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ChrisD

Fatality - Skydive Chicago - 1 August 2013

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I wanted to create a place where we can, if anyone is this motivated, to speculate on this type of an incident.

This is a tough one because of my concern for sensitivity to those loved ones living, and the large number of individuals that know any skydiver who has suffered this kind of loss.

We had some of our posts deleted because we were making wild speculations in the other section. I think there is some learning to be had, considering the recency of this incident as this type of incident is on every ones mind. And yes this is insensitive to take advantage of another's tragedy to promote learning. As well as these speculative thoughts and types of incidents have been discussed many times in other past threads. We could just leave it alone in a sense by saying "Do a search for past threads," because this has been discussed before or perhaps for some there is great value in letting others speak so that they can work these issues out.


Issues raised in this are complex and intertwined. Training, recencey of EP practice, the persons abilities, RSL / MARD use, and a couple of other issues.


My point is the systemic issue and personal responsibility. Many of you just want to go to bed at night thinking that the individual did this or that OR didn't do this or that?

But what if our system of education, retraining and how we view how we think about something are larger causal factors than the abilities of the individual?

We continue to preach about altitude awareness. Just what is altitude awareness and how do we teach it? I have seen way too many say, and well meaning individuals, "you need to be altitude aware."

Please give me something to do that I can practice "altitude awareness." Because just making that statement doesn't cut it!

We do the same thing when we as a group say something like: "Just Relax."

Just saying that statement is a waste of breath, does nothing for someone who is tense or uncomfortable at the moment and in fact may increase their tension and anxiety!

Give me something to do as compared with making that statement which I don't really understand anyways....

Conscious breathing, " take some deep breaths, slowly, now let it out," "let's think about something positive," "What is your favorite dessert?"

These are examples of what and how to do something as compared with just making the statement: "Just Relax." And they can be done, as many of you are already aware, in the aircraft.


Give me some examples of how to be altitude aware?





I want also to point out how our system of training and the larger systemic view hurts us in our efforts to be altitude aware.

Line twists....

"If it's a simple :S twist we can just fix it."

"you will loose your main, if you don't ride it down to a safe altitude."

etc, ....


The above are examples of statements we hear every day from fellow jumpers, media, and or other ways. Their influence upon us is stronger than you think, these are brief examples of system, systemic, factors that influence our behavior without us being aware of it taking place.

Never mind the fact that our brains lock up and information required to survive is NOT available! This then in the context of speaking about individuals does nothing to promote widespread safety for everyone else. If we continue to place blame or attribute the root cause as some kind of quality within the individual, our efforts at recognizing the deficiencies in the human condition and the limitations of learning and training,.... we will continue to have these same outcomes. Blaming the victim is going to perpetuate incidents.


Now lets look at line twists differently,...

You look up and see a line twist....


Cut away NOW!!!!


This is going to generate discussion....


Many are going to point out that this way of thinking may in fact cause some incidents, and you would be correct.

But on the other hand this will generate what we call a "false positive" (or false negative, depending upon your perspective.)

What do I mean by this?

If you initiate your EP's before they are really needed, or jump the gun so to speak we are going to start having cutaways that are not necessary.

Is this a bad thing?

I don't see a lot of incidents that start off with statements saying I jumped to my EP and it wasn't necessary.

Our system of training doesn't promote this way of thinking, it promotes thinking about the type of malfunction and then making a decision....this is a systemic issue in the sense that we don't promote or teach instant cutaways...

If we did teach this way would our rate of mains floating across the country side increase? Would the low pull no pull rate decrease? Would the incident rate because of premature cutaways have some unintended consequence or actually start causing injuries? We don't know because we don't teach this way. This issue is an example of an system issue. Would this even work?

I am asking you to compare the probability and consequences of a no pull to an unnecessary cutaway and how this is related to how we teach skydiving.

C

Some of you I hope will start to see the way we walk and talk, what we read, our stereotypes and how others have an influence on how we learn and the mydriad of ways some of the things we do have negatively influenced this incident....
But what do I know, "I only have one tandem jump."

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In my opinion, there is a problem with fear. The fear of cutting away (or just pulling reserve) and having to actually count on the reserve working. It should not be surprising, fear is natural and of course there is a chance the reserve won't work.

