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Found 202 results

  1. Image by Brian Buckland It is common knowledge that wing-loading has profound effects on the way parachutes perform. Furthermore, it appears that even if the wing-loading is exactly the same between two otherwise identical parachutes, different size canopies fly quite differently. In other words, if you fly a 210 square foot parachute of a given design with lots of additional weight to achieve a loading of say, one pound per square foot, a 150 at the exact same wing-loading will usually have a steeper glide ratio, faster turns, and demonstrate a longer recovery arc following a high airspeed maneuver. This means that, regardless of the wing-loading, all small canopies are high performance, and should be treated accordingly. There are many explanations for this non-linear relationship, and in this article I will discuss some of the most significant governing variables. Test flight data shows us that small wings, regardless of wing-loading, will be more radical than their larger counterparts, all other design aspects being equal, however the degree to which they are different depends of the model of the canopy. Nevertheless, the trend is consistent and predictable. The most common explanation for these differences is that it is due to differences in line length. Smaller canopies do have shorter lines on the whole. Although it is true that some aspects of a parachute’s performance increases as line length reduces, this only applies to mobility about the roll, pitch and yaw axis. The effects on recovery arc tend to have the opposite response to line length. In other words, a parachute with longer lines tends to exhibit a longer recovery arc. To explain these counter-intuitive effects, we must look elsewhere for an explanation. The other aspect, previously unconsidered, is the relationship of the canopy's internal volume to its surface area. Essentially, the volume displaced by the airfoil can be thought of as a key aspect of the overall DRAG. Of course the shape of the wing itself is vitally relevant to the drag coefficient, but for the purposes of this discussion, let’s focus on the effects of drag from the perspective of simple air displacement, like a footprint in the sky. The fatter the airfoil, the more drag it will exhibit. This means that a “fat” parachute will sit at a higher angle of attack in full flight, based on the balance of power between the airfoil's drag (D1) and that of the suspended load, the jumper (D2). Further, the drag value of a “fat” airfoil will increase markedly with airspeed, and therefore large objects will suffer more drag than “skinny” airfoils at high speed. The wing, therefore, will “want” to return to the overhead position more aggressively on fatter airfoils, as a general rule. Let's take those aerodynamic principles to the realm of parachute sizing. When a parachute design is scaled, for the most part, the entire wing is scaled simultaneously. This is the same geometric progression as a matchbox car: same three dimensional proportions, but a different size. When we want to make a parachute larger, we simply multiply each dimension by a “scale factor”, a single number that will result in the size change we desire. When we apply this mathematical model to parachute designs, we create an unwanted effect: disproportionate scale factors relating to area and volume. Simply put, the number we use to scale the parachute is based on the "square footage" of the wing, and this is of course, a square function (X²). The volume on the other hand, is governed by a cube function, (X³). This means that when we increase the height of the rib at the same rate as the span and the chord, we inadvertently make the wing too fat as we scale upwards, and too thin when we scale down. This is one of the reasons why a 120 flies very differently than a 170, even at the exact same wing-loading and body drag component. The wings only appear to be the same, but they are most decidedly not the same from a volumetric perspective. So, one might say, why don't we make the height of the airfoil on smaller wings greater, and that of larger wings smaller, proportionately? This is sometimes done and it works to a certain degree. However, if we were to search for a formula that would allow us to scale the volume at the same rate as the area, we would have to keep the rib height the same on all sizes of a design. I worked this out with a brilliant Tasmanian mathematician on flight back from Sydney many years ago. A 120 with the same rib as a 190? That doesn't quite pass the gut check, does it? Only the middle sizes would fly right, and beyond a few degrees of freedom, the system would collapse into chaos, because the fat little wings would have too much drag to be efficient and the big wings would have too little lift to land well, and would be prone to collapse in turbulence due to their flimsy nature by virtue of their low volume. A simple answer does not appear to exist, at least not yet. The heart of the problem is the fact that our industry has grown accustomed to the use of "pounds per square foot" as our way of quantifying parachute size. This leads to the erroneous belief that a given "wing-loading" will result in similar performance for all parachutes regardless of size. This is most certainly not the case, and is dangerously misleading for light weight jumpers striving for that magical one pound per square foot wing-loading. A 120 is inappropriate for someone with less than 100 jumps no matter how much they weigh. So, what do we do? Firstly, we honor the differences in parachute sizes, and downsize very carefully. We make our steps downward based on actual ability and frequency of jumping, and we look for any excuse we can to upsize. In addition to remaining conservative with regards to canopy size, we must go to greater lengths to understand the nature of performance and size. If it is true that performance trends do not appear linear with regards to parachute size, then perhaps the solution is a curved ruler. To that end, I have offered a complex sizing chart to the world that reflects the non-linear nature of parachute sizing and performance for the purpose of downsizing guidance. This easy-to-operate chart has been adopted by many national organizations and local dropzones as the official guidelines for parachute size relative to experience. Born from a brilliant but arguably conservative Swedish chart created by my good friend and colleague, Ola Jameson, who was the Head of Safety (Riksinstructor) for the SFF at the time. My somewhat less conservative version of the “sizing chart” offers suggestions for parachute size relative to weight, rather than simple wing-loading alone as the defining factor. This allows the recommended parachute size for a heavy person to be a higher wing-loading than that which is suggested for a lighter person. It is available HERE. The sizing chart does not suggest when the jumper should downsize, but rather limits the degree to which they should decrease their parachute size based on the complex aerodynamic principles effected by wing geometry. The "chart trap" is always a risk with such things, when jumpers automatically step down in size because the chart suggests that a change is reasonable. Decisions based on parachute size and design should always be made based on the actual ability of the jumper, and the other governing factors described in the 22 pages of modifying text that follow the chart. Another consideration I will now put forth to the skydiving community is a fundamental change to the way we define parachute size. Based on the discussion above, a two-dimensional analysis is insufficient to describe what a parachute will do in the sky, and "pounds per square foot" is a very limited 2-D relationship. I suggest that a better model for parachute size definition is Pounds (or kilos) per Cubic foot (or cubic meter). The metric numbers would be far easier to work, if we can get the Yanks and Brits to let go of the Imperial system; but we have to pick our battles, don't we. By using lbs/ft³, we will effectively remove the 2-D bias from the "ruler" as it were, and make the relevant differences more numerically obvious. It may sound like a radical idea at first, but so was the ram air canopy when that showed up, but look how well that worked out. Just because a change is difficult does not make it less necessary. In the interest of moving this new paradigm forward, and in the spirit of the immortal words of Mahatma Gandhi, I will be the change I wish to see in the world. Here are the volumes of my parachutes. It is my hope that other manufacturers will follow suit, in the interest of transparency of our parachutes’ designs, for the good of the skydiving public. The topic of parachute performance prediction is vast, and must continue to be discussed in scientific terms. We must do this because, as one of the few (mostly) self-governing branches of aviation, we are the only true experts in our field. We are the ones who must think outside the old box of established paradigms, and change when change is necessary. We will continue to improve our sport in every way, simply because we love our sport so much that we want to know more, and grow more. The universal passion for knowledge exhibited throughout the skydiving community leads us to a very high level of mutual respect for our fellow jumpers. This precious commodity of solidarity is rare in this world, and we must allow that connection to lead us to always reach for safer procedures built on our ever-increasing understanding of that which saves our lives. Improvement in matters relating to safety is just love of life in motion, and love must be adaptable and smart if it is to last in a complex world. Again and again, skydivers prove to me that they are highly intelligent adventurers committed to safety, and very much worthy of my respect. We will adapt, and we will thrive. About the Author: Brian Germain is a parachute designer, author, teacher, radio personality, keynote speaker with over 15,000 jumps, and has been an active skydiver for 30 years. He is the creator of the famed instructional video "No Sweat: Parachute Packing Made Easy", as well as the critically acclaimed book The Parachute and its Pilot. You can get more of Brian’s teaching at Adventure Wisdom, Big Air Sportz, Transcending Fear, and on his vast YouTube Channel
  2. None of us want to think about a member of our skydiving family getting hurt or killed, much less getting hurt or killed while skydiving. Even further down the list is having to talk to a journalist about a skydiving incident. As distasteful as it is to try to explain to a whuffo reporter why a fellow skydiver was injured or killed while jumping, though, it's actually an opportunity to improve the image of the sport. As we well know, most journalists aren't skydivers and at best have a tough time explaining the circumstances of a skydiving incident. They often get it wrong with a common theme of "The parachute didn't open." But while it is certainly their responsibility to get the story right, they can't do it without help from the experts-which in this case is you, the skydivers who were present during an incident and are designated media contacts. Avoidance and condemning of the media for their often poor explanation of skydiving incidents is common among skydivers, but we can do the sport far more justice by working with journalists towards a proper article than by blowing them off. It requires more effort, to be sure, but more accurate coverage of these incidents can help dispel the image of skydiving as a ruthless sport in which some participants die despite doing everything right. Take the common statement of "The parachute failed to open," for example. This implies that the gear is at fault, when we all know that it's a very rare situation when the skydiver can do everything right and still die. Almost 100% of the time, a skydiver dies because of a primary (e.g., no pull, low pull, low turn) or secondary (incorrect response to a malfunction) mistake. The public doesn't understand this. While it might not seem important that they do, think of the number of times you are asked by non-skydiving friends and coworkers why you skydive, or hear a comment of how they can't believe you skydive, all with the overtone of why would someone want to do a sport that everyone knows will kill you. Do you get tired of that? I do. The simple fact is that a large percentage of the non-skydiving population thinks that people who die skydiving die through no fault of their own, thus they think skydivers are a bunch of adrenaline junkies who don't care if they die skydiving. We know that's far from the truth, but when news articles don't give the whole story for long periods of time, this is the result. Additionally, it's frustrating to all of us skydivers when the story isn't right. Following are some suggestions for dealing with the media in the event of a skydiving incident. Thankfully, most of you will never have to do this, but if you do perhaps this will help. Send them to the source. If you are not the S&TA or other appointed drop zone media liaison, do not discuss the incident with a journalist. We all know that rumors bloom fast and furiously on drop zones, particularly in situations such as this. What began as a simple low turn by an inexperienced jumper on a smaller canopy than he was used to can quickly become an evasion of traffic, a dropped toggle, avoidance of an obstacle, etc., via the rumor mill. Whether you saw the incident or not, don't talk about it to the media and don't offer any opinions unless you're the media liaison. Refer any reporters to the S&TA or DZO, or whomever the drop zone has designated as the media contact. This person's job is no fun, but it's their responsibility to investigate the incident based on witness accounts and gear information, to prepare a complete report, and to deal with the media (and the coroner if the accident was fatal). Again, no one but the designated media contact should be talking to the media. Don't dodge the press. We'll give chapter and verse to anyone who asks about most things related to skydiving, but when it comes to chatting with a reporter about a skydiving incident we often clam up. Why? Because we're afraid they'll get it wrong again. But if we don't give them information, we're guaranteed a minimal or misleading report of the incident. If we want these incidents to be reported accurately, the information has to come from us-the S&TA or designated media contact. Be professional and courteous. Don't say, "You shouldn't be writing about this," because they will anyway, and this will just annoy the reporter and make it more likely that he/she will write something negative about the situation, the drop zone, and/or the sport. Also, it will burn a bridge that can be used for publicizing positive events at the drop zone such as charity events or milestones. Anytime you speak as a skydiver or skydive in front of non-skydivers, you are an ambassador for the sport whether you like it or not. Use this interaction with the media as a chance to portray skydiving accurately, and in the best light possible in a bad situation, by being honest and helpful. Avoid the "us vs. them" kind of interaction; this doesn't have to be a challenge where either you or the reporter gets their objective at the other's expense. Think about your description beforehand. In all likelihood, reporters won't be there right away following an incident, unless it occurs during a demo. In either case, coverage of the incident will turn out better with better information, and you will be able to give better information after thinking about the incident a bit and getting it clear in your mind. Be specific, but simple. It's pretty clear by now that I'm asking for more accurate reporting of skydiving incidents, and this isn't a problem for skydivers. What is more of a problem, especially if we're distracted by the substantial emotional impact of the incident, is that we'll talk to a reporter in the same way we'll talk to fellow skydivers-discussing things in skydiving terms rather than lay terms--if we talk to them at all. This doesn't improve the coverage, it just makes their eyes glaze over. For example, don't say "The right toggle came unstowed from the toggle tip keeper, allowing the cat's eye to come off of the loosely stowed brake and sending the canopy into a left-hand spiral to the ground," Instead, think about your audience (the general public as well as the reporter) and say, "It appears that a minor malfunction during deployment caused the parachute to spiral down, and so and so did not correct it in time to avoid the hard landing from the spiral." Refer questions about a jump plane crash to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). It is extremely counterproductive to speculate about the cause of a jump plane crash without an investigation report. If you are asked about a jump plane crash, refer reporters to the designated NTSB public affairs officer once he/she has arrived on the scene. We don't like it when uninformed reporters speculate about the causes of skydiving accidents, and the pilot (if he survived) and his family won't appreciate uninformed speculation about the plane crash either. Offer to review the article before publication. It's not often that you will get the opportunity to do this, but you might if you offer it. What better chance will you get to ensure that the coverage is accurate? Of course, the reporter will reserve the right to accept or reject your changes as they choose, but the chance to review the article before publication is something not to be turned down. The relationship between skydivers and the media has not always been a good one in general, as is often the case when laymen try to describe technical pursuits. That can't be changed overnight. But things won't get better without a responsible effort from both sides, hence the two-part coverage of this topic directed to both groups. A better working relationship between skydivers and the media, both for good and not-so-good events, will benefit both of us. If you found Part 1 of this series useful-"Skydiving Incident Reporting for Mass Media Reporters"-please feel free to copy it and give it to any media representatives (print, web, or television) whom you think would benefit from it. Sidebar: Recommendations for Working With Police Working with the police in the aftermath of a skydiving incident is about as much fun as dealing with the press, but there are a couple of things they should know about the investigation that will make things easier for everyone. First of all, the gear is only to be removed from the area by the coroner, not the police or the local rigger. When the coroner gets there, the drop zone representative and hopefully a rigger should be there to help answer any gear questions. Most policemen don't know how to investigate the gear or scene, so removing evidence (gear) hampers the ability of those skilled in accident investigation-the coroner and your S&TA, rigger, or whoever is designated to investigate-to determine what happened. If the police want to rope off the area without disturbing the scene, that's fine. But if they try to remove the gear without it being investigated by the coroner, politely advise that they will get far more information if they will wait until the coroner, along with the S&TA or rigger, can inspect the scene and the gear with them. Don't get angry with them-which is easy to do when a member of our skydiving family has died and the police and/or media seem to be handling things wrong. Anger will only introduce further tension into an already awful situation, and make it less likely that things will get handled with skydiver input. When the coroner is finished with the gear, the police often will impound it, do whatever they need to do with it, then release it to the FAA. The FAA then will usually inspect the gear with a rigger of their choice as part of an investigation. Working with instead of against the police can help us get better answers to a skydiver's death than a feud. Make every effort to keep things civil and helpful, and this unpleasant situation will be minimally unpleasant for all concerned. Thanks to Randy Connell, S&TA, S/L I, AFF I, for his contributions to this article. Christy West is a journalist and gold/silver skydiving medalist with over 1,800 jumps.
  3. Byron -- The victim of a weekend sky-diving accident near Byron Airport has been identified as Ole Jakob Husa, a resident of Pleasant Hill. Husa was apparently killed after his foot became entangled in a line as he struggled to get his main parachute to open. He was declared dead at the scene. Still, the cause of death has not been determined, according to a spokesman from the Contra Costa coroner's office. The 24-year-old, who had performed more than 200 jumps during his two years of sky-diving experience, made his last dive from a 14-passenger King Air airplane operated by the Bay Area Skydiving Co., at the Byron Airport. The sky diver packed his own parachute and was using his personal equipment when the accident happened shortly before 5 p.m., according to Mike Tjaarde, manager of the Bay Area Skydiving Co. Tjaarde said Saturday's accident was the first fatal sky dive at the airport since 1995 and the first for the Bay Area Skydiving Co. in eight years. An investigation into the accident is continuing. The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board will also look into Husa's death.
  4. admin

