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    Exit Emergencies

    Exit Hazards-static Line
    When climbing out onto a step for a S/L exit, you need to firmly plant your feet on the step so that you don’t trip over yourself and fall off. If you do find yourself prematurely exiting the aircraft, merely arch hard for stability. Don’t grab the pilot chute or parachute as it comes by you. To do so may cost you your life.
    Exit Hazards-AFF
    When climbing out for an AFF exit, your jumpmasters are supposed to have good control of you. If you start to stumble, they will probably help you into position. If you do prematurely exit, at least one of them should have a hold of you and you will need to arch hard for stability.
    When climbing out, make sure your hands stay away from the jumpmaster’s ripcord handles. Occasionally a jumpmaster is launched off the step when a student grabs for the jumpmaster and snares a handle by mistake.
    Dangling Static Line
    After the jumpmaster dispatches each student, he will unhook the static line and stow it in the back of the aircraft or under the pilot’s seat. If he forgets to disconnect the static line, it is one ingredient for another horror story. During the scramble to exit, jumpers have managed to get those long pieces of webbing half-hitched around their ankle. The result is a surprising and abrupt halt just a short distance out the door. Due to the weight of the gear and the wind, it is impossible for the jumper to climb back up. There should be a knife in the plane to cut you loose and, of course, every experienced jumper in the plane should be carrying one. If there aren’t any knives handy, you will hope the pilot is sharp enough to think of breaking some glass out of one of the instruments in the panel because your alternatives are not terribly pleasant. Either you can pull your ripcord and risk jerking your leg off, or you can wait it out and suffer severe runway rash when the plane lands. One jumper caught in this situation lucked out, he was jumping a helicopter. The pilot set him down gently and red faced in front of everyone on the DZ.
    Student In Tow
    One of the more dramatic problems is the static line hang-up or student in tow. It occurs when you or some part of your equipment entangles with the static line preventing separation. You wind up suspended about ten feet below the aircraft by the long nylon web. This emergency is extremely rare and if it does occur, it will probably be because the static line is misrouted (perhaps under the harness). Maybe the error was missed in the equipment check, or you and the jumpmaster failed to keep the line high and clear as you moved into the door to jump, or you performed some wild gymnastic maneuver instead of a stable exit and became entangled in the line. Some students, despite all their training, yell arch thousand and then let go with the hands, leaving the feet firmly planted on the step, thus they perform a backloop upon exit.
    The in-tow/hang-up situation presents all of you with a perplexing situation. The jump ship will be more difficult to fly. In fact, the pilot may be unable to maintain altitude because of all the extra drag. Just as with the dangling static line situation, you do not want to pull the reserve or land with the plane. As with other emergencies, there is an accepted procedure. You, your jumpmaster and pilot must be familiar with it.
    The pilot will be diverting the aircraft to a safer, open area and will be trying to gain altitude. If you relax, you will probably assume a stable towing position either face or back to earth which is better than twisting in the wind.
    If you are conscious and your arms have not been injured, signal the jumpmaster by placing both hands on top of your helmet. Your hands will show you understand the situation and are ready to take corrective action. Your jumpmaster will signal he is ready too by holding up a knife. Now, your jumpmaster will cut the static line and you will fall away. Pull the reserve ripcord. Be sure you are cut loose before you pull.
    If you are unconscious or otherwise incapacitated, you won’t be able to give the OK signal to your jumpmaster. Your static line will still be cut but your jumpmaster (and you) will rely on your automatic activation device to deploy your reserve parachute.
    Back when reserves were worn in the front, jumpmasters could lower an unconscious student by unhooking their own reserve and attaching it to the static line. The static line had to have an extra ring for attachment to the reserve to make this method of rescue possible.
    There is also a second type of main canopy in-tow emergency to be considered. Normally, you fall away from the step so quickly that it is virtually impossible to tangle your canopy in the tail, but if one of your parachutes opens when you are on the step, entanglement may occur. If you find yourself in this situation, look up and determine which parachute is fouled on the aircraft. If it is the main parachute (which will be attached to risers that can be disconnected from the harness), look at your reserve ripcord handle, jettison your main and pull your reserve ripcord immediately, per the procedures that you were taught to use.
    If it is your reserve that is entangled on the aircraft, pulling the reserve/SOS ripcord would not change your situation but it will make your main canopy useless as it would be disconnected at the risers, therefore don’t pull the reserve ripcord handle. The fouled canopy may just self-destruct, putting you back into freefall, in which case you will need to deploy your main parachute to save your life. (If you deployed your main parachute while the reserve is fouled on the aircraft, you can assume that major structural damage will occur to that aircraft and anyone left inside that aircraft will have to perform their own emergency procedures.)
    Static Line Not Hooked Up
    Occasionally, despite all procedures, a student exits the jump plane without being attached to it. While hooking up the static line is the jumpmaster’s responsibility, you must verify that it is attached prior to exit. If you forget to check this and find yourself in freefall, follow the procedure for a total: pull your reserve ripcord.

    Pulling High Is Dangerous
    Everyone else expects you to pull below 3,000 feet. If you pull higher, another freefalling skydiver could hit you. An open canopy descends at about 1,000 feet per minute and jumpruns are usually a minute apart. If you plan on pulling higher announce your decision to all before leaving the ground.

