Oct 22, 2001, 12:57 PM
Post #1 of 21
Low-Timers vs. Winds
When I had 100 jumps, I don't remember thinking about winds very often. Usually, one of the instructors or senior jumpers would say, "Trent, sit your ass down! No way you're jumping in these winds." But I've noticed a lot of the 50-100 jump wonders disregarding this type of advice lately. I've seen people with less than 50 jumps, go up in winds that people with 1000's of jumps are scared of, and I can tell you that this disgusts me. It is amazing how these people do not take notice that no one with any experience is jumping in high or gusty winds. They get on a load, jump, and 99 times out of 100, they land just fine. But as I approach 400 jumps, I've seen several people severely injured due to winds and rotors at the wrong time, as well as one fatality. Maybe it's just that these low-timers haven't seen what can happen to them, or maybe it's that they're so eager to jump that they throw their personal safety out the window. Either way, when you see experienced people sitting out the loads, ask why... maybe you should think twice before jumping. More experienced jumpers have an obligation (albeit unwritten) to tell low-timers that maybe they should wait until the winds calm down, and low-timers have an obligation to listen... even if it means you may not get to jump that day.
Like I said, 99 times out of 100, you'll be okay... but disregarding your safety in shady wind conditions is stupid. When the one time comes that the winds do toss you, that very well could be the end of your jumping for a long time... even forever. Most of us are young and have a ton of good jumping days left in us, why push it when the conditions are questionable?
Be smart, be observant, and be a wind-wuss... it might just keep you alive.
Trent: Point taken, but it is imperative that a jumper learns canopy control in windy conditions. Without prior wind experience, a jumper caught up in a sudden squall can find themself fighting for their life! The rigid toggle control techniques I see used by even experienced jumpers can be catastrophic in high wind gusts. The finese and light toggle control input to keep your canopy inflated and under control in high wind needs to be taught and practiced if you are to become a competent advanced canopy pilot.
Skydiving is not a static excercise with discrete predictability...
If there is one thing I learned about jumping in winds its no hard turns. I was jumping in 18-20mph with 25mph gusts once and as I was doing hard toggle turns to burn off alt (did not want to hang around in the winds too long) I was having a problem keeping any heading coming out. I noticed that when I let both toggles up my canopy kept in a dive for a few seconds and then straightened out throwing me way off heading. When I finally got the thing on the ground I asked my riiger why this happened and he said cause the winds where blowing so strong that when I came outa of the deep turn the wind was pushing down on the leading egde not letting it come up straight. For a person with only about 20 jumps at the time it was some scarey shit LESSONED LEARNED!!!
I just made jump number 13 yesterday. I was using my 210 Silhouette (I love that thing, but that's another story) loaded just a little above 1:1.
When I showed up, students were grounded due to boarderline 14 mph winds, but I hung out for a while to see if it would clear up. I was sketchy about jumping #13 anyway (3.5k hnp) and could go either way. Several new A license holders were sitting it out too.
I watched a lot of jumpers come in with very little glide, a lot of bumpiness that made canopies look like accordions and a bunch of rather harsh landings, since turbulence from the hanger was just about perpendicular to the final.
An hour later, the winds were down a bit and I was cleared to go on the next Otter load. I went out at 3.5k and was open by 3k. I pulled a riser turn, collapsed the slider, grabbed the toggles and started burning off altitude since I had already drifted quite a ways from my spot. I immediately noticed a difference in my turns in higher wind especially in a reverse turn. Cruising to my pattern entry point, I found my first really good example of crabbing--about 45 degrees off from my true heading.
I went into brakes to try to knock off my braked pattern/landing requirement. My Silhouette glides forever normally (my first jump on it, I overshot the peas by like 60 meters or better on almost the exact pattern I came up short with a Spectre 230) and I opened my pattern up a bit more than usual. I made my last braked turn into the wind and about 60 or 70 meters from the Peas. As soon as I faced the wind, I think I actually gained a piece of altitude and just hovered there. I began to descend slow and a little bumpy, but still in the brakes. I let up a little left and a little right, slow and gentle input--both toggles together a couple times. I had one big bump at about 80 feet AGL or so and suddenly started to glide forward and down at good clip. I flared and walked in the landing about 9 or 10 meters short of the peas.