    Briefings And Safety Considerations

    Hazard Briefings Emergency procedures will vary from drop zone to drop zone to fit local conditions. There may be trees, rivers, power lines, hostile neighbors, prisons, highways or a girls’ school. In fact, those DZ’s lacking certain hazards may touch on the corrective action for every emergency but lightly. Therefore, when visiting a new DZ, it is imperative that you get a briefing on the area. Alcohol And Drugs In order to achieve the greatest enjoyment from your skydiving experience, you will want to approach it with an unfogged mind. This means going to bed early the night before and going easy on the booze. Even the common cold will trouble you due to the changes in atmospheric pressure. If your mind and body are not operating at 100%, you will react with less efficiency in an emergency and you will enjoy the jumping less. Remember, the lower pressure at altitude amplifies the affects of alcohol and drugs. Health Concerns Jumping with a head cold can lead to ruptured sinuses and ruptured ear drums. The inner ear and the Eustachian tubes do not take kindly to large pressure changes when they are plugged. Infections in these areas can produce debilitating pain under normal jump conditions. In a few words — if you are sick or under the weather, don’t jump. Loading up on antihistamines and decongestants can cause other medical problems. There is always another day to enjoy a jump in good health. Scuba Diving Alert There is no problem in descending into the water within 24 hours of jumping or flying, however, there is trouble waiting in doing the reverse. Scuba divers know to stay away from air travel for a period of 24 hours after their last descent below 30 feet (one atmosphere’s increase in pressure) so as to avoid the bends (nitrogen bubbles forming in the joints and blood stream). Since skydiving involves air travel, the same rule applies. Some Fear Is Good For You It has been said that the difference between fear and respect is knowledge. Most people fear skydiving because they don’t understand it. Fear is the result of ignorance and it is part of nature’s protective mechanism; it warns us to beware when we are on unfamiliar ground. The best way to cope with problems is to prevent them in the first place. The key is education. It is unfortunate when someone is injured while engaging in sport, but it is tragic when a second person is hurt for the same explainable and preventable reason.
  5. A Jackson County judge on Thursday approved a $27.5 million settlement for families of the pilot and five sky divers killed in a Grain Valley plane crash. Engine manufacturer Teledyne Continental Motors of Mobile, Ala., is to divide the money equally among the six families. The company admitted no fault in the settlement. Circuit Judge J.D. Williamson approved the settlement after hearing from members of four families. Lawyers said it will become final soon after members of the other two families testify. The checks are to be paid by May 11. Lawyers said the $27.5 million was among the nation's largest pretrial settlements in the crash of a small plane. Plaintiff attorney Gary C. Robb said a separate contractual agreement with the company, involving engine overhaul manuals, was more important to his clients than the money. Teledyne pledged to revise the manuals. "From the beginning our clients wanted to remedy the engine problem," Robb said. "They have succeeded." The company denies any engine problem. Robb, who represented the four families at the Thursday hearing, said the March 21, 1998, crash happened because badly designed oil transfer tubes failed and starved the engine of oil. Smoke and flames billowed from the Cessna engine as the pilot tried to land at Grain Valley Airport. The plane clipped a tree, cart-wheeled to the ground and burst into flames. All aboard died. Robb said his review of the company records found 14 other cases of engine failure caused by such oil tube failures. The records only go back to the mid-1980s, though the company made engines with the faulty tubes from 1945 to 1995, Robb said. The engines went into small planes made by many different companies, Robb said. "Who knows how many other engine failures and deaths resulted because of this," Robb said after the hearing. Robert W. Cotter, attorney for the company, disagreed with Robb. He said the oil tubes did not cause engine failures. He admitted no liability. Separate from the legal settlement, the four families received letters from Cotter Thursday. In them, the company pledged to change its printed and Web site overhaul manuals to tell mechanics and owners to inspect the oil transfer tubes. Cotter said he would not comment on letters that were separate from the settlement. Robb said the pledge is part of a legally binding contract. Members of the four families said they never would have agreed to the settlement without the letters. Judi Rudder of Oskaloosa, Kan., widow of sky diver Marion Rudder, said the families quickly agreed on two things - a required warning and an even split of any settlement. "Our whole mission on this was to keep people safe," she said. "We knew together we could make a bigger difference, and we wanted to be fair." Brad Buckley of Independence, the son of sky diver Kenney Buckley, said he lost a father and did not want others to lose loved ones. Other members of the Greater Kansas City Skydiving Club who died were Eric Rueff, John Schuman and Julie Douglass. The pilot, David Snyder, also died in the crash. The Snyder and Douglass families are to appear at later hearings to finalize the settlement. Belinda Schuman of Lawrence, widow of John Schuman, said the families want to make it clear that a plane crash - not a skydiving accident - killed their loved ones. Her husband loved skydiving and had made 2,300 jumps, she said. "We got married on the anniversary day of his first jump; he said he'd always remember that date." Another defendant, Jewell Aircraft Inc. of Holly Springs, Miss., settled the case previously for $1 million, which also was equally divided among the six families. The company, which admitted no wrongdoing, did an engine overhaul on the Cessna 10 years ago. Robb said he probably would drop the case against several other defendants that include Whuffo III, the owner of the plane; Freeflight Aviation Inc., an aircraft maintenance company; and White Industries, a company that sold the engine. His investigation, Robb said, also answered the key question of why the sky divers did not jump out of the plane. When the pilot first radioed at 3,000 feet that he heard an engine noise, he called off the jump and started to land, Robb said, but by the time the engine burst into flames it was too low for anyone to jump. Judi Rudder said the question of why no one jumped had troubled her. "They just didn't know it was going to be that bad," she said. "They thought they could get down safely."
  6. HANSEN -- His friends warned him not to jump. It was too dark. The wind wasn't right. The water was too high. But 29-year-old Roger Butler, an experienced BASE jumper who once parachuted from the Stratosphere hotel tower in Las Vegas, apparently died Sunday after jumping from the Hansen Bridge and disappearing in the water. "All of them tried to talk him out of it, but he had to do it," said Cpl. Daron Brown of the Twin Falls County Sheriff's Office. "The guy was experienced, but he made a bad choice." With the help of a brand-new underwater camera, search and rescue teams from Jerome and Twin Falls counties continued searching the frigid Snake River Monday for signs of Butler and his parachute, but the search was called off as sundown neared. Water flow at the Minidoka Dam was stopped late Monday to lower the water level and aid searchers when they continue this morning. The counties don't know the cost of the search. Butler, who had made more than 600 BASE jumps, spent Sunday with three friends parachuting from the Perrine Bridge, a popular spot for BASE jumpers because it is legal to jump there. BASE stands for building, antenna, span and earth. In October 1999, this same group had parachuted with a woman the day before she broke her back in a jumping accident at the Perrine Bridge, said Nancy Howell, spokeswoman for the Twin Falls County Sheriff's Office. The group was headed back to Ogden, Utah, Sunday before stopping at the Hansen Bridge, where jumping also is legal. With his friends videotaping, Butler jumped from the west side of the bridge and glided toward the water without a hitch, but he ran into trouble after hitting the river, Howell said. It wasn't immediately clear what happened, but shortly after landing in the water Butler and his chute disappeared below the surface. Neither has been seen since, she said. Butler was not wearing a life jacket, and he was jumping into a highly inaccessible area of the Snake River Canyon, Brown said. "BASE jumping is like whitewater rafting," he said. "It's a self-saving sport. You can't expect to jump off a bridge and have someone come and save you." Butler's taste for daring jumps was passed down from his father, a parachuter for 30 years, said Paul Butler, an uncle who drove to Twin Falls after the accident. Roger Butler watched his father nearly die in a 1998 parachuting accident that almost cost the older Butler his leg. But a year later father and son were parachuting together again during a Fourth of July celebration, Paul Butler said. "He just loved to do this," Paul Butler said of his nephew. "He loved to fly."
  7. admin

