Friday Freakout: Crazy Canopy Collision at 250 Feet!

Posted by Zej Moczydlowski

What happened

Two jumpers were coming in for a landing on a day where there was some congestion in the pattern. The first skydiver – flying a yellow canopy – initiated a front riser assisted 90-degree turn. As they completed their turn the second jumper – under the green canopy – flew into them. The first jumper was spun around 180 degrees and had a few lines rip off at the connection points. Fortunately, their canopy stayed pressurized and they landed down wind without injury. The second jumper suffered some superficial burns from either the lines or the nose of the yellow canopy.

Why did it happen

Congested pattern

At one point it is clear that four jumpers are all on final at the same time. When there are multiple people trying to land at the same time there is an increased chance of a mid-air collision.

Misjudging Distances

The second jumper stated that he thought the yellow canopy was further away than it was. However – especially on a day where there is a lot of traffic – the pilot of the green canopy should have never allowed that to have become a factor.

How could it be prevented?

Spacing

On days where there is a lot of canopy traffic, jumpers should be particularly aware of ensuring that they are giving each other plenty of space. They should be cognizant of where everyone else is, should know the differences in wing loading between themselves and other jumpers on the load, and should create space.

We try our best to create proper horizontal and vertical separation between groups when exiting the plane and at break-off, but once we’re under canopy there are choices we make that can either increase or decrease the separation we’ve created for safety during the skydive. If we all try to land in the same spot, or land close to the hangar because we don’t want to walk far, or spiral to get down faster, or don’t want to get our feet wet in the puddles or pond, then you might find yourself in a situation like this. There’s LOTS of space in the sky and in the landing area (usually), so use it to your advantage for safe landings.

Give up the turn

Some jumpers get so focused on completing the turn that they are planning on being the first one down that they forsake safety. In a situation where there are a lot of canopies in the air, a boring, standard and safe pattern should be the default option.

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