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|Carl Jordan - A True Skydiving Hero|
By Mike Igo, DZO Gold Coast Skydivers - www.goldcoastskydivers.com
Until just recently, there were only two people that fell in the "hero" category for me. The first was my dad who recently passed away. He was responsible for disciplining me when I needed it growing up and instilling a strong work ethic in anything that I tried to do. He supported me when I succeeded and was there for me when I failed. In addition, he survived 5 beach landings (Tarawa, Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, Saipan and Tinian) in the South Pacific during WWII while he was with the 2nd Marine Division. The second person to achieve "hero" status in my eyes was the Navy corpsman that tended to my wounds during a horrific rocket attack, 3 clicks north of Chu Lai in the republic of South Vietnam. Had it not been for this individual's heroic actions, I probably would have bled to death before the medivac chopper arrived.
On Saturday, August 4th, Carl Jordan, one of my tandem masters at Gold Coast Skydivers, my colleague and more importantly, my friend, became the 3rd person to achieve "hero" status in my eyes. Because of his actions, experience, cool headedness and never-give-up attitude, he and his tandem passenger were able to survive a skydiver's worst nightmare, the dreaded double malfunction.
Both got banged up pretty good but with minimal injuries. Carl was released from the hospital that afternoon and his passenger was kept for observation with a fractured vertebrae. It could easily have been a double fatality.
The sequence of events started with a tension knot on the main, an EZ 384. After cutting away, Carl looked up to see a tension knot on his PD 360 reserve. The knot had the slider hung up to the point that it was causing the right nose to collapse, which in turn caused the canopy to violently spin to the right. He pulled the left steering toggle down to the point where the spin would stop, but the canopy would stall. He handed the left toggle to the student and had him hold it down while he used both hands, to no avail, to try and relieve the tension on the right side. A hook knife is useless with this type malfunction.
At this point, the student asked Carl if they were gonna die. He calmly told him that the situation was bad, but that he was gonna do everything in his power to see that they both survived. The student told the local press that he wasn't scared because Carl wasn't. We all know that isn't true but all tandem masters know the last thing they need is a panicky passenger during a crisis.
Carl developed a plan and worked it to perfection. Because the toggle pressure was so high, he decided to let the canopy spin for awhile, then he would stop it and the canopy would immediately stall. He knew that they would not survive spinning into the ground nor having the canopy stall at a high altitude and drop them into the ground. His plan was to try and time it just right and have the canopy stall at a survivable height. His plan worked!!
The impact was lessened by the fact that the reserve momentarily snagged in a tree on the way down. The passenger unhooked himself because Carl was temporarily rendered unconscious. Both were bruised up pretty good and the passenger did have a hairline fracture of his L4. Considering the alternative, the injuries were minimal.
Watching this double malfunction from the ground was the worst thing I have ever witnessed in skydiving, so I can only imagine what Carl was feeling. In the 26 years I have been in the sport, I have never seen anything like it. I don't want this to develop into a "who packed the main" or "who packed the reserve" debate. The only tandem malfunction I experienced in 2000 tandem jumps was a tension knot, on a main that I packed. Sometimes things just fall into the "shit happens" category.
The point of this story is to acknowledge a skydiver for his heroic actions. Carl Jordan is not a well known skydiving celebrity, just a guy who works construction during the week and skydives for fun on the weekends, and has been doing it for over a decade. He's the kind of guy you see around the DZ that helps out anyway he can, from doing tandems to packing student rigs, to picking up soda cans at the end of the day. He's my kind of guy and the newest "hero" on my short list. Next time you're at the DZ, at the end of the day raise a beer in toast to my friend Carl Jordan.
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