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Instruction discussion split from 2021-01-08 Incident

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I once attended a basic canopy course where the instructor was teaching the newbies to make their turn onto final with their front risers. To do otherwise was "wasting the canopy's energy". Utterly irresponsible for teaching jumpers at the novice level.

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8 hours ago, tbrown said:

I once attended a basic canopy course where the instructor was teaching the newbies to make their turn onto final with their front risers. To do otherwise was "wasting the canopy's energy". Utterly irresponsible for teaching jumpers at the novice level.

This comes down to an argument of philosophy. Some people feel teaching canopy proximity flying, performing end cell bumps, center docks and down planes with appropriate matching canopy and line types before 50 jumps is irresponsible as well. I completely disagree. 

The concept of “Canopy Progression” needs to be secondary to “Pilot Progression.” Typically, people progress their canopies AND THEN progress their pilot skills to perform advanced landing techniques.

I don’t know the deceased or the situation beyond what is posted here, but, the following situation is common: Skydiver makes several hundred jumps a year for a couple years and quickly moves up in canopy performance type and wing loading AND THEN begins to learn advanced piloting techniques.

One might argue it is much safer to learn advanced techniques at lower jump numbers on bigger, more docile canopies where the risk of serious injury is lower than making the same mistake after hundreds and hundreds of jumps on a smaller, highly loaded performance canopy. The reality is, mistakes will be made and the magnitude of the outcome of that mistake will be determined by the canopy type and WL being flown when it is made.

As far as deaths go, the number of fatalities involving low turns has dropped significantly over the past 30 years - almost 50%! That’s quite an accomplishment and testament to the equipment, training and flight pattern development during that time. It’s way better than it used to be, but, there is still some room for improvement (zero deaths).

As others have mentioned, there are some who want to fly very high performance canopies and perform very dangerous landings. These people are adults and most have enough experience to make risk calculations. Sometimes people make mistakes and hurt or kill themselves. I don’t think there is anything USPA can do to eliminate these injuries and deaths anymore than they can eliminate BASE jumping deaths. Some people are just going to take more risk to accomplish their goals in life.

As for what USPA (and everyone else) can do is to STOP ENCOURAGING RAPID “CANOPY PROGRESSION.” It implies a universal hierarchy with a pinnacle goal when there doesn’t have to be. There’s so much more to canopy piloting than swooping and high performance parachutes. For example, how many people here have done a down plane? What we should be encouraging is “PILOT PROGRESSION.”

John LeBlanc gave a great talk on Two Paths of Canopy Progression and reinforces the idea that not everyone needs to be pushed to land the highest performance postage stamp. THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH JUMPING A DOCILE CANOPY AT <1:1 WL. Not everyone has to get to a 2.5:1 WL. There are different canopies for different disciplines and we should be encouraging people to choose the type of canopy that will suit the needs of the majority of their skydiving. For new jumpers, the type of canopy that will suit the needs of the majority of their skydiving is one that will get them to the ground safely. This means it should be one that is docile enough to allow them enough time to clear a malfunction, avoid high speed collisions, land in tight areas in the case of bad spots/malfunctions. It should also give them the ability to perform all disciplines of piloting skills: Basic flight skills, Canopy Relative Work & Accuracy. The best type of canopy to do this would be a 7-cell canopy with Dacron lines - like a Triathlon or Storm or Spectre or something that hasn’t been developed yet that would be even better.

The issue is there are not enough/no coaches, instructors or S&TAs who are pushing a Dacron lined Triathlon as a suitable first canopy. As a result, there aren’t enough of those types of canopies available on the used market. There’s this mantra of, “be careful when buying your first rig because you’re going to downsize quickly.” So, the student assumes, “Yeah, I’m going to downsize quickly” when no one gave them an option to NOT downsize quickly. What’s the rush? Honestly?

If you want a suggestion of what USPA could do is encourage all coaches, instructors and S&TAs to require all A License jumpers to jump a Dacron lined 7-cell canopy like an Aerodyne Triathlon (or similar) at a max WL of .8-.9 until they achieve their B license.

