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Vol. 3 - November 1999 / English Edition The Magazine from Skydive World


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Skydiver plunges to death at Lodi - October 29, 1999
by Jan Davis

On Friday afternoon at the Parachute Center, a 250+ jumper, James Fullerton, was missing after doing a 2 way. The person he was jumping with reported having broke off at 4200' and deploying his main at 3500'. He looked for Jim's main or reserve, but never saw any sign of deployment. After watching video which showed the 2 ways exit spot, several of us spent hours searching a wooded, brushy creekbed. Most of the fields around the creekbed were bare ground, and there there was no sign of him there.

The sheriff's dept brought in mounted teams, dogs and a chopper to continue the search as darkness fell. They discovered his body in the vineyards to the west end of the runway, a considerable distance from the exit point and from the point where his partner deployed. There was no evidence of attempted deployment of either the main or the reserve, the main pc was still in it's pouch, the reserve handle in it's pocket. The reserve had come out of the container upon impact. His personal rig was equipped with an FXC aad, but it was not turned on.

It appears he had considerable foward velocity upon impact, and the distance covered from the break off altitude point to impact point indicates he was in a hard track the entire time. The Coroner is investigating at this time and no ruling has been made as yet as to whether this incident was intentional.

Jan Davis -


Should skysurfers use an AAD?

A few weeks ago there was a discussion in the uk.rec.skydiving newsgroup on the topic, "Why Skysurfers are choosing not to wear AADs?" The cause for this was an article in the "SkyDive" magazine [] which says: "Skysurfers may make an informed and considered choice not to wear an ADD for board jumps."

One guy asked: "Not being a skysurfer myself (yet), can anyone suggest what these reasons might be? Why would skysufers NOT want their cypres to fire at 750ft?"

One replied: "I think it's because if it fires - especially accidentally at higher altitude - and you're upside down or possibly unstable, and the canopy deploys between your legs, you could have a bit of a problem if it's a square."

Another one wrote: "Someone once told me a few years ago that it was to do with areas of high and low pressure caused by the 'unusual' bodyshapes (compared to face-to-earth flying). A high pressure area will cause an alti to state you're higher than you are so presumably a low pressure area would cause an AAD to think you're lower than you are. Is this correct or was I misinformed."

It seems as if there is still a great deal of insecurity among skydivers about whether or not a skysurfer should use an AAD. Curious and insecure ourselves, we sent an email to Airtec in Germany--developers and producers of the Cypres--and within 24 hours we got the answer. (Thanks alot Kai!)

Here is the english translation of Airtec's statement:

The question if the Cypres can get confused by fast spinnings can definitely be answered with "NO". Helmut Cloth has especially paid great attention to this point while developing the Cypres. And, so far, well over a million jumps with the Cypres have proven this fact. During these jumps no axis at which a skydiver can spin was left out. Airtec has supported the SSI Pro Tour for many years, and there has never been reported an accidental firing of the Cypres.

Further I do not see any reason why a skysurfer should not open his reserve below 1000 ft. He is still in freefall and in 4 seconds he will go in--if not now, then when? There is no time to cut away the board, stabalize and pull the handles. To be sure, this situation is not comfortable at all but since you missed the better options before....!

In my opinion it is more likely that a loose loop or bridle or a partially dislodged reserve pin are the more realistic threads for a skysurfer. All the best!

Regards from Wünnenberg
Kai Koerner
Airtec GmbH - Germany

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