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Found 205 results

  1. The family of a famous skydiving videographer blames a Las Vegas company and another skydiver for his death, the family's attorney said in opening statements Thursday in the jury trial of a lawsuit. In the suit against Michael Hawkes, his company -- Skydive Las Vegas -- and local teacher and skydiver Joseph Herbst, the parents and brother of Vic Pappadato claim that Hawkes has a long history of violating safety rules and on the afternoon of May 10, 1998, allowed a group to dive even though some of them had been partying the previous evening. The family's attorney said those mistakes led to Pappadato's death. The plaintiffs' attorney, Frank Sabaitis, told jurors that Vic Pappadato, 33, agreed to videotape the dive for a friend, who was celebrating a birthday. Pappadato had more than 5,000 jumps to his credit. The group was supposed to jump from the plane, form a circle and then move away from each other as Pappadato taped the event, Sabaitis said. At least one of the members lacked the skills necessary to move into the circle and struck Pappadato, the attorney said. Pappadato continued the taping, but when it came time for him to deploy his parachute at 4,000 feet he could not. When Pappadato was forced to deploy his chute seconds later to avoid hitting a skydiver below him who was opening his own chute, the lines of Pappadato's chute became entangled, Sabaitis said. Before he could straighten the lines or deploy his alternate parachute Pappadato was struck by Herbst, Sabaitis said. He then fell to his death. Sabaitis said that although two of the divers later said they either smelled alcohol or had attended a party the night before, the others joined ranks and blamed Pappadato for the tragedy. Pappadato's video of the jump will show the other jumpers were at fault, Sabaitis said. "He was a compulsive safety nerd," Sabaitis said. "He was obsessive, and yet the defense is that Vic Pappadato made all of the mistakes that day." Greg Miles, who represents Hawkes, said many of the Pappadatos' witnesses are disgruntled former employees of Hawkes', and that his client had no reason to suspect anyone was intoxicated that day, he said. Herbst's attorney, Imanuel Arin, said the evidence will clearly show Pappadato deviated from the plan during the jump. Herbst was below Pappadato when Pappadato struck him, and the "low man always has the right of way." Jurors this week also are scheduled to hear a countersuit filed by Herbst against Pappadato. ~ LAS VEGAS SUN
  2. admin