    By admin, in Safety,

    Deployment Emergencies

    Common ripcord and hand-deployed pilot chute malfunctions are the lost handle and the hard pull.
    Submitted by plante
    Lost Handle
    Lost handle or out-of-sight hand-deployed pilot chute. Some ripcords are held in place by elastic webbing or Velcro® cloures. If the ripcords come out of these places, they may be blown out of your sight. Some puds (knobs or handles for hand-deployed pilot chutes) attach with Velcro closures, and some are stowed in elastic pockets. There are pros and cons to where these pilot chutes and deployment handles should be mounted. Either one may separate from the container and blow up behind you. Search for the ripcord (one time only) by following the harness to the ripcord housing with your hand. Search for a hand deployment device (one time only) with your hand by following the container to the area where it is supposed to be mounted — perhaps even as far as the closing grommet. If you can’t locate the handle immediately, pull your reserve ripcord. Practice this on the ground periodically.
    Lost handles and hand-deployed pilot chutes can also occur after the pull if you fail to pull far enough. Make sure you pull the ripcord all the way out of the housing, or if using a hand-deployed pilot chute, pull the pud to arm’s length before you release it.
    Hard Pull
    The hard pull may be caused by a bent or rough pin, a hand-deployed pilot chute bound up in its pouch, or you may have packed more canopy in the center of the container instead of filling the corners. If you feel resistance to your pull, give it two more quick tries (perhaps even with both hands while maintaining the arched body position) and then if that doesn’t deploy the main parachute, pull your reserve ripcord immediately. After a number of jumps, it is normal to become somewhat complacent about the pull; you may give it a relaxed, half-hearted jerk. The pull may take as much as 10 kg (22 lbs.) of force, so pull again. If continual hard pulls are bothering you, you might choose to spray a non-petroleum-based silicone or Teflon® fluid on your ripcord cable or your closing pin and your closing loop. This will make quite a difference and it will last for many jumps. You may occasionally have to do it again as dirt and grime builds up on your pin or ripcord cable system. Inspect your system for any signs of roughness. If they exist, get a rigger to replace the rough component with a smooth one.
    Pilot Chute Hesitation
    A problem you could have with your reserve deployment, or a main with a spring-loaded pilot chute, is the common pilot chute hesitation. Hesitations can happen to hand-deployed mains but they are not as common. Hesitations occur when the pilot chute momentarily flutters in the low-pressure area behind you rather than catching air. The hesitation may be caused by a bent or weak pilot chute spring, but usually the pilot chute is just sitting in the dead air space created behind you when you are in the stable position. Sometimes the pilot chute jumps upon release but fails to travel far enough to get a grip on the air rushing past you. It may drop back down on your back and just bounce around or just lay there. If it was hand-deployed, you may not have given it a good throw.
    To correct the problem, you may turn on your side during the post exit or pull count, allowing the airflow to inflate the pilot chute and pull it free, you may peek over your shoulder after pulling the ripcord, or you may sit up to dump (deploy your canopy). This last method of pulling, then sitting up (almost the start of a backloop) also reduces the opening forces on your shoulders, but it can lead to other problems such as trapping a tight-fitting deployment bag in its container. Consult with an instructor who is familiar with your system prior to attempting this type of maneuver.
    Pull-out v. Throw-out
    The pull-out and throw-out pilot chutes are preferred by experienced jumpers, but students (except IAD students) use the ripcord and coil spring pilot chute combination. For a detailed explanation of these three systems, see the chapter on equipment.
    Trapped Pilot Chute
    If the pilot chute is not properly stowed in its pocket, it may bunch up and jam when you try to extract it. The trapped pilot chute results in a hard pull that may or may not be cleared. If you find you have a hard pull, try one more vigorous pull before you go for your reserve.
    Pilot Chute In Tow
    Pilot chute in tow may be short or long. It is short when the pilot chute bridle is looped around something such as a harness strap. (A proper gear check could have avoided this problem.) If you have one of the rare bellyband mounted throw out models, make sure that the bellyband is not twisted. If the pilot chute bridle is wrapped around the harness (such as on a twisted bellyband or leg strap), tugging on it will only result in a (short) trailing pilot chute. Check the bridle routing during packing, have it checked in the equipment check prior to boarding the aircraft and check the routing again prior to exit. Twisted bellybands and twisted leg straps are a significant cause of pilot chutes in tow.
    The pilot chute in tow is long when the pilot chute pulls the bridle to its full extent but does not pull the pin securing the main container. The failure may be due to a damaged pilot chute (producing insufficient drag), a rough pin, a tight main container (canopy stacked too high), or a closing loop which is too short. The long pilot chute in tow is more likely on sub-terminal velocity jumps.
    Make sure the bridle-pin connection is not worn, that the pin is smooth and curved, not straight (unless it is supposed to be such as in pull-out pilot chute systems), and that the locking loop is not too short.
    If you are faced with a long pilot chute in tow, never try to clear it. A recent USPA article (Parachutist, June 1997) stated that if you have a pilot chute in tow, deploy the reserve immediately. Therefore, it is treated as a total malfunction. Other experts in the field take the position that if there is anything out behind the container, including a spring-launched or hand-deployed pilot chute, execute a cutaway and reserve deployment immediately. Note: Most student equipment is Single Operation System (SOS) oriented. This means that pulling the reserve handle will execute the cutaway (disconnect the main risers) then deploy the reserve all in one smooth action. A two-handle system requires a separate cutaway handle to be pulled to disconnect the risers, followed by a pull of the reserve ripcord.
    How to handle a pilot chute in tow has been the subject of great debate and much beer has been consumed discussing it. While there are exceptions and strong feelings about what has been stated above, time is usually too short to consider them. After the reserve starts to deploy, the main container may go slack enough that whatever kept it closed is no longer doing so, therefore the main may start to deploy. If the main was disconnected from the harness by the action of a cutaway, it will probably not be anything more than a temporary nuisance. However, one must always be prepared for possible entanglement of the two canopies whether a “cutaway” has or has not been performed.

