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Emphazima

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Hello, was wondering if anyone knows anything about skydiving with moderate to severe emphazima? And if going to altitude affects them or not? Thank you for any info.

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Emphysema - A lung disease which results in shortness of breath due to destruction and dilatation of the alveoli.

I've had friends and family who suffered with emphysema and they had trouble getting enough oxygen in their lungs to be comfortable at sea level. The air is so much thinner at altitude that I can only guess, being a non-medical person, that skydiving would be impossible and if attempted, possibly fatal.  As I say, it's simply a guess on my part and not a diagnosis or a reliable answer.

Unless there is someone on this forum who has some first hand knowledge of the condition and question and can offer a sound answer, you should check with a professional medical person, preferably one who specialises in lung diseases. 

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I would think this is a question for your (or 'their doctor' if you're asking for someone else).

Will the doctor ok the person going up to 10,000 ft?
How about 14,000?

I would think that the severity of the emphysema would be the critical factor. Mild to moderate should be doable. Severe not so much. If oxygen is required on the ground, I would think it wouldn't work.

Also, the DZ where you go would be a factor. If you go to a DZ that runs a Cessna 182, you'll only be going to 10k. It's entirely possible that you'd be the only tandem student on the plane, so if you start to experience issues on the way up, you could either get out lower than 10k or descend immediately.
At a bigger DZ, with a bigger plane, that might not be an option. The DZO and pilot are far less likely to abort the flight if there are 10 or 15 other jumpers on board. Not that they wouldn't just that it would be less likely.

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(edited)
On 6/28/2021 at 2:35 PM, wolfriverjoe said:



Also, the DZ where you go would be a factor. If you go to a DZ that runs a Cessna 182, you'll only be going to 10k. It's entirely possible that you'd be the only tandem student on the plane, so if you start to experience issues on the way up, you could either get out lower than 10k or descend immediately.
At a bigger DZ, with a bigger plane, that might not be an option. The DZO and pilot are far less likely to abort the flight if there are 10 or 15 other jumpers on board. Not that they wouldn't just that it would be less likely.

now i am not a doctor, but i jump at a cessna dz.  when i asked about the lower ceiling we had last weekend that was holding up the tandems, i was told last weekend that the regs for tandem say they can't get out lower than 10k.  also, don't the aircraft that go above 14k msl carry supplemental oxygen so they can follow the regs for that?  i know that our dz couldn't offer oxygen if they wanted to, but not sure if a dz would even want to assume that level of liability.  as far as not descending with a full load of jumpers, i doubt that anyone would go ahead with jump run with a medical emergency on board, but someone could be that money hungry out there.  people are strange sometimes, and greedy most of the time.

Edited by sfzombie13

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On 6/25/2021 at 2:00 PM, KS1 said:

Hello, was wondering if anyone knows anything about skydiving with moderate to severe emphazima? And if going to altitude affects them or not? Thank you for any info.

In general it's a bad idea.  A very common result of emphysema is reduced ability to exchange oxygen, and it is very common for skydiving aircraft to push the limits of oxygen usage even with people with normal lungs.  (12,500' at Perris, for example, is 14,000' MSL, and at Lost Prairie that's 16,000' MSL.)

Ask your doctor if you'd be OK going to those altitudes normally.  (Say, in a car or unpressurized airplane.)  If he says probably not, then skydiving is definitely out - because you will be exerting yourself a lot more during a skydive than during a ride in an airplane.

If you still want to try it would be a very good idea to go up in a jump plane without jumping (most places will let you do this for the price of a jump ticket) and see how you feel.

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On 6/25/2021 at 2:00 PM, KS1 said:

Hello, was wondering if anyone knows anything about skydiving with moderate to severe emphazima? And if going to altitude affects them or not? Thank you for any info.

Discuss your emphezema with an FAA flight surgeon (aero-medical examiner) and ask if you can train in a high altitude chamber. I did the Canadian Armed Forces high altitude indoctrination training many years ago when I wrenched on CF-18 fighters.

Back then I also did a handful of tandems from 19,000' MSL.I recognized the symptoms of hypoxia (low blood oxygen levels) and sat as quietly as possible durind the ride to altitude. When my physically un-fit (fat) student was unable to help me, I carried him the length of a Dornier 228 cabin and heaved us out the door. My vision narrowed and I started seeing spots. Below 10,000' my blood oxygen levels improved and I felt fine. Back then I used to run 20 kilometers to cure a hang-over.