Providing WL guidelines is not enough. There should be a list of canopies that are recommended and approved for A License jumpers. Any manufacturer can develop a canopy that meets the requirements similar to the way a reserve has basic requirements.

Some of the achievements for a B license should be canopy proximity flight, touching end cells, center cell docking, biplane and down plane and accuracy challenge of landing (stopped/standing) within five meters of a 5cm target, five times in a row.

If you want to go one step further, require all instructors and coaches to ALSO jump a Triathlon @ .8-1:1 and open high enough to be able to fly within proximity of your student/mentee. Fly the pattern and have them follow you around. While above 3,500 ft and after appropriate skills are demonstrated, let them fly base and bump end cells. Do a high pull and teach them CReW. There’s a lot to learn that many of the best jumpers in the world learned during their canopy progression. Many of them did an organic canopy progression by living through the different phases of canopy development and did all these things throughout their career and passed this progression model along.

I know how Boomer this sounds, but, I assure you, I am no boomer. However, I was fortunate enough to go through the canopy progression I described above and I STLL narrowly escaped injury and death while learning to swoop. I also witnessed many, many injuries and deaths of my friends bouncing, breaking and killing themselves with high performance landings. I don’t believe we are ever going to get to zero deaths, but, there is room to get closer to zero.

Thank you for coming to my TED TALK.

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(edited)
On 1/24/2021 at 5:21 PM, David Wang said:

I turned low on my first solo post AFF. I was late in my pattern and wanted to "catch up" so did a near 180 degree turn between 150-200 ft. Bounced on landing, hurt my neck but walked away from it. My AFF instructor hit me on the wrist during the debrief and told me to never do that again. Right now I still remember that jump very clearly.  0.6 WL, Sabre 2 230. 

I have a friend who turned low last year and got seriously injured and luckily he has recovered well and has got back in the sky. Another friend turned low recently and broke her femur and she is recovering. 

Hard lessons learned in this sport... Will definitely be hyper aware of these mistakes in the future. 

 

I did a low 360 Nov. 2020 to avoid landing out of the landing area. I was probably below 600ft but above 300ft as I was just starting my final for landing. This is when I realized where I'd be landing, so I decided I needed to burn some more altitude somehow or I'd land somewhere questionable. The plane flies back to a patch of concrete near the hanger, this is where I thought I'd be landing so between moving plane, concrete landing, and a hanger to crash into, I decided to plan b it, which involved a 360.

The 360 was fine and soft (braked turn... probably should have been a rear riser turn instead), but I think I picked up too much speed. So, when it was time to flare, I don't think my flare slowed me enough. Triple fracture on left ankle upon landing. Was braced for a plf. Looks like foot caught ground and stayed stationary while rest of leg continued to move forward. Zero other injuries aside from left ankle.

I'm no pro and have barely over enough jumps to get a B License. I attribute some of my injury to making that 360 under 500ft. The turn was easy, the landing not so much.

I have a painful understanding that low turns kill now...

Edited by Cocowheats

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21 minutes ago, Cocowheats said:

I'm no pro and have barely over enough jumps to get a B License. I attribute some of my injury to making that 360 under 500ft. The turn was easy, the landing not so much.

I have a painful understanding that low turns kill now...

I don't know where you jump, but low 360s in the landing area also great ways to cause canopy collisions unless you are 100% sure there are no other jumpers in the air.  Several years ago, while on final, a canopy made an unexpected 90 degree turn from the set landing direction and flew under me.  My foot caught the top of the canopy, and I fell about 15 feet, tearing some ligaments in my knee.  Had this happened 50 feet higher, I would probably be dead.  Unless you're going to be seriously injured if you don't turn, don't turn on final.

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On 1/31/2021 at 9:39 PM, BMAC615 said:

This comes down to an argument of philosophy. Some people feel teaching canopy proximity flying, performing end cell bumps, center docks and down planes with appropriate matching canopy and line types before 50 jumps is irresponsible as well. I completely disagree. 

The concept of “Canopy Progression” needs to be secondary to “Pilot Progression.” Typically, people progress their canopies AND THEN progress their pilot skills to perform advanced landing techniques.

