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mdrejhon

Accidental breakoff/pull 1000 feet too early (Or know one who did?)

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Poll...

Have you ever broken off or pulled 1000 feet too early by accident? After glancing at a correctly functioning altimeter? Even back in your student days?

A long time ago, there was one time that I accidentally broke off at 5500 feet instead of 4500 feet, because I glanced my altimeter too quickly and instantaneously under extreme stress, while being distracted. This was a while back.

The reason for this poll is because of this post.

The thinking is that during periods of extreme stress, by chance, you glance at your altimeter WAY too quickly and read the altitude wrong because the brain did not have enough time to process the information properly.

If you reply to this poll, please describe what happened if possible. Preference to those who have actually glanced at their analog altimeter before doing things 1000 feet too early, even though they correctly remembered the pre-planned altitude.

[Edit: You can pretend "feet" is "meters", if you are using a metric altimeter.]

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I've pulled low by accident a couple of times, both resulting in cypres fires... You remember one of them, you were there. :P

However, the best story belongs to John Woo. He was doing one of those 21K feet jumps from Mullins King Air at the WFFC years ago (mid 1990's). His altimeter sometimes was slow to keep up with the altitude on the climb. Twice along the way, he noticed his altimeter was 500 feet off the next guy's, and both times he adjusted (NEVER DO THIS!!).

So he exits the plane with his altimeter 1000 feet off, and he usually pulled at 2000 feet back then. He wondered why he could see people walking on the ground and immediately pulled his main. In the saddle at 500 feet, probably. :S :D
"Mediocre people don't like high achievers, and high achievers don't like mediocre people." - SIX TIME National Champion coach Nick Saban

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I've pulled too early on one jump a few weeks ago, the cause being a combination of a few things. I was still a student but had been cleared for self-supervision and I was doing a coaching jump with a very experienced skydiver. We had agreed to break at 5000, I would turn and track away, and pull by 4000. I was practicing two things on the jump: falling in a slot and controlling fall rate.

I was using one of the student altimeters and had been glancing at it every few seconds for the whole jump. It always took me more time than I felt it should to register the altitude with the analog altimeter, and a couple times on earlier jumps I almost pulled too early by misreading it. Since then I bought a digital altimeter, which I find much easier to read.

Anyway, at 5000 feet my coach made a quick chopping motion with his hands. After we got on the ground, he told me that he was telling me that the fun was over and it was time to break. I should have understood it, and another coach had done the same thing before, but for some reason on that jump something went wrong. The thought flashed through my mind that he was waving off, which meant that he was about to pull, which meant that something was wrong with my altimeter and we were much lower than I thought. I can't remember exactly what happened next, but I think I glanced quickly at my altimeter and misread it as being on 4 (at the time it still would have been on the 5). I immediately pulled without tracking, and once under canopy I saw I was still at about 4500 feet, and I realized that my altimeter must have been working since I watched my coach continue to fall for another 5 or 10 seconds before his canopy came out. Luckily, he had been flying about 20 feet away from me, so my pulling didn't put him in any danger.

I had plenty of time in the air to think about what happened, and the coach spent some time with me going over what went wrong. He assured me that having something like that happen when I only had maybe 18 or so jumps wasn't bad or very unusual, and that I just need to try to stay calmer in the air.

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Sometimes I have misread my altimeter, but just continued to look at it until I knew what it was really reading. The only time I have pulled high was when I was on aff and confused my break off and pull altitude, 5000ft came around and in all of the excitement, I thought "hey, I'm supposed to do something right now" and pulled. I had already broken off, because I completed my maneuvers, I was tracking until pull time, so no harm.

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Very interesting! Thanks for the insight...

Just to be clear, due to this post, I'm trying to collect more info on actual misreads -- and early pulls -- not late pulls. Cases where the altimeter was correctly functioning, but was accidentally mis-read due to a glance that was too quick.



