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Flying backwards

 

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kelel01  (A License)

Mar 8, 2004, 10:36 AM
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Flying backwards Can't Post

Yesterday I ended up in a very scary situation that involved being blown backwards under canopy. Here's what happened:

When we loaded up the plane, the winds were probably right at 14 mph, which is the max for AFF students at this DZ. There was one student on our load.

When it came time to land, the winds had kicked up to a good 20-25 mph. As I turned onto final, I found that I was being blown backwards rather quickly-- I covered about 200-250 feet of ground in reverse. I was being blown over a hill covered with thorns and bushes and honestly did not know what to do. When I came down, I couldn't decide if I should flare or not, and then decided to (which I now know was a mistake). I came down rather hard, and ended up spraining my ankle on the terrain. (I think I hit a rock with my foot , and it just rolled around.)

Other than "don't flare", does anybody have any additional advice for when being blown backwards? I did also consider turning to land with the wind, but thought a downwinder in 25 mph winds on a rocky hill MIGHT not be the best course of action.

I was jumping a 190 loaded at about .85:1.

Thanks.

Kelly


AggieDave  (D License)

Mar 8, 2004, 10:40 AM
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Re: [kelel01] Flying backwards [In reply to] Can't Post

Well, you *can* flare, but you want to be careful not to get too excited and flare really hard, pushing you up and back quickly.

My advice would be to have your RSL disconnected well before landing and once you're safely on the ground, chop it! I had to land a tandem in conditions like that once, a similar thing had happened. I always disconnect the RSL on TM jumps after I'm undera good canopy.

I had to flare to keep from hurting my student, moving backwards pretty quickly, I waited till my butt was on the ground and chopped. We got up and the student laughed about it after it was all said and done.

Chopping your main is better then getting drug across the ground.


kelel01  (A License)

Mar 8, 2004, 10:42 AM
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Re: [AggieDave] Flying backwards [In reply to] Can't Post

Wow, how perfect is your sig line for this question . . . WinkLaugh

Thanks Dave . . . I didn't even think about that. I was so focused on not dying on impact that I didn't even think about the possibility of being dragged.

Kelly


AggieDave  (D License)

Mar 8, 2004, 10:45 AM
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Re: [kelel01] Flying backwards [In reply to] Can't Post

Yup, that sigline came from a highwind day last week that we ended with H&P hit&chugs, where a friend of mine decided to chop instead of dealing with his canopy in the wind while trying to get to the beer. It cost him $50.

Another friend of mine didn't chop on a highwind day about 14 weeks ago and he was drug on the tarmac, chewed his rig up with about $400 worth of damage to his rig.Unsure

He was mostly ok, thank god, he just had a couple scrapes and such.


councilman24  (D 8631)

Mar 8, 2004, 10:49 AM
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Re: [kelel01] Flying backwards [In reply to] Can't Post

You may still need to flare. Just no where near as deep or as much. And often times lower. You may want to stop some of your downward velocity with out giving up much air speed.

As to landing. There's a reason when we jumped rounds we had students do PLF's from 6 feet BACKWARDS. PLF's still work. If you never got good at them you still should. There are man times I've gotten up with out a bruse by dropping into a PLF.

This is also a case where there should have been ground to air communication to advise the load of the changing wind conditions. When your spotting a Cessna this is relatively easy. When a pilot is putting you out of a turbine by GPS you may not have much option for communication to the jumpers.


The111  (D 29246)

Mar 8, 2004, 10:53 AM
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Re: Flying backwards [In reply to] Can't Post

I have no experience and won't give advice, but I think there was a very similar thread to this recently, where someone landed on a barbed wire fence flying backwards... and I'm almost certain the common consensus among several replies from experienced jumpers was that you always need to flare, because stopping your vertical speed is much more important than keeping your backward groundspeed low. The example used was that motorcycle racers (among other things) routinely crash at very high speeds and walk away without a scratch... horizontal speed does not kill you if there are no obstacles. Vertical speed will always hurt when you run into the ground, and you always need to slow that down. This is what I remember... I wish I could find that other thread...

EDIT: Found the thread, thanks meltdown...


(This post was edited by The111 on Mar 8, 2004, 12:40 PM)


MarkM  (C 35089)

Mar 8, 2004, 10:53 AM
Post #7 of 72 (2011 views)
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Re: [kelel01] Flying backwards [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
Other than "don't flare", does anybody have any additional advice for when being blown backwards?

