Friday Freakout: Skydiver Fights Bridle Wrapped Around Neck, Saved by AAD Fire

Posted by Zej Moczydlowski

*After publishing this post, we were notified that the jumper in this video who we initially identified as a student was actually a licensed skydiver with 50 jumps. The post has been amended and we apologize for the mistake.*

What happened

These jumpers exited at 3,000ft AGL and planned to have the video flyer film the deployment. The jumper being filmed – who reportedly had around 50 jumps – became unstable on exit, deployed while on his back, and the bridle wrapped around his neck. He could not regain stability or unwrap the bridle, did not execute his emergency procedures, and his manually set AAD fired at 1,400ft AGL.

Why did it happen

Unstable Exit

The jumpers do not exit cleanly and collide. On a higher altitude jump this would have been nothing more than incidental contact. However, the low-altitude nature of this jump made the unstable exit a much more significant issue.

Altitude-Induced Stress

Most jumpers with around 50 jumps have not completed many hop-and-pops and the lowest most have jumped is 3,500 ft AGL during their second clear-and-pull during AFF. This factor almost certainly added to the stress level on the jump.

Panic

This jumper freaked out, continued to attempt to clear the bridle, never went to reserve, and had an AAD fire because he forgot his emergency procedures.

How could it be prevented

The Videographer Not Jumping

This was an inexperienced jumper with only around fifty jumps. The decision to get out as a two-way, from 3,000 ft AGL, was not a good one. Further, if the intent was to film the deployment, that could have been completed from the door of an aircraft.

Following Regulations

The USPA Skydivers Information Manual notes that the minimum opening altitude for A-license holders is 3,000 feet AGL and 2,500 feet AGL for B-license holders. Based on jump numbers this jumper had an A-license or, at most, a B-license. That being the case, he was either getting out at his minimum opening altitude (which would be a violation of USPA Basic Safety Requirements) or only 500 feet above. If it was the latter, he was still at an altitude where he should not have been exiting with another jumper.

Training

This jumper had a high-speed malfunction – effectively a horse shoe – and should have initiated emergency procedures. Newer jumpers should be consistently examined on their EP’s to ensure they will take the correct actions in such an incident.

Additional Notes

  • One AFF-I consulted on this video asked if information was available regarding why the student was using a left-hand deployment system. No additional information was submitted with the video. However, it should be noted that some jumpers, for example those with shoulder issues, opt for a rig with this configuration.