This canopy collision occurred on a big-way jump during the Vertical World Record tryouts in 2016. This skydiver tracked away at break-off and, after deploying, had an off-heading opening towards another jumper who was on the same level. The other jumper was fighting some sort of a malfunction and couldn’t control their canopy. They collided but, thankfully, didn’t get wrapped up in one another’s canopies. Their canopies broke away and remained inflated.
Why did this happen?
From the video, the biggest thing is that upon opening the canopy turned 180+ degrees towards another jumper.
Off-heading openings occur for a variety of reasons:
- Body position (god knows we can already hear all the packers in the world saying it was totally that)
- Packing error (god knows that the jumper was probably blaming it on a packer)
- Poor control of an opening
Whatever the cause of that off-heading opening, it aimed this skydiver directly at someone else.
The other factor in play was that the second jumper appears to have been fighting a malfunction, effectively leaving them unable to attempt to avoid the oncoming canopy.
What could have been done differently?
The real issue would appear to be the fact that the canopy turned off heading on deployment. When you have tons of people in the air, it can get dangerous. Whether this was body position, packing error or bad control of the opening, it’s something that big-way jumpers need to be aware of because in those situations there’s always going to be people around you in your air space.
Pack carefully, make sure you’re stable and in good body position when you pitch, and control your opening to stay on heading.
On a big-way, everyone needs to track as if everyone else is trying to kill them and it has to be done in multiple stages. The idea being that the outside group breaks off at a certain altitude and tracks like hell to pull at a certain altitude, then the next group, etc. This probably wasn’t the reason for this incident but it’s worth mentioning.
Stay sexy, stay safe! Blue skies everyone!