    By admin, in Safety,

    Parachute Malfunctions

    A malfunction is any failure of the system to provide a normal rate of descent and this includes loss of canopy control. Malfunctions are normally caused by one or a combination of the following: bad packing, poor body position during canopy deployment and/or faulty equipment. There are some malfunctions, however, that just happen (Acts of God); parachutes are good but not perfect. Failures of the main parachute can be divided into two areas. Either nothing comes out and you have a total malfunction or the canopy starts to open but something is wrong with it and you have a partial malfunction. Each of these two areas will be broken down still further in this chapter.
    It is because of the possibility of an equipment malfunction that the USPA’s Basic Safety Requirements list the opening altitude for students at 3,000 feet AGL. (For tandem jumps, it is set at 4,000 feet AGL. For A and B licensed skydivers, it is set at 2500 feet.) The BSRs and the FARs require that a second (reserve) parachute be worn for all sport jumping. It is important that you are drilled in its use. But even with the stated opening altitude safety margin or cushion, you must be aware of the time, speed and distances involved. If you exit the aircraft at 3,000 feet AGL, for example, you will begin to accelerate; you start off at zero vertical speed and then fall faster and faster until you reach terminal velocity (more about that later). If you didn’t have a parachute, it would take you about 22 seconds to reach the ground. In the case of a partial malfunction, you will have a little braking from your canopy and this means even more time. But even if you have a total, allowing for reaction time, you should be open under your reserve at well above 1,500 feet. In fact, while it seemed like an eternity to you, your friends on the ground will tell you that you performed your procedures quickly and efficiently; you will be surprised at how fast you react to a malfunction. Your main parachute takes 3-4 seconds to open and the reserve may be just slightly faster. Even at terminal velocity, which in a face-to-earth,stable position is about 110 mph, (the fastest you can fall in that position), four seconds translates into about 700 feet.
    If you haven’t been jerked upright by the sixth segment (second) of your exit or pull count, you should already be into the emergency procedure for a total malfunction. Static lines not hooked up, in-tow situations, lost or hard ripcord pull or pilot chute problems have already been discussed and won’t be repeated here.
    Total Malfunctions
    Of all the possible equipment malfunctions, the total (pack closure) is the safest to deal with because there is no other garbage over your head to interfere with the deploying reserve. While the total is the easiest malfunction to rectify, remember it also presents you with the least amount of time in which to act. Do not spend time trying to locate a lost handle; you do not have time. Do not waste time breaking away; a loose riser could tangle with a deploying reserve. When in doubt, whip it out. (Pull the reserve ripcord.)
    Partial Malfunctions
    A partial malfunction is one in which the canopy comes out of the container but does not properly deploy. The canopy may not inflate (e.g. a streamer that hardly slows your descent at all) or it may take on some air and be spinning violently (e.g. a line over or slider hang-up). You could have an end cell closure that will probably slow you enough for a safe landing. So, partial malfunctions may be major and minor. An additionally important consideration is that they may be stable or spinning. Most partials can usually be attributed to an error in packing or poor body position on opening. Some partials, however, just happen.
    Some partials are so minor, most instructors do not even classify them as malfunctions; they call them "nuisances." Some of these things that just happen are line twists, end cell closures and a slider that has not fully descended. These are correctable problems which you will be trained to handle.
    A good canopy is rectangular (square) and flies straight once the slider is down and the brakes are released. It is stable through the flare and turns properly with the correct toggle inputs. (Remember the controllability check?)
    Major partial malfunctions. Ones that you don’t waste time to correct.
    Bag lock presents you with trailing lines, bag and pilot chute but the canopy will not come out of the bag. This problem is not likely to clear itself. Breakaway and pull your reserve.
    Horseshoe. This malfunction can result from bad maintenance, failure to check equipment and incompatible canopy/container systems. It can happen when the locking pin or ripcord is dislodged from the closing loop, allowing the bagged canopy to escape before you have removed the pilot chute from its stowage pocket.
    The horseshoe can occur if you tumble during the deployment sequence, allowing the pilot chute to catch on your foot, your arm, or some other part of your body, but these are rare occurrences today. Another possibility is a poor launch of a pilot chute from your container, allowing it to fall back into your “burble” (the partial vacuum behind you) where it can dance around and snag on something, preventing it from properly deploying. Improper hand deploy procedures can lead to the pilot chute being caught on your arm.
    The danger of a horseshoe malfunction is that a pulled reserve may tangle with the horse-shoed main as it tries to deploy. If you experience a horseshoe, and you are using a hand deployment technique, pull the main’s hand deploy pilot chute immediately. Then, and even if you can’t pull the main hand deploy pilot chute, execute a breakaway and deploy the reserve. Chances are that there will be enough drag on the lines and canopy to separate the risers from their attachment points and present only a single line of “garbage” for the reserve to clear (rather than a horseshoed main).
    Violent spin. Unless you can tell immediately that you have an unstowed brake, breakaway and pull your reserve. If you have plenty of altitude and the problem is not compounded by line twists, push the toggles down to the crotch for two seconds, then let up slowly. If the spin continues, break away and pull your reserve.
    Line overs can occur when a brake lock releases during the opening sequence allowing one side of the canopy to surge forward over itself, or due to a packing error or an Act of God. If you are on a very high clear and pull, you may try to pull down on the end lines (by the risers) to make the other lines slip off. However, if you deployed at the normal pull altitude, you do not have time for this maneuver on the main. Break away and pull your reserve ripcord. If this happens on a square reserve, pulling down on the side the lines are over is your best hope, along with a great PLF.
    Partial Malfunctions That May Be Majors Or Minors
    Partial malfunctions that may be majors or minors. You may have time to make a decision as to how to handle them.
    Rips and tears are not common on ram-air canopies and may usually be ridden in. Even a rip from leading edge to trailing edge on one surface can probably be controlled. Internal rips may not be visible. See whether the canopy is controllable with toggle pressure no lower than your shoulder. If your controlability check indicates a serious problem, break away and pull your reserve ripcord. If the check does not indicate a serious problem, make slow, shallow turns and flare slowly for landing.
    The snivel is a slow, mushy opening. The canopy’s fabric weave opens up slightly after a few hundred jumps and becomes more porous. Higher permeability leads to sniveling. Look up after pulling to watch your canopy open. Learn to distinguish a slow-opening snivel from a never-opening streamer. Sometimes replacing the pilot chute will lead to quicker openings. Try packing the nose of the canopy in different positions but check with a rigger before you experiment. Contact the manufacturer about resetting the brakes two inches higher. Then the canopy will take to the air with the tail somewhat higher giving the leading edge a better bite of air.
    Slider hang-up, at the canopy. The slider may hang up at the top of the lines because it is caught in the lines or caught on the slider stops. Grommets become battered and rough as they slide down and hit the connector links at the risers. The links should be fitted with plastic sleeve buffers. Make sure the grommets are smooth. A slider hang-up at the canopy is a high-speed malfunction and will be hard to clear. You may be upright but you are descending quickly. There is little time to deal with a slider hang-up at the canopy, so jettison your main and pull your reserve ripcord.
    Slider hang-up, halfway. A slider hang-up halfway down the lines will slow you down but possibly not enough for landing. Check your altitude and if there is time (you are still above the decision altitude for emergency procedures), release the brakes and pull the toggles down to your crotch for two seconds in an effort to stall the canopy and relieve some of the spanwise spreading of the canopy. Repeat if necessary, pump the steering lines up and down. If the slider descends to within 10 or 12 inches of the connector links, that is close enough. Sometimes, the slider is caught higher in a suspension line or steering line. Let both toggles up to determine whether the canopy will fly straight. If you have to pull down the opposite toggle to more than shoulder level to maintain straight flight, the canopy will probably be unstable. If you don’t gain total control of the canopy by the decision altitude (sometimes called the hard deck), break away and pull your reserve ripcord.
    If the slider comes down the lines halfway and stops, the canopy has probably changed in some way. After you are safely on the ground, measure the line lengths and compare opposite lines. Check the slider grommets for damage. Bring the canopy to the equipment manager (if it is student gear), your rigger, or send it to the manufacturer for inspection.
    Broken suspension line(s). Most line breaks only put the canopy into a slight turn. Correct the turn with opposite toggle pressure. Occasionally the broken line causes the slider to hang up. Do a controllability check. If there is any internal damage to the canopy, it will not perform as expected. Failing a controllability check will dictate a breakaway and a reserve deployment.
    Minor Malfunctions
    Minor malfunctions are more like nuisances that can be dealt with and don’t threaten you unless they get worse or are complicated by other problems.
    Line twists. Sometimes, the bag rotates a few turns as it lifts off. Now you may find it difficult to get your head back to look up at the canopy. The problem is that the risers are closer together and twisted instead of spread. These twists can happen with or without your help. If you are kicking, rocking or twisting just as the bagged canopy lifts off, you can impart a twist to it. The principle is the same as when you give a Frisbee disc a flip of the wrist on launch. Line twists are more common on static line than freefall jumps.
    Determine quickly whether the canopy is flying straight, your altitude and which way the lines are twisted. Reach above your head, grab the risers and spread them to accelerate the untwisting. If necessary, throw your legs in the twist direction. Line twists are worse on a ram-air canopy than a round because you cannot pull down on the steering lines to control the canopy until the twists are cleared and this may take up to 30 seconds. If the canopy is spinning in the same direction, you may not be able to untwist faster than it is twisting. Do not release the brakes until untwisted. While you have the risers spread, check your canopy to make sure nothing else is wrong with it. A spinning canopy descends quickly. If you haven’t untwisted the lines by 1,800 feet AGL, break away and pull your reserve.
    Premature brake release. Ram-air canopies are packed with their brakes set to prevent the canopy from surging on opening. If one brake releases on opening, the canopy is likely to turn rapidly which can escalate into a spin and/or an end cell closure if not corrected immediately. If the canopy doesn't have line twists, grab both toggles and pull them down to your waist. (Grabbing both eliminates having to choose which one to pull.) This maneuver will release the other brake, reduce your forward speed, stop the turn and let you see if any lines are broken. If the premature brake release is compounded with line twists, releasing the other brake may have some or no effect. Be aware of your decision altitude and try to unspin from the line twists. If you are sure that just one steering line is still set in its deployment setting, you might try to release it.
    Broken steering line. When you find one of your steering lines has snapped or floated out of reach, release the other brake and steer the canopy by pulling down on the rear risers. Do not try to steer with one control line and the opposite riser. The turns will be inconsistent and you may find yourself in a dangerously low turn when you flare for landing. Pulling down on the risers may be hard but it will steer the canopy. The canopy will probably want to turn in the direction of the good control line. If you cannot make the canopy fly straight with the opposite riser, break away and pull your reserve. If the broken line wraps around the slider, do not try to pump the slider down any further. It will only make the turning worse. Reserve some energy to pull down on both risers at about ten feet from the ground to flare the landing. You want to start this flare lower because pulling down on the risers results in a more pronounced flare.
    Steering line(s) won’t release is similar to dealing with a broken steering line, except that one may release while the other won’t. If neither steering line releases, simply fly the canopy to a safe landing using the rear risers. If only one releases, then you can pull that steering line down to the point at which the canopy will fly straight, then control the direction the canopy flies by either using the rear risers or using the one working steering line. Quite often, you will have time to grab the riser of the steering line that won’t release and work towards getting it released. Be mindful of your altitude as you work on the problem. You don’t want to steer yourself to a hazardous landing while you are distracted with this release challenge.
    Pilot chute "under/over" problems. The pilot chute may fall over the leading edge of the canopy and re-inflate underneath, usually causing a turn in the distorted canopy. Attempt to stall the canopy slightly so that it backs up, possibly allowing the pilot chute to come back up and over the front of the parachute. If the canopy cannot be controlled with toggles, break away and pull your reserve ripcord.
    End cell closures occur when the pressure outside the canopy is greater than the pressure inside. They usually happen during canopy surge on opening but they can also be caused by radical turns or turbulent air. Turbulence can occur on hot, no-wind days, on windy days downwind of trees and buildings, and during stormy conditions. Lightweight jumpers under large canopies (called low wing loading) will experience end cell closure more frequently. To avoid end cell closure, fly with one-quarter to one-half brakes. To counteract end cell closure, push the toggles down to your crotch for a few seconds, until the cells inflate, then let the toggles up slowly. Repeat if necessary. End cell closures are not a major concern. Keep the canopy and land it if it is not spinning. If the end cells collapse below 200 feet, do not try to re-inflate them.Pull to half brakes to stabilize the canopy. When you flare for landing, the cells will probably pop open.
    Combination Malfunctions
    When confronted with more than one malfunction, correct for line twists first. The canopy will be uncontrollable until the twists are removed. When in doubt, whip it out, especially if you are at or below decision height (1800 feet AGL).
    Two Canopies Open