    Mystery surrounds skydiver's last jump

    Almost exactly 20 years ago, Charles Bruce was crouched in the belly of a Hercules C-130 flying low over the south Atlantic, contemplating one of the most treacherous parachute jumps of his life. It was not merely that he was planning to leap into the surging southern ocean; even in perfect conditions the jump, which required pulling the ripcord at a mere 200 metres, was "a real bottle job". There was no guarantee the chutes would open before he and the rest of his British Special Air Service (SAS) squadron, of which he had been a member for one week, hit the water. The slipstream, he knew, was often so volatile on exit that people could flip over and lose their balance, and the low altitude would give them no time to recover. Despite being "the new boy", Bruce was by far the most experienced skydiver, having made several thousand jumps compared with the hundred or so of his colleagues, so his opinion was sought on the viability of the jump. "I don't believe in practising something you can only f--- up once," he said to grim nods. They decided to go for it. Last Tuesday, Bruce, known as Nish to his SAS colleagues and everyone else, made his last jump. He and his girlfriend had been in Spain taking part in a skydiving display, and were returning to Northamptonshire after a brief refuelling stop in France. Judith Haig, Nish's partner and an experienced skydiver, was flying their jointly owned plane. Nish was in the passenger seat. Exactly what happened next is unclear; even Haig may never be able to account accurately for her passenger's actions. But somewhere over Oxfordshire the plane got into difficulty, and Haig asked for permission to make an emergency landing, due to severe icing on the wings of the plane. Sixteen kilometres from the base she radioed again. Nish had apparently slid his seat right back and undone his seatbelt. Haig reached over to grab him, a source in the investigation said, but he pushed open the door of the aircraft without warning and tipped himself out headfirst, his weight pulling him beyond her desperate, screaming grasp. What leads a man like Nish Bruce, handsome, successful, well respected and well loved, to step into a winter sky and drop himself into oblivion? Bruce's elderly mother told reporters that she did not believe he had been depressed, but friends are not so sure, and if it does indeed prove that Nish took his own life, those who knew him cannot claim to be entirely surprised. Charles "Nish" Bruce was no stranger to demons. A former soldier in the SAS and member of the Red Devils parachute display team, he had seen sights, he later said, that "most people would not believe". "In the Falklands I saw dead men so deformed that their own mothers wouldn't recognise them - boys of 18 who had tried to slit their own throats because they had been so badly burned." In 1994 he had a complete breakdown, attempting to kill his then girlfriend. Bruce was born in 1956 into a comfortable, middle-class family. His father and grandfather were both military men, and growing up he was instilled with awe for military endeavour. He joined the Parachute Regiment at 17, and a year later, in Northern Ireland, saw his first dead body. A year after that he married, his son Jason following in 1978. In 1981 he joined the SAS, but while he made it through the gruelling training course that supposedly proved he could withstand extreme trauma, he found the process dehumanising. Seven years later he was discharged for "not being a team player". In 1994 the bubbling anxieties finally, violently, surfaced. After the breakdown, he would separate his life into "the time before I went mad" and everything else. In 1998 he wrote Freefall, a startling book about his military service and his breakdown, told with excoriating honesty. It is clear that his experiences in the special forces were never going to lead to an easy life after discharge. "We shouldn't be surprised by what happens when men experience what these men have experienced," says Bruce's friend and literary agent, Mark Lucas. "They are trained to survive in a landscape in which the dividing line between life and death is extremely thin." Bruce's 1998 autobiography now looks like vivid evidence of what some had already begun to call the curse of the SAS. In several of the pictures, Bruce is accompanied by a close friend, Frank Collins, another former special forces soldier. Now both men are dead; just as the book was being published Collins had gassed himself in his car, a well-thumbed copy of War and Peace at his feet. It is easy to conclude that Bruce, who was deeply affected by Collins's death, was a victim of the same post-career anticlimax. Certainly he was a thrill-seeker, climbing Everest after his discharge and becoming a professional skydiver. At the time of his breakdown he was training with the Russian space agency for an attempt to break the world altitude freefall record, leaping from 32 kilometres up on the very edge of space. Lucas believes the extremes to which he pushed his mind and body during the training may have contributed to his collapse, but says in Bruce's case it is too simplistic to conclude the SAS was inevitably to blame. Perhaps, the much-loved ancient pull of the sky to Bruce's troubled head became, at his end, just too much to resist. "Nothing else comes close to those first few seconds after leaving the plane," he wrote in his biography, "because once you take that last step there is no going back. A racing driver or a skier or a climber can pull over and stop, have a rest, but with parachuting, once you cross that threshold, you have to see it through." - Esther Addley in London for The Guardian
  3. A Mandatory Service Bulletin, SB-1221, has been issued and posted on the Precision Aerodynamics website. SB-1221 affects original configuration Raven Dash-M reserve canopies and P-124 Emergency parachute canopies that were produced before April 12, 1999. SB-1221 does not affect any canopies in the original Raven series, Super Raven series, Micro Raven series, or Raven Dash-M canopies produced after April 12, 1999. SB-1221 requires installation of one additional bartack at each of the 'A line' and 'B line' attachment points, for a total of 16 additional bartacks on the line attachment loops. The Raven Dash-M and P-124 series of reserve parachutes were tested within a range of 300-360 lbs at 180 knots and developed opening forces in the range of 2168 to 3660 lbs as measured in accordance with Aerospace Standard 8015A, the drop test standard for parachutes certified under FAA TSO C-23d. Since the introduction of the Dash-M Series in 1996, we have seen hundreds of documented saves throughout a wide variety of emergency situations. Reserve parachutes are generally designed, rigged, and packed to open more quickly than main parachutes, but until recently we had never seen canopy damage when used within the Maximum Operating Limitations of Weight and Speed. Within the past 30 days, we have witnessed 2 separate occasions wherein the integrity of the line attachment system of 2 different Dash-M canopies has been compromised during normal use by persons who are documented as having been within the Maximum Operating Limitations of Weight and Speed. In both cases, the jumpers reported exceptionally hard opening shocks resulting in canopy damage and hard landings. Damage to the referenced canopies was consistent with canopies having been tested to destruction when dropped beyond the limits of Maximum Operating Limitations of both Weight and Speed, while at the same time tumbling or otherwise presenting a non-symmetrical loading scenario to the deployment sequence. Exceptionally hard opening shocks generated by the subject canopies have prompted this Service Bulletin. Forces generated during opening shock resulted in a cataclysmic compromise of the line attachment system, with collateral damage extending upward generating torn canopy fabric and downward generating broken lines. The initial point of failure appeared to be similar in both cases, beginning in the region of the off-center A line attachment point. Subsequently, transient loading migrated outward and rearward affecting the integrity of some of the adjacent line attachment loops. The failure mode was in the destruction of the .75 x T-III MIL T-5038 line attachment loop tape, manifested by pulling the attachment loop tape away from the canopy but leaving the associated stitching intact (image 2). Compliance with this Service Bulletin enhances the line attachment structure of the original Dash-M and P-124 configuration and subsequent test data indicate that it increases the line attachment integrity by more than 100%. For compliance details, please download a copy of SB-1221 from the Precision Aerodynamics website at http://www.aerodynamics.com Precision Aerodynamics Download SB-1221 from Dropzone.com
  4. admin

    Skydiver, 46, dies after crash landing

    New Zealand - A 46-year-old skydiver died yesterday afternoon after crashing while completing a manoeuvre close to landing at an airfield near Hastings. The name of the man was not available, but he was understood to be one of a small visiting group. The crash happened towards the eastern end of the Bridge Pa Aerodrome runway, 10km west of Hastings. St John Ambulance operations manager Barry Howell said two crews went to the airfield just before midday and treated the man briefly, but he died soon afterwards. Hastings police Acting Senior Sergeant Greg Brown said early investigations indicated the man's parachute had opened properly and was operating normally. But the skydiver accelerated close to the ground and made a heavy landing, possibly as the result of an error. Police took statements from witnesses and were trying to contact the man's next of kin.
  5. admin