I've never mis-read my altimeter or pulled too high because of it. What I've done when looking around near the end of a RW dive, if we're well off the DZ at break-off time, I'll do a short track, clear my space and pull a 1000 feet higher than I normally do, at 3500 rather than 2500.
"Mediocre people don't like high achievers, and high achievers don't like mediocre people." - SIX TIME National Champion coach Nick Saban

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My jumping partner pulled 1000 too high. The instructor pointed to the camera man and he misread the point as "PULL." She apologized. It is a great video though as the other instructor gave a what in the world happened gesture.
POPS #10623; SOS #1672

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Twice along the way, he noticed his altimeter was 500 feet off the next guy's, and both times he adjusted (NEVER DO THIS!!).


I have on occasion noticed my alti different from other jumpers, not just one but maybe 2 or 3 and have adjusted, with the group I am jumping with. Why should I not do this.. I have had my alti replaced 2 times in 5 years. I read & listen quite a bit so please elaborate

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I have on occasion noticed my alti different from other jumpers, not just one but maybe 2 or 3 and have adjusted, with the group I am jumping with. Why should I not do this.. I have had my alti replaced 2 times in 5 years. I read & listen quite a bit so please elaborate

You must calibrate for the 0 altitude before getting into the plane. If you adjust your altimeter again during flight, to match other people's altimeters in the air, your altimeter will no longer read 0 when you land. Your pull altitude will likely be more inaccurate than it was before, and can be nearly fatal (As it was for John Woo) if you make big cumilative rejadustments.

If you're pulling lower than normal due to a malfunction, your altimeter could kill you if it causes you to delay reserve deployment because your altimeter is still reading 1000 feet when you crash into Planet Earth, because you added 500 feet twice to your altimeter in order to match other people's altimeters!

Some altimeters are just a little slow to increase, some altimeters will read 8500 when another altimeter reads 9000. But both will return to 0 when landing because they were originally calibrated at 0. If the 8500 altimeter was adjusted to match the 9000 altimeter, then when you land, that altimeter will read 500 instead of 0 when landing. Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!

Inaccuracy of 8500 versus 9000 is meaningless, compared to the need of accuracy of the zero altitude (SPLAT!) Some altimeters "climb" slightly more slowly than others, and do not always stay in perfect sync to each other, especially at higher altitudes. Even if one altimeter is 8500 and another altimeter is 9000, they are still both accurate for altitude 0 if they were both calibrated to ground altitude 0 before entering the plane. If you readjust altimeter in flight, your SPLAT altitude (the 0 feet altitude) now becomes wrong!

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Using results from a poll with no option to dis agree with your foregone conclusions is falacious.
(you claim 6 people agree with you in the other thread)

I am of the opinion you have an agenda and are trying to manufacture data to prove your point.

I'm old school, I use analog.
Analog can be viewed from side more easily than a digital. (usable viewing angle)
I never pulled early due to a misread.
I wear mine chest mount too!
With a chest mount others have the benifit of using my alti if they choose.
With a chest mount can check while tracking.

lol, I have pulled low and 'claimed' it was a misread though. ;)


PULL!
jumpin_Jan
"Dangerous toys are fun but ya could get hurt" -- Vash The Stampede

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"Heard" of this happen during bigger formations when things start funneling in the 5-7K range. People panic and start (often not supposed to) leaving and they pull on the first audible beep they hear (typically this is the break-off altitude).
-Patrick

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not exactly your circumstances,but. was on a 3way FS jump. the more experience LO that was on the jump with me, eyes popped open, she started backtracking, i slowly followed, as I was l ooking around to try to see whatever it was she saw. Saw her wave and pull, so, I waved and pulled. we were probably about a grand above normal.

After talking on the ground, she saw that we were over some canopies, though still plenty of distance, didn't want to risk it.
CLICK HERE! new blog posted 9/21/08
CSA #720

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This happened to me twice. As a student (jump # 5 or 6) I was at 5500 but thought I was at 5000. I freaked and pulled without waving. It's funny now considering having had to go into the basement since then but all I knew was that I was supposed to start my deployment sequence at 5500 and I thought that I had missed it.
The second time was during a 4 way. The group was breaking off and pulling lower than I was comfortable with and instead of speaking up I just went with it. Big mistake. We got down around 3500, (I thought we were at 3K which is lower than what I was used to) I had been used to pulling at 3500, and I went into survival mode. I did a 2 second track that went nowhere, gave 1 wave and dumped, still very much in the middle of the formation. Luckily we had enough seperation and there were no complications.
The brave may not live forever, but the timid never live at all.

