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Barrel roll to check for clear airspace?

 

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peek  (D 8884)

Dec 7, 2017, 8:45 AM
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Barrel roll to check for clear airspace? Can't Post

This subject is related to the fatality I reported on in the Incidents forum, and I think it is better to discuss it here.

Doing a barrel roll while tracking away from others after breakoff from a formation is controversial to say the least, and I think that most people realize the times when it is definitely not a good idea to do it, for example, when a formation has been successful and breakoff is going as planned.

However, there are other skydives that include situations that are not planned for or not expected at all, and that include skydivers with various degrees of skills and experience. For example, a jumper being way high or way low on the others at breakoff, a "funnel" near breakoff altitude, etc.

1. Do we attempt to teach everything to everyone, so that if they remember their training (and practice those skills), that they will have the survival skills to deal with an unusual situation?

2. Or do we become incredibly conservative and do not plan anything that would risk an unusual situation?

3. Or is there something else we can do?

As far as training goes, we teach people to track, backslide, and barrel roll, but tracking is the only skill that they are then doing often enough to get good at it, unless they are practicing these things themselves. For example, if we find ourselves directly over someone, a backslide or sideslide might be the best/quickest way to correct that situation.

[By the way, if your search the forums for "barrel roll", you will find a few discussions from many years ago, for comparison to what we now think. There are good arguments on both sides.]


(This post was edited by peek on Dec 7, 2017, 8:54 AM)


husslr187  (B 47237)

Dec 7, 2017, 9:34 AM
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Re: [peek] Barrel roll to check for clear airspace? [In reply to] Can't Post

I am not going to do a barrel roll in the middle of my track. I will however look everywhere I can and keep track of where everyone else is the best I can. I have pitched high before and I've pitched below the planned pull altitude before. I do have a very strong sense of spatial awareness due to where I work. With that said my opinion is you should be looking down for arms waving below you. Your eyes are drawn to movement but you need to be looking in the right direction to see it.


Bob_Church  (D 8195)

Dec 7, 2017, 9:46 AM
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Re: [peek] Barrel roll to check for clear airspace? [In reply to] Can't Post

About the stiff neck and having difficult clearing your back, I feel that coming on and figure it will be a problem in a few years. At most.
But I was wondering about wearing a mirror on the back of my hand. Is there any reason not to do this? I'd have to be careful that it actually worked and let me see someone rather than just giving me a false sense of safety.
I remember someone talking about this in a letter to Parachutist many years ago but does anyone have experience with it?


dthames  (D 34390)

Dec 7, 2017, 10:27 AM
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Re: [peek] Barrel roll to check for clear airspace? [In reply to] Can't Post

I think a fair number of these incidents start with initial heading problem. If a person has a pattern of heading problems, that is something that should be addressed before they cause a crash.

Also, with hand on handle, there is normally time for one more quick look. I would expect that a fair number of jumpers, once committed to pull, rush it. I have froze/paused on the handle many times because I didn't like what I was seeing. Unless practiced, look, grab, LOOK, and pull,.....I would guess many would never take that final look.


Hooknswoop  (D License)

Dec 7, 2017, 11:20 AM
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Re: [peek] Barrel roll to check for clear airspace? [In reply to] Can't Post

Break Off and Tracking

-Donít miss break off altitude. If you do, you can either track less and deploy closer to other jumpers (bad), or track to get sufficient separation and pull low (bad).
-At beak-off altitude, LEAVE! Do not hesitate, do not delay leaving by wave-offing to indicate to the group that it is break-off altitude. Leave now. Every second is valuable and the best indication you can give the group that it is break-off altitude it to break off and leave.

-Track 180-degrees from the center of the formation. Tracking is a survival skill. Learn to flat track. Speed is not important in tracking. The relative angle to the ground is what is important. The more horizontal distance you cover for the least amount of altitude lost is what creates the maximum separation from other jumpers. Always strive to improve your tracking, the better you can track, the safer you are.
-Look where you are going. As tracking and flocking jumps demonstrate, tracking is a high-speed maneuver. Hitting someone while tracking could result in serious injury or death.