    New Zealand skydiving plane crash

    Badly injured victims of a plane crash in Motueka this morning were conscious and reassuring each other when help arrived, according to the first rescuers on the scene. Ambulance staff said two of the six people on the Skydive Nelson Cessna 185 plane were in critical condition with head injuries. The others on board the plane were badly hurt. The 29-year-old aircraft lost power as it was taking off, and crashed deep inside a kiwifruit orchard on College St near Motueka airfield about 9.30am. It hit kiwifruit vines and slewed round 180 degrees as it struck. All the injured were taken to Nelson Hospital by helicopter or ambulance, with the first - a 35-year-old man with serious head and chest injuries - arriving at 10.19am. The second critically injured patient arrived 25 minutes later. Paramedic Hank Bader said the six people had suffered injuries including to the head and chest, and broken legs. Father and son Ian and Cliff Satherley were working on an orchard with Pip Hart when they heard the plane go down nearby. They raced over to the crash site. When they got there, they found people both outside and inside the badly wrecked plane, all conscious. They were "just lying there quietly, reassuring each other. What they were doing was really good", Cliff Satherley said. "All we did was reassure them, and make sure they were all breathing until emergency services arrived. Thank God there was no fire." St John volunteer Vickie Hovenden, a nearby resident, arrived and emergency services - called by neighbour Ron Ewers - were not long behind her. Fire engines, the Fire Service emergency vehicle and ambulances, quickly converged on the scene. Cordons were thrown up around the crash site, apparently amid fears that the aircraft's full fuel tanks could ignite. Emergency services put out calls for doctors and extra medical staff from Nelson and Wakefield. She said the plane had reached about treetop height when it appeared to lose power and plunged to the ground. Her husband Ron ran inside and phoned emergency services. "They responded really quickly. It only seemed like a couple of minutes and they were there." Mr Ewers witnessed the crash and said that the engine stopped as the plane was climbing. "They're always working a bit when they take off. This one stopped working. We knew it was in trouble, being that plane we know he doesn't cut the motor for fun." The plane did not get more than about 20 metres above the ground. "The nose went down, it did a twist and then started down." Senior Sergeant Grant Andrews of Motueka police said there were six people on the plane - a pilot, a video camera operator, two jumpmasters, and two passengers. The crashed plane was a mangled mess, with a wheel and undercarriage debris scattered around. "It's a miracle there are any survivors," Mr Andrews said. He said when emergency services arrived they had to cut some people out of the plane and some had been flung out. Stuart Bean, owner operator of Skydive Nelson, said the Cessna was bought two years ago and there had been no problems with it before. Weather conditions were perfect and there was nothing unusual about the operations, said Mr Bean, a pilot. Six people was a normal load for the aircraft. The plane was built in 1972 but was "not old for a Cessna", Mr Bean said. The 10-year-old company, which employs six people, has one other aircraft and has operated out of Motueka since September 1999. Previously it was in Nelson. Mr Bean declined to identify the people involved. A Transport Accident Investigation Commission investigator was on the way from Christchurch. Staff at the Skydive Nelson office were busy contacting relatives and friends of the people involved in the accident. Victim Support workers were on hand. Nelson Hospital was well-prepared and equipped to handle the injured in the crash, general manager Keith Rusholme said. Scheduled surgery was postponed in preparation for the arrival of the six patients, while all theatre, accident and emergency and intensive care unit staff were put on standby. "Initially we had a full staffing component. We put everything on maximum alert and then wind it down from there, depending on what happens," Mr Rusholme said. "In terms of numbers, this doesn't happen very often. But we're trained for this kind of thing." Patients due to be transferred from Christchurch to Nelson Hospital because of the nurses' strike, remained in Christchurch for the time being. Tasman Mayor John Hurley received news of the crash at a Tasman District Council meeting this morning and said his first thoughts were for the injured people. "It (the skydive operation) is a well-run organisation in my view, from the information we have on it. It's a very regrettable situation.
  6. admin

    Blue Skies, Mr. Chesworth

    Craig Chesworth was killed in an accident at Skydive Sebastian, located in Florida. After reading numerous incident reports with the ubiquitous and certainly ambiguous statement "the parachute failed to open fully", I decided to find out what type of malfunction he experienced. As a jumper, I find that articles written by the mainstream media often say that "the parachute failed to open", when it is often other causes which created the fatality. And as a jumper, I feel that one way to honor the deceased is to learn from their mistakes. So, this morning, I called and spoke with Mr. Mick Hall, the Safety and Training Advisor at Skydive Sebastian. Mr. Hall was gracious, accepting an unannounced call from me with no hesitation. He was forthcoming, and seemed as frustrated about the lack of media knowledge as I was. I found him eager, in fact, to make sure I understood the events, so that this article would be as complete and accurate as possible. It is thought that the following scenario is what occurred. Mr. Chesworth likely opened a little lower than he had intended to, but his parachute did open fully. His reserve was not used, as it was not needed. As a consequence of opening a little lower, Craig was long on his spot. As is drilled into a jumper's head, an "out" was spotted and chosen. Craig had chosen a good, grassy area, near homes, and was flying with the wind toward his out. According to one witness flying near him, Mr. Chesworth turned low to be into the wind, misjudged, and, while completing the turn, hit the roof of a building. "Did he turn so he wouldn't land downwind?" I asked "We can't know for sure, but we think that may have been a factor", agreed Mr. Hall. "I surmise that he may have felt a bit high, and, in trying to bleed off altitude so he wouldn't overshoot the grass area, he turned," said Mr. Hall. "As far as we can tell, that's what he was trying to do. Of course, no-one can tell what he was thinking at the time but we feel that he may have been worried about overshooting the out, and simply misjudged with no time to correct." Mr. Chesworth, 23 years old, was an intermediate level skydiver, with 200 successful jumps. The fatality occurred on his 201st jump. A visitor to Skydive Sebastian, Craig's home dropzone is located in Nottingham, England. This was his first time at Skydive Sebastian. It is reported that he held all regular BPA licenses available for his level. Mr. Chesworth weighed 150 pounds without gear, and was jumping a Fandango 135, with a Techno 146 Reserve. He did have a Cypres, and is thought to have had an RSL that was disconnected. The weather was clear, and considered "good". He leaves behind a young child. Our condolences are with him and his family. Blue skies, Mr. Chesworth, blue skies forever. ~ Written by Michele Lesser
  7. admin