I don’t know the deceased or the situation beyond what is posted here, but, the following situation is common: Skydiver makes several hundred jumps a year for a couple years and quickly moves up in canopy performance type and wing loading AND THEN begins to learn advanced piloting techniques.

One might argue it is much safer to learn advanced techniques at lower jump numbers on bigger, more docile canopies where the risk of serious injury is lower than making the same mistake after hundreds and hundreds of jumps on a smaller, highly loaded performance canopy. The reality is, mistakes will be made and the magnitude of the outcome of that mistake will be determined by the canopy type and WL being flown when it is made.

As far as deaths go, the number of fatalities involving low turns has dropped significantly over the past 30 years - almost 50%! That’s quite an accomplishment and testament to the equipment, training and flight pattern development during that time. It’s way better than it used to be, but, there is still some room for improvement (zero deaths).

As others have mentioned, there are some who want to fly very high performance canopies and perform very dangerous landings. These people are adults and most have enough experience to make risk calculations. Sometimes people make mistakes and hurt or kill themselves. I don’t think there is anything USPA can do to eliminate these injuries and deaths anymore than they can eliminate BASE jumping deaths. Some people are just going to take more risk to accomplish their goals in life.

As for what USPA (and everyone else) can do is to STOP ENCOURAGING RAPID “CANOPY PROGRESSION.” It implies a universal hierarchy with a pinnacle goal when there doesn’t have to be. There’s so much more to canopy piloting than swooping and high performance parachutes. For example, how many people here have done a down plane? What we should be encouraging is “PILOT PROGRESSION.”

John LeBlanc gave a great talk on Two Paths of Canopy Progression and reinforces the idea that not everyone needs to be pushed to land the highest performance postage stamp. THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH JUMPING A DOCILE CANOPY AT <1:1 WL. Not everyone has to get to a 2.5:1 WL. There are different canopies for different disciplines and we should be encouraging people to choose the type of canopy that will suit the needs of the majority of their skydiving. For new jumpers, the type of canopy that will suit the needs of the majority of their skydiving is one that will get them to the ground safely. This means it should be one that is docile enough to allow them enough time to clear a malfunction, avoid high speed collisions, land in tight areas in the case of bad spots/malfunctions. It should also give them the ability to perform all disciplines of piloting skills: Basic flight skills, Canopy Relative Work & Accuracy. The best type of canopy to do this would be a 7-cell canopy with Dacron lines - like a Triathlon or Storm or Spectre or something that hasn’t been developed yet that would be even better.

The issue is there are not enough/no coaches, instructors or S&TAs who are pushing a Dacron lined Triathlon as a suitable first canopy. As a result, there aren’t enough of those types of canopies available on the used market. There’s this mantra of, “be careful when buying your first rig because you’re going to downsize quickly.” So, the student assumes, “Yeah, I’m going to downsize quickly” when no one gave them an option to NOT downsize quickly. What’s the rush? Honestly?

If you want a suggestion of what USPA could do is encourage all coaches, instructors and S&TAs to require all A License jumpers to jump a Dacron lined 7-cell canopy like an Aerodyne Triathlon (or similar) at a max WL of .8-.9 until they achieve their B license.

Providing WL guidelines is not enough. There should be a list of canopies that are recommended and approved for A License jumpers. Any manufacturer can develop a canopy that meets the requirements similar to the way a reserve has basic requirements.

Some of the achievements for a B license should be canopy proximity flight, touching end cells, center cell docking, biplane and down plane and accuracy challenge of landing (stopped/standing) within five meters of a 5cm target, five times in a row.

If you want to go one step further, require all instructors and coaches to ALSO jump a Triathlon @ .8-1:1 and open high enough to be able to fly within proximity of your student/mentee. Fly the pattern and have them follow you around. While above 3,500 ft and after appropriate skills are demonstrated, let them fly base and bump end cells. Do a high pull and teach them CReW. There’s a lot to learn that many of the best jumpers in the world learned during their canopy progression. Many of them did an organic canopy progression by living through the different phases of canopy development and did all these things throughout their career and passed this progression model along.

