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fergs

Bird Strike

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… close your eyes and picture…

… an eagle in flight and a solo skydiver in a wingsuit. The two colliding at 4000’. The human is 90 kgs – the eagle maybe 4.

Resultant effects to the wingsuit skydiver, facial lacerations and abrasions, disbelief.

Effect on the eagle? I think it fair to assume he was a total loss - fatal - dead.

Having said that – at the time I was seeing stars and still in freefall – so my priority was to get an open parachute above my head rather than be intent on seeing a dead eagle spin out of control to the ground.

I think I made the right decision at the time …

In analysing the event, here’s what I believe happened:

The eagle was flocking with me as I flew in my wingsuit. This suspicion is supported by our pilot of the day – who’d earlier seen an eagle soaring at around 3000’ in the vicinity.

I believe he was gliding slightly behind and below me to my left, possibly very close. From an eagle perspective, I was maybe looking like a big eagle anyhow –a wingsuit in flight looks like a big bird anyhow. So it seems he simply decided to be inquisitive and flock with me.

As I altered my flight / glide in preparation to deploying my canopy, the collision occurred – so the eagle may have been surprised at the sudden change of glide angle and made some sort of evasive manoeuvre and in the process, brushed across me.

I’m certain only his right wing hit me (the term “smacked me” comes to mind), judging by the resultant pattern of the injuries to my face. All I saw at the time was a very fast shadowy object appear in front of me as the collision occurred. That was immediately followed by a feeling that a boxer had hit me in the face without gloves.

Anyhow, it’s such an infinitesimally small chance of an event that I feel more than a little stunned that it even occurred.

Lessons to be learned? I believe that not much can be done about avoiding a bird strike - apart from deciding not to jump when birds are in the area (an impractical action, I'd suggest). A full face helmet would have no doubt saved my face from the abrasions and lacerations. Definately, the wingsuit was responsible for my very survival (although it is certain that the eagle would not have been there without it), as our closing speed at time of impact was not so great.

It has already been established that eagles (falcons to be specific) can fly in formation with a wingsuit. A few years back a group of wingsuit base jumpers had falcons fly with them off a cliff and actually take meat from their hands as theyt were in flight. This is clearly documented with video / still pictures and published in magazines.

So this is purely an incident that can go down as one of fact rather than one that can be planned for and avoided in the future, in my opinion. But I certainly encourage feedback and questions.

Blue Skies,

fergs
BMCI

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Glad you're okay! It's a rare occurance. In 1999, my mom was on a sit jump where the camera man downplaned under two canopies and walked away without injury. He had the whole thing on video. We'd watch the video and malfuntion scenario but never noticed something until a year afterwards. Right before my mom went from a sit posistion to break off, there was what appeared to be a plane taking off from the airport. We eventually watched that part of the skydive in slow motion and realized that "the plane" was flapping its wings!!! It was not a plane. It was a huge goose with a wingspan longer than my mother's arms right in the video frame with her. Close!

Blue Skies.

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How did you alter your flight/glide for deployment? Your scenario implies that the bird was coasting or tracking you closely, so your flight would have had to have altered drastically to catch out a bird with eyesight far superior to a human's and flying characteristics that can seemingly out accelerate gravity. The falcons that flew with Leo, Andy and Dave were in a full dive to catch them and when they are soaring on thermals they don't appear to have a great deal of forward speeds; both of these profiles are generally incompatible with normal wingsuit flight. So I'm finding it hard to believe that the bird was intentionally close to you (it would also have to have begun it's flight earlier on and higher up to do so - how high do they generally fly?) unless there is evidence to the contrary. Despite the big sky theory I think it is more likely that this is a random convergence. Does anyone know how good an eagle's field of vision is, specifically with regards to things above it?

Plus, I think this should be in the Wingsuit forum rather than Incidents.

Glad you weren't too badly hurt. Hope the bird made it too. I hate it when flying creatures get hurt.
Skydiving Fatalities - Cease not to learn 'til thou cease to live

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You chased the poor thing down admit it Fergs:ph34r:

Glad you're Ok mate :)
Nice job promoting the product too;)
You are not now, nor will you ever be, good enough to not die in this sport (Sparky)
My Life ROCKS!
How's yours doing?

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The eagle was flocking with me as I flew in my wingsuit. This suspicion is supported by our pilot of the day – who’d earlier seen an eagle soaring at around 3000’ in the vicinity.

I believe he was gliding slightly behind and below me to my left, possibly very close. From an eagle perspective, I was maybe looking like a big eagle anyhow –a wingsuit in flight looks like a big bird anyhow. So it seems he simply decided to be inquisitive and flock with me.



I've got to agree with Craig, I think its very unlikely that the eagle was flocking with you. To start off with, you'd be coming from above and possibly behind, somewhere an eagle at 4k+ has no real reason to look. In that case an eagle would only see you after you passed it (with canopy flyby type closing speeds) and would have to accelerate to catch you on your glideslope from a standing start. I just don't think thats possible.

With regards to Leo's falcon film the Peregrines were only really following them through the first few seconds of the jumps, when they were still very vertical, not when they were in full flight (still the coolest thing I've ever seen). Thats the footage thats been included on the DVD anyway, I'll ask Dave or Andy about it next time I'm at the DZ. One other thing that film highlights is that birds of prey have absolutely insane reactions, if it knew you were there you would have had to work extremely hard to catch it out.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is I reckon it's more likely the bird was just hanging in a thermal and never saw you 'till you took the poor bugger out.
Do you want to have an ideagasm?