Actually on that "don't flare" bit, ask your instructors about that instead of just assuming it. I'm on a 160 canopy now loaded at 1.05 and if I ever didn't flare, I'm guessing I'd be in a world of hurt.

Is that 190 canopy yours or a rental? Your profile says you have a 170.


kelel01  (A License)

Mar 8, 2004, 11:02 AM
Post #8 of 72 (1996 views)
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Re: [MarkM] Flying backwards [In reply to] Can't Post

Yeah, the 190 is a rental. I have a 170, but my rig isn't all put together yet.

Kelly


mfrese  (D 20145)

Mar 8, 2004, 11:05 AM
Post #9 of 72 (1991 views)
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Re: [kelel01] Flying backwards [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm not familiar with your DZ, but one thing you may want to talk over with an instructor is whether you would have been better off doing a brief downwind run to get to a better landing area. I've watched people in high winds time after time just hang pointing into the wind from about 2000' on down and land in ditches, fields, rocks, etc., when a quick downwind run with plenty of time to turn back into the wind would get them to a clear area.

I remember Marty (current or former S&TA at Byron) coming up to scream at me when I did this back when I had about 100 jumps...after we talked, he decided that where I landed (next to the loading area) was probably a better choice than where I would have landed (in a 7 foot ditch with 2 feet of water) if I hadn't taken a downwind run, so he decided I was OK after all...Wink

If you do this, make sure you're comfortable with your canopy control in high winds, make sure you do it with enough altitude that you aren't having to make a low turn to get back into the wind, and DO flare unless your descent rate is soft enough to allow you to land on your ass without injury. Why on your ass? When doing tandems in really high winds, I generally don't even attempt to land standing up anymore, catchers or not...one launch with a 160 guy landing in my lap was enough to convince me that getting dragged (but only for a few feet, since I also follow AD's advice and disconnect the RSL when it's that windy, so I can chop if I have to) is way better than getting launched and landing 15 feet away, then getting dragged. Unsure

Either way, sounds like you did pretty well under the circumstances...hell, you're ready for Byron in the summertime! Come on out to Cali! Wink


meltdown  (A 44508)

Mar 8, 2004, 11:57 AM
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Re: [kelel01] Flying backwards [In reply to] Can't Post

Check out the incidents forum (broken tib/fib) for a discussion on being blown backwards.


wingnut  (D 27688)

Mar 8, 2004, 12:01 PM
Post #11 of 72 (1932 views)
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Re: [kelel01] Flying backwards [In reply to] Can't Post

we get higher winds atthe dz every once in ahile and i have jumped in them many times.... you will still need to flare but don't do it so high and be prepared to turn you canopy into the ground or pull in a toggle all the way so you don't get draged..... jumping inhiger winds is fine with me but you just have to remebr the things you need to do... and also what you are loadingyou canopy at... me witha 1.5 loading is alot easier to jump inhigher winds that if i was loadingmine at 1:1.... the forward drive playes abig factor......


murrays  (C 1285)

Mar 8, 2004, 12:14 PM
Post #12 of 72 (1913 views)
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Re: [kelel01] Flying backwards [In reply to] Can't Post

Kelly,

You do flare...but not as much. If you bury the toggles the canopy catches air and will pretty much immediately pull you onto your back and start dragging you. As soon as your feet hit the ground, let go of one toggle, bury the other and run towards your canopy. I let go of the right toggle, bury the left and turn to the left....a habit ingrained from jumping in high wind locations for 20+ years.

Undoing your RSL, as Dave suggested, is a good idea in case you do start getting dragged or get hurt and need to cut away.

Knowing how to PLF is good. I learned on rounds and had many high speed backwards landings. I found that I didn't want to be facing directly into the wind as I got pulled over straight backwards and thumped my head a couple of times. I would be crabbing slightly so that it was easy to PLF on my side. My favourite side was my left...so this is where I developed the turn to the left habit I guess.

Finally, you have to be observing and assessing the winds sooner than when you turn onto final. Turning onto final and discovering you are backing up is too late. Turn into the wind, keeping your eyes open for other traffic, while upwind of the landing area and assess your progress - or lack of it - over the ground. Look at any objects that give you wind strength clues...windsock, tall grass, smoke...whatever you may have at your dz....and if the wind seems to have picked up, stay upwind of your landing area. If you keep lots of open area behind you...the pucker factor will go way down.