    You may find yourself confronted with two fully open canopies. This can happen in several ways: The automatic activation device on your reserve could fire when you are happily flying your canopy through 1,000 feet; you may have reacted very quickly to a pilot chute hesitation without effecting a breakaway; or the main release system may have failed to separate during an emergency procedure.
    If the two canopies take off at different times, they may not deploy into each other, but you need to be prepared to handle that possibility. At the Parachute Industry Association Symposium in Houston in 1997, a detailed report was presented on the performance of two ram-air canopies out — a very dangerous situation.
    First, quickly check the condition and position of the main and reserve canopies, then make your decision based upon the following:

    If the two canopies are flying side by side, steer yourself to a safe landing area by using gentle control inputs on the larger canopy. Due to the nearly doubled surface area supporting your weight, the effective lift of the parachute system will make flaring the canopies unnecessary. Flaring one could create a hazardous situation, especially close to the ground.
    If the two canopies are both flying downward towards the ground (called a downplane), jettison the main. Note:Certain reserve static line lanyards may have to be disconnected so as not to foul the reserve parachute when the main is disconnected. Ask your instructor about the specifics concerning your system.
    If the canopies are flying one behind the other and in the same direction (called a biplane), make gentle steering inputs with the lead canopy (which is usually the main). Do not release the rear canopy’s deployment brakes. Do not flare the landing.
    If the reserve container has opened but the reserve canopy has not yet, or not completely deployed, make gentle steering inputs with the main and try to haul in the reserve and stick it between your legs.

    Tandem Jumping Malfunctions
    Tandem jumping malfunctions may be aggravated because the weight is doubled while the effective drag area of the two falling bodies is not. As long as the drogue pilot chute has been deployed properly, freefall speeds are about the same as a single skydiver. If the drogue is not deployed or fails to work properly, the terminal velocity will be much faster than that of a single skydiver (110 mph); perhaps as much as 160-170 mph. The greater speed places a much greater strain on the parachute system and on the jumpers.
    Large Ring And Ripcord Handle
    Older harnesses used a plain round ring for the largest of the rings in the 3-Ring canopy releases. When the main canopy is jettisoned, the largest of the riser-release rings remains on the harness. If the rings flop down on the lift web, the one near the reserve handle may be mistaken for that handle. Both are large silver rings and the reserve handle may have shifted from its normal position. Some jumpers have broken away only to tug on the wrong ring. Some never lived to tell about it. Newer equipment may have a shaped large ring or a smaller (mini) ring that is more difficult to confuse with the reserve handle. If you have older equipment, you should be aware of this potential problem.
    Change Of Emergency Procedures
    Anytime you change your equipment or emergency procedures, make sure you are thoroughly trained. Practice in a suspended harness until proficient on the new equipment. Each corrective procedure is different and you must not waste precious seconds in an emergency thinking about what you should do. You must act automatically and quickly. Review your emergency procedures prior to each jump and touch all your handles before you proceed to the door.
    Breakaway Training
    Breakaway training is essential to assure that it will be accomplished completely, quickly and well. Training must take place in a suspended harness that is easy to rig up. Simply tie an old set of risers to an overhead beam and attach them to your harness. The drill must be repeated again and again until it becomes mechanical and automatic so that you will perform correctly and without hesitation should the time come. When you take your reserve in to be repacked, ask your rigger if you may practice the breakaway to include the reserve pull. It is a valuable experience and in this controlled environment, it is safe for your gear.
    Emergency Priorities
    Think about and review the seven priorities of skydiving:

    Pull - Open the parachute.

    Pull by the assigned altitude or higher - whether stable
    or not.

    Pull with stability - to improve canopy-opening reliability.

    Check the canopy - promptly determine if the canopy has
    properly opened and is controllable.

    If necessary, activate the reserve - perform the
    appropriate emergency procedures if there is any doubt that the main canopy is
    open properly and is controllable.

    Land in a clear area - a long walk back is better than
    landing in a hazardous area.

    Land safely - be prepared to
    perform a PLF with the feet and knees together to avoid injury.

    Canopy Collisions
    Let’s assume that your canopy has just opened properly and you are reaching up for the toggles when suddenly, you look ahead and see another canopy coming directly towards you. What should you do? If the collision is avoidable by steering to the right or left, choose the right. The turn to the right is virtually universal in all forms of navigation. If the collision is unavoidable, spread your arms and legs out to absorb the impact over the most surface area possible. Chances are that spreading out will allow you to bounce up and over the lines and canopy you will be colliding with. You may get a bit hurt, but you will be alive so long as you don’t make full body contact with the other jumper. If you find yourself entangled with another parachute, the general rule of thumb is that the lower person has the right to perform emergency procedures first. Communicate with each other as to what you want to do, what you’re going to do, then do it while you still have enough altitude to do it safely.
    Most canopy collisions occur during the landing phase of the skydive, when too many people are trying to get into one tiny area all at the same time. Vigilance in canopy control and choosing a less congested area can help avoid this emergency. If you do end up tangled at an altitude too low to break away (less than 500 feet AGL), ride about half brakes and get set to do a fantastic PLF.

    By admin, in Safety,

    Canopy Emergencies: Breakaway

    Jettisoning The Main Canopy
    Before we talk about the series of problems you may encounter with your main canopy, it is important to discuss the types of cutaway (main canopy disconnection systems) that are in common use and their procedures. The breakaway or cutaway is an emergency procedure that involves jettisoning the main canopy prior to deploying the reserve. Originally, the cutaway was performed with a knife and the lines were cut to separate the canopy from the harness. Today, we use canopy releases to breakaway. The breakaway procedure should be executed immediately under rapidly spinning malfunctions because ever-increasing centrifugal forces will make arm movement difficult, and may cause you to lose consciousness (red-out) due to the blood flow to your eyes.
    The decision altitude for the breakaway is 1,800 feet. This is your safety margin, above this it is safe to try to clear the malfunction but at this point, all clearing work must stop. Watch your altitude. The breakaway must be commenced above 1,600 feet to assure you plenty of time to get the reserve out. Under high-speed malfunctions, you may be just seven seconds off the deck at this point, and it may be necessary to forget the breakaway and just pull the reserve.
    To breakaway, spread your legs (for lateral stability and push them back as far as possible while bending your knees about 45 degrees (only). Arch your back and pull your head back but keep your chin resting on your chest and your eyes on the handle(s). On release you will fall into a stable, face- to-earth position.
    Body position during the breakaway is very important. If you are not falling away correctly, you may become entangled in the canopy and/or lines of your deploying reserve. Even with good body position, breaking away from a violently spinning malfunction may throw you tumbling across the sky.
    The breakaway procedure is as follows:
    Two Action System(TAS)
    The TAS has two handles: Pull the first one (usually a Velcro-attached pillow handle located on the right-hand main lift web), to release both risers (a single point release). Then activate the reserve by pulling the other handle (usually located on the left-hand main lift web).
    A. Total malfunction (nothing out)

    Do not waste precious time breaking away; just pull the reserve.

