Friday Freakout: Skydiver's Close Call With Reserve Parachute Premature Opening!

Zej Moczydlowski
ago
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What happened

As this 6-way group started to break off, one of the skydivers fell onto another jumper below him as he flew into their burble. The lower jumper's foot caught their friend's reserve handle, which resulted in a premature reserve parachute opening. The camera flyer was directly above them, and – as can be seen very well in Camera 3’s slow motion shot – they came within feet of making contact. Fortunately, they managed to skim past, and no one was injured.

Why did it happen

Burbles

The space directly above a skydiver is referred to as their burble. It’s considered “dead air.” If you enter into that space, you’re going to lose your ability to fly your body and will come down onto the person below you. When this person flew into their friend’s burble, they also had the bad luck to fall in a way that ended up with their buddy displacing their reserve handle and deploying their reserve.

How could it be prevented

Situational Awareness

Simply put, the only likely way this could have been prevented was for the jumper to have maintained slightly better situational awareness and realized that his buddy was right below him. Had he avoided flying into his buddy’s burble, the incidental contact that displaced his reserve handle wouldn’t have occurred. 

Gear maintenance?

We’re not sure if this was the case, but the fact that the reserve handle came out from what looks like relatively minimal contact may suggest that the handle was already slightly loose or that the velcro -- which is supposed to keep it seated -- may have been old.  If that was the case, it should have been noticed during gear checks and should have been replaced.

Additional Notes

Does that look like a handle?

During the shot from Camera 2, there’s a white road leading to a red patch of land. Did anyone else, for a half second, think that it was a reserve handle and cable?!

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What happened

As this 6-way group started to break off, one of the skydivers fell onto another jumper below him as he flew into their burble. The lower jumper's foot caught their friend's reserve handle, which resulted in a premature reserve parachute opening. The camera flyer was directly above them, and – as can be seen very well in Camera 3’s slow motion shot – they came within feet of making contact. Fortunately, they managed to skim past, and no one was injured.

Why did it happen

Burbles

The space directly above a skydiver is referred to as their burble. It’s considered “dead air.” If you enter into that space, you’re going to lose your ability to fly your body and will come down onto the person below you. When this person flew into their friend’s burble, they also had the bad luck to fall in a way that ended up with their buddy displacing their reserve handle and deploying their reserve.

How could it be prevented

Situational Awareness

Simply put, the only likely way this could have been prevented was for the jumper to have maintained slightly better situational awareness and realized that his buddy was right below him. Had he avoided flying into his buddy’s burble, the incidental contact that displaced his reserve handle wouldn’t have occurred. 

Gear maintenance?

We’re not sure if this was the case, but the fact that the reserve handle came out from what looks like relatively minimal contact may suggest that the handle was already slightly loose or that the velcro -- which is supposed to keep it seated -- may have been old.  If that was the case, it should have been noticed during gear checks and should have been replaced.

Additional Notes

Does that look like a handle?

During the shot from Camera 2, there’s a white road leading to a red patch of land. Did anyone else, for a half second, think that it was a reserve handle and cable?!

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to join the conversation.

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