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I agree. I think this was more of a case of running into the bird as it was on another course and never saw the wingsuiter. If it was in fact an eagle, which is an assumption, and this eagle was truly "flocking" with the wingsuiter, the eagle would have it's eye on him and it would be downright impossible to "surprise" it with any movement or change in flight which would cause a collision, no matter how drastic or from what angle. IMO

Although this "flocking" story is a good one and one that people are going to want to imagine, I really doubt it happened that way. I think this is simply a case of two things on different flight paths, colliding accidently because they didn't see each other.


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Fergi

Thank god you are OK, I am really glad that you still look as nice as before ;)

I will pass this information to every freaking skydiver i know, and i am sure it will make wing suite flying more interesting (spatially for falconers, we have a lot of them here in Saudi)

Can you post some of the photos taken for wing suite flyers feeding eagles that you mentioned?

Regards
Husam From Saudi



Ready - Set - Go

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I wouldn't entirely discount the original hypothesis regarding an aware bird. I was an apprentice falconer for about two years, and I have never been more amazed than by how well those birds can see just about everything going on around them. I had a red-tailed hawk nail a small rabbit that was about two feet away from me on the other side of a rock about the size of my head, and the hawk had been no less than 600 yards away on a low branch of a tree that put me between it and the hawk. They are fairly observant, these raptors, as it tends to go hand in hand with whether or not they get to eat on any given day. Raptors may go on soar and ride thermals, but I've seen several ride the same thermal at different altitudes and not clash. It's a bit of a stretch to think that an animal that relies heavily on its vision would not have seen the big flying body in its general vicinity.
Kevin - Sonic Beef #5 - OrFun #28
"I never take myself too seriously, 'cuz everybody know fat birds don't fly." - FLC
Online communities: proof that people never mature much past high school.

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Did that eagle have a phoenix fly logo on its tail..??

;)

.....Recently ....on a comfortable canopy ride back to the landing area after jumping a big wall in Europe.....I had an eagle come very close to the below and right of me....it stayed there for a while, matching my heading , occasionally looking over its shoulder at me....
That was a truly magnificent feeling....even if it was saying "fuck off , this is my playground not yours ! "

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Can you post some of the photos taken for wing suite flyers feeding eagles that you mentioned?



Well here's the info page for the DVD on Leo Dickinsons site, a quick search didn't turn up any other photo's on the web but I'm sure there are some good still shots floating around out there.
Do you want to have an ideagasm?

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Nice one Fergie B|

Actually about two months ago at Willowbank I was tracking away after an AFF and as I flared out of the track I looked down at the spot and saw an eagle some few hundred feet below me. Quick pitch, check canopy and look around...there it was just ahead of me. Great visuals as I drifted below and to one side of him. Wishing I had my camera on that jump :(
I like my canopy...


...it lets me down.

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I saw a flock of geese underneath a bigway formation skydive at Old Farts reunion in 2004.

They quickly dispersed when canopies started to pop open above them!

.
Lee _______________________________

In a world full of people, only some want to fly, is that not crazy?
http://www.ukskydiver.co.uk

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… close your eyes and picture…



I closed my eyes and pictured an eagle in flight and a solo sitflyer colliding at 4000'. 10lb eagle going up the ass at 160mph... :D

Glad you're OK!
Android+Wear/iOS/Windows apps:
L/D Vario, Smart Altimeter, Rockdrop Pro, Wingsuit FAP
iOS only: L/D Magic
Windows only: WS Studio

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If I'm not wrong, this isn't the 1st case of a collision between a bird and a skydiver...
This also happened to a RW jumper (maybe in the USA?) with a small bird which impacted on a fulface helmet.... I saw a pic of this event on the Internet... Anyone has more details about this event?

3,2,1,C-YA!!!
V.
BASE #1075 / BMI #I-002 / PFI #042 / EGI #104

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> Although this "flocking" story is a good one and one that people are going to want to imagine, I really doubt it happened that way. I think this is simply a case of two things on different flight paths, colliding accidently because they didn't see each other
I fully agree. While it is proven on video that falcon/eagles can do "vertical freefall" (so falling with humans) reaching speeds of 180÷200 km/h-112÷124 Mph, as well as flying with open parachutes, it is very hard for me to believe that an eagle can fly with a pattern of horizontally 200 km/h-124 Mph and vertically 100 km/h-62 Mph with a glide ratio of 2 (=too fast to have those 2 speeds, horizontal AND vertical).
Just my 0.02€
Stay safe out there
Blue Skies and Soft Walls
BASE #689 - base_689AT_NO_123_SPAMyahoo.com

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> Although this "flocking" story is a good one and one that people are going to want to imagine, I really doubt it happened that way. I think this is simply a case of two things on different flight paths, colliding accidently because they didn't see each other
I fully agree. While it is proven on video that falcon/eagles can do "vertical freefall" (so falling with humans) reaching speeds of 180÷200 km/h-112÷124 Mph, as well as flying with open parachutes, it is very hard for me to believe that an eagle can fly with a pattern of horizontally 200 km/h-124 Mph and vertically 100 km/h-62 Mph with a glide ratio of 2 (=too fast to have those 2 speeds, horizontal AND vertical).
Just my 0.02€



There's quite a bit of DVD material (lucy, the falcon that flew, or something like that) which has wingsuiters flying, and falcons eating from their hand WHILE flying along with the wingsuiters...they're capable of a lot more then we areB|
JC
FlyLikeBrick
I'm an Athlete?

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