Granted, my stomach dropped when I felt that last big bump, but I am glad I got the practice. In the my brief jumping experience, I have seen winds really change from the time the Otter took off until I got under canopy. I feel much more comfortable in my ability to deal with those changes. Once I get my license, will I throw caution to the wind, so to speak, and jump conditions I am advised against? Nope.
I think two of the most important things one can have in this sport are common sense and having around those way-more experienced skydivers out there who instill common sense.
Thanks for being there, y'all, mike
billvon (D 16479)
Oct 22, 2001, 7:11 PM
Post #5 of 21
>I noticed that when I let both toggles up my canopy kept in a dive for a few seconds and then straightened out throwing me way off heading. When I finally got the thing on the ground I asked my riiger why this happened and he said cause the winds where blowing so strong that when I came outa of the deep turn the wind was pushing down on the leading egde not letting it come up straight.
I love the explanations people come up with for this stuff . . .
Canopies don't care about steady wind. You could be flying your canopy in the jet stream, with a ground speed of 100mph, and it wouldn't care, because your airspeed, the _apparent_ wind, is still 20mph. The wind wouldn't "push down the leading edge" or anything.
The problem with high winds are turbulence. Near the ground, high winds cause turbulent air, which is another way of saying air that changes direction often (and strongly.) This causes the canopy to react. For example, if turbulence causes a wind change such that the apparent wind (the air your canopy sees) is from the side, your canopy will turn into the (new) wind. If it causes the apparent wind to speed up, your canopy will nose-up and slow down to its trim speed. If it causes the apparent wind to slow down, you will dive. (In aviation circles, this is called wind shear when it happens suddenly and dramatically.)
It is this constant attempt to return to stable flight that causes you to feel turbulence. It is a good thing in a way, since your canopy is constantly trying to keep itself flying at trim speed into the wind. If its recovery takes you into the ground at high speed, well, that's obviously not good. Flying at half brakes does three things - it reduces your speed, and thus reduces the speed at which you fly through changing winds (sorta obvious.) In addition, half brakes keeps your canopy in a flight regime where the reaction to wind changes are not as strong. Finally, if you do get suddenly pounded into the ground, half brakes are a very good way to land (as opposed to full flight.)
I agree Trent, I only have about 70 jumps & I realized this weekend just how lax I've been about winds in the past. Pam & I went to the DZ Sunday to make a few jumps, but the 16mph winds with gusts up to 30mph kept us on the ground for the day. Now, I've jumped in winds like this several times before without taking the danger into consideration even for a second.... true, nothing happened and I'm obviously still alive.... but I've watched the wind pick Pam up at about 20ft & pitch her canopy sideways to where her body was almost completely parallel to the ground.... she compensated for it (SOMEHOW) & actually almost landed on her feet. Scared the Shit out of me!!! Anyway, I've only been able to make about 4 jumps in the last two months, I took this into consideration & kept my ass on the ground this weekend. There were several other experienced jumpers making loads, but for me & my currency it was just too much. I'm upset that I didn't get to jump, but I guarantee that it's a lot better than NOT being ABLE to jump, because of a broken bone or worse.
The sky will always be there, it's simply not worth the risk of seriously, or fatally injuring yourself... just to make 'one more' jump!
One thing I believe students/newly qualifieds should do is to kite your canopy in winds to learn how it reacts to wind and the input you give from your risers. Kinda like a paragliding reverse launch twist yours risers over once and have the canopy fly over your head - it is one of the most beneficial and interesting things you can do on a windy day...........
