Incident reports

These summaries are compiled from field reports and are as accurate as possible from such input. USPA publishes them here for their educational value. An * indicates a non-fatal incident.

Updated 5/13/08


Age: 35
Sex: Male
Time in Sport: Four years
Number of Jumps: 109
Skydives Within the Last 12 Months: 60
Cause of Death: Hard impact following a low cutaway and reserve deployment

Description: This jumper exited last out of a Cessna Caravan for a solo skydive. There were no witnesses to his freefall, deployment or landing. Almost 48 hours after the jump took place, his body was discovered lying in a field just off of airport property. Investigators found his harness and container approximately 30 feet from where he was located with his reserve canopy deployed. His main canopy was found nearby, released from the harness and container system and trapped in its deployment bag. The jumper's hard landing under his reserve canopy had resulted in serious injuries, including a broken leg, ankle, pelvis and two cervical vertebrae, as well as head injuries. Since he was found away from his harness and container system, investigators determined that he must have survived the initial impact but died of his injuries before he was found or able to get help.

Conclusions: Investigators found this jumper's gear with the reserve deployed, the reserve's slider all the way down to the risers and both brakes still stowed. The cutaway handle had been pulled, but the reserve ripcord handle was still attached to the harness. The main canopy had released from the harness and was found nearby, still in its deployment bag due to a bag lock malfunction. The main canopy, cutaway handle, reserve pilot chute and freebag were all found within a 20-yard radius of the jumper, which would indicate that the cutaway and reserve deployment took place at very low altitudes, likely lower than 1,000 feet above the ground. The jumper likely struck the ground before his reserve had a chance to fully inflate and slow him down to a survivable descent rate.

After deploying his main canopy, the jumper apparently experienced a bag lock malfunction; however, it's impossible to determine at what altitude he deployed his main. Investigators concluded that the jumper's automatic activation device had deployed his reserve parachute since the reserve closing loop had been cut by the unit's cutter and the reserve ripcord was still in its pocket on the main lift web of the harness. The rig was equipped with a reserve static line, but it was not connected to either riser, and it's unclear whether it was disconnected before or during the jump. Evidence at the scene indicated that the reserve canopy had inflated but did not have enough time to fully slow the jumper before he struck the ground.

Investigators could not determine at what altitude this jumper initiated main canopy deployment. Skydiver's Information Manual Section 2-1 requires that students and A-license holders deploy no lower than 3,000 feet above the ground to allow enough altitude for them to properly handle a main canopy malfunction, with minimum altitudes of 2,500 feet for B-license holders and 2,000 feet for C- and D-license holders. Section 5-1 recommends students and A-license holders decide upon and take action to initiate emergency procedures by 2,500 feet, while B- through D-license holders should do so by 1,800 feet.

Although this jumper pulled his cutaway handle at some point, it's unclear at what altitude. It's also unknown whether his AAD had already deployed his reserve while the main risers and main deployment bag were still attached or if he pulled his cutaway handle to release his main canopy before the AAD activated the reserve. The investigator did not report finding any friction burns on either canopy or line set, indicating that the main and reserve canopies most likely did not rub together during deployment and that the jumper apparently pulled his cutaway handle and released his main canopy before the AAD deployed his reserve.

If the RSL had been hooked up to the main risers, the reserve deployment may have been initiated sooner, saving precious altitude and possibly providing more time for the reserve to slow the jumper before landing. Although the AAD had cut the reserve loop, investigators did not return the unit to the manufacturer to determine what altitude the device actually activated the reserve. According to a representative from the AAD's U.S.-based service center, at least two reasons could explain the low reserve deployment in this jumper's situation: The AAD may have activated the reserve at the unit's preset altitude of 750 feet, but the reserve canopy could have experienced a hesitation during some stage of the deployment and inflation. Just a short delay in any part of the reserve deployment would be enough to make a difference between a safe descent rate and striking the ground at a high rate of speed while the reserve was still inflating. The representative suggested that another possibility was that the inflated main pilot chute and deployment bag may have provided enough drag to slow the jumper below the 78 mph descent rate required to activate the unit. If this was the case and the jumper had pulled his cutaway handle somewhere around 750 feet or slightly higher, it would have taken him a few seconds to reach the necessary speed to activate the AAD, thus initiating the reserve deployment lower than the normal activation height. Still, without the data from the unit or any witness accounts, it's impossible to determine exactly why the reserve did not have enough altitude to slow the jumper to a safe descent rate.

