|Date||Location||Category||Age||# Jumps||AAD?/RSL?||Dropzone.com Report||Dropzone.com Discussion|
|14/10/2001||Skydive Chicago, IL||MAL||38||70||?/N|| ||#47825|
|Description: Breakoff on this routine 6-way skydive came at 4500, with most participants fully deployed by 2000. This jumper was observed in a spinning configuration until a low cutaway at 150-250'. The reserve was deployed, but the slider was found right at the canopy. The main was found with one brake unstowed; this may have caused or exacerbated the malfunction. Ground witnesses report main deployment was at or above 2000.|
|Lessons:An RSL might have made a difference here, though a prompt response to the problem would have been better still. Spinning malfunctions can be disoriented, and can require a rapid response.|
|USPA Description: This jumper was participating in a 6-way group skydive, and witnesses reported that he deployed at a low altitude, estimated between 1,000 to 2,000 feet. The main canopy opened in a spinning malfunction, which continued to a reported altitude of 300 to 400 feet. At that low altitude, the jumper apparently released the main canopy and initiated reserve deployment (he had no reserve static line). He hit the ground just as the reserve was beginning to inflate.
The post-accident investigation revealed that one brake line was released on the main canopy, with the other still set.
|USPA Conclusions:As with most fatalities, this one resulted after a series of mis-steps and not just one isolated error or problem. First, the skydiver was jumping an elliptical canopy, many of which are often associated with more violent malfunctions than more rectangular planforms.If one brake releases prior to or during opening, the resulting spin sometimes causes a line twist, which may or may not be recoverable in the remaining altitude. Second, the jumper's wing loading was calculated at 1.26:1, which the manufacturer considers acceptable for an advanced to expert canopy pilot. Yet, this jumper had only 80 jumps.Third, he deployed the main parachute at least 1,000 feet lower than USPA requires for an A-license holder, who, according to the USPA Basic Safety Requirments, must initiate deployment by 3,000 feet. He was also not equippped with an RSL, which may have initiated reserve deployment more quickly after the cutaway, possibly enough to make a difference (although the report stated that the reserve deployment occurred soon after the cutaway).
With only 70 jumps, this jumper may not have had the experience to handle a rapidly spinning malfunction with the altitude that remaind after his low deployment. The sport continues to see many incidents and fatalities from less-experienced skydivers jumping parachute designs that are too advanced for their abilities. Jumpers need to honestly assess their skills and consider their experience levels when deciding on what parachutes to jump. Drop zone owners, equipment dealers, USPA Safety & Training Advisors and scholl instructional staffs all need to educate and advise the newer jumpers on gear choices and their possible consequences.