    Skydiver's 'milestone' jump tragedy

    A Royal Navy skydiver died on his 500th jump in front of hundreds of spectators. The jump should have been an important milestone for Lieutenant David Paton. An inquest was told on Thursday that Lieutenant Paton was part of the Raiders Parachute Display Team when he landed heavily during a display in Portsmouth. The accident happened at HMS Excellent on 25 July this year. Tony Butler, a parachuting expert, told the inquest Lieutenant Paton could have been trying to perform a "spectacular swooping landing", but had not timed it correctly. He added: "Mr Paton might have thought he was going to hit a building and turned, but did not have sufficient height to land safely." Lieutenant Paton had jumped with five other members from a Sea King helicopter at 7,000 feet in perfect conditions. Everything had gone according to plan, with the Raiders linking up and then separating to land, the inquest in Portsmouth heard. However, as they landed in front of families at the show, the leader of the display Lieutenant Commander Phil Gibbs, who was first to land, looked back to see Lieutenant Paton. He told the South East Hampshire Coroners' Court: "I saw a parachutist making a very hard diving turn to the left and he ploughed into the ground at the edge of the arena. "I probably saw the last two seconds. It was all over very quickly. I knew that something was wrong and that someone was injured over there." Lieutenant Paton, who had just completed his second year of an engineering degree at Southampton University, was taken to hospital with multiple injuries, but died later. Mr Butler, a technical officer with the British Parachute Association, said it was not possible to say exactly why Lieutenant Paton had hit the ground so hard, as his parachute was not faulty. Deputy coroner Peter Latham recorded a verdict of accidental death. ~ BBC
  8. DAYTON TOWNSHIP. The third skydiver to die in eight days at Skydive Chicago in Dayton Township was killed Sunday afternoon. Bruce A. Greig, 38, of Jacksonville fell to earth at about 12:46 p.m. when witnesses reported his parachute failed to properly deploy, according to La Salle County Coroner Jody Bernard. Greig landed on Skydive Chicago property south of the hangar. He was taken by ambulance to Community Hospital of Ottawa, where he was pronounced dead at 1:30 p.m. An autopsy was scheduled for today and the Federal Aviation Administration was notified. Greig was an experienced jumper, according to his father, Curt Greig, of Jacksonville. "He loved skydiving and talked about it all the time", Curt Greig said in a subdued voice. He was there (Chicago Skydive) every weekend and loved that group (fellow parachutists) up there. Curt Greig said his son was a friend of Deborah Luhmann and Steven Smith, who died Oct. 6 in a skydiving mishap at Chicago Skydive and attended their funerals last week. Bruce Greig was a program installer with AGI based in Melrose Park.
  9. admin

    Skydiver died from mid-air collision

    An experienced skydiver died when he fractured his skull in a mid-air collision with one of his best friends, an inquest heard on Tuesday. Robert Monk, 39, from Bedminster in Bristol, was on holiday with two friends at a Spanish parachuting centre when the accident happened on 28 July. Mr Monk's friend, Elliot Borthwick, also 39 and from Bristol, told the inquest at Bristol coroner's court that the three had skydived together many times and were planning to jump in a "sit-up" formation, with their legs linked as they were free-falling. At the last moment before jumping out of the plane, they decided to open their parachutes earlier than usual, but Mr Monk apparently forgot about the change of plan. When the other two opened their parachutes, Mr Monk remained in free-fall at a speed of 130mph and crashed into his friend John Carew's leg, fracturing his skull. "We were smiling and laughing and having fun," Mr Borthwick recalled. "When we separated I flipped over and opened my chute. I looked under me and saw Rob and John [Carew] still linked together." He saw Mr Carew jettison his parachute and use his reserve parachute, but he could not see Mr Monk. "Because we were so far from the drop zone, when it came to break away at 6,000ft, I think Rob reverted to our old thing of coming back together after we had broken off," said Mr Borthwick. He thought that Mr Carew was unaware that his friend had flown back towards him, and as he opened his parachute his leg collided with Mr Monk's head. Rescuers found Mr Monk's body near Castello de Cempurias, about 30 miles from Gerona in north-east Spain. Two hours after the accident Mr Carew, 35, from Birmingham, was found unconscious in a field of maize. He awoke in hospital to find surgeons had had to amputate part of his leg. Mr Carew spent a week in a Spanish hospital before returning to Birmingham. The fatal jump was the group's final one on their holiday in Emporia Brava, one of Europe's biggest skydiving locations. The Avon and District coroner, Paul Forrest, recorded a verdict of accidental death. "There was a mid-air collision which resulted in the deceased free-falling to his death. He received a fracture of the cranium, as was certified in Spain," he ruled.
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    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.
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    Two fatalities in Australia

