


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