This skydiver deployed into some line twists, which sent his canopy into a dive and had a very close call, nearly colliding with another canopy below him. He decided not to cutaway sooner due to concerns of flying through the lower jumper’s canopy. Once he finally cutaway, he had more line twists on his reserve but managed to kick it out and land safely.
The causes of line twists are always hard to determine, but in this case, it looks like the incident may have been the result of an unstable deployment. When the jumper goes to pitch, they appear to start turning and – if this were combined with a minor packing error – it could have certainly resulted in line twists.
Only seconds after this jumper deployed, the red canopy can be seen almost directly below him (0:20). This suggests that, despite deploying at very different altitudes – 5,000 ft and 4,000 ft, respectively – the lower jumper was nearly above the higher jumper. This could have been the result of either one, or both, jumpers tracking improperly.
Both possible factors in these line twists are basic skydiving concepts which are easy to get complacent about. On every pack job, jumpers need to ensure they don’t rush and don’t get distracted. And on every jump, they need to make sure that they don’t take pitching for granted and consciously ensure to have a good, stable, deployment.
The near collision could have been due to the lower jumper not tracking well enough and deploying under his buddy or due to the higher jumper tracking in the same direction and not realizing he was above someone else. Either way, proper tracking technique – both in terms of making sure to not track in the same direction and making sure to create enough separation – could have prevented this near-collision.
This jumper notes that he saw the red canopy under him and that was why he decided not to cut away earlier. However, at no point did he decide to attempt to communicate his position overhead to the jumper below who, because of the canopy over his head, would have a difficult time seeing him. Because we cannot communicate verbally in freefall, some jumpers forget that we can hear one another under canopy. It’s something typically discussed during night jumps but it’s also an option on any other skydive as well.