-The lower jumper has the right of way. Therefore, it is incumbent on you to ensure you are not above someone. A glance over your shoulder is OK, but you should be primarily looking where you are going and ensuring there is no one below you. At 100+ mph, spotting someone below you in the ground clutter is difficult. Taking your focus off where you are going to perform a barrel roll takes too much time away from your primary focus (looking where you are going) or is so quick you cannot effectively scan the airspace above. There is the added risk of not maintaining a heading during the tracking barrel roll.

-Do not focus on a set pull altitude. If you arenít tracking because you are clear of all the other jumper in the air, pull. If you are not clear, keep tracking to get clear. Getting clear and then stopping your track to wait for pull altitude is wasting valuable altitude. Of course, there are limits to this, you do not want to pull low or have an AAD fire.

-Perform a big wave off on every skydive. Our eyes naturally are attracted to movement. A big wave off while slowing down from the track can make you much easier for another jumper above you to spot.

Derek V


kuai43  (C License)

Dec 7, 2017, 7:13 PM
Post #6 of 46 (2471 views)
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Re: [Hooknswoop] Barrel roll to check for clear airspace? [In reply to] Can't Post

Hooknswoop wrote:
Break Off and Tracking

-Donít miss break off altitude. If you do, you can either track less and deploy closer to other jumpers (bad), or track to get sufficient separation and pull low (bad).
-At break-off altitude, LEAVE! Do not hesitate, do not delay leaving by wave-offing to indicate to the group that it is break-off altitude. Leave now. Every second is valuable and the best indication you can give the group that it is break-off altitude it to break off and leave.

-Track 180-degrees from the center of the formation. Tracking is a survival skill. Learn to flat track. Speed is not important in tracking. The relative angle to the ground is what is important. The more horizontal distance you cover for the least amount of altitude lost is what creates the maximum separation from other jumpers. Always strive to improve your tracking, the better you can track, the safer you are.
-Look where you are going. As tracking and flocking jumps demonstrate, tracking is a high-speed maneuver. Hitting someone while tracking could result in serious injury or death.

-The lower jumper has the right of way. Therefore, it is incumbent on you to ensure you are not above someone. A glance over your shoulder is OK, but you should be primarily looking where you are going and ensuring there is no one below you. At 100+ mph, spotting someone below you in the ground clutter is difficult. Taking your focus off where you are going to perform a barrel roll takes too much time away from your primary focus (looking where you are going) or is so quick you cannot effectively scan the airspace above. There is the added risk of not maintaining a heading during the tracking barrel roll.

-Do not focus on a set pull altitude. If you arenít tracking because you are clear of all the other jumper in the air, pull. If you are not clear, keep tracking to get clear. Getting clear and then stopping your track to wait for pull altitude is wasting valuable altitude. Of course, there are limits to this, you do not want to pull low or have an AAD fire.

-Perform a big wave off on every skydive. Our eyes naturally are attracted to movement. A big wave off while slowing down from the track can make you much easier for another jumper above you to spot.

Derek V

This. With the additional advice of trying not to track up or down jump run, this should be the final word.


NickyCal  (C 43127)

Dec 7, 2017, 9:05 PM
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Re: [peek] Barrel roll to check for clear airspace? [In reply to] Can't Post

I only have a little over 400 jumps, so my experience is low, but for me, doing a barrel roll to check my air space above when I am already reaching pull altitude would not be ideal. At that point, my focus is on stability and a nice clean canopy over my head. Also, barrel rolls are FAST! I'd probably have to do three to efficiently check the airspace above me, and by then I'd have had an AAD fire. I just don't see that as being the responsibility of someone at pull time. Wearing a full-face helmet, and in a belly to earth orientation, looking back above you is also of minimal assistance. You don't have much field of view. It is, however, your responsibility to not be above somebody. We've all been on jumps that went wrong, and I've certainly been in a position of looking down and saying, "Uh oh!" (possibly in less polite terms). You get the hell out of the way, or especially on a small dive like this, you pull. You know that nobody else is above you.

I see a couple of things that probably went wrong here. Obviously, the higher jumper was not paying attention to where the lower man was. However, she had very few jumps, and there is a lot going on in a 5-way. She isn't just concentrating on the dive flow, she's got a million other things in her head being that new. And her eyes aren't seeing the sky yet like a more experienced jumper would. Ideally, everybody concedes the airspace to her, being skilled enough to do what they need to do -- but the low man could not see her. His only option was to track away from the formation to the best of his ability, but more importantly, he loses the luxury of pulling high. He must pull below the rest of the group, to be absolutely sure of clear air space, since he is now below and has lost track of a new jumper.

