This skydiver yanked on his left toggle to do a 270° turn without visually clearing the airspace around him, which resulted in a scary canopy collision and wrap with the lower canopy. The mess was bad enough that the jumper decided to cutaway his main quite low; fortunately the reserve inflated quickly and the only injury was some line burn on the lower jumper’s arm.
A few very fundamental canopy flight rules should be drilled into a student’s head by the time they graduate AFF. Two of them are “Always look before you turn” and “The lower jumper has the right of way.” This jumper failed to look before he turned and was unaware that a lower jumper was there.
At some dropzones, this is a rule – the violation of which can get a person grounded. This scenario explains precisely why that’s the case.
Spiraling down is a dangerous practice for multiple reasons. First, it’s harder to track what is going on around you when you pick up speed and start spinning. Second, it makes it harder for everyone around you to predict your behavior. Other canopy pilots – especially those who may have a more aggressive canopy or a higher wingload – need to be able to anticipate where you are going.
This jumper doesn’t appear to try and look left or to the airspace below him before initiating this turn. However, it should be noted that it’s still highly possible that the other jumper would not have been visible because – to check the airspace he was going to be in after a 270° turn – he would have had to look to his right side as well. (A 90° turn to the left puts you flying to the left of your original line of flight, a 180° puts you flying in the opposite direction, a 270° puts you flying to the right of it.) That is why it’s crucial to maintain awareness of the other canopies in the air.
This chop had to happen low because the individual put himself into a situation where it was arguably the only option. Fortunately, this jumper was obviously using a MARD system that got his reserve out for him almost instantly. This video underscores why having a MARD can make a massive difference in terms of survivability – especially at lower altitudes.