The jumper initially survived the landing, as indicated by the fact that he had removed his rig and was found 30 feet away from his gear. However, either no one noticed that he had not returned from the jump or people thought he had intentionally landed near his trailer where he stayed on the drop zone since it was the last jump of the day. If a skydiver doesn't plan to return to the regular landing area or packing hangar after a jump, he should tell at least one other jumper on the load his plan and make a phone call to manifest after he lands to let them know he landed uneventfully. Some drop zones use a system that requires each jumper to check in with manifest after each load, which can help the DZ determine if a jumper is missing so a search can begin immediately if necessary.

Lastly, the toxicology test conducted on the jumper following the accident indicated a positive test result for the presence of marijuana in a concentration strong enough that the lab technician said the jumper was more than likely under the influence of the drug at the time of his accident. Jumping while under the influence of drugs or alcohol has resulted in injuries and fatalities in the past and is prohibited by the FAA and USPA for good reason. Drugs and alcohol can slow reaction times and cause many other adverse reactions that can lead to skydiving injuries and fatalities.

System: Flightline Reflex
Main: Performance Designs PD-210; Wing loading: .9:1
Reserve: Performance Designs PD 143R
AAD: Airtec Cypres 2
Helmet: Open-face hard helmet, unreported type
RSL: Equipped, but not hooked up


Age: 37
Sex: Male
Total Number of Jumps: 25
Skydives Within the Last 12 Months: 25
Time in Sport: Two months

Cause of Death: Blunt force trauma due to a hard landing under a spinning main canopy

Description: Following an uneventful initial freefall during a coach jump, this jumper tracked away from his coach at an unreported altitude before deploying his main canopy at the planned altitude of 4,000 feet. The coach reported that the student may not have slowed down after tracking and before deploying and that the canopy then opened hard and began to turn to the left for the remainder of the descent. The student landed hard in a field, with the canopy still in a turn as he struck the ground. His coach landed next to him a minute later, and a medically trained skydiver arrived moments after; neither responder was able to find a pulse or any other sign of life. Ambulance personnel arrived minutes later and pronounced this jumper dead at the scene.

Conclusions: Witnesses reported seeing this jumper under canopy in what was described as an "orbiting-type turn" rather than a fast spin. The report did not indicate whether the jumper appeared to be conscious or was somehow incapacitated after opening. The coach who followed the jumper under canopy expected to find him possibly injured from the landing, but did not think the canopy's descent rate was fast enough to cause fatal injuries. This jumper was using a main canopy with a wing loading of 1:1, which the manufacturer recommends for jumpers classified as intermediate. (The manufacturer does not further define its experience levels to indicate what qualifies a jumper as intermediate.) Regardless of a jumper's experience, a landing under any canopy with a 1:1 wing loading and while in a turn will result in a hard impact.

Investigators at the scene found the main canopy with one steering line broken but no other damage to the canopy or suspension lines. The report did not indicate whether the toggle with its steering line intact was found stowed or unstowed. The slider had not been collapsed, and both the main canopy cutaway handle and reserve ripcord were found in place on the harness. In a test on the ground after the accident, investigators placed the harness and risers under a 200-pound load and were able to pull both handles easily. The report stated that this was the first time the rig had been jumped since it had received a reserve repack, but it was unknown who packed the main canopy. The medical report stated that the jumper died from multiple blunt force injuries, including a fractured skull, multiple facial and rib fractures, a broken pelvis and two broken femurs.

Although the canopy apparently opened hard, it is not clear what caused it to do so. Over the years, hard openings have led to many injuries and several fatalities. Canopies made from zero-porosity canopy fabric, along with suspension lines that do not stretch (or "give") during deployment can lead to severe forces being placed on a jumper's body during an instant opening. Freefall speed, body position, temperature and altitude all factor into the speed of the deployment. However, carefully following the canopy manufacturer's instructions for assembly and maintenance, as well as careful packing procedures and deploying the canopy at a normal freefall speed in a stable body position are most likely a jumper's best protection against experiencing a hard opening.