How to counter this natural fear? I think this fear that can make jumpers of any level of experience take too much time/altitude trying to fix a mal must be acknowledged. This fear must be discussed in the open so that when facing the need to chop, a person remembers how the fear of implementing emergency procedures will kill them - that they need to do it now so they will not die. Usually, there is actually no need to look at an altimeter to confirm the need to react.

If jumpers come to understand the natural tendency to not want to have to use emergency procedures, understand how that can kill, then it is more likely that an individual will not fall prey to the fear that will kill. A MARD or RSL will not fix this.
People are sick and tired of being told that ordinary and decent people are fed up in this country with being sick and tired. I’m certainly not, and I’m sick and tired of being told that I am

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I'm not sure I can tell you how to be altitude aware if you don't already know, despite my AFF instructor calling me "the most altitude-aware, fastest falling student I've ever had." I lost it once, though, well out of student status. I was doing a fun jump with one of the instructors and he suggested we play a few rounds of scissors-paper-stone on the way down, with a planned break-off altitude of 5.5K. He broke off a bit high but I looked at my altimeter and was genuinely surprised to find I was at 5.8K already. If he hadn't broken off when he did, I'd probably could have gone another thousand feet or so before I'd have checked my altimeter. Still plenty high, but way outside my comfort zone for how much attention I'm paying to the stuff that really matters on a jump.

We know you're not going to relax when well tell you to relax. I think repeating it does make you eventually decide to relax a little sooner than you would otherwise. It really DOES make a world of difference in your flying. Maybe one day we'll actually get a student who can actually relax when we tell him to relax.

My Tai Chi instructor was always going on about how you should hold your wrists, but could never really convey exactly how that should be exactly. I think she just wanted us to relax.

I don't think there are hard or fast answers in this sport. It can change depending on your comfort zone. Not comfortable with emergency procedures? Drill them. Not comfortable with PLFs? Practice. Not comfortable with big ways? Don't do them. You're putting your life on the line on every jump and should treat them with the seriousness they deserve.
I'm trying to teach myself how to set things on fire with my mind. Hey... is it hot in here?

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"... We continue to preach about altitude awareness. Just what is altitude awareness and how do we teach it? I have seen way too many say, and well meaning individuals, "you need to be altitude aware."

Please give me something to do that I can practice "altitude awareness." Because just making that statement doesn't cut it! ...."

..............................................................................

There you go again, putting too many concepts in one post!
May I suggest two or three shorter posts covering two or three shorter concepts?

On the subject of "altitude awareness," I like to use two or three different methods to confirm altitude. I like to use: time, size of the runways, the horizon, peripheral vision, etc. to cross-check altitude.
For example, during later Accompanied Free-Fall jumps - while riding in the airplane - I often cover the altimeter (of my student), and tell them to look out the window. I ask them to guess how high we are ... and un-cover their altimeter to confirm their guess. Then I ask them what they should be doing at this altitude on the way down.

Since we often get small, puffy, cumulous clouds at 4,000 to 6,000 feet over the DZ, I also use the altitude of the clouds to reinforce altitude awareness.

On one particular jump, the student replied: "We are at 4,300 feet. The base of the clouds is 4,300 feet. At 4,300 feet - on the way down - I should be hanging under my main canopy, doing a control check at the base of the clouds."
"Good!" I replied with a smile.

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We had some of our posts deleted because we were making wild speculations in the other section.



There was no wild speculation on the other thread, just a discussion that involved the bigger picture, that the mods decided (after some whingeing from a couple of posters) to edit by arbitrary use of the axe, which destroyed the context of what was being discussed.

The incidents forum is obviously NOT there for learning or discussion purposes.

I see no point in posting anything in the incidents thread ever again, because apart from an initial post where a fatality is announced, if no information is avaliable, then it is a waste of time and energy posting anything that may be of value to living jumpers.

I think carefully about what I post, because I am interested in skydiving, as I have been for nearly 40 years.

But I think I'm done with dz.com.....
My computer beat me at chess, It was no match for me at kickboxing....

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We know you're not going to relax when well tell you to relax. I think repeating it does make you eventually decide to relax a little sooner than you would otherwise. It really DOES make a world of difference in your flying. Maybe one day we'll actually get a student who can actually relax when we tell him to relax.



