Forums: Skydiving: Tandem Skydiving:
Tandem Opening Altitude

 


ti1

Sep 20, 2011, 9:56 AM
Post #1 of 18 (2695 views)
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Tandem Opening Altitude Can't Post

Ive noticed a disturbing trend among tandem operations: TIs increasingly choosing to open at low altitudes. While under canopy (usually tandem) at 3500 feet, I routinely watch tandems fall past me with pins coming out below me. Ive watched TIs and TIEs turn off AADs in order to pull at or below 3000 feet. I see more seasoned instructors pull low and spiral to land quickly, then proceed to complain to newer instructors about taking too long to turn hot loads. I then see those newer instructors also pull dangerously low in order to avoid getting bitched at or to be more like the cool guys. I see races between TIs to see who can pull lower and spiral faster to reach the ground first, and sometimes bragging about numbers on Protracks.

I think it goes without saying, but students do not have the knowledge to appreciate that these instructors are knowingly reducing their survival chances below that which the FAA and manufacturers deem acceptable. These students do not consent to having their risks willfully increased by an irresponsible instructor, especially when that increase is a blatant violation of a very clear standard and when the possible consequence is death.

When did it become acceptable to gamble with a students life in this way? Why would it ever be acceptable for an instructor to reduce their chance of successfully dealing with a malfunction, particularly a high speed malfunction, while carrying a student passenger? What kind of inflated ego, arrogance, or selfishness is at work here? More importantly, is this behavior isolated to a few select locations (from my own experience), or is this widespread behavior among TIs? Is my perspective off and my view too conservative about this so that I should just shut up and ignore it?

If this is a systemic problem, it arguably poses a serious threat to the sport. In that case, perhaps those of us who do not condone this behavior and appreciate the rare opportunity we have to be able to share something we love with students so should do something to fix the problem. My efforts so far have failed, as TIEs, DZOs, and USPA BOD members that Ive approached seem to either care too little to take any action, condone the behavior, or participate in the behavior. Im at a loss for what to do. Any thoughts?

(Mods, this account is a new, anonymous account because the goal of this thread is not to discuss names or locations, but rather to gauge the overall sense of the TI community on this issue. Delete if you wish but I hope this can generate some productive discussion.)


TheCaptain  (D License)

Sep 20, 2011, 10:51 AM
Post #2 of 18 (2646 views)
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Re: [ti1] Tandem Opening Altitude [In reply to] Can't Post

I am not sure what dropzones you have been to or are talking about, but the dropzone I work at that would not be tolerated at all. I would also suggest to any TI that thinks pulling lower is safe try having a bag lock at pull time. There is nothing like pulling the drogue release and accelerating with no main coming out to get your heart racing.


(This post was edited by TheCaptain on Sep 20, 2011, 11:01 AM)


riggerrob  (D 14840)

Sep 20, 2011, 11:42 AM
Post #3 of 18 (2615 views)
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Re: [ti1] Tandem Opening Altitude [In reply to] Can't Post

If you complete your profile, we will take you more seriously.

Sure I used to work at a DZ where I was almost the heaviest TI and used to take lots of 220 pound students. Another TI (50 pounds lighter than me, with smaller students) liked to spiral past me in the landing pattern (below 1,000 feet), just so he could land before me!
Even though it was written on the manifest wall, he refused to fly right-hand patterns, like everybody else. So much for instructors leading by example!

He also liked to pull 90 degree toggle hook turns below 100 feet, just so he could look "cool" while landing cross-wind.
A couple of times, he pulled those hook turns so close in front of me, that my first instinct was to "stab" a toggle. Fortunately, I resisted the urge and just prayed that I would miss his wake turbulence.

Rob Warner
Strong Tandem Examiner


ti1

Sep 20, 2011, 11:55 AM
Post #4 of 18 (2610 views)
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Re: [riggerrob] Tandem Opening Altitude [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
If you complete your profile, we will take you more seriously.

Thanks, but as I mentioned, this account is purposely anonymous. If it helps, I have been around dz.com for many years, have several thousand jumps under my belt (including tandems) and have been in the sport for over ten years. If a moderator wants to PM me or check my IP address to verify that I am legit, I invite them to do so, I just ask that you please keep this anonymous.


diablopilot  (D License)

Sep 20, 2011, 12:19 PM
Post #5 of 18 (2595 views)
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Re: [ti1] Tandem Opening Altitude [In reply to] Can't Post

Love to know where this sort of thing is accepted so I can avoid it at all costs. Also would REALLY like to know who the USPA BOD member(s) are who are looking the other way if that's true. If it is, then throw the bums out.