    The double tragedy of two experienced skydivers plunging to their deaths in separate accidents has failed to deter hundreds of other thrill seekers taking to Sydney's skies. Brendan Cook, 34, from Griffith in Canberra, and Jethro Thornton, 24, from Ermington in Sydney's west, died yesterday after their parachutes failed at the Sydney Skydiving Centre in Picton, on the city's southwestern outskirts. Jumps were suspended yesterday, but Sydney Skydiving Centre owner Phil Onis said it was business as usual today with about 400 people expected to jump. "The investigation is still underway ... (however) we are operating as per usual ... (with about) 400 jumps per day," he said. Police and paramedics were called to the centre yesterday when the first man fell to the ground sustaining critical injuries. Then, to their horror, a second man fell to his death as they watched. The first accident was about 11am (AEST) when Mr Cook's parachute failed. He had notched up hundreds of jumps and held an international skydiving licence. He later died in Liverpool Hospital. Three hours later, the equally experienced Mr Thornton fell to his death when his parachute failed to open. There had not been a fatality at the centre for 15 years and staff were still in shock, Mr Onis said. Police were still gathering evidence for a coronial inquest into the deaths, a police spokeswoman said. Australian Parachute Federation NSW safety officer Leigh Shepherd said skydiving centres observe strict safety measures. "The extremes we go to for safety are very high," Mr Shepherd said. "Obviously, two incidents have now happened but until that's investigated we can't say why. "My understanding is there's nothing the drop zone could have done to supervise it any closer or prevent it." He said there was a 0.03 per cent chance of being injured during a solo jump and even less probability in a tandem jump. There has not been a skydiving fatality in NSW for two years. "I'm still confident that the most dangerous thing we do each weekend is drive to the drop zone rather than the actual skydiving," Mr Shepherd said. "I'd still encourage people to come and try and when you try tandem, it's still the safest way to do it." It is standard practice for skydivers to sign an indemnity form acknowledging they risk serious injury or even death when they skydive. Westpac Lifesaver Helicopter which airlifted Mr Cook to Liverpool Hospital, said it has airlifted three patients involved in serious skydiving incidents since March.
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    Edmonton skydiver dies in first jump

    Beiseker, Alta. Witnesses looked on in horror as a skydiver plunged to his death in a parachuting accident Saturday night during his first-ever jump. "We saw the parachute spiralling down and then we hear a loud pop," said a 19-year-old witness, who also had just finished his first jump at the Skydive Ranch, which operates out of the Beiseker airport, about 50 kilometres northeast of Calgary. "It's something you don't want to see on your first time out." An air ambulance was called to the scene about 7:40 p.m. but declared the man dead on arrival. RCMP Constable Wayne Greaves said there was no initial indication of equipment failure. He also said it wasn't confirmed whether the man actually died from the impact, and that there will be an autopsy. Jim Mercier, tandem instructor with the Skydive Ranch, said the man hit the ground hard at the end of a jump in which he opened his parachute with no problem. But during the last part of his dive, he began a "hook turn," said Mr. Mercier, who witnessed the accident while acting as a radio controller on the ground. "In the last 100 feet, he did a 500-degree turn," Mr. Mercier said. "A hook turn is when you pull down on the toggle and spin vigorously around." But another witness who asked not to be identified said the man seemed to be spiralling close to a one-storey airport building on the ground. "It looked like he was going to smoke that building," said the witness, adding that he looked like he was turning to try to avoid a collision. In July, 1998, first-time skydiver Nadia Kanji, 18, died at Beiseker when she abandoned her main parachute and activated her reserve chute too late. Last September, Jean-Guy Meilleur, 30, died after he attempted a hook-turn landing at a Calgary Parachute Club event near Drumheller, Alta. The Skydive Ranch has adopted improved safety regulations since the high-profile death of a Calgary man at the site eight years ago. Kerry Pringle, a 29-year-old accountant, plunged to his death on his first parachute jump in August, 1993. A lengthy fatality inquiry into his death assigned no blame to what was then called the Calgary Skydive Centre for the tragedy. But a series of recommendations were made by a Calgary provincial court judge including leaving a larger margin of safety when setting automatic activation devices on parachutes.
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    Aerial Photographer Killed in Florida

    PENSACOLA, Florida. (AP) - An experienced aerial photographer plummeted 11,000 feet to his death Thursday after his parachutes became entangled and failed to open. John Foster, 37, was videotaping a skydiving instructor and a student when his main parachute became entangled with his reserve chute, and both failed to open. He landed in a field in Elberta, Ala., and was taken to a Pensacola hospital, where he died. He had head and leg injuries, a hospital spokeswoman said. The chutes getting tangled was a freak accident, said Pat Stack, who works for Emerald Coast Skydiving and was the drop zone manager for the jump. "It's just not something that happens," she said. Stack said Foster had made 6,000 to 7,000 jumps and often was hired to record other divers' jumps. "He jumped all the time. He loved the sport," Stack told the Pensacola News Journal.
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    American Woman Dies in Italian Alps

