0
rmahoney

Caravan Tail Strike

Recommended Posts

I find it hard to believe that I actually did this: I hit the tail of our Caravan on exit a few days ago. It was an incredibly dumb thing to do; I KNOW BETTER. I am relating the story as a cautionary tale to others who I hope will avoid making the same mistake. Forgive the length of this post, but I hope the detail will help.

I was on a “full altitude” load in our Caravan. On the way up, the scattered layer above turned to broken, then overcast. We could make 5,500, and that was about it. While the tandems stayed behind, the rest of us “up-jumpers” decided to go out at the lower altitude. I was the only wingsuit guy that day, and I was flying my Raptor. I mentally reviewed my exit, remembering that the faster aircraft speed and level flight attitude required more delay on wing deployment.

Being the usual last one out, I approached the door and looked out – there was no good ground reference, so I started to close the door. As I reached up, I saw some landmarks through a thin haze, and reconsidered my decision to abort the jump. The indecision on exit allowed me to drop back into my standard exit mode, totally forgetting the differences with lower altitude/higher speed exits. Without thinking further, I just made my usual exit……and deployed my wings….at my “usual” 1-second interval.

As the wings inflated, I instantly felt the higher airspeed and lift, and at that point knew I would hit the tail. There was an audible “smack” as my upper right arm hit the horizontal stabilizer. I regained stability, and was able to fly fairly normally, but with a great deal of pain in my arm. Fortunately, a practice throw went OK, so I knew I had function, and I deployed very soon thereafter, and landed without further incident. After landing, the guys who had been on the aircraft came running over to me, amazed that I was still alive. Apparently the sights and sounds of the collision were ominous. I was very lucky to be standing there talking to them. They were also lucky my impact did not damage the aircraft. My mistake could have also cost them their lives as well.

I suffered only a severe contusion to the biceps and upper pectoral muscles, which are painful, but improving. Here is a current IMAGE – it is not pretty.

I think I have been given an opportunity to learn some valuable lessons, and my complacency that infects those of us with 200-600 jumps was abruptly jolted out of me. Here is a PART of what I am learning:

1. There is never an excuse for not totally thinking and planning each jump. If there’s not enough time to think, then there’s not enough time to jump. The ride down is cheap compared to injury or death.
2. Always respect the tail of the aircraft. Taking an extra second or two to deploy the wings might save your life. The additional flight time is not worth it.
3. Jump with an AAD. If I had been knocked unconscious – which was a real possibility – my AAD might have been able to save my life. Without it, survival is not probable.
4. Jump with a helmet. That thin piece of fiberglass is often just enough protection to avoid unconsciousness.

I never thought this would happen to me, but it did. Please do not make the same error – it could cost you your life and the lives of your friends. Complacency kills.
ATP B-737, B757, B-767, L-188, FK-28, AMEL, Commercial Privileges ASEL, F/E Turbojet

"Learning is not compulsory; neither is survival."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Glad to hear you're alright. Thanks for sharing this with others in hopes they don't make the same mistake. What page # was that again?:P:)
"It's just skydiving..additional drama is not required"
Some people dream about flying, I live my dream
SKYMONKEY PUBLISHING

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

For all of us who continue to read Scott's "wingsuit bible," that is page 86, bottom of the page.



Think its also part of every briefing anyone who has ever flown a wingsuit (regardless of brand/book or even 'official' training) should have had?
JC
FlyLikeBrick
I'm an Athlete?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

Think its also part of every briefing anyone who has ever flown a wingsuit (regardless of brand/book or even 'official' training) should have had?



Yes, and having some common sense helps greatly as well.
www.WestCoastWingsuits.com
www.PrecisionSkydiving.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Jarno,

Generally, we all know the proper exit procedures for the different aircraft. It is when we allow familiarity and complacency to creep in that we ignore them, sometimes to our peril.
ATP B-737, B757, B-767, L-188, FK-28, AMEL, Commercial Privileges ASEL, F/E Turbojet

"Learning is not compulsory; neither is survival."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

Yes, and having some common sense helps greatly as well.



It's not actually all that "common."

I got into an argument on here with a skydiver with 6000 jumps who said that a video of me going over the tail of a Skyvan was an optical illusion, or the pilot was diving, since that is impossible. This guy was also an airplane pilot himself so you'd think (hope) he would understand the basics.

Since it is apparently not common sense that you can go up on a wingsuit exit... that is where the instruction comes into play.
www.WingsuitPhotos.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote



Quote

Think its also part of every briefing anyone who has ever flown a wingsuit (regardless of brand/book or even 'official' training) should have had?



Yes, and having some common sense helps greatly as well.



I'm sorry sir, but I just don't see anywhere in the SIM where is says "Common Sense" is a requirement to skydive.


:P
----------------------------------------------
You're not as good as you think you are. Seriously.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

Quote



Yes, and having some common sense helps greatly as well.



I'm sorry sir, but I just don't see anywhere in the SIM where is says "Common Sense" is a requirement to skydive.


:P



I always thought "Common Sense" was a British coin.:S
50 donations so far. Give it a try.

You know you want to spank it
Jump an Infinity

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think this actually illustrates a hole in the overall skydiving instructional system. We work off the old "train as you fight, fight as you trained" mentality and then scratch our heads when something goes wrong because a kink was thrown into someone's plans causing them to revert to their training.

