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20_kN

Malfunctions below your hard-deck?

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I watched a video the other day of a jumper who had a canopy collision at 1000'. The jumper decided to land it, but that got me to thinking whether it would be safe to cut away from 1000' if you had an RSL and a Skyhook and a clear landing zone below you. The SIM says hard decks for B license and above is 1800' and A license is 2500'. It also goes on to say that if you have a canopy collision below 1,000' it may become necessary to deploy your reserve and land with both. So what happens if you have a collision above 1,000' but below 1,800'?

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Hi there,

I'm not an instructor, take this for what it's worth. DO NOT cut away at or below 1,000'. I don't care if you have an RSL, Sky hook, AAD or a magic fairy on your back. There have been documented fatalities of people who waited too long to cut away, or cut away too low.

Personally, if I were to be in a canopy collision or wrap at or below 1,000', depending on the condition of the other canopy and jumper, I might consider a canopy transfer, altitude permitting, or depending how bad it was and how low I am, I'd consider dumping my reserve, hoping to get as much fabric over our heads as possible.

Again, my advice is worth what you paid for it. Best case scenario, watch where you're going, watch and anticipate where other people are going, and do your best to never get into that situation.
PULL!! or DIE!!

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If you’re in a collision at 1000’, you’re in the needs-luck category. Bigtime. Because your survival will depend on where you are in the collision, and your ability to evaluate what’s going on quickly enough to take the right action. And that’s only if it’s survivable in the first place.

So stay away from other canopies. Learn what the ground looks like at different altitudes under canopy. Go through scenarios in your mind when you’re not under stress, considering the physics and possible outcomes.

Because if you do get into that situation, it could be that your only hope is to cut away and hope for a really fast opening, and it could be that your only hope is not to cut away. Or it could not matter. It depends on the situation. Generally cutting away at 1000’ is the wrong answer.

So don’t get there.

Wendy P.
There is nothing more dangerous than breaking a basic safety rule and getting away with it. It removes fear of the consequences and builds false confidence. (tbrown)

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20_kN

So what happens if you have a collision above 1,000' but below 1,800'?



There are different uses of the term 'hard deck' and there have been debates about what terminology to use for different things.

People also use 'decision altitude' to describe the upper of the two altitudes, although that also isn't immediately clear about what is being decided.

At least when I checked and posted in 2014, the USPA doesn't define either term. (We had a good discussion on hard decks and confusion over the term: http://www.dropzone.com/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?do=post_view_flat;post=4686814;page=1;mh=-1;;sb=post_latest_reply;so=ASC)

One can have a hard deck for the lowest you'll cut away in any circumstance (eg, 1000'), and a hard deck for dealing with a malfunction when one is starting from a higher altitude (eg 1800'). If you start your mal somewhere in between (eg, collision or low pull), you will still choose to cutaway down to 1000'.

It's kind of like "don't pull low... unless you are."

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Like Wendy says, this is mostly the territory where luck becomes a large factor. I have seen two people induce malfunctions in Stilettos by doing stall turns initiated at about 1000'. Both cutaway at about 800 ft, neither with RSLs. (this was in the mid nineties, we were just learning about Stilettos) Both times the outcome was a rapid reserve opening and a safe landing. It could have gone differently.

It should not matter if you have an RSL of a Skyhook in your decision making. These are backup devices, they are not designed to allow for lower deployments.

Several people have died when their AADs fired but there was not enough time for complete deployment. A sub 1000 foot cutaway may be your best choice in some circumstances. But you will not have more than a split second to decide, and only about one second to execute your EPs.


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So what happens if you have a collision above 1,000' but below 1,800'?



In a collision situation no one can say what you should do because there are too many variables. In a malfunction alone situation this would be considered as cutaway territory. But you should have done it earlier.

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I've seen people chop at 1,000' and make it. I'd do it if necessary. I've got an RSL and a metal D-ring reserve handle. I'm pretty confident I can get it deployed.

The question you ask has no easy answer. Some people are looking for perfect safety in our sport; no low openings, no busting hard decks, no collisions. That's an admirable goal, but I feel if you jump long enough, you just may find yourself outside of "safety" and into the "survival zone".

It's not a fun place to be. You may have to make choices you don't want to make. So think about how long it really takes to get your reserve out. Keep track of your altitude under canopy. Realize that the closer the ground gets, the faster you need to decide and commit to any course of action. And keep that RSL hooked up, IMO. I think they save lives.