    Clean Up Your Turns

    "Turn coordination" is a topic that, until recently, has been mostly unapplied to ram-air parachute aerodynamics. In simplest terms, this refers to the degree to which a flight vehicle is aligned to the relative wind during a turn. Another way to look at this is the degree to which a turning aircraft is pointed at the relative wind with regards to the yaw axis. A "clean turn", from an aerodynamic perspective, is one that keeps the nose of the aircraft pointed at the relative wind throughout the turn. When flying airplanes, this prevents the passengers from spilling their drinks, as well as saving fuel and preserving airspeed. In parachutes however, this aspect of turning has mostly been ignored. As parachutes become faster and faster, the time has come to begin thinking about this aspect of our canopy flight for several very important reasons. The first has to do with the ability of the pilot to level off at any point during the turn. Lets face it, sometimes the ground creeps up on us. Flying an aerodynamically sound turn increases the likelihood that you will be able to convert your airspeed into lift in a timely manner. If you are sliding sideways through the sky because you are simply jamming a toggle down, you are not prepared to interface with the planet. The relative wind is jumping across the bumps on your parachute, creating turbulent flow, while the suspension line load is getting shifted to one side of your canopy. When you attempt to stab out of an uncoordinated turn, there is a hesitation before the parachute begins to change direction and level off. If the ground gets to you before this happens you may find yourself watching Oprah in your hospital bed for a while (not that I have anything against Oprah). The second reason for flying a coordinated turn has to do with overall parachute stability. In an uncoordinated turn, the nose of your parachute is not pointed at the oncoming relative wind. It is sliding sideways. This means that the pressure in your wing is being compromised, in addition to the wingtip on the outside of the turn being presented to the relative wind. If you hit turbulence during this kind of "sloppy" turn, you are much more likely to experience a collapse of this side of the parachute. In other words, if you are turning right, your left wing more likely to fold under. Interestingly, when an aggressive, uncoordinated toggle turn is released, the opposite tends to happen. When the right toggle is released, the right wing surges forward as the drag is released and it is presented to the relative wind, opening the door for a collapse on right side of the parachute. Either way, this can result in way too much daytime TV. A fundamental problem... There is a fundamental problem with the way in which most of us were taught how to turn our parachutes. They said: "if you want to turn right, pull down the right toggle." Simply pulling on a toggle increases the drag on the right side of the parachute, retreating that wing tip. At the beginning of the turn, it is purely "yaw" energy. It is like the pilot of an airplane stepping on the rudder pedal. As a discrete action, steering toggles are an incomplete input. We need some "roll" energy. The harness is more than a way to attach the jumper to the parachute. It is also a way to manipulate the canopy itself. If the right leg reaches for the earth as the left hip reaches for the sky, the parachute will turn to the right. It is true that smaller parachutes will respond quicker to such inputs than larger ones, with elliptical canopies responding the quickest, but harness input will have an affect all parachutes. Most importantly, when used at the initiation of a turn, harness steering converts a toggle turn into a coordinated maneuver. This is true if you are under a Lotus 190 or a Samurai 95. When flying an airplane, all turns begin by initiating roll energy with the ailerons, (rotating the yolk), followed by an application of the rudder to coordinate the turn. The old airplanes had a string on the cowling (hood) to show the direction of the wind-flow, while newer ones have slip indicators on the instrument panel. If only we had such information while we were flying our canopies. Ah, but we do… Trailing behind your wing is all the yaw axis coordination data you will ever need. It is called your pilot-chute. If you are flying a coordinated turn, your bridle will remain parallel to the ribs of your canopy throughout the turn. If at any point it goes slack, whips around like a snake or drifts off to one side, you are not flying a clean turn. You are not carving your wing through the sky; you are skidding out of control. The relative wind is not following the valleys of your ribs; it is hopping over the bumps, tumbling into chaos. Try this on your next jump. Look up at your canopy while you are flying straight and simply yank a steering toggle down to the ½ brake position. You will immediately see what I am talking about as your pilot-chute swings off to one side. Next, lean in your harness, lifting one leg-strap to yield direct roll axis input. It may turn and it may not, depending on the wing. This is not important. Then, while holding the harness input, pull the steering toggle to turn toward the direction of your harness input. You will notice that the pilot-chute is trailing straight back, even in a sharp turn. Once you have experienced your first real coordinated parachute turn, it is time to develop new habits. This takes time. I find that when learning a new skill like this, it is best to have a simple way to remember the process. In this case, try using the following sequence for every turn you make: 1) LOOK, 2) LEAN and 3) TURN. This is mnemonic was taught to me by a great paragliding instructor and skydiver, J.C. Brown. Rather than thoughtlessly jamming a toggle down, look where you are about to go, lean in the harness to establish the roll, and finally, pull the toggle down to flow deeper into the maneuver. When you play with this kind of turn, you will find that the parachute simply feels better; that you feel more in control over the wing. You will also find that you can better bump both brakes down during the turn in order to reduce your decent rate, or even level off completely. While practice is necessary to perfect the technique, all parachute have the ability to transition from a descending turn into a level flight turn, into a soft beautiful landing. If you know how to carve your way out of a low turn, there will never be a reason to hook into the ground, ever. Although many skydivers still think of their parachute simply as a means to get back down to the ground after a skydive, learning how to use the system the way it was meant to be used will increase the chances that you will get back down to the ground safely. Gravity pulls equally on those who love canopy flight as those who abhor it. From twenty years of teaching parachute flight I have learned this: you can only become great at something that you love. The more you understand, the more you will explore. The more you explore, the more you will feel control. The more in control you feel, the more you will love it. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what it is all about. BSG Brian Germain is a parachute designer, test pilot, advanced canopy flight instructor and author. Brian's book The Parachute and its Pilot has become the worldwide source for canopy flight information and is available at a gear store near you, or through Brian's website: www.BigAirSportZ.com
  8. admin

