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_shelbomb

AFF Student nervous about Emergency Procedures, 13 jumps

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I've got about 3100 jumps. Last year, after 20 years of jumping, I had my first malfunction/cutaway. Could I have landed it? Probably, but I didn't want to get too low and find out that I couldn't land it.

Dan Brodsky-Chenfeld manages my drop zone (Perris). He has over 25,000 jumps and when he does safety briefings, he always goes back to: If the parachute doesn't come out and say "I'm good," then get rid of it. If you're unsure if it's good, then it's bad. He's seen too many people ride questionable canopies down until it's too low to cut away, and ended up paying with their lives.

The more you jump, the more comfortable you'll be in what you're seeing. It'll be easier to recognize things when you look up. Remember the check's you're taught in AFF. I don't know what they teach now, but I was taught "Shape, spin, speed, line twists." If all of those things pass, then "Slider down, end cells open, rips, tears, broken lines."

Understand that a lot of us have gone through those same things you're going through. I was an awful student and had my doubts at times. 21 years later, I look at skydiving as one of the greatest things I've ever taken up, and can't imagine my life without it.
There are battered women? I've been eating 'em plain all of these years...

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Your first post addressed two separate problems: malfunctions and landing patterns.

The best way to handle malfunctions is to show up early and ask an instructor to review emergency procedures with you first thing in the morning. You might want to phone ahead and warn manifest that you want to review EPs.
Ask your instructor to help you categorize canopy problems so that you can distinguish between "nuisances" and "holy bleep malfunctions!"

On student canopies, half the nuisances (line twists, slider less than halfway down, closed end cells, etc.) will solve themselves as you look up at the canopy. The other half of nuisances are easily solved by spreading risers, then pulling both steering toggles all the way down to your crotch.
As for the difference between line-twists on big, slow, docile student canopies and small, fast pond-swooping canopies ....... Student canopies with line-twists usually stay overhead and slowly un-twist on their own. You might want to help untwist by spreading risers.

If you find yourself spinning - on your back - under a malfunction, you are not arching enough. Chances aren't, you relaxed too soon when you felt line-stretch, but before the canopy inflated.

Also ask your local instructor to help you categorize major malfunctions (rips, tears, broken lines, etc.).
I have landed a few torn canopies and a few with one broken line. In retrospect, I should not have landed the canopy with two broken lines. Ouch!
We tend to teach students a simplified version of emergency procedures. If your canopy misses any of the "5 S questions (Is it Square? Is the Slider most of the way down? Is it Stable? Are the Strings Straight? Can I Steer it?) cutaway and follow through with your reserve ripcord.

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(On my 50-somethingth jump, I forgot my altimeter on the ground (don't try at home) and was first out the door on a solo - by that time, I was confident that I could jump safely without it,



Did you ever consider how jumping with out an altimeter could kill the people jumping after you?

And when you say "don't try it at home" why wouldn't you heed your own advice? I understand after 50 jumps you have the whole sport dialed, but just realize your actions can kill someone else.

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I had my first cutaway on jump 24. i was only doing 2 jumps that day to get the the magic number of 25 to get my license.

Hard opening, left steering line severed, downward right spin.

The one thing i took from it all after i landed - was just how EASY it was to deal with. my EP training kicked in, and dealt with it just as i was taught.

Confidence rocketed after that, i got up on no. 25 2 hours later and got my license.

Not that i ever wanted to deal with a cutaway, but i'm glad i got it done early on because i know just how easy it is to deal with.

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jclalor

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(On my 50-somethingth jump, I forgot my altimeter on the ground (don't try at home) and was first out the door on a solo - by that time, I was confident that I could jump safely without it,



Did you ever consider how jumping with out an altimeter could kill the people jumping after you?

And when you say "don't try it at home" why wouldn't you heed your own advice? I understand after 50 jumps you have the whole sport dialed, but just realize your actions can kill someone else.



My exact thoughts. Don't come to my dz.
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ajay

***Did you ever consider how jumping with out an altimeter could kill the people jumping after you?
[....]



My exact thoughts. Don't come to my dz.

[This is only a side topic for this thread]

Guess you guys' DZ's doesn't care about decent horizontal separation.
:P

How can he make things worse than normal? If he pulls low, he's safely away from others. If he pulls high, well plenty of noobs pull way high anyway. If flies up jump run, well, he could do something dumb like that at 'normal' altitudes. If the next jumpers are closing the gap horizontally, then a higher pull reduces the time available for them to do that, so that's a benefit. Heck, if he pulls 10 seconds out the door, its almost impossible anyone else on the load could conflict with him (by removing any horizontal separation so quickly), so a really high pull would be safer.