System: United Parachute Technologies Vector 3 Micron
Main: Performance Designs Sabre2 210; Wing Loading: 1:1
Reserve: Performance Designs PD 218R
AAD: Airtec Cypres 2
Helmet: Protec open-face
RSL: Yes

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*A skydiver with approximately 2,000 jumps started his final approach into the wind at approximately 300 feet, with an additional 15 jumpers under canopy at different altitudes all setting up for a landing in the same large, open landing area. There were several other canopies also on final approach above and behind this jumper as he applied partial brakes and began a series of S-turns in an effort to shorten his approach for landing. Two skydivers behind this jumper barely escaped colliding with him—both ending up approximately 100 feet above and behind and 50 feet to each side of him—ultimately passing him on each side at nearly the same time. Both of these jumpers were at a higher wing loading and carried more speed than the jumper who was flying in brakes and making S-turns. All three jumpers landed closely together, but the landings were otherwise uneventful.

Even though the three jumpers were following relatively similar landing patterns, the different speeds of their canopies combined with the unpredictable S-turns created a potentially hazardous situation. Jumpers should use S-turns only if absolutely necessary to land in a safe area and never while in a crowded landing pattern. If a jumper executes an S-turn, he must first look to each side and the space above, below and behind him to ensure there are no other canopies in the area that will be affected by his turn. It is safer to fly a predictable pattern that includes a straight-in final approach, especially in crowded landing areas, even if it means landing farther away from the intended touchdown point; landing safely is more important than landing close. Jumpers flying canopies with higher wing loadings and faster forward speeds and descent rates need to identify all possible traffic issues while still high enough to alter their landing patterns if it becomes necessary to avoid other canopies.

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*After an uneventful freefall and initial canopy descent, a student with 32 jumps turned into the wind—reported between 10 to 12 mph—for her landing approach but found that she was too far downwind to make it to the main landing area. She then initiated a 360-degree turn at approximately 900 feet in an attempt to locate a suitable alternate landing area. She aimed for an open field on the other side of a hangar with a flat roof 12 feet above the ground, but her approach came up short, and she landed on the roof of the hangar. Her canopy remained inflated after she landed, pulling her off the roof to the ground below. She suffered a broken ankle as a result of the awkward landing but no other injuries.

Although this was this jumper's fourth jump of the day, it was her first since winds had picked up from their earlier range of five to six mph. She attempted to follow the same landing pattern on her last jump that she had used for her three earlier skydives, but the stronger winds pushed her farther downwind than she expected. Once she turned to face into the wind, she did not have the forward speed she anticipated. Jumpers should monitor wind speeds as the day progresses and adjust their landing patterns accordingly; Category C of the Integrated Student Program in the Skydiver's Information Manual addresses the necessary landing pattern changes as wind speeds increase.

Although there was apparently clear space on each side of the hangar that would have provided a clear approach to a landing on flat ground, this jumper stuck with her plan to try and clear the hangar by flying overtop. Landing in a clear area and with the parachute's wing level should be a jumper's first priority in any landing, facing into the wind if at all possible. To avoid landing on an obstacle, this jumper may have been able to turn slightly during her final approach to land beside the hangar or possibly land in a clear area in a crosswind direction.

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*After an uneventful solo freefall, a jumper with 30 skydives deployed his main canopy at approximately 3,000 feet and began to spiral his 210-square-foot canopy for multiple revolutions in each direction. He stopped spiraling at approximately 1,000 feet above the ground, approximately 100 yards upwind of his planned pattern entry point. By the time he reached his intended 1,000-foot pattern entry point, he was several hundred feet lower than the other canopies entering the pattern at 1,000 feet. He flew his downwind leg in a direction that cut off another jumper at approximately 500 feet who had started a left-hand turn for his own base leg. The second jumper had to instead turn right, away from the intended landing area, to avoid the collision. (Fortunately, he had clear space available to land elsewhere.)

The first jumper was oblivious to cutting anyone off with his base leg turn and proceeded with his base leg to his final approach. Once he turned on final, he cut off another skydiver already on final approach who was facing into the wind. The two canopies came within 30 feet of each other as the two jumpers flew parallel paths on final, with the first jumper still unaware of any impending collision. The other canopy pilot had observed this jumper's canopy approaching and turned his canopy away from the impending collision just enough to avoid him and land safely. The S&TA observed the entire event and grounded this jumper immediately for the remainder of the weekend. The S&TA then provided additional guidance on flying a landing pattern and tips for maintaining separation to help this jumper make better decisions in the future.