AndyMan  (D 25698)

Mar 8, 2004, 12:34 PM
Post #13 of 72 (1891 views)
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Re: [kelel01] Flying backwards [In reply to] Can't Post

Who is giving advice that you don't need to flare?

While that may work at a very light wingloading, it's a guaranteed trip to the emergency ward if you ever choose to downsize.

Ram air parachutes need to be flared on every jump. In high wind, flare slowly but decisively to slow your vertical speed.

_Am


Jimbo  (D License)

Mar 8, 2004, 7:19 PM
Post #14 of 72 (1794 views)
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Re: [murrays] Flying backwards [In reply to] Can't Post

 
Quote:
Undoing your RSL, as Dave suggested, is a good idea in case you do start getting dragged or get hurt and need to cut away.

I've never understood this advice. It's better, in my opinion, to learn how to control your canopy than it is to disengage a piece of safety equipment in the field (or in the air). Walk towards the canopy (it won't inflate if it doesn't have an anchor), reel in a brake line, anything. If it's so windy that the standard tricks don't work, you probably shouldn't be jumping.

-
Jim


kelel01  (A License)

Mar 8, 2004, 8:14 PM
Post #15 of 72 (1781 views)
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Re: [AndyMan] Flying backwards [In reply to] Can't Post

As far as the "no flare" suggestion goes, I think he meant don't flare all the way, like most of you have said. Which I did. Got an assload of lift, too. Go figure. A lot of lift in 25 mph winds? Nah. J/k.

And I didn't get dragged because I was caught on all the thorns. Laugh

And I did a mad PLF which would have caused me to escape without ANY injury, if my left foot hadn't turned on that rock. When I came back to my senses, I found that I was lying there in no pain (excluding my ankle, of course.) I do have some crazy scratches on the top of my helmet, though. Those I don't understand. Laugh

Anyway, thanks for all of the input, guys. Next time, if the winds are even teetering on the edge of too high for me, I'll just stay on the ground. Even if everyone calls me a wuss. WinkLaugh

Kelly


pilotdave  (D License)

Mar 8, 2004, 8:35 PM
Post #16 of 72 (1771 views)
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Re: [Jimbo] Flying backwards [In reply to] Can't Post

Ever been dragged by a canopy? When I was a student jumping 230s loaded at 0.56, it happened a few times. Never disconnected my RSL or cut away, but I could definitely see where someone might need to. I was once backing up on final and ended up landing in the middle of a road when a car was coming (still plenty far away so he could have stopped...i woulda turned otherwise). I fell and got dragged off the road about 15 feet, reeling in one brake line the whole time as fast as I could. If I had landed short of the road and got dragged onto it, things coulda been ugly if that car wasn't paying attention.

Dave


pilotdave  (D License)

Mar 8, 2004, 8:38 PM
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Re: [kelel01] Flying backwards [In reply to] Can't Post

The lift a canopy generates has nothing to do with the wind (unless you have an updraft). Your descent rate will be the same in no wind, a huge tailwind, or a huge headwind. I think that's what Andy was getting at.

Dave


AggieDave  (D License)

Mar 8, 2004, 9:27 PM
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Re: [Jimbo] Flying backwards [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm guessing a few things.

1. You've never jumped in a wind condition that changed before the plane could be notified. I've seen it happen more then a few times in the nearly 4 years I've been in the sport. You've been in longer then I, so surely you've seen it.

2. You've never been drug by a canopy. Once you're off balance and going over, its better to chop then get drug.

3. You're not a TM. If you were, then you would probably have atleast 1 ground chop. Catchers can't always get to you if the winds change and catch you off guard and you can't always get the student unhooked quick enough to control the canopy after landing.

Quote:
If it's so windy that the standard tricks don't work, you probably shouldn't be jumping.

Like I said before, winds change between the time jumpers exit and the time they land. In TX I've seen it more then a couple times. One just recently resulted in a jumper who tried to control his canopy instead of just chopping it, getting drug across the tarmac, fucking up his gear being VERY lucky he only got scrapes!

Shit happens in this sport, you should learn every tool to have at your disposal!


KrisFlyZ  (C 34590)

Mar 8, 2004, 9:44 PM
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Re: [kelel01] Flying backwards [In reply to] Can't Post

Sounds like it could have been a lot worse. Glad you are o.k kelel01. Smile

I am sure a lot has been said about us low time jumpers jumping in high winds. I learnt it the hard way.