    ROME (AP) A 27-year-old woman from San Francisco died Sunday after her parachute failed to open fully during a jump in the Italian Alps, news reports said. Erin Aimee Engle plunged to her death on Mount Brento while base jumping, an extreme sport in which people jump from cliffs or other fixed objects using parachutes. Mount Brento is one of the sport's most popular and dangerous locations. Engle was the fourth skydiver to die on the mountain since May 2000. The last incident took place two months ago when a Belgian jumper's parachute did not completely open. Engle's boyfriend, whom authorities would not name, immediately jumped after her in an effort to revive her, the ANSA news agency said. She was pronounced dead at a hospital in Trent, the main city of the northern Italian region of Trentino.
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    Student dies in skydiving accident

    Dayton Township, USA - A 22-year-old Pennsylvania woman was killed skydiving Monday. Allison Hoffman of Allentown, a college student, was found dead in remote timber off East 1951 Road in Dayton Township. She is the eighth person to die in an accident since Skydive Chicago moved to Ottawa in 1993. For unknown reasons, Hoffman's parachute did not inflate, La Salle County Coroner Jody Bernard said Wednesday. An autopsy was scheduled for this morning, she added. The coroner's office, La Salle County Sheriff's Department and Federal Aviation Administration are investigating the death, Bernard said. Skydive Chicago was in the news last year when a Missoula, Mont., man died after a mid-air collision with another skydiver. The business was attempting to break the world record for the number of skydivers in a free-fall formation. Three skydivers died within three weeks of each other in 1998. Skydive Chicago Program Director Roger Nelson could not be reached for comment. Hoffman was a culinary student at Johnson and Wales University in Miami, Fla. She was to have graduated in December, said Alicia Medina, academics administrator. When a student dies, the university often will start a collection to help the parents with funeral costs, she said. "Usually we will wait until the parents call us," Medina said. "We don't want to intrude. We usually do take a collection to help out the parents."
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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.
  17. Years from now, when Tonguc Yaman recounts his adventure to his children, it may go something like this: Drove the Harley to Sussex Airport. Strapped on the parachute. Jumped out of a Cessna. Went home. Slept. Forgive him if he fails to mention the part about the chute collapsing in a freak wind, the freefall to the ground, and the helicopter ride to the trauma center. Because for Yaman, the thrill of sky diving and the memories of 99 previous leaps from airplanes far outweigh his brush with disaster Saturday. "I want to do it again," a slightly beat-up Yaman, 34, said from his home in Tenafly on Sunday. "Whenever my leg stops aching." It's an attitude that his trainer, Bud Mazeiko of Skydive Sussex, explained like this: "Just because you have a car accident doesn't mean you're never going to drive again." It's hard to believe that less than a day earlier, Yaman fell the final 30 of 10,000 feet near Sussex County Airport -- and that mere hours after he was admitted as a top-priority patient to Morristown Memorial Hospital, he headed home with little to show but some heavy-duty bruises. The bruises will fade, for sure, but the tale will last a lifetime. A veteran jumper for four years -- since his wife, Ute, gave him lessons as a birthday gift -- Yaman, a finance specialist, wanted to mark his 100th jump in style. On Saturday morning, he hopped on his Harley and headed to Sussex with plans to meet up with his wife and two children to celebrate afterward with a barbecue feast at a friend's house. The 100th leap was to be his second of the day, and it started like any other. In the Cessna, Yaman and three other divers reached 10,000 feet and jumped, each with a plan to join hands, then break apart and activate their chutes. "I approached them slowly and connected with them," Yaman recalled. "It was beautiful. I was thinking, 'Yeah! This is nice -- my 100th jump!' " At 5,000 feet, the divers broke off as planned. Yaman dropped another 2,000 feet, getting ready to ride upwind, crosswind, and downwind to a safe landing. He pulled the cord to activate the chute. Then came what Yaman called "a crazy wind," a freak draft from the side that struck his parachute. "It just folded and closed. I tried to open it, tried to make it full again." One side of the parachute ballooned, but the other remained limp. Thirty feet from the landing zone, the chute waved above him like a handkerchief, and it was far too late to deploy the backup. As he zoomed toward earth, did he think about death? "I wasn't thinking about emotions," Yaman said. "There is no time for those things. It is a second or a split-second, and you better get a parachute over your head." He smacked into the landing zone, a grassy target made soft by recent rains. "I wasn't dead, but I knew I was hurt," he recalled. "The ambulance guys came. They tried to close my mouth but I told them, 'I want to have fresh air.' " When he next saw his wife, it was in the trauma center at Morristown, after a Medevac flight. An MRI and X-rays showed no internal injuries, and Yaman insisted on going home. For the pain, he took exactly one aspirin. Yaman credited his survival with hours of training with Mazeiko and the staff at Skydive Sussex, who taught him to head for a grass landing zone, and who never fly over buildings, cars, or asphalt. All of which will be on his mind for the 101st leap.
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    Skydiver hits power lines