And I understand the desire for anonymity. I'd hope you keep telling people you trust to help you in the effort to fix something this dangerous.


(This post was edited by diablopilot on Sep 20, 2011, 12:20 PM)


jonathan.newman  (D 30644)

Sep 20, 2011, 7:21 PM
Post #6 of 18 (2464 views)
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Re: [ti1] Tandem Opening Altitude [In reply to] Can't Post

I've seen all the same things. There are many reasons for it, and I think you have to address each reason if you want to fix it.

At the big DZ I jump at, the turbines always land before the tandems. Combine this with hot loads where TIs and videos are turning, and it really adds pressure to have a spinning prop in the loading area. If you don't want to keep the plane waiting, you need to either burn it low, or crank the turns.

Another issue is "favorite parachutes". Everyone has their favorite rig, and if they get down first, they can grab that rig for the next load.

We've had days where the turbine starts in the morning and doesn't stop until the loads are done. Even when the plane hot fuels, it still only gives you about 4 minutes extra. You better time your potty breaks good.

Perhaps other TIs are the only ones who notice this behavior. Or maybe it's only a few who care. The only people I can really take care of are me and my passenger. 6 grand or 5.5 has more than once given me time to get out of gnarly line twists.

Now, turning off the cypres because you intend to pull low -- that should be grounds for losing one's rating.


DougH  (D License)

Sep 21, 2011, 4:07 AM
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Re: [jonathan.newman] Tandem Opening Altitude [In reply to] Can't Post

I only have 6 tandems with paying customers under my belt.

I like pulling between 6.5 and 6.

So far I have found that my students have the same reaction to 20 seconds of freefall as they do 30 seconds, so there is nothing in it for my them to hum it down.

On the other side I think they get a lot more out of the longer canopy ride. I have more time to let them practice some canopy flight, more time to reherse the landing again, more time to point out landmarks and play tour guide. The sensory overload is less under canopy, they can take it all in!

Not to mention the extra time to deal with a malfunction is worth it weight in gold!

I hope 100 to 200 jumps from now I have the same attitude.


(This post was edited by DougH on Sep 21, 2011, 4:08 AM)


davelepka  (D 21448)

Sep 21, 2011, 4:57 AM
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Re: [jonathan.newman] Tandem Opening Altitude [In reply to] Can't Post

Quote:
At the big DZ I jump at, the turbines always land before the tandems. Combine this with hot loads where TIs and videos are turning, and it really adds pressure to have a spinning prop in the loading area. If you don't want to keep the plane waiting, you need to either burn it low, or crank the turns.

If that's the case, then the TI needs to hire more TIs so nobody has to do back-to-backs. If the plane turns that fast, by the time one set of TIs land, bring their gear in, go potty, and gear check their next rig and student, they'll sit for no more than 5 min before the plane is back a ready to load.

DZO should know that a TI can sit for 5 min for free, but a running turbine costs a lot more. Additionally, if the TIs (and other jumpers) are geared up and ready to go, you can have the plane taxiing back out within 60 seconds of pulling up. Mullins is a good example, they jam you into the plane in the loading area in the shortest amount of time possible. Considering how fast the plane is, they save a load or a half-load of tach time by not wasting time in the loading area.

There are a ton of good ways to save time during the day, and pulling the tandems low is not one of them.


stratostar  (Student)

Sep 21, 2011, 5:16 AM
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Re: [ti1] Tandem Opening Altitude [In reply to] Can't Post

I've been around a long time too, I have never seen this type of crap your talking about.... other then the hook turns.

But I have seen a dzo let a guy who was a retired golden d-bag that had not jumped in 10 years, ask and let that guy take a first jump tandem up because he was short ti's.... YES this jump happened and I have the exit on video.

