Friday Freakout: Two Skydivers Have Mid-Air Parachute Collision! $#@%!

Posted by Zej Moczydlowski

What happened

This one’s simple: Two jumpers weren’t paying attention under canopy, didn’t see each another and had a mid-air collision that – thankfully – didn’t result in a wrap up or any injuries.

Why did it happen

Complete lack of situational awareness

The jumper with the red canopy was not paying attention to what was going on around him and was flying almost directly at the cameraman. That being said, the cameraman was also doing a poor job of looking around to see what everyone else was doing; he seemed primarily concerned with his landing pattern.

How could it be prevented

Look around, keep your head on swivel

Both jumpers were guilty of not staying alert regarding their surroundings. The standard phrase used while teaching skydivers about situational awareness is that they should “keep their head on a swivel.” The idea is that jumpers should constantly be looking around them in 360 degrees to stay informed about what other canopies are doing around them.

…and actually process what you see

Greg Windmiller once explained how the head on a swivel idea is sometimes taken too literally by jumpers who wind up simply glancing around without allowing their brains to process what they’re seeing. The cameraman on this jump may have done that. He looked right, saw the jumper coming at him, looked away for a half second, and then his head snaps back to his right having finally processed what his eyes had told him.