Friday Freakout: Scared Skydiver Lands Parachute Backwards In High Winds

Posted by Zej Moczydlowski

What happened

According to this video submission, a load went up and – after about half of its jumpers had landed – a weird weather pattern rolled in. The jumpers left in the air were suddenly being slammed by 35 knot winds, were hitting a lot of turbulence and were flying backwards under canopy. This jumper was not flying directly into the wind, experienced a rough landing and got dragged across the ground.

Why did it happen

Weather

Jumpers are always at the mercy of the weather. At some dropzones, experienced jumpers can see a front rolling in and know that they should ground themselves. But “surprise weather” is actually a thing and sometimes there’s just no way to see it coming.

Panic

Watching canopies under you start to shake and partially collapse is a terrifying sight, especially for a newer jumper. This jumper was watching his friend ahead of him and was probably – and justifiably – nervous about what he was seeing. He was probably also apprehensive about landing on obstacles underneath or behind him.

How could it be prevented

Turn into the wind

The orange canopy beneath this jumper, as well as a blue and white one in the distance, can both be seen turning directly into the wind in order to make the best of a sketchy situation. This jumper should have done the same thing but instead they were drifting cross-wind and had a rougher than necessary landing… not a terrible PLF though!

Pull that brake line after landing!

As this jumper lands, his canopy starts dragging him across the ground. This is a potentially dangerous situation. In this situation, the immediate reaction should be to pull a toggle and steering line to collapse the canopy. Alternatively, a jumper can disconnect their RSL and pull their cutaway handle.

Additional Note

Every jumper has heard the phrase,

You’d rather be on the ground wishing you were in the air, than in the air wishing you were on the ground.”

If you haven’t experienced a jump where that’s been the case, then this video is a great opportunity to see what it’s like. As noted, these jumpers said there was no way to predict that this front would roll in, so we’re not saying they did anything wrong by jumping — we just think the video is a great chance to show newer jumpers why that truism exists.