    Double Fatality at Skydive Chicago

    DAYTON TOWNSHIP. Two people, including an Ottawa woman, plunged to their deaths Saturday morning in a skydiving mishap north of Ottawa. Deborah Luhmann, 27, of Ottawa, formerly of Lake in the Hills, and Steven Smith, 44, of Ohio, Ill., were pronounced dead at 10 a.m. Saturday in the emergency room at Community Hospital of Ottawa, said La Salle County Coroner Jody Bernard. Bernard said witnesses reported Luhmann's and Smith's parachutes became entangled about 75 to 100 feet above the ground, causing the chutes to deflate. Luhmann and Smith landed on Skydive Chicago property, north of the hangar. The two victims were were part of a 20-person team practicing for a national competition to be held in a few weeks. Local weather conditions Saturday were sunny, temperatures were in the mid-50s and winds were up to 20 mph. Autopsies were performed Sunday, but the results will not be available for some time. The La Salle County Sheriff's Department is investigating the incident. Luhmann was an experienced, certified skydiver with 200 jumps, according to her brother, Paul Luhmann, of Chicago. She started skydiving last year and usually jumped every weekend. "It was a very freak thing," Paul Luhmann said. "My sister was very responsible. Skydiving wasn't a stupid thrill for her. Strangely enough, for a skydiver she wasn't a risk taker. She was very responsible and logical." Luhmann was engaged to marry Donovan Bartlett, of Ottawa, formerly of Barrington, on June 22, 2002. She worked as a systems program manager for Hewitt Associates in Lincolnshire. Skydiving was the latest manifestation of Luhmann's passion for athletics, according to her brother. She was an All-America swimmer at Denison University in Ohio and later a swimming coach for the Palatine Park District. Paul Luhmann said that although his sister's time was cut short, she packed a lot of experiences into her life. "She had so much ahead of her, but had already lived so much." With the deaths of Luhmann and Smith, 10 people have died in accidents at Skydive Chicago since the facility opened near Ottawa in 1993. The most recent previous victim was a Pennsylvania woman who was killed July 9 when her chute failed to inflate.
  9. admin

    What To Do When the Wind Picks Up

    As a student skydiver you are guided by your instructors, drop zone management and USPA's Basic Safety Requirements (BSR's) as to the maximum winds allowable for you to safely jump. However, after you graduate from student status and become a USPA "A" license holder, there is no requirement or recommendation concerning wind speeds. And after you purchase your own gear, drop zone management will no longer need to worry about the gear that you are renting from them. From that point on, the decision to jump or to stay on the ground will be a decision that you will be making for yourself. The following article describes some of the things to consider when you find that someone has turned the big fan on "high". Before the Jump: You will find that the maximum winds to jump in is a very individual decision and depends on the jumper's experience, attitude, main canopy size and type, and reserve canopy type. Do not base your decision on what you see more experienced jumpers do because their situation is different, and do not allow yourself to be talked into jumping in winds that are not appropriate for your level of experience and your gear. It does however help to watch more experienced jumpers land when you are deciding whether or not to jump yourself. Watching someone that is your weight and has similar gear will give you a good idea of what to expect on your landing, assuming the wind does not increase any further. In addition to getting the wind speed in miles per hour from a wind meter or other source, you can go to the landing area and observe the winds for a while, noting in particular the gustiness present in that area. With experience you will be able to judge the wind that you can jump in by how the wind feels. Sometimes a lull in the wind may fool you into thinking that the winds have subsided enough to safely jump, but you should observe the winds for at least 5 minutes before coming to that conclusion because another period of increased wind and gusts may follow a lull. If you in fact decide to make a jump when the winds are strong, protect yourself in the event that some unexpected problem arises by wearing adequate head protection and foot protection. After Opening: After your canopy opens and you have begun to fly back to the landing area is the time when you may first begin to realize that the wind has picked up or is much stronger than you were prepared for. As soon as you realize that this has happened, get turned into the wind and check your speed across the ground. If you are backing up there is a good chance that the wind is also very high on the ground. If you have a reserve static line system (RSL) on your rig you may want to disconnect now in the event that you have to release your main canopy. Pulling down on your front risers will increase your forward speed and may help you make it back or at least keep you from backing up as far, but using your front risers also increases your rate of descent, so you will have to use your best judgement as to whether this is really helping you or not. If you do not think that you will make it back to the normal landing area, this is the time to make sure that wherever you do land will be a large clear area. It is especially important not to land behind anything like a tree line or a building. The stronger the winds are, the more turbulence is generated downwind of large obstacles like these. It may be necessary to turn and fly far downwind to get to a suitable area. Approach to landing: As you get closer to the ground there will probably be slightly less wind, but it will be more turbulent, especially if the terrain is anything but completely flat. Your canopy will be more stable if you hold partial brakes. Your arms can act like "shock absorbents" by relaxing some of the tension on the brakes when the gusts come along. Holding some brakes will cause your canopy to fly slower and may even cause you to back up, but this may be better than risking having your canopy collapse. At this point you will be comforted by knowing that you have planned ahead well enough to have chosen to land in a large field with a lot of room behind you in which to back up. Landing: It is usually recommended that you not front riser or turn sharply near the ground when there is turbulence present. This has been known to cause canopies to collapse. Smaller canopies are much more sensitive to small steering changes and to gusts so concentrate on keeping the canopy directly into the wind. You may not need to flare as much as when there is less wind but you must still flare. The main thing to avoid is flaring fully just as a gust occurs. A gust could create enough extra lift to make you go up suddenly and then let you down hard when the gust subsides. Use your judgement and your feel of the canopy to determine just how much to flare and prepare for a parachute landing fall (PLF). After landing: The best advice that can be given here is what we have heard many times as students: Pull down on one toggle, and keep pulling it in until you have canopy in your hand, then run around to the downwind side of you canopy. Even if you have a good landing it is still possible for your canopy to stay inflated and to pull you over and onto the ground. You can usually prevent this by quickly turning around and running downwind with the canopy while it is deflating. If you begin to fall down after landing do not reach out with your hands to break your fall because of the possibility of injuring your arms. Concentrate instead on getting your canopy deflated and do a PLF if necessary, or let the seat of your jumpsuit take the action. If it has become extremely windy or gusty when you land and you are certain that you will not be able to land without being dragged you have one last resort, and that is to pull your cutaway handle to release your main canopy. This of course assumes that you have disconnected the reserve static line (RSL) system and that you are not jumping a single operation system (SOS) that pulls the reserve handle at the same time you cutaway. Do not let your fear of re-connecting your canopy prevent you from releasing it if you really need to. It is not a big deal to release your canopy and it is not very hard to properly re-connect it to your rig. You or your rigger probably do it every reserve repack anyway to test the release system. Quite often a canopy that is released in this manner will land with the risers laying out across the canopy and can be easily straightened out. You may even be able to re-connect it right where you land. Just be sure to have the release system inspected by a rigger and do a good line check before packing. If you decide to release your main canopy, the best time to do it is when you find yourself off balance and know you are going to fall down. If you do this promptly you will simply fall down and not be dragged. You may not even get very dirty! However, if you wait until you are being dragged across the ground by your canopy you may be dragged into a position where you cannot reach your cutaway handle. Once you are being dragged, you are in very bad situation and must do whatever is necessary to get the canopy under control. At this point you will be glad to know that you planned ahead well enough to not be upwind of a paved surface or a barbed wire fence. After everything is finally under control be sure to gather up your canopy tightly to prevent the wind from re-inflating it. Remember, the jump is not over until you are back in the packing area with your gear off. In Your Spare Time: Read your canopy owner's manual! It has a wealth of information in it and contains information on your canopy's flight characteristics. Some manufacturers even have advice on flying your canopy under adverse conditions.
  10. admin

    Skydiving Emergencies And Procedures

    Skydiving Emergencies The bulk of the content from this section is republished with permission from Chapter 4 of Parachuting: The Skydiver's Handbook by Dan Poynter and Mike Turoff. Although rare, the fact of the matter is that there are a number of possible emergencies in skydiving that could either hurt or kill you. The emphasis in this section is on education. If you are uncertain about anything speak to your jumpmasters. On The Ground Briefings and Safety Considerations Hazard Briefings Alcohol and Drugs Health Concerns Scuba Diving Alert Some Fear is Good for You Airport Safety In The Aircraft Emergencies in the Aircraft Airplane problems Open parachute in the airplane On Exit Exit Emergencies Exit hazards-static line Exit hazards-AFF Dangling static line Student in tow Static line not hooked up Pulling high is dangerous In Freefall Freefall Emergencies Accelerated FreeFall (AFF) emergencies AFF: Loss of one jumpmaster AFF: Loss of both jumpmasters Five-Second Rule for loss of stability Loss of altitude awareness Goggles At Deployment Deployment Emergencies Lost handle Hard pull Pilot chute hesitation Pull-out v. throw-out Trapped pilot chute Pilot chute in tow Under Canopy Canopy Emergencies: Breakaway Jettisoning the main canopy Two Action System (TAS) The Single Operation System (S.O.S) Canopy transfer Harness shift Parachute Mulfunctions Total malfunctions Partial malfunctions Major partial malfunctions Bag Lock Horseshoe Violent spin Line overs Partial malfunctions that may be majors or minors Rips and tears The snivel Slider hang-up, at the canopy Slider hang-up, halfway Broken suspension line(s) Minor malfunctions Line twists Premature brake release Broken steering line Steering line(s) won’t release Pilot chute "under/over" problems End cell closures Combination malfunctions Two canopies open Tandem jumping malfunctions Large ring and ripcord handle Change of emergency procedures Breakaway training Emergency priorities Canopy collisions On Landing Landing challenges Turbulence Dust devils Thunderstorms The tree landing Power lines Water landings Buildings Other obstacles
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    3 Skydivers Injured Before NASCAR Race

    ROCKINGHAM, N.C. - Three Army skydivers were injured Sunday when strong wind knocked them to the ground before a NASCAR race. A group of eight jumpers from the U.S. Army Special Operations Command Parachute team from Fort Bragg came sailing into the track area, trailing red smoke as part of the pre-race activities for the Subway 400 at North Carolina Speedway. With wind up to 40 mph, one jumper was carried away from his targeted landing on the track and into the infield, where he appeared to bounce off the top of a tractor-trailer before landing on the ground, his chute caught on the antenna of a van. He was airlifted to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte and was in good condition, a nursing administrator said. The hospital did not provide the soldier's name. Messages for spokesmen with the Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg were not immediately returned. Another jumper sailed into the garage area and bounced off the top of Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s hauler. He landed between race team trucks and a fence. That jumper, as well as a third who landed hard on the asphalt of the track, were taken to Womack Army Hospital in Fayetteville for treatment of minor injuries. The hospital did not immediately return calls. Track personnel did not immediately have their names or any other information about the injured soldiers. At least two jumpers nailed their landings on the front stretch of the race track. Another skydiver never made it to the track, landing outside the Turn 1 grandstands. ~ Associated Press
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    Murder inquiry into skydiving death