    LOOK at the reserve ripcord handle and arch.
    REACH for the reserve ripcord handle with both hands.
    PULL the reserve ripcord handle with both hands.
    B. Partial malfunction (canopy out but not working properly)
    There are two schools of thought on how to perform the breakaway action using this system. The first one presented is in the USPA’s Skydivers Information Manual, “Section 8-3.16.” While it states “Look at the reserve ripcord handle...” (step 3), it says nothing about the choice of one hand or both on the breakaway handle. It is as follows:

    LOOK at the breakaway handle and arch. The arch should keep you from making a backloop when you jettison the main.
    REACH for the breakaway handle (presumably with both hands).
    LOOK at the reserve ripcord handle before breaking away.
    PULL the breakaway handle and throw it away while continuing to keep your eyes on the reserve handle.
    REACH for the reserve handle with both hands.
    PULL the reserve ripcord.
    CHECK over your shoulder for a pilot chute hesitation.
    CHECK your reserve canopy, look around and prepare to land.

    Note: For student equipment, and something that is becoming more popular on experienced jumper equipment, there is a device known as a reserve static line lanyard RSL (sometimes called a Stevens lanyard). This is a piece of webbing attached from the right side riser (or both risers on some systems) to the reserve ripcord cable. It is designed to pull the reserve ripcord out of its locking loop(s) as you fall away from the main parachute after that main canopy is cut away, thus allowing the reserve to deploy. When installed and operating properly, it will usually beat you to the manual deployment of the reserve. However, it should not be relied upon, for after all, along with an automatic activation device (AAD — described in Chapter 7), it is merely a back-up device to your proper execution of emergency procedures. This system can be disconnected (if necessary) by personnel who know what they are doing.
    It is a possibility that when you perform a breakaway using both hands on the breakaway handle, there is a fraction of a second of disorienting instability as the maneuver is executed. Although you are supposed to be looking at the reserve ripcord handle, you still need to move one or both hands to it from whatever position you are in at the conclusion of the breakaway-handle pull. The ripcord handle may move from where it was (on the harness) under the tension of the partial malfunction to a different position during this moment. It is a possibility that there may be an additional second or more of elapsed time as you reach for the reserve ripcord handle.
    Therefore, there is a second school of thought about performing the breakaway, which is, if you are about to execute a breakaway and you put your right hand on the breakaway handle and your left hand and thumb through the reserve ripcord handle, there will be no lost time reaching for the reserve ripcord after the breakaway is executed. Here is a typical scenario:

    LOOK at the breakaway handle and arch. The arch should keep you from making a backloop when you jettison the main.
    REACH for the breakaway handle with your right hand.
    REACH for the reserve ripcord handle with your left hand, placing your thumb through the handle to ensure that you have a firm grip on it.
    PEEL and PULL the breakaway handle to full right arm extension. Throwing it away is optional.
    Immediately after you’ve pulled the breakaway handle with your right hand, PULL the reserve handle out to full extension with your left hand.
    CHECK over your shoulder for a pilot chute hesitation.
    CHECK your reserve canopy, look around and prepare to land.
    In this scenario, there is no hesitation in looking for a reserve ripcord that may have moved, thus it may save a second or two of precious time.
    The Single Operation System (S.O.S)
    The Single Operation System is a one-handle/one-motion system. The S.O.S. has a combined handle, usually on the left main lift web, to release both risers and activate the reserve. The S.O.S. has a reserve static line lanyard (Stevens lanyard) from one riser to the reserve ripcord. The purpose of the S.O.S. is to eliminate one the motions in the breakaway sequence; that of separately pulling the cutaway handle. By pulling the reserve ripcord all the way, you accomplish both the breakaway and the reserve-ripcord pull in one complete action. With a two-action system, half a breakaway is worse than no breakaway at all unless you have an RSL.
    The S.O.S. usually produces full deployment of the reserve canopy in less than 100 feet. If you find an RSL on your piggyback harness/container assembly, you should leave it on. When you and your instructor develop enough confidence that you will pull the reserve after a breakaway, you can do away with the line if you wish.
    Total or Partial malfunction
    In the event of a total or partial malfunction:

    LOOK at the combination release/ripcord handle and arch.
    REACH for the combination handle with both hands.
    PULL the combination handle with both hands to full arm extension.
    REACH back with one hand, grasp the cables where they come out of the housing.
    PULL AGAIN to clear the cables and
    CHECK over shoulder for a pilot chute hesitation.
    CHECK the reserve canopy, look around and prepare to land.
    Never depend on the reserve static line device (Stevens lanyard). Always pull your reserve ripcord cable all the way out of the housing immediately after breaking away.
    Canopy Transfer

    Canopy transfer is a third type of breakaway procedure sometimes used in Canopy Relative Work by those who believe something is better than nothing. If your main canopy becomes damaged or tangled on a jump and it is still flying forward, you may pull your round reserve and drag it behind you, full of air. Once the reserve canopy is inflated, jettison the main. This maneuver is extremely risky with a square reserve canopy as two squares may fly around and into each other. This type of problem is discussed later on in detail.
    Harness shift
    When you jettison the main canopy, your harness will shift downward taking the reserve ripcord location with it. Therefore, it is essential that you keep your eyes on the reserve ripcord handle, if your hand is not already grasping it, when jettisoning the main canopy.
    Now that we have covered cutaways (breakaways), let’s discuss when and where they are used.

    By admin, in Safety,

    Briefings And Safety Considerations

    Hazard Briefings
    Emergency procedures will vary from drop zone to drop zone to fit local conditions. There may be trees, rivers, power lines, hostile neighbors, prisons, highways or a girls’ school. In fact, those DZ’s lacking certain hazards may touch on the corrective action for every emergency but lightly. Therefore, when visiting a new DZ, it is imperative that you get a briefing on the area.
    Alcohol And Drugs
    In order to achieve the greatest enjoyment from your skydiving experience, you will want to approach it with an unfogged mind. This means going to bed early the night before and going easy on the booze. Even the common cold will trouble you due to the changes in atmospheric pressure. If your mind and body are not operating at 100%, you will react with less efficiency in an emergency and you will enjoy the jumping less. Remember, the lower pressure at altitude amplifies the
    affects of alcohol and drugs.
    Health Concerns
    Jumping with a head cold can lead to ruptured sinuses and ruptured ear drums. The inner ear and the Eustachian tubes do not take kindly to large pressure changes when they are plugged. Infections in these areas can produce debilitating pain under normal jump conditions. In a few words — if you are sick or under the weather, don’t jump. Loading up on antihistamines and decongestants can cause other medical problems. There is always another day to enjoy a jump in good health.
    Scuba Diving Alert
    There is no problem in descending into the water within 24 hours of jumping or flying, however, there is trouble waiting in doing the reverse. Scuba divers know to stay away from air travel for a period of 24 hours after their last descent below 30 feet (one atmosphere’s increase in pressure) so as to avoid the bends (nitrogen bubbles forming in the joints and blood stream). Since skydiving involves air travel, the same rule applies.
    Some Fear Is Good For You
    It has been said that the difference between fear and respect is knowledge. Most people fear skydiving because they don’t understand it. Fear is the result of ignorance and it is part of nature’s protective mechanism; it warns us to beware when we are on unfamiliar ground. The best way to cope with problems is to prevent them in the first place. The key is education. It is unfortunate when someone is injured while engaging in sport, but it is tragic when a second person is hurt for the same explainable and preventable reason.

    By admin, in Safety,

    Airport Safety

    Never smoke around aircraft, hangers or pumps. Both aviation fuel and aircraft dope present a great fire risk.
    When moving light aircraft, be careful where you push. They are covered with very light fabric or metal and are easy to damage. The pilot will show you where it is safe to apply pressure.
    Beware of the prop. It is difficult to see and will make quick mincemeat of anyone who walks into it. Always walk around the back of fixed-wing aircraft and in front of helicopters. Stand where the taxiing pilot can see you; his or her forward visibility is not good. Get into the habit.
    Leave the dog and the children at home, the airport is not a nursery. If a play area is made available to children at the DZ, remember that they are still your responsibility.
    If your airport has more than one runway, stay off the active one. It will normally be the one running the closest to the direction of the wind. Remember that planes usually takeoff and land into the wind so look for them downwind. Rules change from airport to airport and at some you will not even be allowed to cross the active. Do not walk down any runway and do not fly your canopy over one under 500 feet.
    Be nice to all the pilots, they have a lot of clout at the airport and you may need one to fly the jump ship. Be patient with the whuffos (spectators), they are public opinion.