Anyway, maybe you can think of some scenario I wasn't thinking of. But jumping without an alti once doesn't seem like a huge crime.

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pchapman

******Did you ever consider how jumping with out an altimeter could kill the people jumping after you?
[....]



My exact thoughts. Don't come to my dz.

[This is only a side topic for this thread]

Guess you guys' DZ's doesn't care about decent horizontal separation.
:P

How can he make things worse than normal? If he pulls low, he's safely away from others. If he pulls high, well plenty of noobs pull way high anyway. If flies up jump run, well, he could do something dumb like that at 'normal' altitudes. If the next jumpers are closing the gap horizontally, then a higher pull reduces the time available for them to do that, so that's a benefit. Heck, if he pulls 10 seconds out the door, its almost impossible anyone else on the load could conflict with him (by removing any horizontal separation so quickly), so a really high pull would be safer.

Anyway, maybe you can think of some scenario I wasn't thinking of. But jumping without an alti once doesn't seem like a huge crime.

Yeah the chances of something going awry involving others is slim, maybe he backslides up jump run, pulls low while other canopies are slotting into pattern... idk. Considering how much precaution we take to mitigate problems, knowing you havent got an essential piece of gear before you jump just highlights a general disregard of safety. But I'm a noob... so... :p
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pchapman

******Did you ever consider how jumping with out an altimeter could kill the people jumping after you?
[....]



My exact thoughts. Don't come to my dz.

[This is only a side topic for this thread]

Guess you guys' DZ's doesn't care about decent horizontal separation.
:P

How can he make things worse than normal? If he pulls low, he's safely away from others. If he pulls high, well plenty of noobs pull way high anyway. If flies up jump run, well, he could do something dumb like that at 'normal' altitudes. If the next jumpers are closing the gap horizontally, then a higher pull reduces the time available for them to do that, so that's a benefit. Heck, if he pulls 10 seconds out the door, its almost impossible anyone else on the load could conflict with him (by removing any horizontal separation so quickly), so a really high pull would be safer.

Anyway, maybe you can think of some scenario I wasn't thinking of. But jumping without an alti once doesn't seem like a huge crime.

My experience has been that some noobies lose all sense of direction three seconds out the door. I remember telling a student just off AFF who was jumping solo and wanted to practice tracking. I told him to make sure not to track perpendicular to jump run. His response; "what's perpendicular mean?"

But then again, this guy sounds pretty empressed with his abilities. When has that ever been a problem?

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A mate of mine, many years ago didn't own an alti, but used the old Mk 1 eyeball, he was always spot on the money without one.

They bought in the rule that altis were compulsory. That annoyed him because he had to spend jump money on an alti.

So he picked up an old broken one from somewhere for nothing and attached it to his ankle.

His reasoning was, he would wear one, but he didn't have to look at it, and the rule didn't say anything about where he wore it or whether it worked.

He was a contrarian, making his point. No one got upset about it.

I can jump from any altitude and not look at my alti at any point. The reason it is there, is more for others in the formation to look at.

People used to jump with stopwatches instead of altis.
My computer beat me at chess, It was no match for me at kickboxing....

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jclalor

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(On my 50-somethingth jump, I forgot my altimeter on the ground (don't try at home) and was first out the door on a solo - by that time, I was confident that I could jump safely without it,



Did you ever consider how jumping with out an altimeter could kill the people jumping after you?

And when you say "don't try it at home" why wouldn't you heed your own advice? I understand after 50 jumps you have the whole sport dialed, but just realize your actions can kill someone else.



An altimeter, mechanical or electronic, can malfunction at any time (as we see an example of in the OP) so I think anyone who isn't comfortable with the possibility of jumping without one or of having other people sharing the sky with them without one shouldn't be jumping. I don't mean to say you or anyone else should stop jumping, but I do mean to suggest that you, and a couple others, should reconsider your attitudes toward jumping without altimeters. (If you're really scared of not having an altimeter, you can, of course, wear more than one to make the chance that they all malfunction vastly lower, but you can't expect everyone else to use multiple visual altimeters too.)

The USPA pointedly requires altimeters for students but not for licensed jumpers, placing them in the same category as rigid helmets and water gear (if within 1mi of water). All of these are recommended for all jumpers (SIM section 5.3k) but I've never seen a licensed jumper wearing water gear, and there are plenty who sometimes jump without helmets. If there were reason to believe that jumping without an altimeter significantly increased the risk to other jumpers, I'm sure it would be required.

I'd also like to note the next section of the SIM, 5.3j Use of Altimeters:
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a. As a primary reference, each skydiver should learn to estimate critical altitudes (break-off, minimum deployment, minimum cutaway) by looking at the ground and mentally keeping track of time in freefall.
b. Altimeters provide excellent secondary references for developing and verifying primary altitude-recognition skills.