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gowlerk

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That's an admirable goal, but I feel if you jump long enough, you just may find yourself outside of "safety" and into the "survival zone".




AKA, "There I Was, Thought I Was Going To Die"



Some don't survive to tell the story.

Never forget that.

John's "survival zone" is very real, where your decisions truly become life and death, with luck often playing a huge role.

Sometimes bad decisions are made, sometimes the luck just isn't there.

And its:

"No shit, there I was. Thought I was gonna die."
"There are NO situations which do not call for a French Maid outfit." Lucky McSwervy

"~ya don't GET old by being weak & stupid!" - Airtwardo

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So if it's generally understood that 1,000' is too low to cutaway, why is it that 850' or so is acceptable for an AAD? I would think going 120 - 150 MPH and deploying the reserve at 850' is a hell of a lot more dangerous than cutting away from 1,000' from a slow malfunction where you're going under 20 MPH. Yet, AAD manufacturers dont seem to think that 850' is unacceptably low for a terminal reserve opening in a legitimate emergency. So what's the difference? Wouldent a low speed cutaway reserve opening open a hell of a lot faster than a terminal speed opening?

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So if it's generally understood that 1,000' is too low to cutaway



Your premise is wrong 1K is not too low to cutaway if cutting away is the only thing that will save you. 1 K is merely too low to be using as a decision altitude. This has all been explained to you already up thread. Go back and re-read it.

The simple answer to the rest of your question is that AAD activation altitudes must be chosen with the risk of a two out in mind. Cutaway or terminal it does not matter how much time the deployment takes. It matters how much altitude it uses. It generally should be 300 feet or less.

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keithbar

Really smh :S you think sub terminal opens faster than terminal?? :(l



The more relevant concern is which type of reserve deployment (terminal or sub-terminal) results in an open reserve parachute with the least amount of altitude loss from the activation point.

A reserve PC (all other things being equal) will extract a bag FASTER (and with more force) as airspeed increases. But altitude loss also happens a whole lot faster at freefall terminal than it does right after a cutaway.

Regardless of airspeed, a reserve PC ought to launch far enough off your back to extract some bridle; but extracting the freebag containing the canopy and stretching out the lines between it and you is going to take some airspeed — exactly how much I can't say; but I'm pretty sure there are probably a lot of variances in that figure based on the specific PC design, specific container design, if the main container remains packed and closed or not, and just how tightly the reserve has been shoehorned into the reserve container.

I imagine someone has already done the testing, though; so I'm sure an answer must be out there.

Anecdotally, over the past 25 years, I've seen plenty of reserve deployments on the ground, both intentional and accidental. Indoors or outside, I've never seen a reserve ripcord pull result in a freebag extracted from anyone's back.

Outdoors on a windy day, though, I've seen cutaway main canopies (meaning main parachutes cutaway after a normal landing was completed) on MARD equipped rigs (where the RSL was still engaged, or somehow snagged by a departing riser) quickly and completely extract the jumper's reserve freebag, stretch out all the reserve lines, and strip the freebag from around the now fully extended reserve parachute. I don't think you'd need anything in excess of 20mph of wind to replicate that. I do think you'd need a lot more than that if you were only relying on your reserve PC.

Skyhooks and other MARDs (as with RSL's in general) aren't intended to replace normal emergency procedures; but when they work as designed — using your open (or even just partially open) main parachute to extract your reserve — they will indeed save a very significant amount of altitude for you; especially after a low-speed cutaway. Does this allow you to cutaway lower and get away with it? Probably ... if it works as intended. Should you change your procedures — lower your "never cutaway below" altitude if you have one? I wouldn't.

But I'd be happy to have one if I ever found myself having to take drastic action at a very low altitude.

That said, I don't have a MARD on my sport rig, and I don't even have an RSL on it (though I do have an AAD). I've done fine pulling both handles every time I've needed to, to date. Because I've taken pretty good care of my rig, and it is still in really good shape (considering we built it in 1999 — before MARDs were a thing), I haven't yet needed to replace it. My next rig (which I'll jump in addition to, not in place of my current rig) will certainly have one, however.

Personally, I find using a specific altitude as my "never cutaway below" hard deck troublesome; as that would require me to first check my altimeter before deciding how to act after a low-altitude collision or canopy failure of some type. The act of checking an altimeter (and processing the information learned from it) will eat up time better spent DOING SOMETHING to save oneself. Far better skydivers than me have suggested associating your hard deck altitude with a specific point in your canopy flight ... such as beginning the downwind leg of your landing pattern, for instance. That way you'll know, without having to look, if you are too low to cutaway or not. "I've begun my pattern, so I'm too low to cutaway. I'll go straight to my reserve."

