In December of 2012 I purchased a Velocity 84 from dropzone.com classifieds, I should add, a rigger inspected it and I put a couple of jumps on it before I decided to buy it. Business is slow in winter and as Spring started coming around I was noticing some changes in my canopy flight. I didn't know if I was being super paranoid or if there was something wrong with my canopy. I simply put it down to a change in season, it was warming up and winds were kicking up.
During a very turbulent and windy day I did fuck up. I was over the pond and initiated my turn. At 650ft my canopy collapsed. I don't remember much, but I do remember it reinflated in linetwists and in a dive. Witnesses say I freefell the last 100-150ft and I struck a few meters from the bank in waist deep pond. I was unconscious and floating face down. I came to in the ambulance, long story short I had fractured my cheek bone, broken a rib, two teeth and had bleeding on the brain.
After recovery I was very timid as you can imagine, I was taking it easy getting back into the flow of things and working towards a clean 270 again. But in the back of my head I still had concerns about the canopy, even having some canopy pilots comment on the way it looked as I flew it and I was starting to offer other experienced canopy pilots to jump it and give me their input. That didn't happen before my accident though.
It was the final load of the day for me, winds were not bad but not great. I was landing in the exact same spot as tandems who were having no problems with the winds in that area. As it was just a little windy though I was being reserved and not swooping. I was in full flight on my base leg when my left side folded under, I tried to dig out on toggles but it didn't help.
Injuries sustained were fractured L4, right femur, right heel and also compounded my left tib/fib which destroyed my ankle. To try and explain the amount of pain I was in is impossible and not the point of this post. Lets just say I was fully conscious for the whole thing, including traction. I had 8 surgeries in 30 days.
The canopy was sent into PD while I was recovering and my DZO received the following email.
“This Velo has been inspected, relined and tested. This canopy was given much consideration due to the nature of the accident. The leading edge was measured for shrinkage as well and discovered that it measures like a canopy that got wet and left to dry unsymmetrically. It did not test well as you can imagine.
This situation is one of those where we want to get this canopy off-line and out of the field, but the canopy was used and bought second hand, was jumped 200 times by the current owner before reporting any issues so we'd like to explore something that we can do to help out. Replacing it with a brand new at no charge isn't really an option on this one. What are your thoughts on this since you know your customer much better than we do. We would like to suggest perhaps replacing the canopy with a used one from one of our sources here at PD….again, we would appreciate your comments.
I will look forward to hearing from you. Please feel free to ask me any questions as well in regards to this canopy.”
As I type this my fiance is on her way to the dropzone to edit some video's and get an accurate jump number I have put on the wing, I actually believe its closer to 100.
I have since contacted the original owner who says the canopy has never been wet, he is the original owner and his DZ doesn't have a swoop pond and never jumped in rain even.
At this point I'm not about pointing fingers, all I will say is if you have any doubt in your equipment, don't do what I done and sit on the fence questioning such silly things as seasons, turbulence and heat. Just stop jumping it and get it inspected.
My procrastination almost cost me my life. 1338
People aint made of nothin' but water and shit.
Until morale improves, the beatings will continue.