Too close

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I have typically been the last guy to my slot in a formation jump. I have always stayed well within my control limits and I don't go charging in too fast. Recently I have noticed I have learned a much better control and have started working to not be “dragging up the rear”, so to speak. I never would have expected to put myself or anyone else in danger with my formation approach, but I did.

Maybe by sharing this, someone else might learn something. As I recall there were four of us. I was the last to exit the plane and was in pursuit from behind and above. My slot was on the right side of the group and I pressed hard to get there, putting on the brakes, to settling in very nicely. Everyone was right out in front of me as I approached the formation and it was all ideal. I felt really good about my performance. The next jump we had five birds. Again everyone, but one (Right slot) was out in front of me and I was headed for the top slot in a vertical diamond. “Right” was above me and to my right making a fairly slow approach. We seemed to be a long way away, so I needed to cover some space and close it up. About that time, the base started into a slow turn to the left. At this point in time, I thought I had a clear path to my slot and I pressed on. In doing so, I deprived myself of the ability to keep any visual clue as to where “Right” was at. While is seemed safe to assume I knew where the two flight paths would go, it was in fact not safe in any way. I didn’te even knew I came close to the other guy until we were on the ground. But I passed very fast right beneath him, at a dangerous speed and dangerously close.

In retrospect, my behavior was that “this will work” or “this is okay” without very much consideration for all of those factors that I didn’t have direct control of. Big mistake on my part. So, I am demanding of myself to do better…way better. So, it is not okay that this “looks fine”. It must be fine under changing conditions. It has been stated before that our behavior needs to be tempered with the knowledge of who is where and that we need to know where everyone is. This was really driven home for me. Thankfully no one was touched, but it could have been very bad.
Instructor quote, “What's weird is that you're older than my dad!”

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first question, how much non-wingsuit RW have you done?
Were you taught to approach from a side angle, slowing, restarting, slowing and entering your slot?
Start/coast/stop/start is a valuable skill, and aids in navigation awareness.

What you're bringing up isn't at all new yet very important, and given the number of fatal collisions of late it's worth talking about some more.
I lost my left-ear hearing (almost would have rather lost my life given my career) due to a stoner newbie being out of control on a vertical slot.

Thanks for sharing!

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