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kallend

Three fatal accidents in a week

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Although statistics don't know what history was, I did find the last few months very quiet.

Considering how overall infrequent fatalities are, I was also wondering if the pat in the back the USPA gave skydivers for lower numbers in 2010 was really deserved.
Remster

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The fatality rate was significantly lower last year; our sport deserved the pat on the back. In a modern 10 year period -- somewhere between '91-'01 the average was about 35 per year. Last year 21 jumpers died, 17 with good canopies (collisions with others or collapses or low turn syndrome). One was a suicide; only three were due to gear failure. Bill Booth made an excellent point during a video at the dealers' confab in Vegas. I think it's on the web somewhere. The equipment is better than ever and it works. Nothing new conceptually, but the gear is compensating for a lot of mistakes. The message is clear: don't fly canopies you're not capable of flying and keep your head on a swivel if you know there is at least one other canopy nearby.
SCR-442, SCS-202, CCR-870, SOS-1353

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And be trigger happy if you're on the outside ring and pulling below 3K

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The fatality rate was significantly lower last year; our sport deserved the pat on the back. In a modern 10 year period -- somewhere between '91-'01 the average was about 35 per year. Last year 21 jumpers died, 17 with good canopies (collisions with others or collapses or low turn syndrome). One was a suicide; only three were due to gear failure. Bill Booth made an excellent point during a video at the dealers' confab in Vegas. I think it's on the web somewhere. The equipment is better than ever and it works. Nothing new conceptually, but the gear is compensating for a lot of mistakes. The message is clear: don't fly canopies you're not capable of flying and keep your head on a swivel if you know there is at least one other canopy nearby.

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Excellent addendum. Booth, who most of us have a high regard for, basically said he'd like to see USPA raise minimum opening altitudes by 500 feet across the board. He himself said he had a hard deck of 3,000. Today's mains do open slower (and therefore take up more altitude), and when they don't open they're often spinning and eating up air faster. He talked about 1 second making a huge difference.
SCR-442, SCS-202, CCR-870, SOS-1353

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He wasn't precise on the video. I'm quoting verbatim, but I do think he was referring to his main -- either pull or in the saddle. Senior jumpers have slower reaction times, so that may have something to do with it. He was definitely commenting on how much time/altitude you have when you have to commit to emergency procedures.
SCR-442, SCS-202, CCR-870, SOS-1353

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Did he say that was his hard deck or his lowest opening altitude? 3000' seems a tad high to give up on a malfunction.



What's wrong with chopping at 3k? I'm sure you've heard the phrase "altitude is your friend"!
“That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.”

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He himself said he had a hard deck of 3,000



Did he say that was his hard deck or his lowest opening altitude? 3000' seems a tad high to give up on a malfunction.



No altitude is too high to chop. I look up and if I can’t land it, it’s gone. I don’t do rigging in the air. Too many people have died trying it.

Sparky
My idea of a fair fight is clubbing baby seals

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No altitude is too high to chop. I look up and if I can’t land it, it’s gone. I don’t do rigging in the air. Too many people have died trying it.

Sparky



Heh, let's hear you say that when you take your brand new $2000 canopy on a 12,500' high pull only to mal out the door in 40kts uppers.

Anyways, be careful of the Safety Day Curse. It seems like 2 or 3 fatalities always occur within a 2 week span before/after Safety Day.

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Jumpers are free to open at higher altitudes themselves. Just because USPA sets a minimum altitude does not mean you need to be at it every time.

Jumpers are free to set their AAD's to open at higher altitudes themselves. If you have a higher personal hard deck, then altering your activation altitude is up to you.

Personal opening altitudes for the most part have been moving up on their own. Most high performance canopy pilots do open higher, giving them more time to deal with the more wicked possibilities. I think in general, people recognize the need to open a little higher.

Changing the BSR still won't change people's reaction times and altitude awareness.

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Heh, let's hear you say that when you take your brand new $2000 canopy on a 12,500' high pull only to mal out the door in 40kts uppers.



I'd say he would still cut it... As would I.

2000 vs. my life....... Not a difficult choice actually.
"No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms." -- Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson Papers, 334

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2000 vs. my life....... Not a difficult choice actually.



You're right about that. But why do you assume that a mal from 12,500 is going to cost you your life? Unless the canopy is subjecting you to enough G-Force to incapacitate you (in which case I would chop too), there's really no reason not to try to fight it. Even fighting it down to 5,000ft is still going to give you a exponentially better chance of finding your canopy. And if you can't sort out a mal on your reserve from 5k, chances are that you wouldn't be able to from 12k.

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I have only dragged one (bag-lock) malfunction from 10,000' to 3,000.' That was because I was afraid of losing a brand-new canopy.

It was packed into a green d-bag and had a green pilot-chute. It took us the rest of the afternoon to find it hanging in a young tree - in the spring-time - down by the river.

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But why do you assume that a mal from 12,500 is going to cost you your life?



Why would you assume that it wouldn’t?

