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gowlerk

Unconcious or uncontrolled reserve landing

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A recent thread in the incidents forum leads me to wonder. Have you ever known of anyone landing unconscious, or otherwise unable to control a reserve parachute upon landing? Did they survive and how badly were they hurt?

My feeling is that the survival rate in this circumstance is going to be pretty low. It's not a common occurrence and likely most times it happens is with someone who may already be dead.

If you have any examples please include canopy type and size along with wing loading if you have any of this information.

Personally, I once landed a 5 cell Swift 177 at about 200 lbs exit weight in line twists so no flare and no control. I landed on the concrete tarmac and broke one heel. Almost no forward speed in this example. I was fully conscious, I just did not have enough time to clear the twists.

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>Have you ever known of anyone landing unconscious, or otherwise unable to
>control a reserve parachute upon landing? Did they survive and how badly were
>they hurt?

IIRC, Rick Thues got hit hard enough to temporarily paralyze him, and his cypres fired. He landed without being able to control his reserve. He survived with minor injuries I believe. Not sure of the reserve size, although knowing what his rig looked like it was fairly large.

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Hi Ken,

Quote

examples



What I know of it, I read on here.

Al Kreuger ( Cap'n Hook ) was hit in freefall at a SOS event in New Jersey. He was unable to activate his reserve; his ASTRA AAD activated his reserve. He landed downwind with brakes still set & no control input. Seriously hurt with a fair amount of time in the hospital; and I do not think that he has jumped since.

I know nothing of the canopy or the loading.

Jerry Baumchen

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gowlerk

A recent thread in the incidents forum leads me to wonder. Have you ever known of anyone landing unconscious, or otherwise unable to control a reserve parachute upon landing? Did they survive and how badly were they hurt?

My feeling is that the survival rate in this circumstance is going to be pretty low. It's not a common occurrence and likely most times it happens is with someone who may already be dead.

If you have any examples please include canopy type and size along with wing loading if you have any of this information.

Personally, I once landed a 5 cell Swift 177 at about 200 lbs exit weight in line twists so no flare and no control. I landed on the concrete tarmac and broke one heel. Almost no forward speed in this example. I was fully conscious, I just did not have enough time to clear the twists.



http://www.dropzone.com/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?post=4518312

Edit: this is the highest WL unconscious AAD save I know of. Guy was really lucky if you ask me.

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Thank you. This is the relevant part of that incident quoted.

Quote

I then collided with another jumper in my group and was knocked unconscious straightaway. I also suffered a damaged spleen at this point and continued to fall on my back until Cypres fire height. My Cypres fired and my PD113 reserve deployed. I landed no flare, uncontrolled in an open field just missing some telegraph wires and received a broken nose and fractured eye socket on landing, along with some extensive brain swelling (from both impacts).
It took 3 full days in intensive care to recover from these injuries and I will need a further 4 weeks off work to rest before jumping. My brain hurts a lot and I’m understandardly slower than normal right now.

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gowlerk

Have you ever known of anyone landing unconscious, or otherwise unable to control a reserve parachute upon landing? Did they survive and how badly were they hurt?



Years ago, I was directly behind a woman in the door who was part of a 4-way launched off the plane. (IIRC there were 8-10 of us in total on the dive). During the launch, her right shoulder was dislocated. She detached herself from the 4-way and pulled the reserve high. IIRC she was just using the left arm to make left turns, and landed w/o a flare. On landing, she fractured a femur.
"There are only three things of value: younger women, faster airplanes, and bigger crocodiles" - Arthur Jones.

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Here's one about waking up in a field beside one's main after being knocked senseless... with no AAD:

This is NickDG posting about an AFF instructional jump that went wrong for him. (I remember the dramatic tale from over 10 years back and just had to find the thread again!)

Quote

So the best way was get over their backs, into their burbles, and drop down on them. But hey, guess what? That doesn't always work either. I did that successfully many times until moving over a mega-spinning level five at about 7000-feet and just as I started down she reached in and pulled her reserve handle. The reserve pilot chute popped out, inflated, and then took off like a bullet. It hit me square in the head and knocked me stone cold out. I woke up in a plowed field, spitting out dirt and broken teeth, with my Stiletto out and no memory of deploying it. I had no AAD in those days and can only think I must have done one of those dream sequence pulls.



