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Vol. 7 - April 2000 - English Edition The Magazine from Skydive World


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Blue skies and safe landings !
[Updated: April 3, 2000]                     Page 1 - For more safety issues see Page 2 

Lucky to be alive!
by Ginny Stone

On the afternoon of March 12, safety day at Skydive Monterey Bay on my 101st jump I was almost killed. Under canopy at 800 feet I looked around, saw no one and turned to do a long left base when I was hit by the owner of a yellow and blue canopy. I actually thought irately that someone was swooping my canopy. Then his feet caught the nose of my canopy and I was yanked backwards with incredible force. I began to spin violently. I looked up at what appeared to be a line-over. Suspension lines were wound tightly around my left arm (and possibly a leg too, according to some witnesses-however I don't know for sure) rendering it useless.
My heart sank as I thought or said, "I'm dead, I'm dead." The ground was a wild and huge blur below me. With my right hand I went immediately for my reserve handle. There was no way I was wasting time only to have no material over me. I thought even a partial reserve deployment might yield enough fabric to soften my landing. That out of the way I peeled off my cutaway pillow. I didn't want to be dead with any handles intact.
Nothing seemed to be happening. My thoughts had been processing so quickly that my sense of time was completely distorted. I wanted to know why things weren't working. My main lines were still wound about my arm and I was still spinning. One handed, I clawed at where my handles had been, thinking that they might not have cleared. I was amazed and surprised when I spotted a bright yellow reserve above me. Then I thought, "Oh no, this isn't over."
Of course I was moving downwind and quickly (I estimate winds were 12-15 knots) towards a fence with barbed wire on the other side of which was as busy road. I started to turn away but I knew that would kill me. I put my legs out in font of me so I could catch the earth with my heels. I felt like I was in a car with no brakes. I flared and skidded on my heels, landing smartly on my ass.
Stunned, I kissed the earth like I meant it, again and again. According to many witnesses from both above and below I had only been under my reserve about 3 seconds. Mike, our S&TA said that at 200 feet that was the lowest reserve deployment he had ever seen. I couldn't say how long it was but of what I was sure was that it was unbelievable that I had survived. I stood up, waving my arms and screaming in the direction of the drop zone's van, which raced towards me. I was hysterical about the jumper who'd collided into me. I thought for sure he was dead.
It turned out that the skydiver who'd hit me hadn't jumped since October, nearly five months earlier. He later told me he thought he was going to overshoot the drop zone. He hit me coming out of a spiral intended to lose altitude. He landed without incident. My canopy had virtually exploded after being ripped nearly in half. My altimeter was torn from my wrist by the suspension lines from the force of the cutaway. I didn't have a scratch.
A few days later I found out about the Elsinore fatality. Those circumstances were eerily like my own. I think that to have one close call and one fatality on the same day from canopy collision is a red flag. Just how many people out there are not paying attention? The more time goes by the more pissed I get that someone could be so oblivious. I'm not scared of my abilities or of the equiptment; I'm scared shitless of other jumpers. I don't know how to have faith in these skydivers that I don't have any control over. By that I mean things like their currency and whether or not they're just self-absorbed. The thing is that I love skydiving and probably would have to be dead to stop doing it.
I did make four tentative jumps the next day, but I'll tell you I was nervous. At 800 feet I looked down and thought about how it happened. I don't know what I'm doing alive.

Live to survive in 1995!
Avoiding Collisions: Look, Locate and do it!
by Pat Works -

Recall that the primary purpose of the parachute is to enable one to make more parachute jumps! Besides, dying under an open canopy is considered poor form.
Unintentional canopy relative work kills. Mid-air collisions are always potentially fatal. They are particularly hazardous in low pull situations. Always track or dive away from people, into clear air and pull. Always give a wave-off and remember that the low man has the right of way. Said, another way, at break-off, the higher people are obligated to pull higher. Those toward the bottom of the swarm are obligated to "go downstairs."
Unless low altitude is a more serious problem, continue flying to avoid a collision. If you've already pulled and there are other people in your immediate vicinity, keep flying hard as long as you can before line stretch.
Develop and practice a dive-turn, barrel roll or loop what will fly you around an obstacle. You must miss the other person's body, if at all possible.
Look, locate, and dodge -- Be prepared to use risers to avoid traffic at once after opening. When surging together, veer to the right to avoid a head-on collision. On opening, look everywhere, locate everyone, and only then unstow your brakes. Practice making riser turns. In a panic situation, trained reflexes will save your ass.
Look, locate, and yell! On every jump, be especially watchful on finial approach for landing. Do not fixate on your landing target with other canopies in the air! Do look, locate other canopies and evade them. Acknowledge other canopy flyers with a double heel click. Touching heels together is a polite way of saying, "Yes, I see you." Do not attempt radical avoidance action below a survivable altitude! Get their attention. Be ready to yell! Loudly!
Entanglements happen. If two entangled canopies are open it gets difficult. Today it is smart thinking to discuss canopy wraps with members of our local CRW team, Ghost Riders. These are the people with first-hand experience at wrap-management! Seek expert advise; make an action plan.
Look, locate, and execute -- Execute your pre-planned procedure(s) after discussing it with your tangle-partner. Generally, the lower jumper gets the honors of cutting away first. If you do get wrapped up in an entanglement, it can be nice if you've remembered your hook knife. It should be accessible to either hand, and you should be able to deploy it in one second flat, in a ready to cut position. Before yanking either your cutaway handle or hook knife remember to verify that doing so will separate you from the mess! Moreover, prior to cutting loose from an entanglement, be sure to check canopies and altitude. Here, it is important to again look, locate any problems, and act (or not) with alacrity.
Be calm. Communicate. Act on a good plan quickly. if all else fails, head for the trees. Be ready to do a first class PLF. Try to hit the ground harder than it's going to hit you!

For more safety issues see Page 2

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