1 Matches (out of a total of 833 incidents)
  1. Date Location Category Age # Jumps AAD?/RSL? Dropzone.com Report Dropzone.com Discussion
    20/05/2007 Deland, FL LAND 44 1100 Y/? 281 #2813958
    Description: The deceased was taking part in a high performance canopy piloting competition. From all accounts he had a great approach and his recovery arc was looking great. Apparently about 45 feet off the ground the pilot made an unexpected (and unnecessary as he was in line with the gates) turn. The general concensus appears to be that his rear riser slipped from one hand and either that alone, or his hand going by and catching the toggle a bit, initiated the abrupt turn. The jump also occurred very early in the morning, with the rising sun in the eyes of the competitors. The deceased wasn't wearing sunglasses as most of the competitors were and there is a possibility his vision may have been impaired which contributed to the unexpected turn.
    USPA Description: Following an uneventful exit and deployment at approximately 4,000 feet, this jumper initiated a 270-degree turn roughly 800 feet above the ground for his approach into a canopy course during a regional swoop competition. As the canopy began to level off from its recovery arc just above the ground, the parachute turned abruptly to the left, which caused the jumper to strike the ground in a diving turn at a high rate of speed. The jumper received immediate medical attention, but died at the scene from his injuries, which included compound fractures of his left tibia and fibula, a broken neck and a torn aorta.
    USPA Conclusions:

    This jumper's 270-degree front riser turn created a diving approach toward the entry gates into the swoop course. As the canopy began to level off near the entrance to the course, he steered the canopy and flattened the recovery arc by pulling both rear risers evenly. After reviewing video footage of the incident, investigators reported that it appeared as though the right rear riser slipped from the jumper's hand as he pulled down on both rear risers, which caused the canopy to abruptly dive to the left. The diving left turn caused the jumper to strike the ground at a very high rate of descent and forward speed. Investigators could not determine if he had kept his steering toggles in his hands as he controlled his canopy with the risers, but he made no attempt to flare the canopy with toggles or rear risers. The video showed that only one-fourth second lapsed between the time when his riser apparently slipped from his hand and when he struck the ground—barely enough time to even realize what had happened, much less react to the situation.

    This jumper had participated in canopy competitions before this event and had trained with very experienced canopy competitors to learn more about high-performance canopy landings. The report did not indicate the number of jumps this skydiver had made with his current canopy—a 90-square foot cross-braced parachute—but with only four years of skydiving experience and 1,100 total jumps, he would have had to downsize rapidly. His wing-loading of 2.1:1 exceeded the maximum loading recommended by the manufacturer for expert skydivers.

    This accident shows there is no margin for error when flying highly wing-loaded canopies at fast speeds near the ground. There may have been a slight chance to flare the canopy with toggles and initiate a carving turn instead of striking the ground, but the response would have had to be immediate once the riser slipped from his hand. Jumpers should keep their toggles in hand until they have landed, even while using risers to control the canopy. Ultimately, all turns must be completed with enough altitude for the canopy to return to straight and level flight for the landing flare.

    Name Dale McLemore