"Relax" is arbitrary and may mean very different things to different people. For this reason, the word "breathe," a specific physical action that induces 'relaxation' tends to work more effectively.

Regarding training for cutaways, we give ourselves a hard deck (preferably known as a "decision altitude" at which regardless of the situation, we should be getting rid of a canopy that isn't properly functioning. This should be a very clear part of every FJC, and frequently discussed even among experienced skydivers. Those that use audibles might consider an indicator at the decision altitude, and this becomes easier with the new L&B tools that provide more than three indication altitudes.

There will always be a few that choose to try to turn a bad canopy into a good one until it's too late to use their best option.

Having made a firm decision about "at what altitude are you getting rid of a bad canopy," and having it drummed into our own minds goes further than anything else, IMO.

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DSE


"Relax" is arbitrary and may mean very different things to different people. For this reason, the word "breathe," a specific physical action that induces 'relaxation' tends to work more effectively.



Yeah, I tend to use "Breathe" and "Smile", usually in conjunction, to try to get the AFF and Tandem students to relax. I assume that works as well as anything else.

Quote


Having made a firm decision about "at what altitude are you getting rid of a bad canopy," and having it drummed into our own minds goes further than anything else, IMO.



I think in general making as many decisions as possible in advance is helpful. Then hopefully you don't have to reason out what to do and maybe make the wrong decision as a snap judgement. There are a lot of situations where you could make an argument for any number of things, but any action would be better than freezing up and not acting at all.

Talking about these with other skydivers also helps. Maybe you've come up with something they hadn't thought of. I tend to come up with some pretty off the wall stuff, like "You wake up in freefall. Do you take a couple seconds to look at your altimeter or go right for your reserve?" It's something that could happen and you just want to react if it does. How you react is entirely a matter of preference. That preference could change pretty radically if you're jumping without an AAD.
I'm trying to teach myself how to set things on fire with my mind. Hey... is it hot in here?

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ChrisD



Line twists....

"If it's a simple :S twist we can just fix it."

Now lets look at line twists differently,...

You look up and see a line twist....


Cut away NOW!!!!


This is going to generate discussion....




Well, hang on here. If the canopy is spinning and diving in the line twists, I absolutely agree. Chop it, save yourself.

However, if your canopy is flying straight and level (well, level being a relative term since it's descending, but you know what I mean), and you have a few twists, I think it's in your best interest to attempt to kick out of them before chopping.

My reasoning is this:

Your reserve will PROBABLY work. However, if you can SAFELY recover your main into a landable configuration, then you should consider an attempt to do so until your decision altitude to avoid having to find out. However, if there's any doubt, or if it's not stable, yes, it's time to get out.

When I had my first chop, I had around 65-70 jumps and my canopy (loaded at 1.3 or so) had spun up into many line twists and went into a dive. I tried to kick out of 'em until 2,000', said to myself "hard deck is hard for a reason", and punched out. Given another few hundred feet of trying, I might have gotten out of them, but I wasn't willing to chase it down to find out.
cavete terrae.

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Another long, rambling diatribe.
Let's initiate a discussion in search of a problem.
I know you've suggested a multi-day FJC in the past and now you're suggesting we don't train people to properly initiate EP's at proper altitude.

Before we even consider changing everything we teach on EP's, does anyone know how many successful cutaways/ reserve deployments at proper altitude were made last year???
100?
1000?
Statistically, it should be between 500 and 1000.
And how many low cutaway/low-no reserve deployments?
2
What does this mean?
Over 99% success rate, but because of failures in somewhere between .4% and .2% we need to rethink everything we do and teach???
Nothing wrong with doing everything we can to avoid all fatalities, but let's keep things in perspective. Any type of training that achieves this high a success rate is worth keeping.
Perhaps if you filled out your profile you might have at least a little bit of credibility.
This is the paradox of skydiving. We do something very dangerous, expose ourselves to a totally unnecesary risk, and then spend our time trying to make it safer.

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I see alot of "give me" in your post, but that's probably the biggest issue right there. It's up to you and you alone to ensure your competence and safety on a skydive.

"Please give me something to do that I can practice "altitude awareness."

Skydive, look at your altimeter, repeat. On the ride to altitude, look out the window and guess your altitude. Reference your altimeter for confirmation. Note the cloud base and ceiling versus said altimeter on way up, and again on way down.