I know how Boomer this sounds, but, I assure you, I am no boomer. However, I was fortunate enough to go through the canopy progression I described above and I STLL narrowly escaped injury and death while learning to swoop. I also witnessed many, many injuries and deaths of my friends bouncing, breaking and killing themselves with high performance landings. I don’t believe we are ever going to get to zero deaths, but, there is room to get closer to zero.

Thank you for coming to my TED TALK.

Ted Talk? Hardly. Dead Talk is more likely. Who are you and what are your credentials? Let's bump this up to the level of  professional experience.

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1 hour ago, JoeWeber said:

Ted Talk? Hardly. Dead Talk is more likely. Who are you and what are your credentials? Let's bump this up to the level of  professional experience.

I’m the same guy who you sent this note to last month: “Your advice is well reasoned and well explained. Whoever you are the sport needs more people like you.”

What specifically do you take issue with?

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i am not op, but i had a problem with your opinion of teaching canopy proximity flying to jumpers with under 50 jumps, but refrained from saying anything since it isn't a terrible idea, just a little soon.  depending on the person it may not be dangerous, but as a rule i would leave that off until they have at least 100 jumps on the canopy they are using to learn it, or at the very least total landings. 

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the reason i made my comment was based on what i currently see, and have seen over the past two decades.  maybe back then i would have been more likely to agree with you, but that was based on how i saw students being taught and myself was taught.  we used to have a few crw dogs at tri-state, but now i never see that.  it may have to do with the new landing area not having as many outs, or the crw dogs leaving, but i think it is indicative of the trend towards swooping and freeflying as well.  hard to do a head down dive and a diamond in the same jump.

i don't think that anyone should be doing anything other than jumping and getting experience from the time they get their a until they stop.  if that means that you want to learn to do crw and have an a, get a partner and go for it.  if you find someone who can do it and thinks you can also, based on watching/jumping with you, by all means, give it a whirl.  thing is, i feel the same as using a camera.  or not jumping with an aad.  some things are not a good idea, but it's not necessarily my business to tell you not to do it.  it is my business to tell you that the things you are doing may have a detrimental effect on the sport itself and cause the feds to start putting their noses in our sport(notice i said our) and that is usually not a desirable thing.

i think you may be on to something though.  we need to start an awareness program and stop using this wing loading bullshit to get folks to downsize before they're ready.  we need to make it desirable to keep larger canopies until the proper skills are learned to handle the smaller ones.  if that means introducing crw at 30 jumps, so be it.  i went from a pd 210 to a raven 218 in my progression.  i loved it and still have it, but have since went to a raven 181.  i would love to see someone with more skills than me take this idea and run with it, maybe get in touch with the uspa to make a program.  i think you have an idea good enough to do some real good if you want to.  good luck with it.

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7 minutes ago, sfzombie13 said:

the reason i made my comment was based on what i currently see, and have seen over the past two decades.  maybe back then i would have been more likely to agree with you, but that was based on how i saw students being taught and myself was taught.  we used to have a few crw dogs at tri-state, but now i never see that.  it may have to do with the new landing area not having as many outs, or the crw dogs leaving, but i think it is indicative of the trend towards swooping and freeflying as well.  hard to do a head down dive and a diamond in the same jump.

i don't think that anyone should be doing anything other than jumping and getting experience from the time they get their a until they stop.  if that means that you want to learn to do crw and have an a, get a partner and go for it.  if you find someone who can do it and thinks you can also, based on watching/jumping with you, by all means, give it a whirl.  thing is, i feel the same as using a camera.  or not jumping with an aad.  some things are not a good idea, but it's not necessarily my business to tell you not to do it.  it is my business to tell you that the things you are doing may have a detrimental effect on the sport itself and cause the feds to start putting their noses in our sport(notice i said our) and that is usually not a desirable thing.

i think you may be on to something though.  we need to start an awareness program and stop using this wing loading bullshit to get folks to downsize before they're ready.  we need to make it desirable to keep larger canopies until the proper skills are learned to handle the smaller ones.  if that means introducing crw at 30 jumps, so be it.  i went from a pd 210 to a raven 218 in my progression.  i loved it and still have it, but have since went to a raven 181.  i would love to see someone with more skills than me take this idea and run with it, maybe get in touch with the uspa to make a program.  i think you have an idea good enough to do some real good if you want to.  good luck with it.