    A QUEENSLAND skydiver has cheated death, sustaining only minor injuries when his parachute hit power lines. The experienced Townsville skydiver is expected to be released from hospital tomorrow after being treated for a chipped bone in his heel. Coral Sea Skydivers chief instructor Richard Pym said the skydiver misjudged the wind while attempting to parachute into Townsville's Bicentennial Park last night. The man missed the park, landing across the road near an industrial bin. Mr Pym said that during the landing the man's parachute hit power lines. The man is believed to be a Townsville builder who had completed 130 successful parachute jumps.
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    Paratroopers Injured in Jump

    SYDNEY (Reuters) - For some of the best paratroopers in the United States and Australia, men used to jumping into war zones, it was supposed to be a routine night mission. But 52 of them hit the ground with a thud, breaking bones and spraining ankles during a recent joint military exercise called Tandem Thrust in the Australian state of Queensland. A total of 39 soldiers were hurt on impact -- nine with broken bones -- and another 13 have since reported injuries such as ankle sprains, an official said. The 381 paratroopers on the night jump came from the U.S. Army's crack Geronimo 501, the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, and Australia's rapid-deployment 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment. But with little visibility last Saturday, the crack paratroopers did what they are trained not to do -- reach for the ground with their toes. "Night jumping is typically more dangerous because it is difficult to see the ground," U.S. Lieutenant Colonel Bobby Campbell told Reuters on Friday. Campbell said the conditions were perfect for the jump with little breeze, except there was no moon to light up the ground. "The soldiers reached for the ground with their toes, something they are trained not to do," said Campbell. Campbell said injuries were to be expected in night jumps, but they were a critical training exercise for the U.S. and Australia, citing the arc of Asian-Pacific instability to Australia's north. "It is a capacity both the United States and Australia needs to maintain for its strategic interests in the region," he said.
  20. Geoff Peggs, Age 21, died in a skydiving accident on Friday, June 15th in Wichita, Kansas. Geoff was making his 5th or 6th jump with a Birdman suit when he exited the Cessna 182 from 11,000 feet. Witnesses on the ground observed deployment at an estimated 4,000 feet AGL. The main parachute started to spin immediately after deployment and continued until impact. The Coroner stated that the injuries sustained upon impact caused immediate death. Two USPA S&TA;'s, in cooperation with the Sedgwick County Sheriff and Coroners office conducted the investigation at the scene. The investigation showed that the right suspension lines were routed under Geoff's right arm and wrapped tightly around his right leg. The slider was wrapped around his right foot.. The canopy, a cobalt 150, was fully deployed but with this "horsehoe" malfunction the canopy started an unrecoverable spin. The cutaway handle was unaccessible because of the way the suspension lines pressed the birdman wing against his body, totally covering the cutaway handle. It is the consensus of the two S&TA;'s investigating this incident that even if Geoff could have cut away, the suspension lines were so severely wrapped around the arms, legs, and foot that it would not have made a difference in clearing the malfunction. The reserve was not deployed, but the reserved handle was dislodged, most likely as a result of impact. The S&TA;'s concur in their opinion that this incident was probably the result of deploying in an unstable body position. We have no way of knowing for sure if the Birdman suit was the only contributing factor, but since Geoff was a jumper with approx 300 jumps and no history of problems prior to this incident, Geoff's limited experience with the Birdman suit was most likely a factor in creating an unstable body position at deployment, resulting in a horsehoe malfunction. Unfortunately, because of the nature of this particular situation, Geoff was left with little or no options to correct the situation. Geoff was an INCREDIBLE guy. He seemed to fit in wherever he jumped and truly had a passion for skydiving. He was a student at Kansas State University and was planning an exciting career in aviation. He will be greatly missed by all of us. The funeral arrangments are being handled by Downing & Lahey Mortuary in Wichita, Kansas (316) 682-4553. The funeral is scheduled for Wednesday, June 20th. Please call the mortuary for the exact time. I think the best thing we can do to show our support for Geoff's family is to attend the funeral. The family knows how much skydiving meant to Geoff. We need to show them how much Geoff meant to us. God Speed Geoff! Phil Haase, Owner Air Capital Skydiving Center Wichita, Kansas (316)776-1700
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    Fatality at Skydive Delmarva