You sound stressed out, you should "just relax" :)


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We continue to preach about altitude awareness. Just what is altitude awareness and how do we teach it?



Freefall: Read your altimeter every 3-5 seconds
EP: Read your altimeter, decide and act.

Quote

We do the same thing when we as a group say something like: "Just Relax."
(Boy, this one has been beat to death)



In the plane: When you feel tense, take 3 deep breaths and exhale slowly. Close your eyes and picture the perfect skydive start to finish.
Freefall: Smile at your instructor. Flex your fingers and wiggle them. Take a deep breath. stick your tongue out at the instructor.


Quote

I am asking you to compare the probability and consequences of a no pull to an unnecessary cutaway and how this is related to how we teach skydiving.



Apples/oranges
No pull consequences: AAD activation, death
Unnecessary cutaway consequences: Ummmm...who is going to define necesswary and unnecessary. What may be necessary for a student may not be so for others...and in the contrary too.
My reality and yours are quite different.
I think we're all Bozos on this bus.
Falcon5232, SCS8170, SCSA353, POPS9398, DS239

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The fear of cutting away...


I agree. It's not exceptionally common in my experience but it's out here, true.

Quote

a person remembers how the fear of implementing emergency procedures will kill them.....


Change "will" to "can" and I agree.

Quote

...that they need to do it now so they will not die. Usually, there is actually no need to look at an altimeter to confirm the need to react.


Well yes and no.
Yes, or non-fixable problems, yeah, no brainer to do it now...and that's what we teach. Additionally, the altimeter does not tell you, nor does it confirm, the "need to react".

And then, No, not every problem is non-retrievable. Therein lies the need to monitor altitude. Your altimeter will tell you when it's time to go if you have made the decision already. And in all too many cases that is NOT taught. and it just plain baffles me why one human would tell another human not to use the tools available to him in an emergency.

I cannot understand why anyone would tell another to base his action on time when it's known damn well that time is subjective in more ways than one and that altitude is objective..

Give your students something definite and measurable as opposed to nebulous.
My reality and yours are quite different.
I think we're all Bozos on this bus.
Falcon5232, SCS8170, SCSA353, POPS9398, DS239

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For example, during later Accompanied Free-Fall jumps - while riding in the airplane - I often cover the altimeter (of my student), and tell them to look out the window. I ask them to guess how high we are ...


Yep, good instructors will help their students develop altitude sight pictures. Definite and measurable except for the reference to time again.

Quote

Since we often get small, puffy, cumulous clouds at 4,000 to 6,000 feet over the DZ, I also use the altitude of the clouds to reinforce altitude awareness.


Yep, common (I hope) teaching for students. Definite and measurable.
My reality and yours are quite different.
I think we're all Bozos on this bus.
Falcon5232, SCS8170, SCSA353, POPS9398, DS239

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grue

My reasoning is this:

Your reserve will PROBABLY work. However, if you can SAFELY recover your main into a landable configuration, then you should consider an attempt to do so until your decision altitude to avoid having to find out. However, if there's any doubt, or if it's not stable, yes, it's time to get out.



Exactly.
Be sure to tell and show them what "landable configuration" and "stable" actually mean.

That is what is taught to most students. but then there's always the one-size-fits-all crowd..."No matter what the problem is, cutaway and deploy the reserve."
My reality and yours are quite different.
I think we're all Bozos on this bus.
Falcon5232, SCS8170, SCSA353, POPS9398, DS239

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Ummmmm..couple of things.

- it seems to me that you gave him credit for trying to do more than he is in the actual

- not everyone teaches the same thing nor in the same way, so yes, some work towards more relevant, useful and comprehensive standards is a good thing.

- minor thing...your numbers on the low cutaway/low-no reserve deployments are off. I can think of 3 off the top of my head.

- profiles have nothing to do with credibility.

- got anything constructive to add?
My reality and yours are quite different.
I think we're all Bozos on this bus.
Falcon5232, SCS8170, SCSA353, POPS9398, DS239

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I've listened to many low cutaway discussions. I've never quite understood why anyone would wait to chop a mal. I think the real question becomes 'at what point do line twists equal an unrecoverable malfunction'. I'd bet people don't comprehend how quickly altitude goes away under a spinning zero-p canopy. So, my personal hard deck if you want to call it that is 3 revolutions under line twists. If I can't get out of it by then it's no longer my friend. That's assuming that I'm not already deep in the beeps.
Please don't dent the planet.