    The death of a skydiver whose parachute failed to open over an airfield in North Lincolnshire is now being treated as murder. Stephen Hilder, who was 20, fell 13,000 feet to his death while he was taking part in a jump, at Hilbaldstow Airfield, on Friday. Detective Superintendent Colin Andrews, who is leading the investigation, said parts of Mr Hilder's kit had been tampered with, so neither his main parachute nor his reserve could open. He said "It is an absolute fact that both parachutes were deliberately tampered with and on the basis of that we have to strongly suspect that murder was the motive." Cords cut Mr Hilder, an officer cadet who had completed more than 200 parachute jumps, was found dead in a cornfield. His family, from Hereford, paid tribute to a "wonderful son and brother." Humberside Police carried out forensic tests on the parachute pack used by Mr Hilder and say the cord which deployed the main chute and the strapping to the reserve chute had been cut. DS Andrews said: "We are entirely satisfied that Stephen's parachute was deliberately tampered with and what we need to find out is who did that and for what reason." He said Mr Hilder was an experienced skydiver who was safety conscious. Video footage "It is a tragic waste of a young man with a bright and promising future and it is a particularly horrendous way to die," he said. The parachute equipment had been checked on Wednesday - the day the jump had originally been due to take place - and "stored in good working order". Mr Andrews said the parachute was kept in a store that was locked overnight but was left open in the day. Police say a fancy dress party was held at Hiblestow Airfield on the evening of 3 July which was attended by a number of people, including Mr Hilder. Many of the people who attended took video footage and photographs of the party and police are appealing for them to get in contact. They are also examining video footage of the actual fall which was filmed by people at the site. Mr Hilder was one of eight people who took part in the jump but no one else was injured. 'Wonderful son' The airfield has re-started parachute jumping and security has been reviewed. Meanwhile, a skydiving expert said it would be relatively easy to sabotage a parachute jump. Dave Hickling, chief instructor with the British Parachute School based at Langar Airfield near Nottingham, said: "You don't need a lot of knowledge to cut things. "Once you have been on a basic parachute course and you have seen how the parachute deploys, you would have enough knowledge." In a statement Mr Hilder's family said: "He was a wonderful son and brother, whose place in his very close-knit family will never be filled." skydiving had "quickly become a total passion" for him after he took it up at Bristol University, they said. He continued skydiving when he transferred to the Royal Military College of Science at Shrivenham, Oxfordshire, last year, where he helped revitalise the college's skydiving club. Multiple injuries "He made over 200 jumps in the UK, France and South Africa, including freefall and formation diving and his absolute love for the sport never faded," they said. Mr Hilder was born in Hereford and went to school there before studying for his A-levels at Welbeck College. The statement continued: "Throughout his time with the Army he kept his love of theatre and music. "He was a talented percussionist and amateur actor, who loved reading and listening to rock music. "Steve had a tremendous sense of humour and made friends wherever he went." A post mortem found Mr Hilder died of multiple injuries.
  13. Irrespective of how long you've been jumping, piloting today's high-speed canopies is not for the faint of heart. With thousands of landings on old zero performance canopies such as round 1.1s, PCs, Piglets, and Strato Stars, many of our founders are frankly fearful of fast canopies. Moreover, as canopy development continues in the present direction toward ever faster, smaller models, skydivers new and old need to be continuously educated on landing technique. As one who recently returned to skydiving after a lengthy layoff (13 years) I knew I needed to get better acquainted with today's high-speed wings. They were obviously different from what I had been used to. Faster ... make that "swoopier" ... and although they looked to me to be more fun, there were too many people getting hurt under them. Wanting to avoid that, I set out to discover what I needed to know that I didn't about piloting these new canopies. To provide some perspective, before learning these tips I'd rather have had to shoot down-wind accuracy on a round than land a small Z-Po 9-cell on a hot still day. Surprised? Remember that a landing in 110 F temperatures, say at Perris' 1,450 MSL, is like landing at 5-6,000 feet. One of the first persons I got turned onto was John LeBlanc, design engineer for Performance Designs. He explained that my old-fashioned notions about the handling characteristics of ram air wings have little relationship to designs now on the market. New high performance Z-pos are lighter and more durable, but they also demand much more attention to landing. Because what you don't know can hurt you, John tried to explain why I couldn't land a zero porosity canopy the same way as my old ram air. Here is my understanding of how to land today's canopies. While some of these ideas, tips, and techniques are from John LeBlanc please remember that they are all filtered by an old time skydiver: all mistakes are my own. This is advice from a canopy expert interpreted by a relic: Stepping up to the ground? On a nice sunny day, John and I watched some landings at the DZ. He used his hands and feet to show me how, having picked my landing area, it should be done. 'You simply level out,' he told me. 'Convert your forward and down approach into forward speed. Eliminate any down for now, but stay inches off the ground.' Inches? with a high forward speed? That seems scary; why not feet? Says John: "The idea that neophytes should be several feet off the ground is okay for flying super big student gear, but it's not what the goal is, and is definitely not okay on the smaller stuff! Several feet up feels worse and worse as you go smaller, whether you're a neophyte or a self-acclaimed expert. As a result , we (Performance Designs) consider it unwise to go smaller (in canopy size) until you can consistently level out with feet at ground level under your existing canopy. Going smaller won't make it any easier, but rather it becomes more difficult!" John compares good landing technique to getting off an escalator. "The down escalator is like the ideal descending approach, level off and landing." Escalators do offer a good canopy landing analogy. Both modes of transport demand coordinated, mindful movements at journey's end. Try visualizing a landing approach as John describes how your landing will resemble stepping off a descending escalator: "Now, think of an escalator. When it levels out, your feet are just below ground level by an inch or two. You can gently transfer your weight from the step (the harness) to the ground because you are at that level. The forward speed is no problem, because you're at ground level. You're stepping up onto the ground, rather than down to it." "If the escalator dumped you off even as little as a foot high, the first few steps would be tough! This is because your forward speed is still there, as it will be on any no-wind landing. (If you level out too high) you crunch down with a (higher) rate of descent. This is why leveling off several feet up for neophytes is not a good idea. They have to come down sooner or later, and when they do, it will be with a (greater) rate of descent at the time of contact. With a little canopy, that will be a bad landing because it will hurt!" I mull this over. There you are, storming across the turn, just above the ground. While you still have forward speed, your feet just brush the weed tops. As your speed decreases, you provide a tad more flare so as to maintain your feel of the grass. Then, just step up. Step up? Wait a minute, I protest. Easy enough for you to say that stepping out of my harness should be as simple as getting off an escalator, but if it's so easy why do so many people crash and burn? Obviously this analogy only applies to a smooth, known landing surface. Life and landing, I remind John, are both dangerous. Yes, he agrees, "You are wise in emphasizing that brushing the feet applies to a known, smooth landing surface." and adds: but notes that "the altitude of your body should be the same, even if you're lifting your feet to stay clear of a poor surface until touch down time." More importantly, John continues, "As wing loadings go over 1.1 lbs per sq. ft., this technique is a required for acceptable no-wind landings." In my words, if you have a 150 square foot canopy and weigh 170 pounds, and your suspended weight per square foot of canopy exceeds a ratio of 1:1, then you gotta swoop the ground to avoid eating it. Then, a good landing will allow you to cautiously stand up out of your harness, starting from where the parachute is holding you up to where your feet are supporting you. The major tactile feedback is that your weight is transferred from your leg straps to your shoe soles. Low wind landings and high speed dirt What about the special challenges of no-wind landing conditions? "You will still stand up out of your harness," says John, "but you'll do so at a fast walk to a run, depending on canopy and wing loading. " The more wing load, the faster you'll have to run. We watch several more landings in which many of the canopy pilots flare too high or too early. One thing hasn't changed about landing, I tell John. Landing softly requires precise timing. How do you time your flare? He explains that if you flare too high, you'll land from higher up with an increased rate of descent, "if its done too soon, it results in a big gain in altitude, which means that you are too high (to land softly) again! " When you flare too high and then crash in on a little canopy, you'll likely get in a few front loops. Of course, if you flare too low or not at all, no matter what size canopy you're under you'll eat much dirt and still do several front loops. People will laugh. Late flares are not considered good form; they tend to dirty your jumpsuit and gear. It's a good idea to avoid them, so you'll eat less dirt less often. As John adds that a good way to learn how, "is to figure it out on a bigger, more docile canopy. (less dirt eaten.)" A backyard swing model Remember the fun you had as a kid swinging in a backyard swing? You could go real high or not. You could even try to jump out at the top of the arc or lower. Or, if you had a littler kid in your lap, you'd just let the swing slow down to nearly stop and then just step out of the seat onto your feet. You do it so smoothly that there is no fear and no pain. It is satisfying. The little kid is happy but not scared. "The swing can be moving slow or fast, but if you get off at the right time, it's easy in either case." [to step out of the seat and onto your feet. No sweat, no fear. Like on a slow-moving swing, it's easier to time your touchdown under a bigger canopy], "The slow swing (big canopy) is easier to time, and the steps are slow. " A fast moving backyard swing is something like a landing small fast canopy notes John, "The fast swing, (like a small canopy), is harder to time and the steps are quicker. But (even fast steps) don't hurt if you step (up) onto the ground at the bottom, when the rate of descent is exactly zero." Just imagine you are stepping out of that swing seat and onto your feet. If done smoothly it's fun, even satisfying. You've just had a good landing and you know it. But "Now try goofing on the timing ... get off on the upswing; things get real rough if you're moving fast! That is just like finishing your flare too high." The transition from sitting in the harness to standing on the ground is subtle enough for another analogy. Thinking for a moment, he used a child's walking chair: and said something like 'I'm talking about those contraptions they put toddlers into. It's a seat with four wheels, and the kid's feet just barely touch the ground. They can paddle around and get into all sorts of trouble. Or they can quit paddling and just stand up. The difference is so smooth that they hardly notice whether it is their feet or the seat holding them up. That's what a good landing is like.' Yes, John said, "The walking chair analogy. Nice." Putting this to practice, I find the idea of a two-stage flare is helpful for transitioning to the horizontal. First, flare with only about 6-12 inches of toggle. This converts the ground-rush into a swoop just above the ground. At the end of the swoop, when the canopy won't stay up any longer, depress (bury) the toggles for the second part of the flare. After thinking about it, John added these remarks: "OK, I like the idea of a two-stage flare except for the part about burying the toggles at the end. This will make many canopies stall, and others might just quickly mush onto the ground. If your feet are at ground level, then this doesn't make much difference. You step up onto the ground just the same. But, if you haven't realized that you're a little higher than the ideal, you'll get a rude awakening when you bury the toggles. [Burying the toggles then] you drop down onto the ground with a thud." He also strongly endorses flare-practice, before finial approach, while still high up, "I like... practicing the flare a lot. I do it on EVERY jump. its fun!" Practicing upstairs helps because you can hear and feel what your canopy is doing without the distraction of high speed dirt coming at you. Keep "hands-on" canopy control Canopy control inputs should be smooth and fluid, not abrupt and mechanical. Whatever landing you do make, says John, "you must still keep your hands controlling the canopy, even if you have the urge to swing your hands as you step (or run). If you are unknowingly moving the toggles, the canopy will do some unwanted maneuvers! People also use their hands for balance cause some pretty wild gyrations, too!" However, "If you continue to fly the parachute properly when you are taking your first steps, [then] the parachute will continue to help support you during those initial steps. Again, this technique is not critical on a big canopy, but becomes more and more important as the wing loading increases." So, remember, parachute canopies only do what you tell them to do. They are so responsive that heretofore unnoticed hand movements will give you yaw and cause you to veer off. In other words, they're responsive enough for perfect landings every time. Or they can turn a twitch into a turn. Keep your hands in sight so you always know what they're doing. Smaller is not always smarter While today's new smaller Z-Po parachute canopies are faster, most do appear to have wider safety margins than did the squares of yesterday. However, I'm convinced that going to a smaller canopy shouldn't be an automatic goal. For some of us, consistently painless landings require lower wing loadings via bigger canopies. As PD's John LeBlanc puts it: "Square foot for square foot, today's canopies are generally more forgiving than those squares from years ago. But as you downsize from one size modern ram air to a smaller canopy of the same type, you give up some of that forgiveness. "So, make sure you've really got things well under control before you even consider going smaller. On the larger canopy, little technique problems will not affect the softness of the landing noticeably, but the same poor technique will cause problems on the next size smaller canopy." Pat Works, SCS-1 Legal Disclaimer: Serous injury or death can result from applying written techniques to a high speed sport. Although the quotes are from John LeBlanc, Neither he nor Performance Designs endorse, condone, apporve, or reccomend anything herein. Parachutes are dangerous: you could kill yourself using 'em. Copyright 1994 by Pat Works RWu Parachuting Publications 1656 Beechwood Ave. Fullerton CA. 92635 (714) 990-0369 FAX 529-4769
  14. OTTAWA, Ill. -- Skydiving center owner Roger Nelson, whose Skydive Chicago had been criticized for a high number of fatalities in recent years, has died in a parachute accident. Nelson, 48, was parachuting Saturday with Todd Fey, 43, of Fargo, N.D., when Fey bumped into into Nelson's parachute, causing it to collapse, investigators said. Nelson then fell about 50 feet, said Sgt. Gregory Jacobson of the LaSalle County Sheriff's police. The sheriff's Office said Nelson was taken to OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria and pronounced dead early Saturday evening. Fey was being treated at Ottawa Community Hospital, where a hospital spokeswoman would not disclose his condition early Sunday. Nelson's death was the 14th at Skydive Chicago since the facility opened in 1993. It is one of the nation's largest skydiving operations with about 75,000 jumps a year. "Skydiving is a very unforgiving sport if something goes wrong," said LaSalle County Coroner Jody Bernard. "That could happen to anyone, even if they had a lot of experience. Obviously I've been out there a number of times, and I have not seen any blatant disregard for safety." Nonetheless, 11 of the deaths at Skydive Chicago, including Nelson's, have occurred in the past five years, making its fatality rate in some recent years as much as eight times the national average, which the U.S. Parachute Association estimates as 1 in 111,000 jumps. Those numbers spurred LaSalle County State's Attorney Joe Hettel to investigate Skydive Chicago in 2001, but he concluded there was nothing he could do. "If someone wants to jump out of an airplane, there's not much we can do about it," Hettel said last year. Nelson said at the time of Hettel's investigation that the ten jumpers who had died since 1998 were all using their own parachutes and "pushing the envelope" in their behavior. Nelson said reckless skydivers, not Skydive Chicago or its instructors, that led to the accidents. "I'm doing everything I can," he said. "This whole place is careful, to where we're not tolerating any unsafe behavior." Nelson was captain of the U.S. Olympic skydiving team in 1982, and served as a director of the U.S. Parachute Association. On June 16 there was a memorial skydiving jump and service for Nelson who's family members have said they plan to keep SkyDive Chicago open.
  15. Six Germans have been killed when two small aircraft collided in clear skies over the southern German state of Bavaria, police said. The crash involved a one-man glider and a Cessna plane with a pilot and four passengers who were planning to do tandem parachute jumps, a police spokesman said. The wreckage of the two aircraft landed in a corn field just outside the rural town of Lechsend, near Donauwoerth north of Munich. The Cessna was burning on the ground and extinguished by firefighters. "All we know at this point is that the two aircraft crashed into each other in mid-air," police spokesman Josef Bauer said. "The wreckage landed in a field just outside of the town. Luckily no one on the ground was hurt." The collision occurred shortly after 12:00 GMT. The victims, five men and one woman, were aged between 21 and 52. The plane was carrying four passengers, including the one woman, who were planning to do parachute jumps. Both aircraft, which were completely destroyed on impact with the ground, had taken off from nearby air fields. "We don't know at what altitude the accident happened," Mr Bauer said when asked about a local television news report saying the crash happened at an altitude of 1,200 metres. He said the skies were clear and visibility was unlimited on a warm summer afternoon. A Reuters photographer at the scene said wreckage was strewn several hundred metres across the field. Police said criminal investigators were at the scene and trying to determine the cause of the crash.
  16. admin