    On Sunday June 10th @ about 1.50pm 45 year old Peter Tome an experienced skydiver with 600+ jumps and 10 years in the sport, along with two other experienced skydivers made a 3 way headdown skydive from the Twin Otter @ Skydive Delmarva. The dive was uneventful until break off at 6,000 ft. At break off as Pete tracked away another jumper on the dive observed what is believed to have been Pete's main bridle flapping on his back. It is believed that the pin extracted from the main pack tray and that a horseshoe malfunction occurred. It is believed that Pete was unable to extract the pilot chute from its pouch and was left with no other option but to cutaway and deploy his reserve parachute. The main canopy was held in the D-bag by one rubber band stow that contained some of the lines from the group. The reserve freebag did not completely clear the reserve and the bulk of the reserve canopy remained held in the freebag by one rubber band stow. Partial inflation of the reserve canopy occurred pulling Pete vertical. He was observed by others on the load and ground observers to be attempting to clear the problem until impact on the grass runway at which time he died immediately. We at Skydive Delmarva all feel a great loss and sorrow in losing our good friend today. We will miss you Pete, God Speed and God Bless You. Your friends and family at Skydive Delmarva.
  22. A SKYDIVER who plummeted 13,000ft to earth with his bride after their main parachute failed to open spoke yesterday about the accident. Kevin McIlwee, 47, said from his hospital bed in France: "I didn't have time to think whether we were going to get through it or not." He said, however, that as he fought to control the descent over the town of Vannes in Brittany, he confided to his wife of six weeks, Beverley, 44, who was strapped in front of him: "We might not make it." Watching colleagues did not expect them to survive, but the couple, who had regularly skydived in tandem, crash-landed on grass, escaping with severe leg injuries. Mr McIlwee, a maths teacher from De la Salle College, Jersey, said that their main parachute failed to open at the regulation 5,000ft when they made their jump on Sunday. He said: "I found I just couldn't jettison the chute. I tried to engage the reserve chute but the two couldn't fly side by side." Mr McIlwee, a skydiving instructor who has made more than 4,000 jumps, said: "The parachutes were continually tangling and I was doing my best to control them. I have no idea at what speed we hit the ground. We were very lucky. We could have been a lot worse." Mr McIlwee suffered a badly broken leg and his wife, the manager of the Seabird Hotel chain in Jersey, suffered broken bones in both feet, and a broken knee and shin bone. The couple are expected to travel home to Jersey by air ambulance in about a week. Mrs McIlwee, who has enjoyed skydiving for about five years, told her father, Dennis Murtaugh, by telephone that she intended to give up the sport. She has had metal plates inserted in her legs and will be in a wheelchair for many weeks. Mr Murtaugh, 67, a theatre critic from Burnley, said: "She said she felt so lucky to be alive. She's usually such a bubbly person, but was understandably talking in a weak tone. She was very shook up, and was only just starting to realise that what had happened could have cost her life." "She said she was looking out of the window from her hospital bed enjoying seeing the daylight and the birds outside." Mr Murtaugh added: "Kevin is a hell of a fellow, and he knows what he is doing. I put it down to his experience as a skydiving expert that they are here today at all. It's a God-given miracle that they are both alive."
  23. SAN MARCOS, Texas (AP) - A parachutist was killed instantly when she struck a plane's propeller while practicing a skydiving formation with 29 other jumpers. Michele Thibaudeau, 36, and eight other parachutists were in one airplane Sunday and the other 21 jumpers were on a second aircraft. After jumping, Thibaudeau hit the propeller of the other aircraft and was killed on impact, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman John Clabes said. Thibaudeau's boyfriend, who was last in line to jump from the plane, followed her body 14,000 feet to its impact in Fentress, according to Sky Dive San Marcos owner Phillip Chappell. The National Transportation Safety Board was investigating. "I've never heard of anything like that before," Clabes said. "You hear about fatalities when people jump out of planes and their chutes don't open, but not this." Thibaudeau, of Cartersville, Ga., had completed more than 850 jumps. All the parachutists had completed a minimum of 400 jumps, double the number the U.S. Parachute Association uses to determine expert status, Chappell said.
  24. Lodi, May 27 - The San Joaquin County Sheriff's office reports that an Oakland man died Saturday after jumping with a group of parachutists, possibly from a mid-air emergency that might have started on the ground. "It appears that the decedent suffered some sort of a medical emergency during the jump which incapacitated him, disallowing him to properly and safely complete the landing," said spokesman Joe Herrera of the San Joaquin Sheriff's Department. An autopsy will be needed to determine the cause of death. The man has been identified as 52-year-old Daniel Paul Skarry, of Oakland. He was discovered by occupants of a home after he landed in the back yard, crashing down with his parachute between some trees on the property. Other jumpers made no mention of noticing anything unusual at the start, according to subsequent interviews with deputies. "The parachutist had been jumping for at least 15 years. He was one of 22 jumpers who had left Lodi Airport to jump in formation. The initial jump went fine and the decedent joined a group held together at the wrist," said Herrera. According to one of the jumpers holding the man's wrist, Skarry's grip became weaker, then gave way. They had started from an altitude of 15,000 feet. The group watched helplessly as Skarry got below them and seemed not to move, except where pushed by the wind, Herrera said. When he reached the 1,000-foot level, the parachute's automatic activation device switched itself on. He fell to the ground amid trees in a residential yard, Herrera said. The occupants of the house called for help. Skarry was taken by helicopter to the hospital at UC Davis, but was pronounced dead at 11:48 a.m. after medics unsuccessfully performed CPR, Herrera said. The Federal Aviation Administration will be notified of the incident, and the coroner's report may be conducted in Sacramento County, Herrera said. Skarry may have already had hypertension and diabetes, Herrera said.
  25. A 35-year old Pretoria man died in Eugene Marais Hospital last night (13 May), hours after plunging several hundred metres to the ground in a parachuting accident at the Wonderboom airport late yesterday afternoon. Mark Farrell was the second man to die in a parachuting accident at the airport in the past month. Police spokesman, Superintendent Morné van Wyk, said Farrell had plunged to the ground when his parachute apparently became entangled at about 5:30pm. A hospital spokesman said Mr Farrell sustained serious injuries to his head, face and chest. He died at 7:25pm, almost two hours after the accident. Van Wyk said an inquest would be held to determine exactly what had gone wrong.