Destinations by Roxanne

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"Noob" input here. To cut away or not cut away!? That became more than a rhetorical question on jump# 50 and yes...I did provide my obligatory case of beer for #50 and happy to do so!

For now, my secondary alarm in my Pro-Track is set at 4,200' AGL and I initiate pull sequence. I'm under full canopy between 3,400 - 3,000 feet. OK on to the story and the personal observations.

It was a hard opening and I did not jump for another two weeks due to bruising in the groin. This one REALLY rang my bell. Instinctively, I began to think that something else might be wrong...YUP! The right brake line had snapped and looked like a small portion of spaghetti minus the sauce and I was the meatball. First thing I did was look at my altimeter...3,300'...OK I thought, I've got 800' to assess. Cutaway? Maybe. The main canopy in spite of the sheared brake line was square and stable but not optimally steerable. My groin was sore so cutting away getting into the minimum proper arch to pull the reserve was questionable. The only way to steer was with the rear risers and the first few inputs with the risers told me this was doable but I was going to get quite a workout from it. Approximately 15 seconds had elapsed and I was still above 2,500'. My thinking at the time was this, "If there was going to be a further malfunction, it would have happened by now." So I decided to stay with the main and land it. The LZ was reachable and under normal conditions I would be setting up the landing to the LZ but the LZ is next to some hills where tricky cross winds come into play. Decision...land into a fallow cornfield AWAY from the LZ as the cornfield is the nearest and all things considered the safest place to land. Next set up for PLF, chances are I'm going to land hot so think fundamentals, keep it simple, keep your head, and nothing fancy...just GET DOWN in one piece and expect a few more bruises. It was't over yet. While heading to the cornfield, the wind decided for more drama as it pushed me in the direction of a barn...yuck. By this time, I'm getting tired but I mustered enough energy to pull up the risers one more time to minimize descent rate and cleared the barn roof by about 50'. Whew...OK, land ho! PLF coming up...and coming up quick...very quick. PLF executed, hot landing as predicted, a few more bruises but no bones broken. Everybody at the DZ is now running like the dickens to get to me. I immediately raised my hand with a thumbs up to signal I was OK and then I just laid in the dirt LMAO thinking "Mr. Toad and his wild ride have nothing on this one!" Immediate feedback was mixed. Why did I not cut it away? At the time, I could not coherently answer that question. A week later, the master AFF-I, master rigger...master skydiving everything for that matter who knows me well came up to me and said I had done the right thing. OK lessons learned and lessons applied.

1). Having the living $#!t scared out of you after a hard opening is not fun...but ya have to get your noodle back in the game quick even when you're hurting.

2). The decisions are yours and yours alone...for in skydiving, no one can help you when you get right down to it.

3). Altitude-Assess-Altitude-Asses but don't take too much time.

4). The canopy currently "out" versus the reserve canopy "in."
In my case, it was in the balance a flyable canopy. NOT the "best cards I was dealt" but cards I could play.

5). Accept the fact that you are in an emergency, the "normal" flight plan you envision has just gone to $#!T. Pick your alternate landing point and stay with it.

6). Stay "ahead of the curve." Where you "are at" in the present is irrelevant. You've made that waypoint and are OK, think about the next two landing approach points ahead of you and once there, the next two and then the next two until you are on the ground.

7). Newly licensed jumpers (like me) should get into a canopy course ASAP as well as read the SIM on canopy control. The ability to know how and exploit the use of rear risers in an emergency is imperative. Very glad I took the canopy course!

8). PLF...knowing how to do a PLF is not trivial especially when you're coming in hot. A PLF properly executed may mean the difference between walking away, injury, or even yes..."buying it."

9.) EP's...ad infinitum ad nauseum. Read em, drill em' dirt dive them in your mind until they become automatic second nature.

10.) Aviate, Navigate, Communicate all in that order. Don't try to yell at people on the ground that you're in an emergency if you have other pressing issues in the aviate and navigate areas. You're just going to have to let them guess and worry until you get on the ground. The issue for you is to get your @$$ on the ground as safe as possible.

11). Beer! Four beers, wife drove home!