It was likely a Stiletto 135, that he mentioned in another thread and in his profile.

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Paul Robards long time bardstown ky jumper . After they closed jumping at etown ky. I don't know his main buy a swooper and small dude. Sub 100 sg.ft medical issue under canopy flew into the ground at full flight. No flare. Dead before impact possibly . Please correct me if anyone has more accurate info. ( rip Paul you floaty asshole ) he loved to fly h/d with me belly flying
i have on occasion been accused of pulling low . My response. Naw I wasn't low I'm just such a big guy I look closer than I really am .


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I know of one student jumper who blacked out under canopy (granted, student canopy, not a reserve ride) and landed uncontrolled.
Canopy was ~220sqft, I guess WL around .75.
He released the brakes before his lights went out.
He came down on a meadow, short grass, with just a few scratches on his face.
Really lucky that guy...

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I include it as part of one of my safety talks.... "What size reserve do you have?"

Now ask everyone about landing that parachute, downwind, no flare, brakes set.....

Most will cringe

Now ask them again about what size of a reserve they have and why.... The extra 20-30 sq ft could mean the difference between a broken limb or death

also effective to ask they why they have an AAD if their reserve is some sub-120 micropatch, since the actual scenario in which you might need it (unconscious) becomes unsurvivable anyway..... save the money and blow it on skydives, cocaine and loose women..... usually get some levity out of that.

But of course we are all jumping small reserves for the most part so we talk and we are all guilty. Fat bastard that I am, I upsized my reserve at the last gear change but still would be well over 1.5 wing loading

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most experienced skydivers that I know of are loading their reserves high(ly). Some years ago it was considered something to strive after, to have an as tiny rig as possible (to be cool), thus having a super small reserve. I see that this trend is not that popular anymore and people buy decent sized rig's that can contain a reserve that will result in a wing load that at least is within the w/l recommendations of the manufacturer... There are exceptions but as a general rule this is what I see. Combined with ultra low pack volume materials that enable you to get "a one size bigger" canopy like the Smart LPV and Optimum, we are improving somehow.

I have personally seen people die from head traumas because of landings with no steering inputs on their mains (either because unconscious or just not reacting). Those people where using open-face helmets and I think a full-face helmet would have helped in these cases.

Another thing is that the helmets we use today, may have great shells; ABS, glass, Kevler etc, but in reality they do not absorb much if any of the impact force. For that you would need helmets with much larger diameter as they would have multiple layers of shock absorbing foam inside (think Motorcycle helmet). Tonfly ICE helmet seem to have some shock absorbing protection, but it is only available as an open-face helmet. Anybody have thoughts on this?

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birdynamnam

I have personally seen people die from head traumas because of landings with no steering inputs on their mains (either because unconscious or just not reacting). Those people where using open-face helmets and I think a full-face helmet would have helped in these cases.



I am a new skydiver, but long time motorcyclist and motorcycle instructor so very familiar with helmets and their capability. You are right, the full face helmets out there offer almost zero impact absorption capability. The foam liners in there are for comfort and sizing. The cheap ProTek skate style helmets offer more, but are still designed for relatively low impacts.

WRT open face vs full face and fatalities. The face is actually a very good shock absorption system to protect the brain. Assuming you do not suffocate due to facial trauma, the mouth and sinus cavity makes a pretty good crumple zone. For motorcycling, a full face is still better as you can avoid some pretty significant facial trauma and walk away sore instead of needing plastic surgery. But ultimately the open face vs full face does not make a life and death difference.

For skydiving, I can see the full face offering enough protection in a collision, think glass jaw syndrome, to keep you conscious if another jumper's head smacks you in the chin.

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I know of tow cases, but both are mains.

One was a wingsuit jumper who went unconcious on opening of the canopy. He suffered a broken pelvis and some other bones as well as internal injuries. He just barely made it but is ok today. Through all the medical examinations because of the injuries they also foud a tumor that they sucessfully removed, it may habe been the reason why we got unconcious. The canopy was medium sized for his weight.

Another was a jumper that impacted under a big canopy (170+) on asphalt, unfortunately he died. Both incidents where in Germany.
If it does not cost anything you are the product.