It took me a lot more words to say what you said in the part I put in bold/italic/underline, thank you. I’m floating the idea and getting feedback before I make any proposals to USPA. What I’m thinking is this E-License thing is interesting, but, useless. Now, Master AFF-I or Master Coach as a step above that includes canopy pilot instruction to include teaching CRW? That’s useful.

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On 2/4/2021 at 4:39 PM, ghost47 said:

I don't know where you jump, but low 360s in the landing area also great ways to cause canopy collisions unless you are 100% sure there are no other jumpers in the air.  Several years ago, while on final, a canopy made an unexpected 90 degree turn from the set landing direction and flew under me.  My foot caught the top of the canopy, and I fell about 15 feet, tearing some ligaments in my knee.  Had this happened 50 feet higher, I would probably be dead.  Unless you're going to be seriously injured if you don't turn, don't turn on final.

Understood. I was completely aware of collision risks when the decision was made and I was completely clear. I was last out, so nobody was above or around me and the people below me were on the ground already.

Despite being clear of human obstruction, heavy learning from failure was had. If I knew how to handle coming in hot better, like the swoopers I see do, I may have been able to recify it. I don't care to swoop, but some of those swooping skills seriously might have saved my ankle.

In the end, I think my foot caught the ground sort of freakishly since the field had lots of dirt clogs throughout it. I also have no doubt that a better canopy pilot than myselve would have been perfectly fine sliding in a bit hot.

A canopy course or two is at the top of my list after healing and recurrency.

Edited by Cocowheats

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A lot of good advise in most of the above comments and great for skydiver to Instructor coaching.  One almost universal point,  when skydivers turn low is to either avoid something because their planning was off or they are afraid to land downwind.   Landing downwind should not be avoided if you are too low or the alternative is being unpredictable in the landing pattern. Side comment, EVERYONE thinks they have cleared their airspace! Landing downwind should be practiced.

 

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3 hours ago, chuckakers said:

USPA does not encourage rapid canopy progression. 

That’s fair and you are correct - poorly worded statement by me. @sfzombie13said it better: start an awareness program and stop using this wing loading bullshit to get folks to downsize before they're ready.  we need to make it desirable to keep larger canopies until the proper skills are learned to handle the smaller ones.

Edited by BMAC615
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On 2/4/2021 at 9:40 PM, BMAC615 said:

I’m the same guy who you sent this note to last month: “Your advice is well reasoned and well explained. Whoever you are the sport needs more people like you.”

What specifically do you take issue with?

Some of us are "natural assholes"...    For the record, I whole heartedly agree with the lack of training progression and the whole coach thing and how it's conducted from one DZ to the next... I've asked some of my local crew to come "bump end cells" on a PLANNED jump. Some are eager and others reluctant. People fear the unknown...  

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(edited)

Why not use carnage videos (of low turns etc., in this case) the way the BASE community does? If you want to downsize past a certain #, below a certain jump #, or just optionally depending on what the DZ thinks of your skills - or just for anyone - before you can manifest you have to take the videotape and go watch it in the debrief room?

Edited by JDBoston

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1 hour ago, JDBoston said:

Why not use carnage videos (of low turns etc., in this case) the way the BASE community does? If you want to downsize past a certain #, below a certain jump #, or just optionally depending on what the DZ thinks of your skills - or just for anyone - before you can manifest you have to take the videotape and go watch it in the debrief room?

Because the education experts say this is counterproductive

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9 minutes ago, nwt said:

Because the education experts say this is counterproductive

All you really have to do is read old fatality/incident threads. No one would EVER make any of those mistakes!

Until, of course, they do.

Look up Sangi on dz.com, then look up ClippedWings (his post-accident userid). He was an extreme case of brash denial, but there are others, some of them are just dead.

Harsh talk from someone they know is more knowledgeable, who has watched them land, is sometimes effective. And sometimes it takes that injury to realize they are, in fact, capable of making mistakes.

Works for all skydivers -- how many old school jumpers don't want an RSL or AAD. Those are stupid insurance. Everyone needs stupid insurance sometimes.