'nuff said...it's time to pack up and head to the DZ.

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airdvr

I've listened to many low cutaway discussions. I've never quite understood why anyone would wait to chop a mal. I think the real question becomes 'at what point do line twists equal an unrecoverable malfunction'. I'd bet people don't comprehend how quickly altitude goes away under a spinning zero-p canopy. So, my personal hard deck if you want to call it that is 3 revolutions under line twists. If I can't get out of it by then it's no longer my friend. That's assuming that I'm not already deep in the beeps.



I have two adult sons. By the time the second one was 17 I had determined the best single thing that I could teach him (before he left the nest) was to learn how to "stop doing what I want to do and do what I need to do". It sounds so simple and not all that important until you lay it over different aspects of your life, like how you act on the job, how you focus on your driving, when you jump (wind) or when you do your EPs.

I had to cut away from line twists under a stable flying canopy back in June. It was hard to do, as it seemed so silly.....line twists! But at 2000 I stopped working with it and pulled the trigger. It specifically came down to rejecting my desire to fix it, pushing my pride away, and following what I knew was overall the best thing to do.
Instructor quote, “What's weird is that you're older than my dad!”

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popsjumper

Please don't let the jerks run you off. You have valuable contributions to make in spite of the bozos over there.



Thanks, but its not the jerks and the bozos that bother me.

Its the mods who wield the axe, destroying any context on a completely selective and random basis, citing "off topic", or "speculation", and failing to recognise the value of what is posted intentionally to create discussion and analysis to get people to start thinking about things.

Some of the mods appear to have an agenda of their own, and are not really as impartial as they should be. That may be down to the short time and limited experience some of them have in the sport.

What is the point of a discussion forum if valid discussion is prohibited?. I have better things to do than profer information to the wilfully deaf and blind, Who don't seem to realise that a lot of viewers on here do in fact take a lot of value from the different points of view expressed.

I'm pretty pissed off right now.
My computer beat me at chess, It was no match for me at kickboxing....

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I think the point is that you can speculate all you like in this thread - just not the one in incidents.

Just like you should not start a boobies thread in Gear & Rigging.
"The ground does not care who you are. It will always be tougher than the human behind the controls."

~ CanuckInUSA

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I'm VERY noob, and have only tandem jumps, but will say that this same kind of mentality happens in medicine all the time. It is why resident procedures go awry and why great docs can kill people: pride. call it ego, or whatever, but NOBODY wants to "ask for help" (here: pull reserve).

I'll tell you what, if I'm at a DZ and someone gives me a ration of shit for pulling a reserve... I'll either change DZ's or stop jumping. The life to save is yours and yours alone. Nobody is in the harness with you (except tandems but you know what I mean). Playing "Monday morning quarterback" is what can get your friends killed.

I think instead of this mentality where pulling a reserve is questioned, we should be looking at the events, doing a root-cause of what went wrong, helping people find the canopy, and round of drinks at the end of the day while we kiss Terra Firma. The case or beer for your reserve packer is non-negotiable... and don't be cheap ;)

safety, fun, winning. in that order.
You are not the contents of your wallet.

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It's not always fear of cutting away. Sometimes the problem is that the person thinks they can handle the situation. Line twist; I can kick out of that. Line over; Maybe if I pull on the toggles a few times I can clear it. Grease fire in the kitchen ; I don't need the fire department, I'll throw some baking powder on the skillet and smother the fire.
When people think they can fix a problem, they'll keep trying to fix it until events prove them wrong. Students are given pretty clear guidelines about when to quit trying to fix a problem and get the reserve out. Whether from fear in some cases or overconfidence in others, sometimes experienced skydivers don't follow these guidelines.
You don't have to outrun the bear.

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The incidents thread is for posting specific facts about specific incidents. That is part of an educational process. I don't know how many times I've tried to read thru a thread to find out if a specific element was a factor in an incident, only to get swamped by general discussions of general considerations.
Just hypothetically, I might want to know what the density altitude was at the time and place of a certain incident. I don't want a definition of density altitude or a discussion of it's effect on parachute flight or a bunch of stories from people who jump where there is high density altitude. I just want one fact about a particular incident. I'm not a mod, so this is just my opinion, but I'd rather see facts in the incidents thread and discussions in gear or safety or general.
You don't have to outrun the bear.

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