Jumpers must fly predictable patterns under canopy while constantly scanning for other parachute traffic to ensure adequate vertical and horizontal separation. As jumpers prepare to enter their landing patterns, including altitudes up to 2,000 feet or more above the ground, they should create the necessary separation from other canopy traffic rather than spiral to get to their entry point. Jumpers must keep their heads on a swivel under canopy—even more so when in the pattern—to look for additional parachute traffic to avoid a collision.


Age: 55
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 2,402
Skydives Within The Last 12 Months: Not reported
Time in Sport: 27 years
Cause of death: Blunt force trauma due to a hard landing following a stroke under canopy

Description: This jumper planned a solo skydive with a deployment at 5,000 feet. Witnesses on the ground first noticed him under canopy at an unreported altitude flying away from the normal landing area. When he was approximately 2,000 feet above the ground, the witnesses could see that he was slumped in his harness and not steering his canopy. His parachute then began a gradual left turn, which continued until he struck the ground in an open area off the airport. He received immediate medical attention, where first responders found him unconscious with facial injuries and a very weak pulse. He was airlifted to a local hospital, where he died later that day.

Conclusion: The report indicated that this jumper apparently suffered a debilitating stroke soon after deploying his main canopy. He had released his brakes and stowed his slider, both normal activities following a main canopy deployment. At some point above approximately 2,000 feet, he apparently lost consciousness, as he was no longer steering his parachute. He was jumping an elliptical canopy at a wing loading of 1.7:1, which produced a significant forward speed and descent rate. Although the cause of the gradual turn is unknown, it may have been due to the jumper's body position leaning more toward his left in the harness after he became unconscious. Striking the ground in a slight turn and almost in full flight at such a high wing loading resulted in fatal head and neck injuries, along with broken ribs and facial injuries.

The coroner listed the cause of death as blunt force trauma following a stroke. Even though the jumper had suffered a stroke first, the examiner deemed the trauma from the hard landing as the actual cause of death. However, the coroner determined that the stroke was severe enough that even if the jumper had suffered it while on the ground, he most likely would not have survived.

As jumpers get older, they must consider the additional physical stress that skydiving places on their body and keep an eye on any medical conditions they may have (such as high blood pressure or a family history of heart or vascular problems). This jumper underwent surgery in 2002 to have stents installed, apparently to open clogged arteries. Following the surgery, he was cleared by a doctor to resume skydiving. However, regular physical checkups are no guarantee against experiencing a stroke or heart attack while skydiving. Jumpers, especially those with pre-existing conditions, should closely monitor their health and err on the side of caution any time they don't physically feel up to jumping.

System: Sun Path Javelin
Main: Performance Research Nitro 150
Reserve: Performance Designs PD 193R
AAD: Airtec Cypres 2
Helmet: Bonehead Mamba
RSL: No

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Age: 68
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 3,800-plus
Skydives Within the Last 12 Months: 122
Time in Sport: 25 years
Cause of Death: Heart attack in freefall

Description: Following an initially uneventful 6-way group freefall, witnesses observed this jumper at breakoff altitude begin to tumble away from the formation in an uncontrolled manner. He continued to tumble in freefall until his automatic activation device deployed his reserve parachute. He landed unresponsive under his reserve with his brakes still stowed. He received immediate medical attention, but was pronounced dead at the scene.

Conclusion: According to the coroner's report, this jumper suffered a heart attack in freefall and died before he reached the ground. Although his AAD activated at the correct altitude and his reserve landed him relatively softly in an open area, rescue personnel were unable to revive him. The report did not indicate whether the jumper had any known prior medical issues that would have increased the risk of a heart attack during skydiving or strenuous activities.

As the skydiving population and USPA members grow older, each jumper needs to consider his personal health and the risks involved with skydiving, including the medical risks of a heart attack or stroke. USPA expects to see an increase in this type of accident as the baby boomer generation gets older and the average age of membership increases.

Skydiving is a physical activity that requires reasonable physical strength and agility. Those at risk of heart attack or stroke should carefully consider the additional physical stress that can result from skydiving and consult their physician if they have any questions.