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Yip, have pulled way too early under stress....

On my first AFF full release, I immediately turned over on to my back, but was reasonably stable. I stayed that way for a while, then remembered my instruction and rolled over, arched and was stable. Just as I looked at my altimeter one of the instructors (reserve side) flew back in and went over my back. I thought that he was going for my PC and misread the altimeter as being 4000' instead of 6000'.

I pulled 1000' feet too high. The instructor was still very close, but luckily no contact occurred.

So under stress, misread the altimeter and pulled too early nearly killing myself and one instructor.
The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits." -- Albert Einstein

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Using results from a poll

The poll is informal, definitely unscientific, and not the primary source of info. It is merely to invite discussion from people of similiar experiences.

Ignore the percentages from the poll, they are meaningless, it was really more of a survey counter than a percentage poll. The omission of a "Have never experienced the above" is academic at this point anyway -- the primary purpose of the poll was simply to invite discussion, and now the poll can safely be closed (if moderators wish) because several posts have already proven my post that dial misreads do happen. That point has been proven beyond a shadow of doubt, and thus the mere token purpose of this thread has been met.

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foregone conclusions is falacious.

It's not a foregone conclusion. It's just discussion, to show that there are people out in the open, who has, at least one time, misread a dial such as an altimeter.

If you're talking about the incident, I'm not the investigator. Obviously, for the pilot, it could just very easily be something else, such as ice on wings, or something else. I only spoke up because the 45 versus 55 is uncannily similiar to my one time 4.5Kfeet versus 5.5Kfeet misread. It's kind of silly to interpret me as having said this is a foregone conclusion, when I clearly said it is not.

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(you claim 6 people agree with you in the other thread)

That's a misinterpretation. I said 6 votes, not 6 agreements. Polls can be inaccurate, but if you read the thread and posts, you'll see people DO misread dials on too-quick-glances. Not everyone, but it happens. Don't put words in my mouth...

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I am of the opinion you have an agenda

No agenda here. Look at all the posts out there of people who have misread altimeters.

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and are trying to manufacture data to prove your point.

Nothing is being manufactured.

Yes, have merely come up with the terminology "read the wrong tick effect" to describe a very real effect that actually happens. But if you do some honest research, I'm sure you're in agreement too that dials can, on very rare occasions, be misread under certain circumstances such as glancing that is too quick.

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I'm old school, I use analog.

No argument there. Analog is always generally the best. We're not debating that. I'm just mentioning that misreads do happen among a portion of the populace, especially under duress. Sure, I may have manufactured the terminology "Read the wrong tick effect" (and similiar wordings), but that's the name I have come up with to describe this genuine effect. If you read all of these posts more carefully, you'll see my point.

Most of the poll is meaningless and there are misvotes. But if you read posts, a portion of them actually match, and do a little research, it definitely happens in the wild. I only posted the poll to invite discussion on the topic.

Not everyone misreads dials, different people have different ability to read dials during brief glances. Some people read slower, some people have less ability to understand numbers in a quick glance. Also, differing levels of "dial education" plays a role: Many have not grown up around analog dials (kids who grew up in modern digital age) and take slightly longer to read dials, and take a long time to interpret a clock. Others, are simply slightly dyslexic that requires a longer stare before the text/numbers become perfectly clear. Yet other people, just glance simply, WAY too fast (imagine a glance that's about 1/4th the speed of your fastest glance). Often a quick glance means you don't read the altimeter at all, but with some people, a quick glance actually reads a portion of the altimeter. Not everybody's brain processes the information at the same speed, just look at everybody doing things at their different speeds. Sensory overload can do weird things -- you witness stories of students not being able to hear while under sensory overload, to things like missing something visually when they were focussing on something else.

And besides, in certain high-stress situations, a fast shaking wrist altimeter, with a fast moving head, with fast moving eyes, in a panic situation, is more prone to misreads than your chest altimeter. There may be only an instantaneous moment that the dial is stationary enough for a glance. There is potential for the glance to be too quick.