I hope atleast one lowbie learns from some of our posts.

Kris.


murrays  (C 1285)

Mar 8, 2004, 9:56 PM
Post #20 of 72 (1748 views)
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Re: [Jimbo] Flying backwards [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
Quote:
Undoing your RSL, as Dave suggested, is a good idea in case you do start getting dragged or get hurt and need to cut away.

I've never understood this advice. It's better, in my opinion, to learn how to control your canopy than it is to disengage a piece of safety equipment in the field (or in the air). Walk towards the canopy (it won't inflate if it doesn't have an anchor), reel in a brake line, anything. If it's so windy that the standard tricks don't work, you probably shouldn't be jumping.

-
Jim

You don't always have warning that the winds are going to pick up. They can be reasonable when you take off and way over limits by the time you land. If you're caught in a situation like that, undoing your rsl is a reasonable step to take to prevent being dragged.

Being dragged in high winds can be dangerous. Quite a few years ago several American paratroopers were killed from being dragged after being dropped in high winds during an exercise. I think it is good to tell new jumpers the things they can consider so that they know what their options are. If they are concerned about being dragged, undoing an rsl isn't difficult...and may save them a reserve repack if they do have to chop.


Jimbo  (D License)

Mar 9, 2004, 4:41 AM
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Re: [murrays] Flying backwards [In reply to] Can't Post

 
Quote:
If you're caught in a situation like that, undoing your rsl is a reasonable step to take to prevent being dragged.

I disagree with this statement. If you had said Undoing your RSL is a reasonable step to take to prevent your reserve from firing, I'd agree with you. However, it's unlikely that a ground wind will get your reserve pilot chute and extract and inflate the reserve. That's going to take -a lot- of wind.

I just don't think it's a good idea to be fumbling with safety equipment simply to prevent yourself from being dragged. Time spent fumbling with the RSL is time that could be spent walking towards the canopy or reeling in a brake line. Fumbling with the RSL before you're on the ground, well that just seems wrong to me. I've jumped on some pretty windy days and have never had a lot of trouble controlling the canopy, nothing a few steps forward can't fix. Maybe I'm lucky. As to the issue of tandems, I jump at a pretty busy DZ and have seen tandems go up in some pretty strong winds (winds I wouldn't jump in), and have never seen a chop due to winds. That doesn't mean it hasn't happened, simply that I've never seen it.

-
Jim


Ron

Mar 9, 2004, 5:24 AM
Post #22 of 72 (1666 views)
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Re: [AggieDave] Flying backwards [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
3. You're not a TM. If you were, then you would probably have atleast 1 ground chop. Catchers can't always get to you if the winds change and catch you off guard and you can't always get the student unhooked quick enough to control the canopy after landing.

Im a TM and I have NEVER had a ground chop.

Cutting away is an option. Especially for a tandem. However, I would not bother to disconnect the RSL...I think it is more dangerous to play with your RSL instead of flying your canopy, and looking for traffic.

40-50 bucks is not a big deal compared to being dead/hurt.

If it is that windy anyway, maybe you should not be jumping at all.


AggieDave  (D License)

Mar 9, 2004, 8:02 AM
Post #23 of 72 (1631 views)
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Re: [Ron] Flying backwards [In reply to] Can't Post

Quote:
I would not bother to disconnect the RSL...I think it is more dangerous to play with your RSL instead of flying your canopy, and looking for traffic.

It takes less time to disconnect an RSL (ever wonder why they have those little yellow tabs on the pull rings) then it takes to collapse a slider, or as a TM, to do everything else you have to do to get your student comfy, etc.

If taking .2 seconds to disconnect an RSL in windy conditions causes you to have a canopy collision at 2k, then either you don't know how to track away from groups, or theres really nothing that could have been done to prevent it.

Quote:
If it is that windy anyway, maybe you should not be jumping at all

Did you bother reading my post?

Have you ever seen or been caught on a load where the wind conditions drastically changed from the time you exited the plane to the time you landed? I've been caught by it and I've seen it quite a few times in the nearly 4 years I've been jumping. You've been jumping a lot longer then I have. Quite frankly, if you say you've never seen it, I would have to believe you're lying.