I'm not saying we should abandon our philosophy because obviously there's a lot of times when there isn't the luxury of time to think things out. Just telling yourself not to do something isn't satisfactory because due to nature of the exceptional situation, you've probably already got a lot on your mind. We need to come up with a simple, workable technique that allows people to overide their training when the situation calls for it.

-Blind
"If you end up in an alligator's jaws, naked, you probably did something to deserve it."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The relationship between exit altitude and jumpship speed is only an operational one: Typically, if we are going to drop jumpers at 5.5/6.5, etc, the aircraft will level off during a low jump run over the airport, but will usually NOT reduce airspeed/drop flaps/reduce power, as is the practice at full altitude for the primary jumpers. While this higher speed is usually not an issue for hop and pops, and allows the aircraft to build energy for the remainder of the climb, it certainly can be a problem for wing suiters.
ATP B-737, B757, B-767, L-188, FK-28, AMEL, Commercial Privileges ASEL, F/E Turbojet

"Learning is not compulsory; neither is survival."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

The relationship between exit altitude and jumpship speed is only an operational one: Typically, if we are going to drop jumpers at 5.5/6.5, etc, the aircraft will level off during a low jump run over the airport, but will usually NOT reduce airspeed/drop flaps/reduce power, as is the practice at full altitude for the primary jumpers. While this higher speed is usually not an issue for hop and pops, and allows the aircraft to build energy for the remainder of the climb, it certainly can be a problem for wing suiters.



This is the pb as I see it: If the exit airspeed is a safety issue, then the pilot should take that into account. When I was a jump pilot, I would never had this idea of not reducing power and IAS, and not leveling the aircraft for ANY jump run. It's only in the US that I discovered this habit of dropping hop'n poppers in a climb, and even that can lead to a stabilizer strike, should the exit be a little pushy ( it happened in caravans and in Otters). Not to mention a wingsuiter. But I can understand the economic of gaining 10 seconds of flight...

But when it comes to a low jump run because of clouds, and there's no further climbing, where's the operational point of a high power, high speed jump run?


Fabien
BASE#944

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

I think this actually illustrates a hole in the overall skydiving instructional system. We work off the old "train as you fight, fight as you trained" mentality and then scratch our heads when something goes wrong because a kink was thrown into someone's plans causing them to revert to their training.



In this case, I don't think what you are saying is applicable. Had the training been followed, the incident would not have happened as the jumper would have waited 2-3 seconds BEFORE opening their wings. The OP addressed what the issue was in this case and summed it up quite well.....
Quote

"I never thought this would happen to me, but it did. Please do not make the same error – it could cost you your life and the lives of your friends. Complacency kills".


"It's just skydiving..additional drama is not required"
Some people dream about flying, I live my dream
SKYMONKEY PUBLISHING

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
But wasn't 5500 or whatever it was "full altitude" on that jump? Our pilots always level off and slow down for hop n' pops anyway (unless the jumper specifically asks not to), but why wouldn't the pilot have slowed down when the whole load is getting out low?

Dave

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote


In this case, I don't think what you are saying is applicable. Had the training been followed, the incident would not have happened as the jumper would have waited 2-3 seconds BEFORE opening their wings.



I'm not explaining myself well, my bad.

The issue I was trying totouch on is that we tend to have one way of doing something (our SOP). When we come to something unexpected we make a mental note of "oh, I need to do things a bit different". However, sometimes there's something else that changes in an already unusual situation and we forget our mental advisory and revert back to SOP. Training for the unusual sitations helps, but there'll come a time when even a well-trained person will find themselves in a situation that they haven't trained for. And this is the situation I'm talking about.

What I'm advocating is devloping a way for us to be able to keep the altered diveplan in our minds regardless of whatever else is happening around us.

-Blind
"If you end up in an alligator's jaws, naked, you probably did something to deserve it."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

But when it comes to a low jump run because of clouds, and there's no further climbing, where's the operational point of a high power, high speed jump run?



You are totally correct. Although I am NOT placing any of the blame for my strike on anyone but myself, it does illustrate the obvious need for some SOP regrding speeds/attitudes for lower-altitude jump runs in the Caravan. There is no reason why we can't slow down a bit when dropping jumpers low. Again, that complacency thing.....
ATP B-737, B757, B-767, L-188, FK-28, AMEL, Commercial Privileges ASEL, F/E Turbojet

"Learning is not compulsory; neither is survival."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ok that makes sense, for a second I thought Matt had done a high speed jump-up wingslam and actually -cleared- the tail and I hadn't heard about it. So far as I know, nobody...not even Perry...is that insane. Had me worried for a minute there, Matt. Don't do that or I'll have Nick lick your camera lens and you will never get the protein byproducts out of the threads.
Bang?
-B
Live and learn... or die, and teach by example.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
people don't override their training. when stressed they revert to it more strongly. its just like people who practice 2 hands for cutaway handles and reserves for 300 jumps after doing their 1st aff the other way and then do it the way they first learned it when they actually cutaway.

fixing the training, or like scott said following the correct training is the only way to go.
word to your mother,
RJ$$
BASE 1117

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

Don't do that or I'll have Nick P. Mike lick your camera lens and you will never get the protein byproducts out of the threads.-B



Updated for ZF 4.0 events...(planeride to alti) ;)
"The evil of the world is made possible by nothing but the sanction you give it. " -John Galt from Atlas Shrugged, 1957

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

0