Tunnel vision can also be caused during panic and intenese concentration in certain individuals. There are a lot of sources as well as books that covers this:
Google [panic attack tunnel vision]
Google [intense concentration tunnel vision]

Then compounded by that, some people lose ability to read in nearby peripheral vision in a quick glance. Sometimes even in a longer glance at one spot: This is shown in some people who stare at the middle of a book page: Some people can only read one word, while other people can read three to five surrounding words without moving their eyes; speed reading training courses aim to try to expand your ability to read in your peripheral vision, so that you don't need to do as much left-to-right reading motions.
Google [speed reading peripheral vision]

Also, it's useful to become familiar with an effect called persistence of vision, iconic memory, or sensory memory which is relevant to this discussion. Different schools of thoughts prevail, but the general idea is that there is a short term visual memory even past the glance. This is relevant, because a quick glance exercises this kind of memory:
Google [iconic memory]
Google [sensory memory]
Google [persistence of vision]

Not to mention, humans get more inefficient the more they try to multitask. Consider a high-stress situation where many things are going on under a high time pressure. Scientific papers have already proven this. This is relevant here, since it does degrade certain people's ability to properly read an altimeter during a high-pressure situation.
Google [human multitasking inefficiency]

With a little digging of these search results, you can find scientific articles on reputable websites too, and some of these articles link to scientific papers. Be my guest to pick them out.

All these factors combine, among other factors, as well as person-specific characteristics (capability with reading speed, past analog dial experience, etc), especially in a high-stress situation, towards dial misreads for one reason or another, including reading the wrong tick. There are other factors. Obviously, brain can play tricks on you when you least expect it to -- just witness the strange judgements some people make during a high-pressure situation.

Mind you, I agree some people always flawlessly reads dials. But not 100% of the world's population do. I generally flawlessly read dials, but apparently I glanced too quick at that one time. As did many others too.

For various reasons, one or another, including reasons I've already written as well reasons other than those I've already written. At least, you do have to agree that some people do misread dials, even if you don't agree with the reasons I've mentioned.

Again, I use analog and that's the kind of altimeter I use. This isn't an analog versus digital debate so that isn't an agenda. FWIW, I use an analog wrist altimeter - an Altimaster II Galaxy. I read it pretty well, and my instructor have commented I always had good altitude awareness. But that glance was just a TAD too quick during that jump, and I broke off 1000 foot early...

Students do this a lot more than experienced skydivers, but it clearly still happens (to a lesser extent), especially during a high-pressure situation, as you are witnessing.

Either way, I think you may have severely misinterpreted this. This poll is not scientifically accurate, it is merely to bring people, with similiar experiences, out into the open. As you can see, not all experiences match mine (i.e. defective altimeter), but you can clearly read, from some of the posts, some of the misreads actually mirror the one I once had (i.e. genuine misread in a too-quick-glance). This poll is merely discussion-inviting and it has served its purpose that there are people out there who, has at one time or another, once misread a dial because of a too-quick-glance.

I'm willing to bet money that this effect did not happen to the pilot in question. Just that the 45 versus 55 is uncannily similiar to my one time 4.5Kfeet versus 5.5Kfeet misread. Plus I know that dial misreads definitely do happen in the general populace. Thus, I just merely put this subject out onto the table. It is easily totally something else. Such as ice on wings.

Hey, no worries -- I don't want to make enemies here. All I am doing is stating the fact that dial misreads happen, and the poll was to invite discussion on it, that's all.

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I have had Altimaster check my altimeter each time I run into them at boogies. It reads correctly less than 500 feet. Then it is off by 20-50 feet up to 3000 feet. Over 3000 feet it is off by 100-200 feet and over 6000 feet it is off by 300 feet all the way to 13.5k.

If I compare my altimeter with someone else on the plane it will be off. If I adjust it, it will be correct at that altitude, but off below 200 ft which could be a very bad thing!

I have broken from big ways early when I didn't reset my protrak. Not a good thing to do, every in a big way! In a lot of big ways the break off waves go on dytters....

Blue skies,

Jim

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I have had Altimaster check my altimeter each time I run into them at boogies. It reads correctly less than 500 feet. Then it is off by 20-50 feet up to 3000 feet. Over 3000 feet it is off by 100-200 feet and over 6000 feet it is off by 300 feet all the way to 13.5k.