I don't think that a barrel roll has anything to do with this situation. A newer jumper was not aware of her surroundings. A more experienced jumper did not think clearly enough to get himself out of the way, having gone low and not knowing what was going on above him. I think it's as simple as that. A perfect storm.


peek  (D 8884)

Dec 8, 2017, 4:39 AM
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Re: [NickyCal] Barrel roll to check for clear airspace? [In reply to] Can't Post

NickyCal wrote:
... Also, barrel rolls are FAST! I'd probably have to do three to efficiently check the airspace above me ...

Nicky, thank you very much for your insights, particularly that one. I think we all know what the best-practices are, but I was looking for some additional thoughts and ideas.

Another way that people express the "perfect storm" concept is that a "chain of events" leads up to an accident. If any of the "links of the chain" are removed, the accident would not happen.


fcajump  (D 15598)

Dec 8, 2017, 5:38 AM
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Re: [peek] Barrel roll to check for clear airspace? [In reply to] Can't Post

All the time you are rolling to look up, you are not looking down to make sure you are not drifting overtop of someone else.

Great to look in your rear-view mirror to know if you're going to be hit, but you must make sure you're not about to run into someone in the meanwhile.

That, combined with the other notions mentioned such as performing a maneuver many don't practice, that puts you (temporarily) in a non-deployable situation, and may take you off course at a time when others are depending on you to keep your line... all at a time when your getting close to pull alt... just doesn't seem like a good overall plan.

Yes, there are a minority of situations where this would be a good thing... such as the minority of situations when an AAD is bad and an RSL can cause problems. But overall I think making this a new norm will cause more issues than it would solve.

JW


peek  (D 8884)

Dec 8, 2017, 10:03 AM
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Re: [fcajump] Barrel roll to check for clear airspace? [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for your comments. As I said to Nicky, we know what the best practices are, but I was just thinking about a barrel roll being "another tool in the box" for certain situations. And it would definitely need to be practiced before it was needed.


fcajump  (D 15598)

Dec 8, 2017, 10:11 AM
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Re: [peek] Barrel roll to check for clear airspace? [In reply to] Can't Post

peek wrote:
Thanks for your comments. As I said to Nicky, we know what the best practices are, but I was just thinking about a barrel roll being "another tool in the box" for certain situations. And it would definitely need to be practiced before it was needed.

I'm all for more tools.
Will have to dust that one off with a mind set of when I would use it.
JW


piisfish

Dec 8, 2017, 1:25 PM
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Re: [peek] Barrel roll to check for clear airspace? [In reply to] Can't Post

Barrel rolls are a great tool, you need to be good at them. Unfortunately many belly flyers are not very current for this. Some practice with a Freefly coach can help.


obelixtim  (D 84)

Dec 8, 2017, 2:44 PM
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Re: [piisfish] Barrel roll to check for clear airspace? [In reply to] Can't Post

 The correct answer is NO.

If barrel rolls were an effective way of clearing airspace on breakoff from formations we would have been doing them 40 years ago when RW was the thing and everybody was doing formations. Its never been an acceptable thing to do.

No one ever advocated them as a way of checking for clear air after breakoff, and the reason is because its a stupid idea and a dangerous practice, as has been pointed out here.

Whoever came up with the idea needs to be shot with a ball of their own shit.

Breakoff protocols are clear and simple, and with everyone on the same page it is the safest method.

Break off, turn 180, and track like hell, checking other jumpers as you go, followed by a clear wave off before dumping. If you are low or nowhere near the formation when approaching break off then turn off and get the hell out of there. The low man has right of way. Separation both vertically and horizontally is essential.

Hundreds of thousands of formation jumps have been done over many years with complete safety, which proves the system works. The tool box already has enough tools in it.

Just because one or two incidents occur because people do not follow the proper drills is not a reason to start reinventing the wheel.

WTF is going on in peoples heads?


