Forums: Skydiving: Safety and Training:
What is the proper way to deal with this?



Apr 3, 2001, 1:23 AM
Post #1 of 5 (1170 views)
What is the proper way to deal with this? Can't Post

One question that I often wonder about is what is the proper response of an experienced jumper in an aircraft emergency? I remember in student training they told us to "listen to your instructor", but what is the proper response of the experienced skydiver?

Say a plane gets to 2500 feet and then the engine dies, the pilot says he's going to try and land it, but you can tell the plane is really pitching. Is it wrong to throw open the door and bail out? After all, we are wearing parachutes.

On the other hand, you don't want to risk the lives of people on board by making the aircraft more unstable with the open door. So what are we "allowed" to do if there is an aircraft emergency? I know that under 1000 feet you're at the pilots mercy, but it seems that once you reach 1500 feet or more we should be able to throw open the door and save ourselves.

I would like to know what is the "proper" thing to do in this situation.

Brad Koch


Apr 3, 2001, 3:31 AM
Post #2 of 5 (1158 views)
Re: What is the proper way to deal with this? [In reply to] Can't Post

My understanding is that the pilot is ultimately in charge of the aircraft and any jumping from it, whatever the altitude, and whatever the emergency. If he/she wants you to stay in the plane - stay in. If he/she wants you to get out - get out.

Depending on the circumstances, just opening the door and getting out could kill everyone - e.g. a tail strike, or unbalancing and stalling the plane.

I guess if the pilot's dead or you can't communicate with him/her, then you need to make your own decision.

In the UK, every lift has a nominated 'jumpmaster' (different meaning to the US - no instructional qualification implied) who is effectively in charge of the jumpers, and is second in command after the pilot. I don't think there's a similar system in the US.


Premier billvon  (D 16479)
Apr 6, 2001, 5:36 PM
Post #3 of 5 (1043 views)
Re: What is the proper way to deal with this? [In reply to] Can't Post

the only 'legal' thing to do is follow the pilot's instructions. he's responsible for the lives of everyone in that airplane, and he is the only one who knows what's going on. an exiting jumper may have damaged the tail, and he may be fighting to keep the damaged plane level. exiting at that point may be a disaster. or he may be gradually pulling out of a dive, and airspeed may be too high to safely exit without hitting the tail. or he may try a few moments and say 'get out' once he determines it's not landable. but that decision is up to him.

case in point - five years back we had a jumper almost tear the tail off our king air. the next instructor looked out the door and yelled to the pilot "the tail is f**cked up! what do you want us to do?" the pilot tried to pull the nose up (the plane was diving like crazy) gave up and said "bail out!" everyone did. the pilots stayed with the plane, managed to actually snap the linkage that was jammed, and got enough control back to land the plane. that's an example of where everyone did what they were supposed to, and everything worked out.

that being said, if it ever happens to me again, i'm going to look at the pilot. if he's flying the plane, and has his wits about him, i'll listen to him. if he's losing it, and is a few steps behind what's going on, i'm getting out of there. in a case like that you no longer effectively have a pilot, and your survival becomes your own responsibility.

-bill von

Cacophony  (D 23912)

Apr 7, 2001, 8:12 AM
Post #4 of 5 (1012 views)
Re: What is the proper way to deal with this? [In reply to] Can't Post

Welcome back Bill. Anyways, listen to the pilot. Another example would be burning jet fuel along the side of the plane. If you open the door it might cause the jet fuel to get inside and set the cabin on fire. This is just another scenario as to why you should always listen to the pilot.

Safe landings,
Alex D-23912

froggie  (A License)

May 7, 2001, 10:59 PM
Post #5 of 5 (923 views)
Re: What is the proper way to deal with this? [In reply to] Can't Post

resurecting a retired thread but here goes....
this weekend i was laying around the packing area ( I swear i was working! :) and my friend/ very experienced skydiver buddy PJ was quizzing me about procedures cause i was preparing to take my A license written test. So some more jumpers wonder around.. before i know it im getting questions fired at me left and right. sratch that~ Scenarios is a better word. one 'scenario' that i was given went like this "youre climbing to altitude. youre above 2'500 ft ( so you can bail out safely!) and suddenly the cabin fills with smoke. you and all the other jumpers realize theres a fire on the aircraft. What do you do?
I answered "i will already have been keeping eye contact with my instructor every few seconds as i was trained to do in FJC so i would listen to his commands. If i was off student status I would look towards the most experienced jumper on the plane. but ultimately i would turn to the pilot if nobody answered me or there was mass confusion."
Paul said something about 'thats a good answer now heres the real story...'
a Jump plane was climbing to altitude. at a safe AGL a fire started in the cabin. the jumpers panicked and somebody opened the door. Seconds later everyone had bailed out. Nobody listened to the pilot. nobody even thought to turn to the pilot for directions. In the end he was left alone in a plane, trying to fly the plane and extingush a fire. Somehow he landed safely and the fire was extinguished.
okay, good ending so good actions on the jumpers parts right? WRONG! they left the pilot alone, in a plane that was on fire. The truth of the matter was, if somebody had grabbed the fire extinguisher they could have easily put it out and then continued on their skydive if the pilot OKed an exit, which he would have.
so the moral of this story is:
listen to the skydiver in charge. if hes not directly communicating with the pilot then youve got to make a desision. should you 'band wagon' and bail like everybody else or should you listen to the pilot. ultimately, its up to you, but lets not leave our 'man in command' all alone if we dont have to/ he doesnt tell us to.

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