This is exactly what I wrote in my previous post: estimate altitude by eye, then check the altimeter. Once you have "verified", using an altimeter, that your "primary [visual] altitude-recognition skills" are reliable to within 500ft (the same SIM section says to expect altimeters to be up to 500ft off), an altimeter is still helpful and can potentially make a jump safer (for the person wearing it), but is not strictly necessary.

With 50 jumps, and likewise with the 88 I have now, I'm obviously a beginner and have huge amounts to learn in many aspects of the sport. However, the ability to accurately estimate altitude does not depend on overall skydiving skill or experience. I know, for a fact, that on my 15+ previous jumps, including some earlier that day, I was able to accurately estimate my altitude throughout freefall and canopy flight.

Furthermore, I fail to understand how jumping without an altimeter could possibly be a non-negligible danger to anyone but myself (thanks pchapman). You must always expect other jumpers to open slightly lower or higher than you, which is precisely what horizontal separation is for. Apart from that, someone without an altimeter could fly a slightly less accurate pattern, but I've seen countless patterns much worse than a lack of altimeter could ever cause. Finally, one might react poorly to a canopy collision - e.g., cut away too low, leaving the other jumper no time to deal with a worsened entanglement - but this seems like a rather contrived scenario: it assumes a failure by the two jumpers to communicate, and, in the event of a collision in pattern, you know you're probably too low to cutaway with or without the help of an altimeter.

Regarding my comment to "not try at home", this was meant as a mostly-ironic disclaimer (the irony should have been clear from the words "at home"). Yes, jumping without an altimeter can increase risk - to the jumper doing it, if he/she cannot accurately estimate altitude by eye, or when jumping in clouds or over water or something. There's a reason the SIM says not to rely on altimeters - see the comment at the top of this post about altimeter malfunctions, which is also addressed in the same section 5.3j:
Quote

6. Altimeter errors
a. Altimeters use electronic and/or mechanical components that are subject to damage and may fail in use.
...
e. The needle can stick during both ascent and descent—a visual cross reference with the ground should be used in combination with the altimeter.



Sorry for continuing this off-topic discussion - I honestly had no idea I would start such a controversy, given that deliberately jumping without altimeters was quite common in the past and I'm sure my jump was very far from being a unique incident in this season either.

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_shelbomb

Thanks so much for the advice! I am like a sponge lol I appreciate any advice you have to offer. My instructor talked to me about flat turns and said I could have restarted my pattern. I had the thought go through my head and thought I was high enough but being so new I didn't want to risk it. Here is a question for you! What if I am on my final going towards power lines and make a 90 degree flat turn. We are taught to land against the wind. I know that avoiding an obstacle is number one priority, but what happens when you land with the wind at your side instead of with the wind or against it? Say if I didn't have enough time or altitude to do my full pattern. Also, I'm a little curious about what it's like to land with the wind.


Sorry for the delay; I've been without internet access for a few days - I think Deimian answered both questions quite adequately (post #23), but I will add a few things. I've never made a downwind landing, but I imagine it's pretty much just faster, as Deimian wrote - much like the difference between a no-wind landing and an upwind landing in significant wind. The only major difference that comes to mind is that when landing downwind, you obviously can't reduce your ground speed to less than the wind speed. In upwind / no-wind landings, in contrast, you can adjust the depth of your flare to slow to a near stop in no-wind (depending, of course, on canopy design, wing loading, etc.) but avoid being blown backward in a moderate headwind (something that will probably be discussed in a canopy course). Crosswind landings are among the requirements on the B license canopy card, so you will definitely discuss and practice those. In both downwind and crosswind landings, depending on the wind speed, your canopy and your agility, you may or may not be able to run it out, but even if you aren't, I think the risk of a serious injury is low (unless, of course, the wind is strong enough that you shouldn't have jumped in the first place).
By the way, the landing priorities as I was taught are 1. Level Wing, 2. Free of Obstacles, 3. Flare (into the wind). The SIM's version doesn't even mention wind direction (section 4, cat A quiz http://sim.uspa.org/#1=1|2=5|3=23|4=99|page=731 among other places). I've heard that Free of Obstacles used to be #1, but this was changed in response to the increase in low-turn fatalities I mentioned earlier.

Regarding what is covered in a canopy course, a decent number of things were mentioned between my first post, Deimian's post and this one - you can look at the complete list of exercises required for the B license on the canopy card itself (linked on the right side here: http://uspa.org/Safety-Training/Licenses). Flight-1's 101/102 (which I took) go well beyond these requirements, as I expect other 2-day courses would too. You can also look at Flight-1's course descriptions (http://flight-1.com/sport/about-courses) but they aren't as useful as they could have been.