System: Sun Path Javelin
Main: Performance Designs PD 190
Reserve: Performance Designs PD 160R
AAD: Airtec Cypres
Helmet: Not reported
RSL: Not reported

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*After an uneventful freefall and initial canopy descent, a student on his sixth jump was on final approach for landing, with winds reported at five mph but shifting directions by as much as 45 degrees. At approximately 100 feet above the ground, the student found himself pushed off the wind line by a gust of wind, reported only as "strong." The jumper was facing 45 degrees crosswind before he reached the ground. He flared his canopy at approximately five feet above the landing area and struck the ground hard with his legs apart and without performing a parachute landing fall. His hard landing resulted in a broken left ankle, which required surgery. He is expected to make a full recovery.

Shifting and gusty winds can create challenging landings for jumpers of all experience levels. Jumpers must fully flare their canopy at the correct height above the ground regardless of wind direction. This student may have been able to avoid injury if he had flared sooner and performed a parachute landing fall as he touched down. The report did not indicate whether the student was equipped with a radio on this jump; canopy coaching from an instructor via radio can help a student keep his canopy flying in the necessary direction and flare at the correct altitude. Gusty and shifting winds require immediate and correct steering input to keep the canopy flying in the intended direction. Training and supervised practice are essential for each skydiver to learn both basic and more advanced canopy skills.

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*After an uneventful freefall and initial canopy descent, an A-licensed skydiver with 30 jumps landed in a six-inch-deep ditch in the middle of a flat and otherwise clear landing area. She did not attempt to perform a parachute landing fall, reportedly attempting to stand up her landing instead. The hard landing resulted in a broken tibia and fibula and a dislocated ankle. The report stated that she flared her canopy "a little late" but did not state exactly how high above the ground she was when she initiated her landing flare. This jumper may have been able to avoid her injuries by changing her heading to avoid the ditch while still high enough for a slight turn to be effective and safe.

Flaring at the correct height above the ground and landing with a parachute landing fall when necessary can improve a jumper's chance of landing without injury. Skydiver's Information Manual Sections 4, 5 and 6 contain useful information and canopy training drills that can help jumpers learn more about canopy flight and landings.

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*A skydiver with more than 700 jumps was attempting to land on a target during an accuracy competition. He was jumping a 170-square-foot canopy at a wing loading of 1.3:1. At approximately 50 to 60 feet above the ground, he made a rapid 120- to 140-degree toggle turn toward the target. The jumper apparently realized almost immediately that he was dangerously low for the turn he had just initiated. He flared his canopy while it was still in a diving turn to approximately half brakes in an attempt to slow his descent. He lifted his legs and placed them out in front of him before striking the ground butt-first at a high rate of speed. He traveled another 60 feet horizontally from his point of impact and came to rest in a sitting position. The hard impact resulted in several damaged vertebrae, a broken tailbone and a sprained ankle. His injuries did not require surgery, and he is expected to make a full recovery.

The winds reportedly shifted after this jumper made his original plan for approaching the target, and there were small groups of people near the target area that may have been in the path of his planned approach. As he descended near the landing area, he may have been distracted by the crowds or surprised by the change in wind direction. Jumpers should assess landing areas and wind directions while still high enough to safely adjust their landing pattern should it become necessary. If the original landing point is not available, each descent strategy must also include a safe alternate spot and approach plan. All turns must be completed with enough altitude for the canopy to return to straight and level flight for the landing flare.

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Age: 26
Sex: Male
Time in Sport: One year
Total Number of Jumps: 119
Skydives Within the Last 12 Months: Not reported
Cause of Death: Impact after failing to deploy a main or reserve parachute

Description: This jumper was making a wingsuit jump with two other skydivers during a large event at a drop zone where he did not normally jump. The three exited a Skyvan at approximately 13,000 feet AGL (more than 17,000 feet above sea level). They continued flying together until approximately 6,000 feet above the ground, where two of the jumpers turned to fly toward the drop zone, both losing sight of this jumper before deploying their parachutes at 3,500 feet and landing uneventfully. When this jumper did not return to the drop zone after a short time, a search began.

The search party found him approximately one mile from the drop zone with his main pilot chute, cutaway handle and reserve ripcord still in place on his container. The reserve pilot chute had deployed on impact, and the reserve canopy was still in its freebag with a few feet of unstowed lines. The jumper was apparently killed instantly by the hard impact.