    By admin, in Safety,

    Emergencies In The Aircraft

    Airplane Problems

    Engine and structural failures. If the engine is going to fail, it will probably do so when the pilot reduces power after your full throttle takeoff. If the engine quits, he will attempt the best landing he can, straight ahead off the end of the runway. Since you are helmeted, padded with gear and strapped in, you need only assume the proper position to be prepared. Draw your knees up, tuck your head down, fold your hands across the back of your neck and hold your head down to resist whiplash. As soon as the plane comes to a stop, get out FAST. If you are nearest the door, get moving. There are people behind you who want to get out. There is always the danger of fire, particularly if the aircraft has suffered structural damage on impact. Watch where you step, the plane may have clipped through some power lines. They can zap you and they start grass fires. Remember that the wings of the airplane usually contain flammable fuel.
    Occasionally, the jump ship suffers a structural or other mechanical failure. Twisted-on parts sometimes twist off or a canopy may get draped over the tail jamming the controls.
    Depending upon the situation and the altitude, your jumpmaster will select one of two commands: PREPARE TO CRASH or GET OUT (jump). The dividing line is usually set at 1,000 feet above the ground since at this altitude there may be enough time for an orderly exit and the pilot will probably be able to land his glider on the runway. The jumpmaster might tell you to jump and pull your reserve on the theory that it is somewhat more reliable and may deploy faster than the main and/or he may be concerned about the setting of your AAD. His instructions will depend on the circumstances of the situation.
    So, if you are below 1,000 feet when the challenge occurs, you will land with the aircraft. If you are over 1,000 feet when the rubber band breaks, your jumpmaster may direct you to make a normal static line jump, but you will do it all a lot faster; swing out onto the step and go. Student freefallers may be directed to make a jump and pull; this is where they will open their mains as soon as they clear the aircraft, or the jumpmaster may sit them in the door, pull their reserve and simultaneously push them out. It all depends on the altitude at the time of the emergency. Licensed jumpers are next, then the jumpmaster and, in the case of severe structural failure, the pilot. The purpose of getting out of the plane is not only to remove you from the area of danger but to lighten the load making the aircraft easier to control. The jumpmaster goes next to last because he must take care of those in his charge. The pilot goes last (he wears a parachute too) so that he may wrestle the jump ship to keep it flying until you are gone.
    The above rules are general and are for students. Experienced jumpers may elect to exit lower. For example, if the aircraft is at 500 to 1,000 feet, an expert skydiver may elect to jump and pull the reserve (which presumably opens faster).
    Of course you will follow the instructions of your jumpmaster, but sometimes you have to make the decision yourself. In the excitement of solving the engine failure or other problem, the pilot may allow the airspeed to drop, stalling the plane and allowing it to spin. In this condition the aircraft drops fast and the centrifugal force may pin you against the side or ceiling. Now is the time make the decision to scramble and get out.
    Depending on the size of your jump ship and the procedure at your drop zone, your static line may be hooked up on the ground, at 1,000 feet, or on jump run. Whether or not your main is hooked up may determine what type of escape you can make in case of an aircraft emergency. For example, if you hook up prior to boarding, and the plane crashes on takeoff, when you unbuckle and get out, you can expect to unpack your main about eight to 15 feet from the door (the length of your static line).
    The final point to remember is to watch and listen to your jumpmaster for instructions. When you receive them, carry them out quickly and without panic.
    Open Parachute In The Airplane
    Several times in the past, jumpers have been pulled through the side of the jump plane when a container opened and a canopy escaped out the door. Rarely does this result in a fatality but usually there is severe damage to both the jumper and the aircraft.
    If either the main or the reserve open prematurely in the aircraft, one of two things will happen; the pilot chute and/or canopy will either start out the door or remain in the plane. You have only one course of action for each situation.
    The jumper whose reserve escaped out the door of this aircraft was lucky; he survived.
    If the main container opens in the aircraft,
    it is usually the result of excessive movement by a person in the aircraft. This could happen when you constantly shift positions, rubbing the static line and/or closing flap on an interior surface or snagging the static line on something during movement in the aircraft (from one position to another). With the Instructor Assisted Deployment (IAD) method, these hazards are real because hand-deployed pilot chutes use small closing pins. With long plastic coated cables for a main ripcord, the hazard is much less likely, especially when the ends are tucked into housings on a closing flap. If the main container opens,
    it is a simple matter to move backward pinning the errant canopy against a wall or flat surface. Show the problem to your jumpmaster immediately. Once satisfied that you have it well secured, disconnect the main canopy from your harness by operating the canopy releases (the method depends on the type of system you are using — your jumpmaster will probably do this for you as well as disconnect your reserve static line device). This is so that if it should somehow get out the door later, you won’t be connected to it. Now sit on the canopy and pilot chute so they won’t get away and ride the plane down.
    Sometimes the reserve container will burst open while you are in the back of the plane. The pin works its way out, or perhaps since you are in the back of the plane, you are not vigilantly guarding your reserve ripcord handle and it is snagged out as you move around trying to find a comfortable position. Grab the reserve pilot chute and canopy, cover them and hold them tight. Call the jumpmaster’s
    attention to the problem immediately. The reserve creates a greater potential danger than the main because it cannot be quickly disconnected from the harness.
    The deploying reserved canopy pulled the static - line student off the step.
    If, however, either of your canopies start out the door while you’re attached to it, you will follow it out. You have, at most, two seconds, and if you hurry you will experience a near-normal canopy ride to somewhere in the vicinity of the airport. But if you are slow, the developing canopy will act as a giant anchor, extracting you not just through the door but, more than likely, through the side of the aircraft too, causing great injury to you, damage to the aircraft,
    and exposing others still in the aircraft to great danger.
    The best solution is prevention. Always guard and protect your static line and/or your ripcord(s), canopy release handle and pins.

    By admin, in Safety,

    Flight Planning for Safety

    In any aviation activity proper flight planning is critical to safety, and skydiving is no exception. If you take the time beforehand to plan for various eventualities, you don't waste precious time making decisions when they arise.

    Familiarize yourself with aerial views of the DZ and surrounding area, if they are available. Note locations of obstacles and pick likely outs for bad spots in various directions.
    Check weather reports, if possible, and note forecast winds at altitude, cloud conditions and any approaching fronts. You are less likely to be blindsided by rapid changes in conditions when informed of their likelihood.
    Turn on your AAD, if so equipped. Make sure your hook knives are accessible.
    Find out who on the formation has audible or visible altimeters, AADs and RSLs; make sure they are all operational and properly initialized.
    Check your and your partners' gear.
    Make sure you are in agreement on breakoff and opening procedures and altitudes.
    Face into the wind and see where the sun is. Its position should be the same when you are on final and there is no wind indicator available.

    Know what groups are around you, what they are doing and what delay is planned between groups (ask around before and after boarding). The Skydive Arizona policy of large to small slow-faller groups, followed by large to small fast-faller groups, followed by students, followed by tandems is the best all-around approach in the business.
    The more of a delay between groups you can arrange, the better. DO NOT assume that any reasonable delay is reason not to pay attention to other groups in the air - LOOK AROUND!