(This post was edited by AggieDave on Mar 9, 2004, 8:04 AM)


AggieDave  (D License)

Mar 9, 2004, 8:13 AM
Post #24 of 72 (1625 views)
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Re: [Jimbo] Flying backwards [In reply to] Can't Post

Quote:
I'd agree with you. However, it's unlikely that a ground wind will get your reserve pilot chute and extract and inflate the reserve. That's going to take -a lot- of wind.

Remember those changing wind conditions that caught people off guard, I was talking about?

Case in point, his reserve got basically at line stretch (it was just about to come out of the freebag) when people were able to tackle it.

Quote:
I just don't think it's a good idea to be fumbling with safety equipment simply to prevent yourself from being dragged

Then you've never seen anyone scrapped up from being dragged across the tarmac, have you?

Quote:
I've jumped on some pretty windy days and have never had a lot of trouble controlling the canopy, nothing a few steps forward can't fix.

You're lucky or you're not telling the truth.

Quote:
As to the issue of tandems, I jump at a pretty busy DZ and have seen tandems go up in some pretty strong winds (winds I wouldn't jump in), and have never seen a chop due to winds. That doesn't mean it hasn't happened, simply that I've never seen it.

Let me tell you a story. Wind conditions drastically changed (winds increased and became extremely gusty) after we exited the airplane (tandem jump). Needless to say it caught me off guard, well, it caught everyone on the load off guard, but I ended up short of my catchers, just far enough away there was no way they were getting to me.

I was going slowly backwards before I even flared, and I couldn't -not- flare, that would have been a very hard landing and I could have possibly hurt my student. I flare, waited till my butt hit the ground (by this time we were moving backwards quite fast) and chopped the canopy.

What, please tell me what and how, you would have stood up with your tandem passneger, unhooked your passenger so you could run around the side of the 370sq ft canopy to control it, without having a ground chop? Since I would really like to know, especially since out of my roughtly 250 tandem, I've never been able to quite do that. I'm sure my coursde director with 1000 tandems would like to know as well, since he told me I did exactly the right thing and a good job (he saw it happen).

So please tell us both, we both want to learn from you.


Ron

Mar 9, 2004, 8:30 AM
Post #25 of 72 (1618 views)
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Re: [AggieDave] Flying backwards [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
It takes less time to disconnect an RSL (ever wonder why they have those little yellow tabs on the pull rings) then it takes to collapse a slider, or as a TM, to do everything else you have to do to get your student comfy, etc

Yep, the difference is WHEN you do it...I make the student comfy at 5 grand...At 5 grand there is no one around me...Also it is hard to tell at 5 grand that the winds are so high that I would need to disconnect it.

So, when would YOU disconnect the RSL? 5,000, 4,000, 3,000,2,000, 500 feet?

And how practiced are you at it so you can do it in less than one second? Or as you said .2 seconds... 0.2 seconds to locate it, identify it, find the right part to pull, pull it and then stow it so its not just flapping around?

.2 seconds is Bullshit.

I'd rather you be on the lookout for other people, and looking to land.

Unless you can tell at 5 grand the winds on the ground are to fast...In that case you have better eyes than me. And to disconnect the RSL at 5 grand is stupid.

In reply to:
If taking .2 seconds to disconnect an RSL in windy conditions causes you to have a canopy collision at 2k, then either you don't know how to track away from groups, or theres really nothing that could have been done to prevent it.

Again .2 seconds is a bullshit number.

And its stupid to disconnect the damn thing if you are jumping it anyway...The one really good thing about an RSL is a fast deployment of the reserve...Like when you are low...So why turn it off when you might need it?

Besides you can't track away on a tandem.

And it would be stupid to remove a saftey device to save 40 bucks.



In reply to:
Have you ever seen or been caught on a load where the wind conditions drastically changed from the time you exited the plane to the time you landed? I've been caught by it and I've seen it quite a few times in the nearly 4 years I've been jumping. You've been jumping a lot longer then I have. Quite frankly, if you say you've never seen it, I would have to believe you're lying.

Oh I have seen it...but most times it was not 10 then 30....Its usually 15-20 then it gets to 30.

Maybe you should not be jumping in those conditions anyway?

I think its dumb to mess with an RSL after the canopy is open...They work best when you are low...Why disconect it when you might need it most?
And if the winds are so high you would be better trying to land safe than play with the damn thing.

I think its even dumber to disconnect a saftey device to save 40.00 bucks.


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