    C-182 Crash: A First Jump Story

    All was going well last Saturday, September 28. It was a pretty day in Beaver Oaks, Oregon, and Skydive Inc. had put up about 12 loads. There had been no previous incidents, but we all know that things can change rapidly. And on that load, they did. Rick Liston, Craig Wilwers, John Allen, and Chris Lattig were planning on launching a casual 4-way from the private DZ's C-182. All had been jumping together for a while, and all were very familiar with the dz. The pilot, Travis Marshall, was known to be a competent pilot, and very interested in ferrying jumpers. Marshall had sat through many weekends watching first jump courses taught by Ralph Hatley, the S&TA; of the dz, and always wore a bail-out rig. All participants were comfortable, and ready to make this last jump of the day a fun and memorable one...and, to top it off, there was a birthday party being readied on the ground for Rick Liston. Reaching jumprun at an altitude of 10,500 feet, the jumpers knelt, moved forward, and arranged themselves at the door. The first jumper positioned himself, and Rick Liston moved to his position between the door and the strut with his back to the prop, sort of sitting on the strut with one foot on the step (the position is often referred to as the "crotch" position). The third jumper began moving into his position. No-one was dreaming, and yet, the nightmare was about to unfold. According to Hatley, that was when Liston noticed his D-bag on the floor between his legs. He tried to recover the bag, but the lines began unstowing, wrapping around the strut. The lines snaked over the front of the strut, and they were wrapping around the gear leg when Liston released his main canopy and fell away from the plane. As he cut away, the canopy escaped from the bag, and part of it caught on the step, with the rest catching and snarling on the horizontal stabilizer and elevator. One of the jumpers grabbed his hookknife, and tried to cut the canopy away from the plane, but lost his grip on the knife and it went out the door. Liston deployed his reserve uneventfully. The other jumpers all followed suit and left the disabled plane, and, as they still had plenty of altitude, did not use their reserves but opened their mains. They all landed uneventfully at the dz. But that's not the whole story. The rest of the story began when the jumpers left the plane, and the pilot was alone in a damaged and uncontrollable aircraft. Travis Marshall had successfully struggled to maintain control of the plane to allow the jumpers time to exit safely. But he had never jumped before, and he knew he had to do it this time. As the jumpers left the plane and deployed, Marshall began to lose what little control he had of the C-182. The plane inverted, and went into a flat spin, pinning Marshall to his seat. Unfazed, Marshall shut down the plane, and notified air traffic control that he had an emergency. He then activated the transponders, climbed out of the pilot's seat, and, while the plane was still upside down and spinning, somehow managed to climb out onto the wing of the plane. Holding on to the wing, he clearly heard Hatley screaming "ARCH!!" in his head. So, as Marshall let go of the wing, he did the only thing he could do...he arched. Hard. Upon leaving the plane at about 6,000 feet, Marshall fell a short distance, and then reached for the ripcord and deployed a round canopy. Trying desperately to remember how to manage the canopy ride, he was able to steer towards a clearing about a mile away from the dz. As he approached the ground, he got ready to plf as he had only watched people doing. But he must have seen enough of them, because he plf'ed, and stood up with nothing worse than a few bruises to show for his first jump. He gathered up his gear, and began the walk back to the dz. During his walk back, he met Hatley in the truck. As Marshall climbed in, Hatley recalls, Marshall's first comments were "that was a hard opening", and "man, I threw the ripcord away." Hatley laughs as he recounts this, glee and disbelief in his voice that those were the concerns Marshall had. "Can you imagine? That's what he was worried about. Losing the ripcord!". "Everyone was fine" states Hatley. "Every last one of them performed exactly as they had trained to do. I always tell my students and jumpers to identify the problem, react to the problem, and don't procrastinate. These men - well, that's exactly what they did. And they all walked away." When asked if there was anything wrong with the aircraft, per the Oregon State Police's press release, he emphatically rejected that idea. "Nothing wrong with the plane, nothing wrong with the parachute. The FAA has already cleared the rig Liston was wearing, and the plane was in fine working order. It got a parachute wrapped around the strut and the tail. That's enough to cause the crash! Everyone kept their heads and no one even got hurt. That's the important part. No one even got hurt." Hatley continued, "the jumpers had gear checks before getting on the plane, and Liston's pilot chute was still in it's pocket when he first saw the D-bag. The only thing we can figure is the pin got knocked loose somehow. C-182's are crowded with 4 jumpers and a pilot. The pin was checked, and it was fine. The rig was checked, and it was fine. All we can figure is it (the pin) got knocked loose somehow. Sometimes, stuff happens. This was one of those times". Hatley was gracious with his time, and thanked Dropzone.com for trying to get the story out to the jumpers. "While the mainstream media has been very good, and not sensationalizing this, it's also complicated for non-jumpers to understand how something like this can happen." Hatley concluded with this comment: "remember that when something happens, it happens fast. Identify, react, and don't procrastinate taking action to save yourself. And have safe jumps!"
  17. admin