(This post was edited by obelixtim on Dec 8, 2017, 2:49 PM)


mbohu  (A License)

Dec 8, 2017, 3:58 PM
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Re: [peek] Barrel roll to check for clear airspace? [In reply to] Can't Post

As a newer jumper I have more questions about what exactly to do, if I notice someone above or below me at pull altitude (irrespective of how I notice.)
At this point it looks like I would deal with the situation on a one-on-one basis...but I also feel that any decision I take could be less than ideal, depending on the action of the other person in the same air space (and potentially even other sourrounding groups I'm not aware of)

For example: I notice someone above me at pull altitude (3.5k feet) and decide to track a few more seconds but adjust my heading slightly to the right. (This actually happened--only instance where I noticed someone in my airspace at pull-time). In my case it worked fine. I had enough altitude, it got me clearer of the person above, I did not encroach on the airspace of another group and the person above me was an experienced camera flier who got out of the way as much as possible and pulled high (and fortunately had a normal opening)
...but what if the person above also decided to adjust their heading in the same direction and track further? Or just pulled high immediately after noticing me and had a high-speed malfunction or really slow opening?

Are there any general recommendations that help in such situations?

PS: I am aware that usually, if someone is above or below me, one or more people already messed up in some way, and it's best to avoid that to begin with, but once you're in that situation you still will have to deal with it, no matter who's at fault.


piisfish

Dec 8, 2017, 4:37 PM
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Re: [obelixtim] Barrel roll to check for clear airspace? [In reply to] Can't Post

Obelix, I take it that it means that you are part of the jumpers who cannot keep a significant heading, level and speed during a roll ?

I am not saying it should be used every time, but when things get hairy, my opinion is that an extra tool in the box can save you (or another jumper).


Bob_Church  (D 8195)

Dec 8, 2017, 6:37 PM
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Re: [mbohu] Barrel roll to check for clear airspace? [In reply to] Can't Post

mbohu wrote:
As a newer jumper I have more questions about what exactly to do, if I notice someone above or below me at pull altitude (irrespective of how I notice.)
At this point it looks like I would deal with the situation on a one-on-one basis...but I also feel that any decision I take could be less than ideal, depending on the action of the other person in the same air space (and potentially even other sourrounding groups I'm not aware of)
.

I floated on an eight way and since we were getting low I just cleared my back and waited until opening altitude. This was a boogie with groups ahead of and behind us so I didn't want to go flying off but I couldn't open high either. One of the people in the seven way broke, did a turn and flew directly below me and tossed out his pilot chute. I didn't think about anything, I pulled into a delta and it seemed like I felt his pilot chute fly past my feet. It was that close, I saw it going by. I thought I should let the guy at least know, he was a low timer, so I took my lumps for being the high man in a near collision but I thought it was worth it to let this guy know that whoever had the right of way wasn't important compared to surviving the jump. As I went into the delta I was looking straight down at him as he was reaching for his pilot chute. My legs were still wobbly when I got down.


mbohu  (A License)

Dec 8, 2017, 7:57 PM
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Re: [Bob_Church] Barrel roll to check for clear airspace? [In reply to] Can't Post

Yikes! Good reaction. Sounds like he did not check above himself at all. Glad it turned out ok!


obelixtim  (D 84)

Dec 9, 2017, 3:55 AM
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Re: [piisfish] Barrel roll to check for clear airspace? [In reply to] Can't Post

piisfish wrote:
Obelix, I take it that it means that you are part of the jumpers who cannot keep a significant heading, level and speed during a roll ?

I am not saying it should be used every time, but when things get hairy, my opinion is that an extra tool in the box can save you (or another jumper).

Irrelevant to the point. 90% of my jumps have been formation jumps. Never had a problem.

If things are getting "hairy", WTF are you doing jumping with idiots anyway? Do you not brief them properly?

Its not something I would ever consider doing after breakoff after a formation.

First of all, I would only be doing formations with jumpers who I trust, and for big formations, those jumpers would have proved themselves anyway.

Smaller formations with a novice involved, they would be in a place where they have been properly briefed and be easy to watch.

If I started throwing barrel rolls into the mix after breakoff, I would be quickly awarded the order of the axe by the other jumpers, and fair enough too.