    Dock gently, from the level of the formation. DO NOT swoop into a formation, but make the final approach smooth and deliberate.
    DO NOT EVER get above or below a formation. Inadvertent deployment can become fatal fast if people are above each other.
    If low, stay near and to the side of the formation until breakoff. Do NOT begin tracking before breakoff altitude, and DO NOT do anything to increase vertical separation..
    Track flat at a common level. DO NOT drop out of a formation vertically. If you have an inadvertent deployment when you are below the formation, the likelihood of someone getting killed is significant. The greatest likelihood of an inadvertent deployment is right after exposing the pilot chute pouch to direct air stream - like when dropping out of a formation in a stand-up.
    Track to a clear sector while watching the people on either side. While flat tracking, it is easy to split the difference between the people to either side by looking under your arms.
    Canopy Flight

    Open at an appropriate altitude. Between two and three thousand feet is reasonable for a high traffic event; any higher opening (for CRW or whatever) should be arranged with the pilot.
    Do NOT spiral down through a high traffic area. If spiraling to lose altitude, get well off the wind line to stay clear of the spot for other groups, and LOOK AROUND. In a turn, the direction of most likely collision is at the leading edge of the canopy in the direction of the turn, and there is a blind spot where a collision may occur between jumpers whose canopies blocked their view of each other until right before the collision. I reiterate - SPIRALING IN HIGH TRAFFIC IS DANGEROUS!
    The safest flight path when opening above the landing area is to fly the canopy away from the landing area, perpendicular to jumprun, until far enough out to allow a long, shallow approach to the landing area (leave enough room for obstacle clearance).
    LOOK AROUND NEAR THE GROUND! Don't fixate on your landing, but pay attention to who is in the area. Keep your head on a swivel, and periodically scan for potential traffic.
    Do not execute unplanned turns near the ground. If you are cut off on final, executing an avoidance turn must not be a possible response.

    The safest landing areas are the least popular ones with the most outs. Landing in congested areas or where ground traffic is allowed (e.g., the camping area) can be an invitation to disaster.
    If you must turn for traffic or obstacle avoidance while setting up to land, use a FLAT TURN. If you don't know how to do so, find out from someone experienced in the maneuver and practice at altitude until you have the procedure wired.
    Keep your head on a swivel after touchdown. Even if you land under complete control, you might want to dodge someone who is swooping where they should not. If landing out is inevitable, or if safely making it to a designated landing area is in doubt:
    Pick an open area in which to land by 1,000 feet (300 metres). Corn can be over 12'(4m) tall (a cornfield is NOT like an unmown lawn), so landing between rows and preparing for a PLF will reduce the likelihood or extent of injury.
    Any changes of color on the ground probably have barbed wire along the boundary. Land parallel to any area changes.
    Locate any telephone poles or other wire supports by 500 feet (150 metres), and set up to avoid the wires that are sure to go between them.
    Identify the lay of the land by 500 feet (150 metres), and set up to land alongside any hills. Do NOT land uphill or downhill, REGARDLESS of what the wind is doing.
    If there is any doubt about the landing surface, or if you are sure to have excess speed on touchdown (like when stuck with a downwind landing) execute a PLF and roll out the landing. Keeping feet and knees together, and not using hands or elbows to break the fall can greatly help avoiding injury.

    By admin, in Safety,

    Leaving The Nest

    You're off student status, you have your own gear, and you're ready to strike out on your own for a change of scenery. Here's what you can expect to find, and here are some things to know, when you go to a new dropzone. It's worth spending some time to prepare for your adventure.
    Before Leaving Town
    There are many sources for finding dropzones, online or in print. Before leaving town, look up all of the possible dropzones listed within a reasonable range of where you'll be going. Start be searchng the Dropzone.com Dropzone Database. You can also try the USPA web site or search on Google for the state+skydive. Don't forget to ask other people about places they've been. Also, just because a dropzone doesn't have a turbine-engine plane, don't rule it out of consideration. You often learn more in one day at a small dz, finding out or applying things that aren't emphasized at larger dropzones. Check that your gear is in good condition and that your re-pack and AAD are in-date; more dropzones require and check both of these items. Bring a camera to take pictures with the people you meet. You may also want to bring water and food, because not all dropzones have this on site and may be far from a nearby gas station. If in doubt, call ahead and find out the specifics.
    Finding The Dropzone
    Mapquest is a great way to find your way to the town where the dz is located, but it's usually up to the dropzone to provide the final details for finding the actual facilities - this is a hit or miss situation, when it comes to how accurate this information is. Some places assume that you live in the region and are familiar with the area - then you find that not all of the road signs are visible or even present. Not all of the local gas station clerks will know of the small airports in the area, much less the dropzone. Be sure to have the dz number handy but don't be surprised if the phone is busy, or if you get diverted to an answering machine during the weekend, so be prepared and have printouts of all possible directions. Look for signs to the airport outside the city, or the large orange balls on power lines - these are dead give aways! However, there are times when two small airports are close together, confusing matters for you. If you time things right, you'll find canopies in the air and loads of cars parked out front, covered with skydiving stickers.
    What to do when you arrive at a new DZ
    Manifest is the best place to start - and every good dropzone should have someone who's willing to help you get in touch with the right people, for a complete briefing of the landing area and dropzone "rules", as well as hooking you up with some of the local jumpers. Be open and ready to jump with people of all skill levels, plus both styles of jumping (Freeflying and RW) - the more limits you put in place, the more likely you'll be stuck doing solo jumps. Be ready to do some solo jumps, in case you don't get hooked up with other jumpers who are willing to jump with you or when no one else is available to jump that day. You must be the one to ask others to jump with you; after all, you are the new kid on the block.
    At manifest, complete their waiver, get a gear check, and find a spot for your gear bag. Depending on the size and location of the dropzone, be prepared for anything, when it comes to the bathroom facilities. Get the scoop on jump tickets - How-much-to-how-much (cost/altitude). Check on the charging and refund policy on jump tickets; often there is a charge-card percentage fee, slightly raising ticket prices. Most will give a full refund of the ticket value, but not the charge-card fee. Some will not refund your jump tickets but they usually don't have and expiration date, so you can use them whenever you happen to return. Buy only what you need, depending on these policies.
    Get the lowdown on the manifest procedure for getting on a load. Do you pay in advance, pay as you go, pay at the end of the day? Also, do they use monitors to show the loads, do they announce names for the loads, or do they assume you know the load number you're on when they call it? Is there a separate window for manifesting, or do you go back to the main office?
    Get a briefing on the basics:
    The exit-order and separation rules - some places have very specific procedures and rules on these, others leave it up to you and your skills - ask and watch others.
    Landing area obstacles - in addition to buildings, power lines, bodies of water, and the local farmer McNasty, some places have well-known areas of turbulence, small but harmful ditches, hills, or slopes, and hints on landing patterns to avoid them. Most places have several landmarks they use to locate the landing area, like highways, rivers, or lakes that form visual arrows pointing in the direction to look. Ask what is considered a good vs/ bad spot, for that particular dz, and the landmarks used for estimating this from the plane. Always ask where the beer line is located, if they don't mention it to you first.
    Hard Decks - Some dropzones have set a hard deck as high as 3,000 ft AGL, for good reasons. It doesn't hurt to check on this, especially when the landing area is tight and surrounded by trees, lakes, or densely developed land.
    Outs - Most dropzones have a good selection of areas to land out, but it's up to you to always stay aware of your surroundings; look out the plane's windows from time to time, to locate the landing area and the open areas around it - check with others to be sure you're not looking at swamps or thistle fields.
    The prevailing winds - some places have both tetrahedrons and wind socks but not all of them use both or will have rules on when to use which of the two wind indicators. Find out what is most reliable because tetrahedrons tend to rust and stick.
    Landing patterns - these vary as much as the winds - ranging from the first-one-down sets the pattern (and hopefully into the wind), to always using a left or right-hand pattern, or no particular rule except to avoid others. It's best to stay clear of others when possible and land a little further from the main landing area..
    Swooping and hook turns - each dropzone owner has the discretion of allowing hook turns and often have an area designated for this and or swooping. If there is no area for this, keep alert while under canopy and ask if the people before you are going to hook turn or not, so you know not to follow their landing pattern (if the first-one-down rules are used).
    Loading the plane - If you're lucky, you can walk to and from the plane and landing areas; everywhere else will require a bus, van, or trailer to one or both of these areas. Find out where you need to go for any of these options and how the loads are announced, so you don't miss your call for boarding the bus to the plane or hold up the trailer back to the packing area.
    Gear Check - few places have a set rule for jumpers to do gear checks for the person sitting next to them. Therefore, it will often be up to you to ask for this.
    Ask a lot of questions. Ultimately, you're responsible for your actions and should know all that's necessary to jump safely.