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20_kN

So if it's generally understood that 1,000' is too low to cutaway, why is it that 850' or so is acceptable for an AAD?



Yeah to me, the 1000' ft line is a convenient if conservative line. Reserves are supposed to open within 3sec or 300 ft, so cutting away from a rapidly descending mal at 900 or 700 ft is a good idea, esp with a MARD or standard RSL.

You really don't have much time once you get below that 1k line, and I think if you thought cutting away at higher altitudes was a bad idea and things have not changed, at 1k you need to think about things differently, and if you can't cutaway, you should just deploy the reserve anyway.

To me, hard deck and decision alti are the same, the alti where you stop trying to get the main properly deployed and flying, and go to the reserve, and the 1k line is where you acknowledge you are fucked, you pause from trying to fix why you can't cutaway, deploy your reserve, and then go back to trying to fix why you can't cutaway.
It's flare not flair, brakes not breaks, bridle not bridal, "could NOT care less" not "could care less".

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I've always referenced back to Shannon's YouTube video on Hard Decks as I believe it is the easiest way to identify a hard deck. I've had to think about where in my pattern this is as my canopy flight has evolved over the years and pattern altitudes raise with increased turns.
My current hard deck is as I'm turning base at around 1100-1000', and I still mentally call out my hard deck to myself
https://youtu.be/SWyZrQvwolM

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just want to touch on the "canopy transfer" as most of the other situations have been answered. A canopy transfer might be ONE of the options. If it is the option you have decided to use, you deploy your reserve and cutaway immediately after. Just letting you know the process, not saying its the best option.

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Stop thinking about the AAD as anything but a last ditch resort.
Like I said before; the AAD activation altitude is the very lowest altitude at which an parachute could -perhaps- still deploy.

YOU utterly failed to act - technology might just turn the tables.

Note that nothing is said about comfortable landings.
When you're so low you don't have enough altitude left to pick a suitable out at your leisure. Trees, concrete, swamps, houses, powerlines, other obstacles - Break a leg? Sucks to be you, but at least you're alive enough to complain about it.
"That formation-stuff in freefall is just fun and games but with an open parachute it's starting to sound like, you know, an extreme sport."
~mom

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trees, concrete, swamps, houses, powerlines, other obstacles - Break a leg? Sucks to be you, but at least you're alive enough to complain about it.



Not always - recent incident comes to mind. If you don't have a safe place to land, living is not a guarantee (not that it ever is, but you know what I mean).

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20_kN

So if it's generally understood that 1,000' is too low to cutaway,


Many others have said this in the thread, but I'll repeat it. I've seen people chop at 1000' and do just fine, so I don't feel it's "too low". But I wouldn't make a habit of waiting that long. Once again, it's safety vs. survival.

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Lots of good stuff but it really comes down to making a decision BEFORE your in the shit, because making a plan while in the shit usually turns you into a pile of shit.

The post was about a total on your main at 1000' correct? Then it became a canopy collision. Different scenarios and different minds sets. You have a total at a grand you should be ready and make a decision in a split second, chop and my skyhook has me open as I have forward and downward speed. a canopy collision at a grand is going to throw you in gods knows what direction, your brain is going to be going what the fuck was that when it figures out what happened your now below 700' or more. go silver and pray..

MAKE EVERY DAY COUNT
Life is Short and we never know how long we are going to have. We must live life to the fullest EVERY DAY. Everything we do should have a greater purpose.

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Ok correct me I am flying straight ahead and a giant hole opens up in my canopy. I am going forward and now down(faster), I am cutting away and pulling my reserve but my skyhook will have beat me. What is completely wrong with what I said? Its still my "plan" tell me how I am wrong i'll listen

MAKE EVERY DAY COUNT
Life is Short and we never know how long we are going to have. We must live life to the fullest EVERY DAY. Everything we do should have a greater purpose.

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catfishhunter

Ok correct me I am flying straight ahead and a giant hole opens up in my canopy. I am going forward and now down(faster), I am cutting away and pulling my reserve but my skyhook will have beat me. What is completely wrong with what I said? Its still my "plan" tell me how I am wrong i'll listen



What Bill said what you described is not a total malfunction. And it is important because I have had jumpers who believed that pulling their cutaway handle during a total malfunction would open their reserve
I'm old for my age.
Terry Urban
D-8631
FAA DPRE

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