Tell me, if you throw a barrel roll, and find another jumper above you, what exactly are you going to do? Especially if there are other jumpers below you. Throw another roll losing eye contact with them? Or track and barrel roll your way down to ground level?

I hope no novices are taking on board this advice you are promulgating. It goes against everything people should do AFTER breakoff from a formation.

Stop it!


NickyCal  (C 43127)

Dec 10, 2017, 11:00 AM
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Re: [obelixtim] Barrel roll to check for clear airspace? [In reply to] Can't Post

We have a hard and simple rule already in place. Low man has right-of-way. Low man is closer to the ground, closer to pull time, and he cannot see you. If you end up above someone at the bottom end of a group jump, you had damn well better be watching for their wave off while you are also clearing the hell out of that airspace.

I don't care if you are the king of perfectly executed barrel rolls, what difference does it make? So you do a speed inducing instability maneuver at pull time, see somebody above you, and... Well, and assume that they are going to follow protocol and get out of your way! There isn't a whole lot that you can do. Wave bigger? Take it a little lower, yes. But you need to assume that they are getting out of your way, you can't start moving and start the chain of events all over again. They need to avoid you!

In almost all instances, doing a barrel roll at pull time accomplishes nothing constructive. It can certainly be a negative, causing instability, causing people to go too low, causing a wild and off heading opening. The list goes on. Doing a barrel roll at pull time is not something that should be a thing. We already have the thing. The thing is, if you are above someone, it is your responsibility to get out of the way when they wave off.

The one thing that I did take away from this accident, and I think this is what we need to perhaps emphasize as the teaching point, is that if you are on a group dive like this and go low, you've got to give everybody a little more vertical separation, just in case. Which means that if you know your group tends to open at 3500, you might want to pull closer to 3000, just to be safe. You lose the luxury of opening high, just this once you're going to have to pull a little bit lower than your comfort zone, but this is better than meeting one of your friends plummeting to earth while you are already in the saddle.


chuckakers  (D 10855)

Dec 10, 2017, 12:39 PM
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Re: [piisfish] Barrel roll to check for clear airspace? [In reply to] Can't Post

piisfish wrote:
Barrel rolls are a great tool, you need to be good at them. Unfortunately many belly flyers are not very current for this. Some practice with a Freefly coach can help.

There is nothing of consequence you can see during a barrel that I can't see by looking over both shoulders using direct & peripheral vision - and I have a bad neck from years of flying old, heavy cameras.


grimmie  (D 18890)

Dec 10, 2017, 2:03 PM
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Re: [chuckakers] Barrel roll to check for clear airspace? [In reply to] Can't Post

I would add that the low person needs to do a nice big wave off before deploying.

Get everyone's attention.


Hooknswoop  (D License)

Dec 10, 2017, 2:52 PM
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Re: [grimmie] Barrel roll to check for clear airspace? [In reply to] Can't Post

Quote:
-Perform a big wave off on every skydive. Our eyes naturally are attracted to movement. A big wave off while slowing down from the track can make you much easier for another jumper above you to spot.

Quote:
I would add that the low person needs to do a nice big wave off before deploying.

Get everyone's attention.

Derek V


BIGUN  (D 23385)

Dec 10, 2017, 3:23 PM
Post #23 of 46 (1226 views)
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Re: [Hooknswoop] Barrel roll to check for clear airspace? [In reply to] Can't Post

Quote:
A big wave off while slowing down from the track can make you much easier for another jumper above you to spot.

Mind if I add that having a jumpsuit with colors that strongly contrast the terrain will help that jumper above you seeing the wave off.


BigL  (C License)

Dec 10, 2017, 6:38 PM
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Re: [BIGUN] Barrel roll to check for clear airspace? [In reply to] Can't Post

A 5-way angle typically has the same amount of breakoff (1500') as a 5-Way RW jump but half the airspace to separate into, but barrel rolls are considered good practice.

Whats the difference apart from already having speed on in an angle?


stratostar  (Student)

Dec 10, 2017, 6:53 PM
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Re: [peek] Barrel roll to check for clear airspace? [In reply to] Can't Post

If you really need to, going to the Carbonezone for deployment should be in ones tool box, because very few others will be that low, provided your canopy donít 1500 feet to open, or youíll have two out from an AAD fire, or maybe dead.


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