And sorry also for starting a bit of off-topic drama in your thread...

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jclalor

My experience has been that some noobies lose all sense of direction three seconds out the door. I remember telling a student just off AFF who was jumping solo and wanted to practice tracking. I told him to make sure not to track perpendicular to jump run. His response; "what's perpendicular mean?"

But then again, this guy sounds pretty empressed with his abilities. When has that ever been a problem?


If I see students tracking parallel to jump run and they tell me someone told them "not to track perpendicular to jump run", I'll know whom to blame :) it seems almost like you're the one who doesn't know what 'perpendicular' means. I've also never seen the word 'empress' used as a verb before, so I can't really respond to this latest insinuation.

But if you meant I'm overly confident (or impressed) in my ability, I think I addressed that in the fourth paragraph two posts up ("With 50 jumps ... and canopy flight").

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I guess what I am curious about is how often have more experienced jumpers had to cut away, how do you know when it is necessary to cut away, and how familiar is everyone with the different issues that occur under canopy?



Difficult question to answer about how often experienced jumpers have had to cutaway. By experienced are you referring to licensed jumpers? Personally I had two cutaways in the same week with a little over 100 jumps. I traced it back to a worn out pilot chute kill line that was causing slow openings, toggle holders that didn't fit well, as well as careless packing and haven't had anything I pondered cutting away since fixing these factors.

Others on the other hand have over 1000 jumps and no cutaways. There are many factors that contribute and the best way to handle it this is to be ready for a cutaway on every single jump. Oh, and of course prevention, if you're unsure of packing related stuff, don't be passive. ASK a rigger or someone that is highly experienced that you trust.

As for knowing when to cutaway, make sure you know your decision altitude and always respect that. If you do not have a parachute that you are comfortable landing by that altitude, initiate EP.

What I will say is neither of my cutaways looked like anything on the diagrams I was shown but I was not comfortable landing either. The first one I immediately looked, said "NOPE" and chopped. The second one I tried to fix which made it worse and then chopped. Of course you may get some criticism as to why you chopped and if you should have, but at the end of the day if you have a canopy you are not comfortable landing, you have your answer.

Anyway, great questions. Keep practicing your EPs. Sounds like you are very heads up and want to be prepared. There will always be that tiny sliver of doubt that you will not act correctly in an emergency situation, but trust yourself that you will as long as you keep practicing :) Blue skies!
I was put on this earth to do one thing. Luckily I forgot what it was so I do whatever I want.

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I apologize for my very delayed response! lol but thank you for the links and advice. Over the past couple months/reading these threads I feel better about all of it. I'm a collegiate wrestler who has wrestled since 2nd grade. I had to learn plenty of new things I wasn't comfortable with. So many people teach moves in different ways that work for them in my sport. I think skydiving is similar. I will catch on with practice. I really appreciate the skydiving community. Very tight knit and have yet to meet anyone who was not willing to help me out. It's really great!

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I now hang out with my instructors and people from my DZ and they have helped to put my mind at ease. Some of them have hundreds of jumps and no cutaways while other have jumped for 20+ years and have 20+ cutaways. You just never know. I love all the advice though and the time people take to answer questions from the new jumpers like myself. The skydiving community is great. I really appreciate it! Thank you!
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When yer new at this game, there's quite a bit to digest. The fact that it could be a life or death decision puts a bit of a scare into it. Controlling the fear is 1 of the biggest things. You do that by being informed and ready. We do that by practicing the EP's. Allows you to be more relaxed. And that's the key. The reality is that when you jump out of a plane, you are relying on just 1 parachute to save yer life. Your reserve. Your main may or may not work. If it doesn't, who cares? You weren't depending on it anyway. Did it come out? Is it steerable and landable? Not sure? try it again. Still not working rite? Get rid of it and go for the sure thing. This keeps it easy to understand and a simple plan to do

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baronn

When yer new at this game, there's quite a bit to digest. The fact that it could be a life or death decision puts a bit of a scare into it. Controlling the fear is 1 of the biggest things. You do that by being informed and ready. We do that by practicing the EP's. Allows you to be more relaxed. And that's the key. The reality is that when you jump out of a plane, you are relying on just 1 parachute to save yer life. Your reserve. Your main may or may not work. If it doesn't, who cares? You weren't depending on it anyway. Did it come out? Is it steerable and landable? Not sure? try it again. Still not working rite? Get rid of it and go for the sure thing. This keeps it easy to understand and a simple plan to do



Haha well put. I started to relax a lot more once I started viewing my main as my "practice" canopy.

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