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Oregon Aero sells helmet liners that absorb significant amounts of shock. They are made of several different densities of Astronaut foam.

As to why modern skydivers wear full-face helmets .... back during the early 1990s belly-flying competitors were turning serious numbers of points with teammates' knees swinging past their faces with mere inches to spare. With full facial protection, they could confidently fly a few inches closer to the centre of the formation, shaving a fraction of a second off the time to build the next formation.

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riggerrob

Oregon Aero sells helmet liners that absorb significant amounts of shock. They are made of several different densities of Astronaut foam..



Yep. Good stuff too. I have a ballistic helmet with their upgrade kit. I was actually looking at their site yesterday to see what they offered that might work with my Bonehead Aero. I am going to contact them to see if I can send them the liner and have them cut foam panels in various thickness to the same template.

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I replaced the lining in my Oxygn with an Oregon Aero kit. It's bulkier,, so the helmet fits tighter now. It took a little cutting of liner pieces, because they're made for a Pro-Tec. I hope I never need it. I also recently upsized my rig, and load my reserve at about 1.1-1 tops, depending on weights. Only upsized by one size, so it wasn't awful before.

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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tkhayes

I include it as part of one of my safety talks.... "What size reserve do you have?"

Now ask everyone about landing that parachute, downwind, no flare, brakes set.....

Most will cringe

Now ask them again about what size of a reserve they have and why.... The extra 20-30 sq ft could mean the difference between a broken limb or death

also effective to ask they why they have an AAD if their reserve is some sub-120 micropatch, since the actual scenario in which you might need it (unconscious) becomes unsurvivable anyway..... save the money and blow it on skydives, cocaine and loose women..... usually get some levity out of that.

But of course we are all jumping small reserves for the most part so we talk and we are all guilty. Fat bastard that I am, I upsized my reserve at the last gear change but still would be well over 1.5 wing loading



An exception to the thing about AADs being useless is that it changes the amount of time a jumper has to shake it off and start functioning again by a huge factor.

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gowlerk

My feeling is that the survival rate in this circumstance is going to be pretty low.



Why do you say that?

I would think the survival rate would have more to do with the circumstances. If the jumper is wearing a hard helmet and lands into the wind in an open field I would think the chances of survival are pretty good. No helmet, downwind, or into an obstacle and I'd say the chances drop dramatically.

2 cents
Chuck Akers
D-10855
Houston, TX

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Quote

An exception to the thing about AADs being useless is that it changes the amount of time a jumper has to shake it off and start functioning again by a huge factor.



The actual number of AAD saves is pretty small. And most of them do not involve a loss of consciousness, just a loss of awareness. Of AAD fires involving unconscious jumpers many of them are dead anyway.

From the replies to this thread it seems there are few unconscious reserve landings. But many more uncontrolled main or reserve landings for various other reasons. Many of these seem to be survivable with some degree of injury. There also seems to be a significant difference between uncontrolled but conscious and completely unconscious.

In the end just plain luck seems to be the biggest factor.

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chuckakers

***My feeling is that the survival rate in this circumstance is going to be pretty low.



Why do you say that?

I would think the survival rate would have more to do with the circumstances. If the jumper is wearing a hard helmet and lands into the wind in an open field I would think the chances of survival are pretty good. No helmet, downwind, or into an obstacle and I'd say the chances drop dramatically.

2 cents

After reading the replies here I now agree with you. The chances of survival are much greater than I thought.

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I would like to think that if Sandy Wambaugh and Tom Piras had AADs (that fired, in the case of Tom) they may still be smiling on loads with us.

We had a jumper saved with an AAD at my drop zone. She landed downwind into a fence and survived after a tracking jump collision. A lightly loaded reserve was a huge factor in her survival. She gained consciousness right at impact with the fence.

http://www.dropzone.com/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?post=4445188;search_string=oceanside%20accident;#4445188

An unconscious jumper on a downwind landing will most likely impact feet first of course, and then flip directly to the head. I have been studying and witnessing these things for years. And treating the injuries.

Facts.

An AAD

A full face helmet

Well maintained gear

A lightly loaded reserve

picking your skydives wisely

All lead to a better survival rate.

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