An old rigger, Al Frisby, once told me “If you can imagine it, it can happen”. Like I said before if I can’t land it, it is gone right now. The possible loss of the canopy never enters the equation. When your main canopy fails to open for whatever reason you are no longer sports jumping, you are trying to save your life in an emergency situation. To think of it as anything less is to court disaster.

Sparky
My idea of a fair fight is clubbing baby seals

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But why do you assume that a mal from 12,500 is going to cost you your life?



Because it is safer to assume that and act now than to try something cool and risk another problem from preventing you from dealing with it later.

1-10-100 principal. The faster you fix a problem, the less energy it costs to fix the problem.

Lets say you chop from 12k.... Well you can always follow your main. Yes, you might lose the freebag.

Now lets say you decide to ride the wild ride. Soon you find yourself dizzy and starting to black out. Guess what? Now it might be too late to chop.

Why risk it?

Again, 2000 dollar vs my life. Easy to answer.
"No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms." -- Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson Papers, 334

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But why do you assume that a mal from 12,500 is going to cost you your life? Unless the canopy is subjecting you to enough G-Force to incapacitate you (in which case I would chop too), there's really no reason not to try to fight it.



There a ton of reasons not to fight it. The longer you expose you and your rig to the unusual forces a mal can create, the greater the chance that something else will go wrong.

Even a moderate spin which seems managable can quickly become anything but, even if the spin itself doesn't change. Tension in your legs/core will help keep blood in your brain, and keep you awake. Over time, your legs will tire, and the ongoing effects of the spin can build up to quickly put you out with little to no warning.

What about your cutaway cable being sucked through the grommet? It's happened before, and if you load it long enough, it may happen again. Waiting to cutaway might just be waiting to not be able to cutaway.

I've seen guys ride a mal to spot their cutaway, and they thought it was cool. What's cooler than that is noting your position immediately after your cutaway, and using the upper wind forcast to triangulate where your stuff is, and driving straight to it 3 miles from the DZ.

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I think what you're referring to is pilots tensing all but primarily their abdominal muscles keep blood up in the brain during high G forces. I think this won't work that way because the blood flows more easily into the legs and the leg straps trap it there. Unless someone develops a G suit for skydivers so we can play with our malfunctions longer.

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That is the technique, and if it would work or not due to the legstraps is anyone's guess.

My suggestion was just that if it would work, I would imagine that during the initial onset of the spin, the jumpers legs would be tense holding them square in the harness, and fighting the spin. During this time, you would be less likely to back out.

Fast forward a few thousand feet later, and the spin persists, if your legs tire out, or the jumper simply relaxes, the effect of the tension in the legs would be lost, along with the blood flow to the brain. The loss of consciousness could be very rapid without usual warning signs (not that all jumpers are familiar with them anyway).

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I look up and if I can’t land it, it’s gone.



The way I am interpreting what you folks are saying is that you would not attempt to fix ANY malfunction. And this is what I don't understand. Every FJC that I have been through or seen teaches a jumper to identify and fix a malfunction. Not reserve-specific, either.

Here's how I see it: Your reserve is your last line of defense. Just as many (if not more) problems could arise from the process of cutting away your main and deploying your reserve than attempting to fix a malfunctioning main. So if you have the altitude, why not make 1 or 2 attempts at fixing that mal? It would be a tragedy to chop 2 or 3 linetwists on a non-diving canopy only to discover that your reserve was hooked up wrong, didn't fully clear before your RSL initiated, had a line-over, etc....

Not to mention, the only clear argument that has been presented (over and over despite retort) is the possibility of loss of consciousness from a diving canopy (which I stated a long time ago that I would chop right off the bat). But the fact is, the average jumper is on a non-elliptical 170 at a WL of 1.0-1.3. The chances of them being subjected to such G-Forces are minimal to none. On the other end of the spectrum, if someone has the skill to jump a high-performance canopy, then I'm sure they have the skill to recognize a hard dive and chop it.

So in conclusion to my opinion, if altitude permits and your canopy isn't in a deathspin, it's better to make at least one quick attempt to remedy the problem before subjecting yourself to the possibility of a whole new set of problems.

If anyone has a genuine opposing opinion to the above statement, I'd love to hear it. I'm always open to new information. But if it's the G-force argument, or you want to argue just for the sake of it, I'm not that interested.

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I've seen guys ride a mal to spot their cutaway, and they thought it was cool. What's cooler than that is noting your position immediately after your cutaway, and using the upper wind forcast to triangulate where your stuff is, and driving straight to it 3 miles from the DZ.



We'll let natural selection worry about the guys that do things because it's "cool."

As for finding your cutaway stuff... You can't "triangulate" a location with only the upper wind forecast. A triangulation can only occur if you have 3 or more surrounding points of data. All you can do is read that the uppers were XX out of the YYY and guess how far in that direction it floated.

But this doesn't work for all of us. Maybe the folks at Eloy or other desert/deserted areas. But my landing area is nestled against mountains/forest, along with a giant reservoir and residential areas. So if I have a mal that isn't going to incapacitate me, I'll ride it down to a lower altitude so that I have a better chance of recovery.

I'm not saying that this is the definitive way to do things, either. It's just my method that works for me in my environment.

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