Just because I did something that stupid - when I was young - does not mean that I will repeat it these days.

These days you can buy inexpensive ($50) pulse oxymeters that clamp on a finger. They measure both blood oxygen saturation levels and heart beats. The fanciest pulse oxymeters record data for later analysis. Blood oxygen levels should remain between 90 and 100 percent. My blood oxygen level is consistently 96 percent no matter whether I am sitting or hiking up a steep mountain. Heart pulse should range between 60 and 180. 60 beats per minute is a normal resting pulse, while 180 bpm is a sprint. The best pulse oximeters also display heart beats ... even irregular heart beats.

Note that pulse oximeters do not measure blood flow to fingers when you are cold (hypothermic) or suffering hypoxia (low blood oxygen levels).

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On 7/5/2021 at 8:18 AM, wolfriverjoe said:

Well, my understanding (and as always, I could be wrong and welcome correction) is that minimum deployment for tandems is 5500. Minimum exit altitude isn't actually specified. I know of places where the TI will get out down to about 7500. Get out, get stable, toss the drogue, hold for a second or two then pull the drogue release. 

From the Sigma manual https://uptvector.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Manual_Sigma_MAN-013.pdf  BOLDING IS MINE

ALTITUDE RECOMMENDATIONS AND REQUIREMENTS
STABILITY CONTROL
Exiting the aircraft: It is important to exit with sufficient altitude to respond to a variety of
situations. The speed and altitude lost during unstable freefall without the drogue is hard to
imagine for the uninitiated Tandem Instructor candidate. Unusual situations such as an uninflated
drogue or drogue in tow will eat up your altitude faster than you can imagine. Refer to Section 4:
Emergencies and Malfunctions, for details on the possible problems you may encounter.
Minimum exit altitude is 7500ft (2286m) AGL.
Deploy drogue after exit: It is recommended to deploy the drogue in a stable position within 5
seconds after exit. It is critical that the drogue is not used to gain stability and the instructor must
make every effort to stay in control after exit.
After 10 seconds, the drogue must be deployed to avoid reaching tandem terminal speed which
can exceed 170mph. Maintaining altitude awareness at tandem terminal speed is challenging as
illustrated below.
Main deployment: Due to the complexity of the tandem system, a higher opening altitude is
required compared to solo sport jumping. Minimum fully open main canopy altitude is 4000ft
(1219m) AGL.

Reserve deployment: Due to the complexity of the tandem system, a higher opening altitude
is required compared to solo sport jumping. Minimum fully open main canopy altitude is 4000ft
(1219m) AGL.

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50 minutes ago, sfzombie13 said:

now i am not a doctor, but i jump at a cessna dz.  when i asked about the lower ceiling we had last weekend that was holding up the tandems, i was told last weekend that the regs for tandem say they can't get out lower than 10k.  also, don't the aircraft that go above 14k msl carry supplemental oxygen so they can follow the regs for that?  i know that our dz couldn't offer oxygen if they wanted to, but not sure if a dz would even want to assume that level of liability.  as far as not descending with a full load of jumpers, i doubt that anyone would go ahead with jump run with a medical emergency on board, but someone could be that money hungry out there.  people are strange sometimes, and greedy most of the time.

Well, my understanding (and as always, I could be wrong and welcome correction) is that minimum deployment for tandems is 5500. Minimum exit altitude isn't actually specified. I know of places where the TI will get out down to about 7500. Get out, get stable, toss the drogue, hold for a second or two then pull the drogue release. 

Oxygen rules are 91.32. Crew has to use it above 14k. Passengers have to have it provided (no rule about using it) above 15k. 
The only jump planes I've seen with it onboard are those going to 18k, usually for record attempts. Between the attempt flights, the tank is pulled from the plane (5 min or less to install it or pull it). 

And as far as aborting the flight, at what point does it stop being 'uncomfortable' and start being an 'emergency'? 

I've been on jumps where there's a go around right before jump run. Then another. I've gotten the 'tingly fingertips' and spots in my vision. I knew full well what was happening, stopped doing any unnecessary movements and hoped we'd get out soon. I've never stayed on the plane, but I've been close once or twice.

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