    Blue Skies, Johnny "Velocity"

    On a chilly but otherwise beautiful May day, we lost a brother to a freefall collision and subsequent no-pull. John Faulkner (known to many as "Johnny Velocity" or "Johnny Wood"), an avid jumper and tandem instructor with over 1,000 jumps, died on Saturday, May 18 at Skydive Chicago during a two-way freefly jump with Jeff Brown. John, an experienced freeflyer, had been doing tandems for most of the day, and this was thought to be his first non-instructional jump of the day. The plan was for the two to go head-down on exit and for Jeff, who has about 35 jumps, to try to maintain stability and proximity with John. "We got a lot of vertical separation early in the dive (I was low)," said Jeff. "We'd agreed that if I didn't get a good head down, I'd sitfly. I saw him orbit me once while I tried to get into a good head down, and then I decided to go into a sit. "I believe that he tried to catch up with me (from above) after that, and I think I had gotten into a sit when something hit me from behind and on my right side. My right arm went numb and my knee hurt, and I didn't know at first what it was. As I pulled I saw him falling away from me on his back with his arms over his chest. I believe he was knocked unconscious when it happened." John was wearing an open-face hard helmet, had an audible altimeter, and his rig had a Cypres automatic activation device that either was turned off, had cycled off, or malfunctioned, as it did not fire. SSK Industries will test the unit to determine which was the case. Blue skies, Johnny--you'll be missed. Note: This information is from a witness report. The results of the investigation will be released in Parachutist at a later date. Team Funnel (a loose organization of skydivers at Skydive Chicago dedicated to the belief that no one should have to jump alone) sponsored a fundraiser in the names of Johnny and other skydivers who have passed away (for the Make-A-Wish Foundation) on Saturday, May 25 and Sunday, May 26. Their goal was $4,600--the average cost of this foundation's fulfilling someone's wish--and the total raised was over $5,400.
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    Student Fatality in Israel

    (IsraelWire-7/3) A man who was learning skydiving in the SkyDive School on Friday was killed when his parachute failed to open during his second jump of the day. The 21-year-old student was killed after his main and secondary chutes failed to open during his second jump. Minister of Science, Culture & Sport Matan Vilnai has ordered an investigation. It was pointed out that the school has been operating for several years and never had an accident.
  19. A TRAINEE skydiver was seriously ill in hospital last night after his parachute failed to open during a jump from 3,200ft. Craig Paton, 26, hit the ground at 40mph at Auchterarder, Perth and Kinross. He was taken to Ninewells Hospital in Dundee suffering from internal bleeding and back and chest injuries and was later transferred to the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh where his condition was said to be critical but stable. Mr Paton, who comes from Kilmarnock and is a member of the Skydiver Strathallan Club, was one of four people booked on a flight leaving Strathallan airfield on Saturday evening. When his main parachute failed to open properly, Mr Paton tried to deploy his second parachute but it became entangled in the first. He managed to deploy it partially a few hundred feet before he hit the ground, which helped to lessen the impact. His father said it was a "miracle" that his son was still alive. John Paton, 52, a milkman from Kilmarnock, said: "The doctors who saw him have said that he should not be there. He has suffered massive internal bleeding after bursting the vessels to his kidneys and lungs. He has a broken back and may have sprained his ankle. "Of course, we are all praying to God for him, but I’m sure that he’ll pull through because he’s fit, active and above all, very stubborn. "Believe me after this frightening experience he won’t be doing anything as dangerous as this again." Craig’s mother Marion, sister, Dawn, and girlfriend were at his bedside. Kieran Brady, chairman of the skydiving club, described Mr Paton as a student parachutist who had paid £15 for his jump. He did not know if Mr Paton had completed a solo jump before but knew that he was not a fully qualified skydiver. "It probably only took him about a minute before he landed in the airfield," Mr Brady said. "Normally it would be four minutes. He was conscious and talking, but he said he was in real pain. He just said, ‘Whatever do you think happened?’ He wanted to tell me, but I didn’t think we should discuss it at that point." A spokesman for the British Parachute Association confirmed that the incident will be investigated. He said that parachute failures were rare.
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    Big Canopies in Turbulence

    I have spent much of my life studying parachute stability. It has become an obsession of sorts, spurred by a fairly sizable stint in a wheel chair- funny how that works. I have designed and built many, many canopies with the goal of creating collapse-proof canopy. I have failed. It is impossible. This is the case because, despite the best efforts of the designer to increase internal pressurization and dynamic stability, the canopy can still be flown badly and become unstable. This will always be so. The job then, falls on the educators, and on the pilots themselves to learn and rehearse the essential survival skills that increase the chances that the correct action will be taken in the spur of the moment. I stated in my original article on turbulence, entitled “Collapses and Turbulence”, that the key is to maintain lots and lots of airspeed and line tension. I still hold that this is generally the truth. However, upon re-examining the situation, I have realized that my perspective on the situation is based on my frame of reference. I fly sub-100 square foot cross-braced speed machine that falls out of the sky like a homesick bowling ball. I do not really represent the whole. The average-size parachute is 150-170 square feet in the civilian world, and much larger for students and military jumpers. In further exploring the issue from the perspective of lighter wing loading and larger parachutes, I have discovered that this is not necessarily best way to fly a larger canopy in chaotic air. Here is why this is so: If the parachute has a great deal of drag, i.e. a light wing-loading, thick airfoil or is a large parachute in general, the rules change. Such canopies are less capable of maintaining high speeds unless flown very aggressively. Due to the high drag variable at the canopy end of the drag equation (“Rag Drag”, as I call it) the excess airspeed makes the canopy itself want to retreat behind the jumper far enough to reduce the airspeed far below the unadulterated full flight speed. This momentarily increases the likelihood of a collapse. The parachute levels off in mid air, slows down, and for a brief moment, becomes vulnerable to collapse. Therefore, when flying a canopy with a short, powerful recover arc, aiming to increase the speed beyond full flight becomes a double-edged sword. If the timing is wrong, such as when leveling out high (prematurely), the situation can become very dangerous. The truth is, leveling off well above the ground is dangerous for any wing-loading, and can happen with any parachute due to an incomplete plan or an imperfect execution. Parachutes flown below one G, at speeds less than full flight speed tend to be more susceptible to collapse. So, if the pilot is quick with their "Surge-Prevention Input", (what paraglider pilots call "flying actively", the risk of collapse is significantly reduced as the negative pitch oscillations will be minimized, thereby diminishing the likelihood that the wing will reach a low enough angle of attack to actually achieve negative lift and dive toward the jumper (i.e. collapse and scare the daylights out of you). Given the fact that the only preventative or corrective response to a collapse is to stab the brakes as quickly as possible, the sooner the pilot responds to the forward surge, the less the input necessary to avoid or correct a collapse. Therefore, a canopy with a great deal of slack in the brake lines will require more motion on the part of the pilot to create any appreciable effect. This means that a canopy that is in full glide, with the toggles all the way up in the keepers and three inches of excess brake line trailing behind will take longer to see an increase in the angle of attack due to the control input than one with no slack in the brakes at all. So then the question is posed: “Do we shorten the brake lines on larger canopies to help the pilot prevent collapses?” The answer to this is no, we cannot. This will result in serious bucking during front riser input. It will also mean that following a few hundred jumps, the canopy will be in significant brakes when they think they are in full flight, due to their “lazy arms” pulling the tail down when they should be flying arms up. This will result in lower average airspeeds that will reduce the parachute’s flare power, as well as it’s penetration into the wind. This will also result in more oscillation and distortion in turbulence. The answer comes to us from our sisters and brothers in the paragliding world. They teach their students to hold a touch of tension on the brakes when flying through turbulence. The goal here is not to put on the brakes and deform the tail, but to simply take up the slack on the brake lines, in preparation for a 12-24 inch strike on the toggles to prevent a collapse. Some teach their students to hold about 5 lbs of pressure on the brakes, while others teach that we should hold no more than two inches below the “Feel Point”. Either way, taking the slack out of the brakes is like standing ready in the door, even when you can't see the count. So, on larger canopies, it appears that a light touch on the brakes may help prevent collapses. However, it is not because the canopy is more stable in this configuration, but simply that the pilot is more prepared to prevent the wing from surging forward in the pitch window. Once the wing has passed through that parcel of turbulent air, however, the job remains to regain the full flight airspeed, while maintaining positive G's. Letting the wing surge back into full flight too quickly can send the wing out of the frying pan and into the fire. Get it back to speed gently, but get back there as quickly as possible. These are opposing goals, so the actions of the pilot once again become pivotal, calling upon trained skills and acute attention to sensation. Ultimately, the best way to handle turbulence is to deny it battle. Despite what your ego is telling you, you already have enough jumps. I know you want more, but sometimes the best way to go is to sit on the ground and watch the inexperienced jumpers get experienced. Live to fly another day. Brian Germain Big Air Sportz www.bigairsportz.com
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    2 Skydivers injured in Batavia

