Sep 1, 2013, 9:36 AM
Post #1 of 7
Hi senior jumpers
Until the pea gravel thread.
I really have no first hand experience landing in sawdust.
I can imagine the yuck factor of getting sawdust everywhere,
In spite of being a organic product, if the dz is located close enough to a sawmill the natural organic decay might not be to much of a issue, depending on local weather conditions.
What I'm trying to say is I want to know from the seniors what they know about about the use of sawdust on the dz for a landing area. How often it had to be topped off. How did it compare to pea gravel to dissipate the landing impact, the odor if any.
Etc etc. If we don't document this piece of jumping history now, it may be lost Forever.
There may even be some dzs in the world that still use sawdust for a landing area. Due to special local conditions.
I don't know how deep the sawdust was in the pit but it was more like "chips". I know that it was deep enough to take a hit at full flight on a night accuracy jump and I never hit bottom on the first landing, the second landing was somewhere out in the lawn flat on my back, glad they count your first point of contact rather then adding all subsequent landings together! care and maintenence of the sawdust pit was just me or T-Bow racking and smoothing out the divots in the pit, never seemed to rot, I think they may have been cedar chips. The chips have been replaced some years ago with pea gravel, just ain't the same as sitting around in the evening picking the sawdust out of your socks.
I remember jumping at the Citadel accuracy competition meet in Walterboro North? or South? Carolina many many years ago. Sawdust circle. Deep sawdust. Very nice to land on but.... if sawdust is deep enough, and is rained on to the point it gets damp, and the temperature is warm enough by the process of spontaneous combustion it eventually creates red coals and embers down deep. Just like a stack of hay bales that was baled with too much moisture in the hay.
If those conditions exist, and enough time elapses, dig deep enough and you'll be seeing red glowing embers. I remember those jumpers coming in at twilight and hitting hard and putting up a veritable shower wall of red embers. Yeah- lots of them. This spontaneous combustion can be extinguished by soaking the pit with a WHOLE LOT of water, but then that creates a wet pit. Caution that your customers get their $1800+ canopies showered with glowing red embers=melted holes in the fabric and having to replace the canopy? Or land in really wet sawdust.
I don't know if this will be your experience, but it certainly happened there. No canopies burned, luckily, but everyone was really wet after landing because they tried to soak it before the event. Just didn't soak it enough to put out the deep fire.
Been jumping in South Carolina since '62 and been to many meets that had sawdust pits, we even had one in Barnwell when Bobby Frierson and I started the Drop Zone..never heard of one catching fire and the ones I landed on were thick enough to break your fall unless it doubled your legs up into your reserve enough to just about knock the wind out of U...was at 3 or 4 of the Citadel meets..
If I remember correctly it was in 1965 or 66. Great meet, cool place. No there wasn't any fire or even smoke until we came in downwind on our PC's and dug deep trenches. Then there was both: embers (not fire) and acrid smell of smoke. We didn't miss a beat, and kept jumping with our wet butts. No damage and we didn't think it was a big deal. I have it logged and can look up the date.