Well this escalated quickly! It starts with a skydiver who’s off level above his group and attempts to track away on his back at break-off, but the unstable backtrack doesn’t provide much horizontal separation.
When he flips over to his belly, not only is there a plane flying below him, but he’s facing the same direction that he was facing before break-off — towards the center of the formation — so he turns 180 degrees and deploys his parachute. On opening, his canopy has a 90 degree turn to the left, which has him heading directly towards another canopy opening nearby (due to lack of separation).
With very little reaction time to avoid the inevitable, both canopies collide. Luckily there was no entanglement or body collision, and both jumpers land safely. The only minor casualty was two small cuts on the nose of the canopy.
There are several takeaways from this incident:
— Stay on level with your group
— Turn 180 degrees from the center of formation at break-off
— Don’t rely on backtracking to get proper horizontal separation from your group. At break-off, clear the airspace above and behind you, then flip to your belly and track away (again, 180 degrees from the center of the formation)