I know exactly what you're talking about. Many people totally disregard the wind when they're jumping. They don't realize how dangerous it can be. Those people you see with well over 1000 jumps sitting out, they're still here. They're here because they know it isn't safe to jump. People who ignore wind as a safety hazard will eventually become another statistic on skydivenet.com
billvon (D 16479)
Oct 23, 2001, 2:07 PM
Post #10 of 21
>One thing I believe students/newly qualifieds should do is to kite your canopy in winds to learn how it reacts to wind and the >input you give from your risers. Kinda like a paragliding reverse launch twist yours risers over once and have the canopy > fly over your head - it is one of the most beneficial and interesting things you can do on a windy day...........
And this probably goes without saying, but this is best done on the grass somewhere _away_ from the landing area.
If you live in Oklahoma, you WILL at some point get some funky winds...a lot of times unexpectedly. You can have nice docile winds one moment, and nasty gusts the next. I've been blown backwards (literally) before, hovered in one spot several times, and landed off more then once already (those were on my Triathlon though, which was loaded pretty low...which is why I went down to my Sabre). Like Merrick, I also don't know how the he** I pulled that one landing out of my butt when the rotors caught me and tossed me to the side. A lot of people watching said they were crapping their pants watching it :/
Yeah, we all need to learn how to deal with the winds, but setting a personal limit before you get to the DZ is a good idea (before you are REALLY tempted when you are there watching/waiting). I have a number for the wind speed I will not go beyond, and although tempted sometimes when I'm impatient and see others going...I won't let myself take that chance because even 'calm' days have been challenging sometimes...I can't imagine one that's not! Plus watching Merrick break his leg partially because of weird winds at the exact moment he was coming in to land freaked me out good too!
Sign in an airlift Ops building on Pope AFB. "Tis better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air than in the air wishing you were on the ground." Never heard a more true statement regarding aviation in any form.
"There once was a man named Enis....."-Krusty the Clown Clay
skymama (D 26699)
Oct 23, 2001, 7:20 PM
Post #13 of 21
Just this past Sunday, I was up in the plane at around 10,000', and the pilot called out that the winds were suddenly gusting at 25 mph. Since I only have 84 jumps, I decided to ride the plane down, and eat the jump ticket. The guy seated behind me was just off student status, and he said that he was still going. It took one of our tandem masters the rest of the ride to altitude to convince this guy to ride the plane down. Four of us rode the plane down. Cudos go out to my dz for not charging us for the ride, I guess since we were all low-timers, and it was a safety issue.
The brave may not live forever, but the timid may not live at all.
My tree landing was from a C-130 out of Pope AFB. A whole bunch of us landed in the trees one day. Not like I could avoid it, falling like a rock under a round parachute. There was nothing but trees all around. Yuck!
That was also the place where I ended up flying on another 130 with an engine on fire. They landed us in the plane on a field that time and we jumped out the jump doors to the ground. Couldn't even log the jump.
Adventures like these made me wonder if everyone in the Air Force was either blind or masochistic. Maybe both.
Just this past Sunday, I was up in the plane at around 10,000', and the pilot called out that the winds were suddenly gusting at 25 mph. Since I only have 84 jumps, I decided to ride the plane down, and eat the jump ticket.
Good call.. I hope none of the skygods tried to give you any shit about it......I doubt they did, though..
In reply to:
Cudos go out to my dz for not charging us for the ride, I guess since we were all low-timers, and it was a safety issue.
Andrea, gusts to 25 is a safety issue for ALL jumpers - not just low timers.....unfortunately, too many people feel that "it can't happen to me".. Yes, I am one of them at times - as is almost every experienced jumper, and many low timers as well.. I'm glad Deland decided not to charge you guys for the ride - I hope Bob was the one that decided that.. I've seen Bob make some pretty impressive decisions(related to safety, regardless of implications to his DZ).. He's a damn good DZO..
Sign of the times.Off student status,new gear(probably a parachute they are not ready for)and a shit load of money burning a hole in their pockets.Way back when(those of us who have never broken anything jumping)(knock on wood)would get to the D.Z.FIRST, get on the first load knowing the "winds were Honkin" and jump anyway.Several times we would land and go check or underwear!(seriously) and then not jump again.Better parachutes make it look real easy,when the winds are still capable of killing you!It,s their funeral.