I like to pull around 5.5 on tandems. And like AFF I teach my PAx to lock on their dial @ 6 and pull @ 5,5. That way it's in line with the progression should someone return for training.


normiss  (D 28356)

Sep 21, 2011, 6:02 AM
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Re: [davelepka] Tandem Opening Altitude [In reply to] Can't Post

Potty?
TI's get to go to the bathroom on a busy day???
Next you'll try to tell me we get to eat lunch too.
CrazyLaughLaughLaugh


pirana  (D 30661)

Sep 21, 2011, 7:06 AM
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Safety First [In reply to] Can't Post

I go potty when I need to, and I eat when I need to. Manifest knows I need to eat and gives me no grief for a sandwich break mid day. They also know I need to pee occassionally and I get nothing but a little friendly ribbing if the plane has to wait a moment while I do so. If we are busy and it means getting skipped in the rotation - I'm totally cool with that.

Shoulder taps at 6K and drogue release at 5500 - no exceptions.

The manufacturer has their rules, the DZ has their's, and I have mine. I truly appreciate that they all mesh nicely - and especially the manifest folks that allow me to eat. May sound trivial - but I want max focus - including no hunger jitters and no squirming about cuz my bladder is about to burst.


pirana  (D 30661)

Sep 21, 2011, 7:12 AM
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Re: [pirana] Safety First [In reply to] Can't Post

One more thing - if having the tandems pull low provides the difference between a reasonable business profit and going broke - there is something else wrong with the operation.

If that is the case, and somebody is looking for a Business Process Analyst, I know a guy.


JohnRich  (D License)

Sep 21, 2011, 1:18 PM
Post #13 of 18 (2259 views)
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Re: [davelepka] Tandem Opening Altitude [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
If that's the case, then the TI needs to hire more TIs so nobody has to do back-to-backs.

A lot of TI's LIKE to do back-to-backs, because it vastly increases the number of jumps, and the amount of money, they can make in a day. If you double the number of TI's to eliminate back-to-back loads, then you cut in half of the pay of the prior TI's.


davelepka  (D 21448)

Sep 21, 2011, 7:41 PM
Post #14 of 18 (2176 views)
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Re: [JohnRich] Tandem Opening Altitude [In reply to] Can't Post

Quote:
If you double the number of TI's to eliminate back-to-back loads, then you cut in half of the pay of the prior TI's.

Kill a student, and see what that does to the TIs pay.


normiss  (D 28356)

Sep 21, 2011, 8:03 PM
Post #15 of 18 (2173 views)
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Re: [davelepka] Tandem Opening Altitude [In reply to] Can't Post

Depends.
Unsure


ti1

Sep 22, 2011, 4:06 AM
Post #16 of 18 (2117 views)
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Re: [ti1] Tandem Opening Altitude [In reply to] Can't Post

From the responses so far it seems that this behavior is not isolated, but at least some dropzones do not condone or allow it.

Presumably, those instructors who do pull low and turn off their AADs won't come on here to talk about it, and in hindsight I'm not sure anything could be accomplished here. I'm debating whether to leave the sport or at least stop working, because I am not comfortable with this, and I don't know how to effect change without losing my job anyway.


DougH  (D License)

Sep 22, 2011, 8:33 AM
Post #17 of 18 (2084 views)
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Re: [ti1] Tandem Opening Altitude [In reply to] Can't Post

Does the DZO know that people are turning off their AAD's and jumping with customers? I reread your post and it sounds like you also ready brought it up to the responsible parties.

If it was me I would bring this all up to the DZO, if he didn't give a shit I wouldn't jump there on staff and I would think long and hard before jumping there as a funjumper.

I guess at this point you have few options.

You can make note that you tried to have this addressed and keep jumping there , I couldn't.

You can stop jumping.

Or you could raise holy hell and start naming names, starting with the instructors and ending with the USPA officials who blew you off.

People like that shouldn't have ratings, and shouldn't be in the sport. If this is going to make you leave the sport you might as well bring as many of the bastards with you as you can.

That being said why do I think there is more to this story, everyone has an agenda!


(This post was edited by DougH on Sep 22, 2011, 8:40 AM)


ti1

Sep 23, 2011, 5:04 AM
Post #18 of 18 (2013 views)
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Re: [DougH] Tandem Opening Altitude [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
That being said why do I think there is more to this story, everyone has an agenda!

I don't think there's anything I can say to prove otherwise, at least without talking names and places, which I won't do here. But I thank you for the above opinion regardless. I can say that if this blows up I'll not only lose income, but friends as well, neither of which is an appealing prospect.


(This post was edited by ti1 on Sep 23, 2011, 5:04 AM)



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