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kkeenan

Avoiding Landing Traffic

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It’s an old topic and one that plenty of folks feel they don’t need to be lectured about. However a fatality that occurred yesterday at a boogie should remind us that inappropriate reactions can get you killed. All the facts of this accident aren’t in, but it appears that two canopies were close in the landing area and one pilot took evasive action that caused a fatally-hard landing. There may have been contact between the wings and a resultant instability. But here’s my point:

Seeing other airborne traffic and constantly analyzing it is absolutely necessary if you are landing with more than a couple other canopies in a field. If you’re landing with a group and you don’t feel that you can do it safely, land farther away. Every DZ I’ve ever seen has extra wide-open area away from the “center-stage glory area” for landing. In a more open area, you have a much less intense workload when it comes to separation.  When landing with multiple canopies, you have to start scoping out the others way before turning on final approach. If everyone is competent, the approaches will be very close to parallel - but it’s never exact. People will be slightly diverging or converging. You have to monitor this in real time and make small corrections as needed. You should never be surprised by the appearance of a canopy in your peripheral vision. You should already know where it is. But here’s the important part. If you do get surprised, don’t overreact.  You must avoid the instinct to bury a toggle to get away from the threat. The chances are great that a small input of a few degrees will give the separation you need. Making a hard turn at a low altitude will almost always get you hurt.  It’s hard to overcome a reflexive reaction like that, but it can come with experience. 

I don’t know if this latest accident fits the profile of circumstances I’ve described, and it doesn’t matter. Abrupt low altitude turns hurt and kill people. Work your way up to landing in a crowded environment. Don’t endanger yourself and others by getting in over you head. Many people come to boogies from small DZs where there are never more than 4 people landing at a time. Landing with a 20-person Otter load can very easily overtax a person’s capacity.  The jump’s not over until you’re safely on the ground.  Sorry to be so preachy, but when you get old in this sport it’s hard to see people repeat actions that have killed many in the past. 

Kevin K. 

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19 hours ago, kkeenan said:

...If you do get surprised, don’t overreact.  You must avoid the instinct to bury a toggle to get away from the threat. The chances are great that a small input of a few degrees will give the separation you need. Making a hard turn at a low altitude will almost always get you hurt.  It’s hard to overcome a reflexive reaction like that, but it can come with experience... 

 ...Sorry to be so preachy, but when you get old in this sport it’s hard to see people repeat actions that have killed many in the past. 

Kevin K. 

Don't apologize.

Sometimes this sort of reminder is very important (and not just for low-timers).
It's one thing to see someone get hurt doing something deliberate (swooping is the example at the top of my mind). 

 

But when it's a bit of bad luck, a bit of 'circumstances' and that instinctive over-reaction combining to create a really bad result, it can be really tough.

I saw a couple people 'do the right thing' on Saturday. 

One guy saw potential traffic conflicts well ahead of time. He chose to land in the bean field and had to walk a couple hundred yards extra to get back. 

 

Another had someone closer than comfortable on final, did a braked turn (not a big turn, just enough to go from 'collision course' to 'diverging') and ended up landing with the canopy draped over one of the runway lights. One of the very experienced staff landed nearby, helped get the canopy untangled, and complimented the use of the braked turn.

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On 8/18/2019 at 8:34 PM, kkeenan said:

  The jump’s not over until you’re safely on the ground. 

I'm a new guy (100 jumps), but I'd 1-up this by saying : the jump's not over until EVERYONE is safely on the ground. I've had multiple jumps where I had to adjust my final to not land on someone standing/walking on the DZ oblivious to the fact there were 10+ people coming in to land.
And I've also been surprised by a canopy coming in to land once or twice myself, because I didn't check often enough or once because I wasn't aware that tandems are allowed to land into the wind regardless of the landing arrow at our DZ.

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