If I compare my altimeter with someone else on the plane it will be off. If I adjust it, it will be correct at that altitude, but off below 200 ft which could be a very bad thing!

I have broken from big ways early when I didn't reset my protrak. Not a good thing to do, every in a big way! In a lot of big ways the break off waves go on dytters....



Isn't that why a good organizer will make sure the entire formation knows to only break away on cue by jumpers in the base pulling in place, if the formation is large enough where the outer jumpers can't see the base kicking their legs?
"Mediocre people don't like high achievers, and high achievers don't like mediocre people." - SIX TIME National Champion coach Nick Saban

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>Isn't that why a good organizer will make sure the entire formation
>knows to only break away on cue by jumpers in the base pulling in place . . .

Nope. There are many ways to signal breakoff; each has its pluses and minuses. I have some _very_ scary video of what can happen during a base person pullout.

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Hey, no worries -- I don't want to make enemies here. All I am doing is stating the fact that dial misreads happen, and the poll was to invite discussion on it, that's all.



No worries here either.
I'm not interested in making enimies, I'm just playing devils advocate.

I would never try to prove you have an agenda(it can't be done usually) I was just stating that I thought one was in play and by stating that, it would become apparant if that were the case and you chose to address it.

I mis interpreted your focus on dial misreads as an indictment on analog in general.

I think digit misreads are just as common and don't understand the focus on dials (based on the OP not the poll wording).

Being an old fart and accustomed to pulling @ 2k(when conditions merit), I don't have the same frame of reference as many persons who freak out under 2.5k in freefall.

My own preference and admittedly biased opinion has more to do with the lack of frequency/preference of digital chest mounts and viewing angle.
(viewing angle is improving)

I don't think the misreads have as much to do with the format as they do the the frame of mind and/or needed attention to detail.
YMMV


PULL!
jumpin_Jan
"Dangerous toys are fun but ya could get hurt" -- Vash The Stampede

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>Isn't that why a good organizer will make sure the entire formation
>knows to only break away on cue by jumpers in the base pulling in place . . .

Nope. There are many ways to signal breakoff; each has its pluses and minuses. I have some _very_ scary video of what can happen during a base person pullout.



I've seen my share as well. Skydive Chicago big way camp '97. Break-off of first wave initiated by base person dumping in place. His canopy sniveled a long time. Then 2nd base person pulled to signal second break-off wave, and his canopy opened faster. He was opposite the first guy. They flew right by each other in an unintended game of "chicken".
"Mediocre people don't like high achievers, and high achievers don't like mediocre people." - SIX TIME National Champion coach Nick Saban

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Where is the option for "This has not happened to me nor was I aware of it happening to anyone else prior to reading this post."?

That's a good option that I should have included of course, but for now ignore the percentages from the poll, they are meaningless, it was really more of a survey counter than a percentage poll.

A very unscientific poll, this thread primarily goal was merely to invite discusion -- this goal succeeded beyond my expectations, even if the poll formatting is mostly a failure. ;)

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I don't think the misreads have as much to do with the format as they do the the frame of mind and/or needed attention to detail.
YMMV

Fair enough. Although I would argue that different people respond differently to specific formats under specific conditions such as rushed glances. This thread also shows there are many ways, other than the kind I described, to misread an altimeters -- including digitals, audibles, and hybrid altimeters too.

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I understand what you're saying, but I'd wager it doesn't happen very often for a couple or reasons. From the digital v. analog threads, it seems that some analog jumpers aren't really focused on reading the numbers so much as looking for the needle to reach one of the colored zones or for it to make a familiar angle. Based on that, it seems like most experienced analog jumpers wouldn't run into the problem you suggest.
This leaves us with the inexperienced (mainly student) jumpers who aren't yet quite used to reading an angle off of the analog altimeter and are therefore actually trying to read the numbers. These are also the jumpers who will be pulling at 4500 feet (earlier in their training) which isn't really near the colored zones of the altimeter. So these are the most likely candidates for what you suggest to happen.
Which brings me to why I don't think what you suggest will happen often enough to be noted. There aren't that many students doing that many jumps each year. If it's happening at all, it's happening infrequently and to a fairly small subset of jumpers.
Just my theory on the matter.

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