Wendy P.

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25 minutes ago, wmw999 said:

Works for all skydivers -- how many old school jumpers don't want an RSL or AAD. Those are stupid insurance. Everyone needs stupid insurance sometimes.

Wendy P.

folks seem to think i'm crazy for not jumping with an aad and not wearing a helmet most of the time.  i love the rsl though, and am getting an aad next week, got a friend who is a dealer and got me a good deal on one.  i just don't see the absolute need for one, since it is a back up device.

back on track though, i think that it would be good if we could have some sort of demonstration of the danger.  some sort of remote control mock up that we could use with a test dummy and canopy.  i would rather not have real people biting it into the ground just for a show, but a dummy may make an impact on the new swooper that all the talk in the world wouldn't, no pun intended.  it may even be useful as a training device that could help folks visualize what they need to do before trying it in the air.  or it may be a worthless idea, who knows.  would be fun testing at least.

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26 minutes ago, sfzombie13 said:

i think that it would be good if we could have some sort of demonstration of the danger.

I think you should think carefully about who you are trying to reach. I know that if/when I get hurt, it won't be because I didn't understand the danger--it will be for some other reason. I suspect it's the same for you and most other jumpers. How many people after a skydiving injury say "I didn't know that could happen"?

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9 minutes ago, nwt said:

I think you should think carefully about who you are trying to reach. I know that if/when I get hurt, it won't be because I didn't understand the danger--it will be for some other reason. I suspect it's the same for you and most other jumpers. How many people after a skydiving injury say "I didn't know that could happen"?

you're missing the point.  the demonstration of the danger is showing what happens with that canopy on each type of turn, and at what altitude, and how far you drop, etc.  it seems like it would be a good idea if you could show people what happens when you do certain things.  maybe some sort of virtual reality or simulator would be better, but with an actual full size dummy, you may be able to use the actual canopy.  being told you lose a certain amount of altitude on a turn is one thing, watching it happen is another.  if you mount a camera on the dummy, you could also grab all sorts of useful footage as well.  that would be interesting, and also enable the use of the vr system into a type of simulator.  or, get this, put on the vr and steer the dummy in the air.  that type of simulator would save lives for sure, as well as be fun to work on.

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It's an adult sport. It does not take long for new jumpers to be informed of the risks inherent in high speed landings. Some people have different ways of dealing with that risk. Including some who either don't care, or think that most likely they will be alright. If we are going to allow HP canopy flying we all collectively have to accept that some of our friends will get hurt and even die.

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4 hours ago, gowlerk said:

It's an adult sport. It does not take long for new jumpers to be informed of the risks inherent in high speed landings. Some people have different ways of dealing with that risk. Including some who either don't care, or think that most likely they will be alright. If we are going to allow HP canopy flying we all collectively have to accept that some of our friends will get hurt and even die.

Being informed of them and understanding & accepting them are two different things.

Sangi (mentioned above) was informed of the risks. Repeatedly. 
He chose to believe that 'it couldn't happen to him'. He admitted that when he came back under the name "Clipped Wings." 

How many people think they understand the risks, yet quit after a close call, getting hurt, or seeing someone else get hurt or killed? 
I've heard those types say something to the effect of "I know they said I could get hurt or killed doing this, but I didn't really believe it until I saw it happen to..."

And it's not just swooping that will get some of our friends hurt or even killed. Simply jumping can and will do that. So will motorcycles, airplanes, mountains and any number of other activities. 

I don't like it, but it's the price we pay for what we do. 

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4 hours ago, sfzombie13 said:

it seems like it would be a good idea if you could show people what happens when you do certain things. 

shrug. I am not sure how much that would help. To me, piloting errors fall into two camps:
1. Misjudging setup or completion of a turn that you have already done many times.

2. Attempting a turn that you don't normally attempt, usually in a panic situation

for 1, showing what happens in a turn won't help, the pilot is already very familiar with the turn. for 2, training on a turn is likely to have happened a long time ago, and there won't be any muscle memory to kick in. This is a situation that demands correct decisive action from mentally practicing how to get out of it repeatedly.

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