    Your First Jump
    You may end up doing a solo "orientation" jump as your first jump. Hopefully that will be the only solo you do and use it to take a good look at what happens on jump run, while others are exiting, and the ground features when in freefall. Have in mind a jump and an exit you'd like to practice. This helps you feel more at ease with what to expect. When jumping with others, this avoids the conversational volley of questions, "Whadaya wanna do? I dunno, whadayou wanna do?" Keep it simple; you're likely to end up working on matching fall rates on your first jump. Be sure to agree on a break-off altitude that's comfortable for you and not the people who have done the last 200+ jumps at their home dropzone. If the plane is different from any one you've been in, ask for suggestions for the exit.
    Depending on your home dz location, in some areas it's a good idea to wear gloves, especially for your first jump, so you don't freeze your hands or in the event you land out and your landing isn't so smooth, and your hands run into rocks or "other natural abrasives". Check that your altimeter is zeroed, your dytters are set, and your AAD is activated.
    Gear check, gear check, gear check - touch all handles and check all straps, then check those of the people around you and ask for someone else to check yours before exiting. You're taking in a lot of new information, so make sure you don't overlook anything. You wouldn't be the first to mis-route a chest strap but it could be the last time you'd ever jump.
    On your way to altitude, remember to look out the windows so you can familiarize yourself with the surroundings and look for the landing area. Have in mind your landing approach. If you're doing a solo, and you're not sure about spotting, don't be afraid to ask the person before or after you to check the spot for you. It's a good idea to pull high, (be sure to let manifest and the jumpmaster and others on the load know) in order to give you enough time to adjust to the area and to have plenty of altitude to make it to the landing area.
    Keep your head on a swivel. You're in new territories and you want to make it safely back to the landing area - avoid aggressive canopy pilots, hopefully they'll be on the ground before you land. Elect to land in a distant, wide-open area, which has less traffic; then move in closer on the next jump, if you feel comfortable.
    At larger dropzones, there's usually a "packer's area" - ask, so you're not getting in someone's way of making money. Sometimes, if you accidentally set your rig in a packer's area and leave for a drink, you'll come back to find a packed rig and someone asking for payment. Smaller dropzones may not have any packers, so be sure you haven't forgotten how to pack your own rig. Also, at larger dropzones, there are sometimes separate packing areas for belly flyers and free flyers - a strange and unfortunate thing, in most cases.
    Your Next Jumps
    Some dropzones have landing areas at a different altitude than the packing area, especially when a bus/van/trailer is involved in moving between the landing area and loading area. Make the necessary adjustments to your AAD, hand altimeter, and dytter settings.
    When You Leave
    If you plan to go to a second dropzone during the same day, turn off your AAD before leaving and turn it back on again at the next location. Also, take pictures with the people you jumped with that day and add them to your logbook. Don't forget to swap e-mail addresses when you can. Find out if the dropzone has a stamp to put in your logbook, almost like a customs stamp for your passport.
    Where To Stay
    There can be many choices or just your car, so be sure to ask what's available; again, manifest is a good place to start. Many places have something on site, ranging from a couch in the hangar to a full-fledged house with all of the trimmings, and ranging in price from free to something that's usually within the budget of an avid skydiver. If you made friends that day, the local jumpers may offer to let you stay at their homes, another good reason to jump with others and not sticking to solo jumps. If you're not satisfied with these options, then nearby hotels often have discounts for skydivers, be sure to ask before making a reservation.
    Going to different dropzones is a wonderful experience and it's even more exciting when you go alone, seeing it through your own eyes and not through someone else's expectations. You see and do things differently than you would in familiar surroundings; this also keeps you from becoming complacent in this unforgiving sport. The people you meet become instant friends, if you let them, given the common bond of skydiving.
    Karen Hawes has jumped at dropzones in all 50 US States, 4 Canadian Provinces, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Spain and The Bahamas.

    By admin, in Safety,

    What is In a First Aid Kit

    We all know that our sport can be dangerous and deadly when accidents occur. When they do occur the best defense is to be prepared to deal with the injuries that may be present. The local paramedics should be called right away but what if your DZ is isolated from the local town or maybe the injury is minor and does not need professional help.
    What sort of things should you have on your Drop Zone? Where should the first aid equipment be located? What involvement can the local rescue squad, fire department and police department have?
    All of these questions will be addressed.
    While one DZ with a trained medical professional may have first aid equipment items A, B, C, D and E. A local DZ without trained personnel may only have A and B. There are many things that can be useful in the case of an emergency but many medical supplies can be dangerous and deadly if you do not have the proper knowledge to use them.
    Every DZ should have a basic first aid kit. The kit should include bandages to control bleeding, ice packs for injuries, slings for upper extremity injuries, splints for fractures, ace wraps for sprains, sterile saline or hydrogen peroxide or isopropyl alcohol to clean cuts and abrasions.
    What else should you have? Shears or heavy scissors to cut off clothing, jump suits or rigs if the need arises. A watch with a second hand. This will allow you to accurately check the pulse or respirations per minute. A stethoscope and blood pressure cuff. These are fairly simple to use and you can learn quickly from a trained medical professional how to take an accurate blood pressure. A pen and notepad can be invaluable. They can be used to record the time of injury, pulse, respirations, blood pressure, phone numbers and also to mark where a pulse can be felt on an injured arm or leg.
    What else can be useful?
    There are many things that can be useful to someone trained in the medical field. Things that I have found useful at the DZ are oxygen tanks and masks, cervical collars and intravenous equipment to start fluid resuscitation to name a few. These are not things that should be used haphazardly and can be harmful if not used properly by trained medical professionals.
    However, if you are the DZO or ST&A; at a local DZ and have trained paramedics, nurses or physicians discuss with them what they would be comfortable having available in the event of emergency and have that equipment available to them.
    Where should you put the First Aid Kit
    The kit should be placed in a central location. It should be easily accessible and everyone that will be involved in the case of an injury should know its location. There is no point in having it locked in a locker or office if everyone has to go searching for the person with the key. At some larger DZ's there may realistically be a need for more than one first aid kit depending on the layout of the DZ.
    If you have a trained medical professional on the DZ and have supplies that should be used only by those with a medical license, separate the equipment. Have a central, accessible kit containing only basic equipment including bandages, ice packs, splints, etc. In a more secure location have a second first aid kit with more advanced equipment that will only be given to those who are trained to use it.
    Get People Involved
    For the past few years at Skydive Cross Keys the DZO has worked closely with the local fire department and rescue squad. Every spring the local departments come to the DZ with all of their equipment. On site at the DZ they practice extricating a skydiver from a tree and run drills with different accident scenarios.
    The fire and rescue personnel also get familiarized with skydiving equipment and learn first hand about the helmets, jumpsuits and rigs.
    Give your local squad a call and find out if they would be interested in doing similar drills at your DZ.
    Get the local authorities prepared if you are planning upcoming events at your DZ. If you have a boogie, competition or other large event planned let the local fire and rescue department know when the event will run and how many skydivers you expect. This allows the medical personnel to be prepared for injuries. Most large events that are held at my home DZ have an ambulance stationed at the DZ throughout most of the day.
    As the busy skydiving season approaches for many DZ's step back and evaluate if you are as prepared as you can be. Talk to local jumpers who are medically trained. Open up the old first aid kit that is on the DZ. Are there things that need to be replaced or added to make the kit complete? Call the local ambulance or fire department and invite them to come to the DZ, practice their drills and receive an introduction to the gear they might run into.
    Accidents do happen, and the best medicine is to be prepared when it happens.

    By admin, in Safety,

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