    BATAVIA - Two skydivers were seriously injured yesterday when their parachutes malfunctioned after they had jumped in tandem from a plane at 19,000 feet. Genesee County sheriff's deputies were not releasing the names of the man and woman pending notification of relatives. One was flown to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, the other to Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo for broken bones and other undisclosed injuries. They were conscious upon transport, Deputy County Manager Frank Ciaccia said. Their conditions were not available last night. The man and woman were experienced members of a skydiving group that was participating in the Batavia Boogie, an annual skydiving event that has been held at the Genesee County Airport for years, said Ciaccia. He did not know the name of the group but said he thought they were from Orleans County. The Batavia Boogie started Friday and was to conclude Sunday. Inclement weather postponed Sunday's events, which were held yesterday. The accident occurred about 11:40 a.m. The skydivers were using the same parachute and free-fell about 5,000 feet, as planned, before discovering their main chute wouldn't open, Ciaccia said. They pulled the emergency chute at 10,000 feet, but it either partially opened or functioned improperly because of a tear in the chute, county officials said. The divers landed in a field half a mile north of the airport runway, between Bank Street and State Street Road. Members of the Genesee County sheriff's office, state police, the county emergency management coordinator and Mercy Flight -- a medical helicopter transport company -- responded within minutes, Ciaccia said. Mercy Flight flew one patient, and a state police helicopter transported the other. No one else was injured. A crowd of perhaps 25 people witnessed the accident, Ciaccia said. The Federal Aviation Administration was notified and conducted an investigation. About 20 single parachute jumps had gone off without incident yesterday before the accident. The tandem jump was the second one yesterday.
  22. admin

    Air Capital Skydiving Plane Crash

    On Friday March 9th the 206 piloted by Nick Robson was totaled in a crash north of Air Capital Skydiving. Nick walked away with only a small cut on one hand and a bruized leg. Here are the details: After a normal climb to 11,000 feet AGL, 5 jumpers exited the 206 for an uneventful skydive. During the descent Nick heard a backfire and noticed extremely erratic readings on the manifold pressure guage. The engine quit and Nick prepared for a "dead stick" landing. He had plenty of altitude and was expecting to make the field. As Nick prepared to land, an unidentified aircraft crossed directly in front of the 206 forcing Nick to vector away to avoid a mid-air collision. Nick attempted to make radio contact with this aircraft and again set up for a landing. The unidentified aircraft then made an S-turn and crossed Nick's path again. Nick called out on his radio and informed the aircraft he was dead stick and requested clear air-space. The resulting delays from the intruding aircraft resulted in insufficient altitude to make the runway. The plane landed in an area just north of the airfield "heavily populated with trees" Causing severe damage to the aircraft. I want to take this opportunity to thank God for keeping Nick safe. And to thank Nick for sacrificing his aircraft to make room in the hangar for the Caravan. See You Soon At: Air Capital Skydiving Center Wichita, Kansas (316)776-1700
  23. admin

    Skydiving plane crash kills four

    JEANNETTE, Pa. June 16 — A Father's Day skydiving trip turned tragic when a small plane crashed shortly after takeoff, killing four of the five people aboard. Witnesses told authorities they heard the Cessna 205's engine sputter and cut out before the crash about 1:15 p.m. Sunday at Greensburg-Jeannette Regional Airport. The aircraft apparently clipped four trees when it crashed about 100 feet from the runway, said Ron Supancic, chief of the Claridge Volunteer Fire Department. The plane is registered to Charles E. Bryant, of Greensburg, Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Arlene Salac said. Bryant, 61, was among the dead, Westmoreland County Coroner Kenneth A. Bacha said. The coroner's office did not immediately identify the pilot, a 52-year-old Pittsburgh man. The other victims were David Ray, 49, of Seward, and Terry Blanish, 52, of West Newton. "My world has fallen apart," said Marla Goodlin, 48, who was to marry Blanish next summer in Switzerland. Blanish had 15 years of skydiving experience and was approaching 2,000 jumps, she said. Blanish, the father of three children, planned to spend Father's Day skydiving before meeting Goodlin for a boating trip, Goodlin said. Bryant's son, Rodney, 37, said his father, who retired as a machinist about a year and a half ago, had 30 years of skydiving experience and had made more than 3,000 jumps. Charles Bryant had operated Chuck Bryant's Skydive Bouquet in Greensburg for about 10 years and had the plane for about the same amount of time, his son said. The plane, built in 1963 and designed for up to five passengers, had taken a skydiving flight earlier in the day and was on its second flight when it crashed, authorities said. "That airplane was one of the best-maintained jump planes in the sport," Rodney Bryant said. The pilot was experienced and had made skydiving flights with his father before, he said. An autopsy was to be performed on the pilot, as were toxicology tests required by the National Transportation Safety Board, he said. The lone survivor, who had apparently been thrown from the plane, was found 10 to 15 feet from the wreckage. The extent of his injuries was not known Sunday night. The cause of the crash is under investigation. The National Transportation Safety Board sent an investigator to the airport in Jeannette, about 20 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.
  24. admin

    Skydiver Called A Hero

    ELLINGTON -- As she hurtled toward the ground, the skydiver couldn't open her parachute. Her instructor, Robert J. Bonadies, dove toward her and pulled her cord. But some say it was too late for him to help himself. Bonadies died Monday in the skydiving accident. The student and another instructor who jumped at the same time were not injured. "Most people would say he was a hero," Don Semon, a safety and training adviser for the United States Parachute Association, said Tuesday. Bonadies' death was ruled an accident Tuesday after an autopsy at the chief medical examiner's office. State police and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating. Family members and friends gathered at Bonadies home Tuesday, sharing memories and calling him a hero. "His smile was contagious," said friend Bill Beaudreau. "He just made you feel good just being around him. I could just see him right to the end, putting his life aside to make sure this person lived, and that's what he did." An electrician, Bonadies, 47, was also a father and grandfather. He had what one relative called "an infectious smile." When it came to skydiving, he was as experienced as they come. He was president of Connecticut Parachutists Inc., a club based at Ellington Airport - about 6 miles from his Vernon house. He had been skydiving for more than 20 years. He completed 2,040 free-fall jumps - 254 in the past 10 months. He also was a long-distance runner. He ran up Mount Washington and trained participants for charity events. "He was a pretty active guy," said his brother-in-law, Mark Miller. "He loved his family. He loved his work. He loved to skydive." That much is evident in a photograph of Bonadies skydiving. In it, he is smiling as he sails through the bright blue sky with a student harnessed beneath him. Bonadies' relatives and friends at Connecticut Parachutists said he saved the student's life Monday. Semon, who also is a member of the club, said Bonadies and another instructor were on either side of the student when they jumped at 12,000 feet from a Cessna 182. When he saw that the student couldn't pull the handle to open her parachute, he did it for her, Semon said. Mark Miller said Bonadies dove through the air to catch up with her. "He maneuvered himself under her. He pulled her cord so her chute opened. He pulled his reserve chute. But he was too close to the ground," Miller said. Semon, however, said Bonadies never got a chance to attempt to open either his main or reserve parachute. The police said when they found him, the reserve chute was open, but both police and Semon said it could have been forced out by the impact. Meanwhile, television station WTIC reported Tuesday that Bonadies was not wearing a device that would have automatically opened his chute at about 1,000 feet. Although many skydivers choose to wear the so-called automatic activation device, Bonadies did not, WTIC reported. All novice skydivers who are jumping with the Connecticut Parachutists group are required to wear the devices. From the USPA Safety & Training Newsletter Vol. 2, Issue 6 Instructor Responsibilities Recently during a Category C student skydive, an AFF Instructor was killed after the formation funneled at the student's pull altitude. The two instructors and their student tumbled, and eventually one of the instructors released and deployed his main parachute at a low altitude. The other instructor continued tumbling with the student and deployed the student's main parachute just as the AAD deployed the reserve. The instructor reached the ground before he could deploy his own parachute. The student landed her bi-planed main and reserve without further incident. In situations such as this, altitude awareness is critical. Things happen very fast due to the increase in fall rate while tumbling, which only serves to add to the problems the instructor is already dealing with while trying to get the student deployed. With this tragedy, Instructors are reminded of the protocol that has been established regarding students and pull altitudes. The AFF Syllabus of the Instructional Rating Manual lists the following guidelines regarding deployment problems: 5. General: a. The instructors must assure student main deployment by 3,500 feet to allow both instructors time to get clear and open by 2,000 feet. b. No instructor should ever get above a student. Note: AADs often activate higher than the preset altitude. c. The instructor(s) must ensure reserve deployment by 2,500 feet to get clear and open by 2,000 feet. d. Under no circumstances should an instructor attempt to catch a student or remain with a student below the instructor's minimum deployment (2,000 feet). e. The instructors must take care that one does not deploy the student's main while the other deploys the reserve. (1) Only if the main deployment handle is inaccessible should the reserve-side instructor deploy the student's reserve parachute. (2) Many systems have reserve-side instructor deployment handles to make deploying the main parachute easier for the reserve-side instructor. USPA strongly encourages all skydivers, especially instructors, to use an AAD, which may have changed the outcome of this event. An audible altimeter can also serve to provide an additional altitude warning for instructors while working with students. Solo students, and instructors and students who are using tandem equipment must wear an AAD.
  25. A STUDENT who survived a 4,000ft fall after her parachute failed to open during a skydiving holiday in America was recovering from her injuries at her father's home in Gloucestershire last night. Lynda Harding, 20, a chemistry student at Hull University, spent a week in intensive care in California with broken ribs, a punctured lung, a broken nose, muscular back injuries and concussion. On a visit to the Lake Elsinore centre near Los Angeles with friends from university, she tried to use her reserve parachute when her main canopy apparently jammed.The reserve chute carried her for a short distance but it became caught in the main canopy, which had not disconnected, and she hurtled towards the ground. Her father, Philip, 41, a violin maker, who flew to America to accompany his daughter home, said: "She is very lucky. She jumped at 4,000 feet, her parachute failed to open and she hit the ground probably at about 70 to 80 mph." Mr Harding, a widower, of Newent, added: "The odds of this happening must be a million to one." Experts believe some drag caused by the flapping, tangled parachutes must have slowed her descent. Miss Harding, who is expected to make a full recovery, said she could not recall what happened after she left the plane. "The only thing I remember is waking up in hospital." She was unconscious for four days. "I am totally amazed I am still alive." She fell on to grassy scrubland but may have escaped serious injury because she fell sideways instead of on her feet or bottom. Her father said it had been his daughter's ninth jump. He said: "She was very keen on parachuting but she is in two minds now."