Conclusions: The exact details of this fatality may never be discovered. However, several factors may hint toward a potential cause. This jumper had completed approximately 20 wingsuit jumps out of his 119 total jumps. Skydiver's Information Manual Section 6-9 recommends that jumpers making wingsuit jumps have at least 500 freefall skydives—or at least 200 freefall skydives within the previous 18-months—and that they receive one-on-one instruction from an experienced wingsuit jumper. Wingsuits can add additional risks to skydiving; knowledge, practice and skill are necessary to minimize these risks. Much of this can only be acquired by gaining experience and proficiency with the basics of skydiving first.

Although oxygen was available on the load, this jumper chose not to use it. Witnesses stated that he did not exhibit any signs of hypoxia. This jumper's altitude awareness might have been affected by the visuals of jumping at a different drop zone or by the longer freefall time that is common on wingsuit jumps. He was wearing a wrist-mounted visual altimeter but not an audible altimeter, which is recommended as a valuable backup device by providing reminders at several pre-assigned altitudes. However, some audible altimeters do not work during wingsuit jumps due to the slow descent rate associated with wingsuit flights. This jumper's altimeter indicated 1,000 feet above ground level when found on the scene, but the area was actually located just 100 feet higher than the DZ's landing area. The altimeter error could have resulted from its impact with the ground at a high rate of speed, or the jumper may have set it incorrectly before the skydive.

This jumper's rig was not equipped with an automatic activation device. A functioning AAD may have deployed his reserve at a safe altitude, although it is possible for a wingsuit pilot to slow his descent rate in freefall below the speed required for most AADs to activate. Skydiver's Information Manual Section 6-9 recommends that beginning wingsuit jumpers initiate deployment no lower than 5,000 feet. Additionally, SIM Section 2-1 requires that students and A-license holders deploy their main parachute no lower than 3,000 feet AGL, B-license holders by 2,500 feet, and C- and D-license holders by 2,000 feet. As with many no-pull accidents, it is difficult to find a specific cause.

System: Rigging Innovations Talon
Main: Performance Designs PD 170
Reserve: Performance Designs PD 176R
AAD: None
Helmet: Unreported type
RSL: No

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*After an uneventful freefall, a skydiver with 81 jumps deployed her canopy at an unreported altitude. Her parachute opened with spinning line twists, which she was able to kick out of. However, due to a rapid spin caused by one brake being unstowed while the other was still set, she could not grab her toggles to release the stowed brake. She pulled her cutaway handle, and the reserve static line deployed her reserve at an unreported altitude. She found herself over trees in strong and gusty winds 1,000 feet above the ground. According to the report, she elected to land in an area she knew she could reach instead of trying to make it back to the drop zone.

The jumper reported that on her final approach, a strong gust of wind pushed her to her left. She struck a sign and then landed hard, suffering a broken pelvis in multiple places. She is expected to make a full recovery. The report did not provide any information regarding the size of the alternate landing area, the height of the sign she struck or if she attempted to use a parachute landing fall as she reached the ground.

Jumpers should pack carefully and stow both steering toggles carefully so they stay in place during deployment. Even with this jumper's relatively light wing loading of 0.8:1, SIM Section 3-2 considers the 150-square-foot seven-cell canopy she was using a high-performance canopy based on its square footage. High-performance canopies can spin violently during a malfunction or, as in this case, with one steering line released.

The report indicated winds were 15-plus mph and gusty during her jump. Strong, gusty winds can make it difficult to land safely and softly, regardless of the jumper's experience level. However, jumpers with less experience will likely have a more difficult time negotiating tricky winds than those with more jumps who have practiced their canopy skills. Often when winds become gusty, the more experienced jumpers on the drop zone stay on the ground and elect to wait for better weather conditions. Sometimes they've experienced a bad landing in strong winds or know someone who has; experience has taught many jumpers that unpredictable winds can lead to an injury or fatality. Newer jumpers can learn a valuable lesson by taking notice when a jumper with thousands of jumps stays on the ground because of wind conditions.

Gusty winds require a jumper to give immediate and correct input to his canopy to keep the canopy's wing level and flying where he wants it to go. In this case, the jumper may have corrected the push toward her left with more input to the right toggle to counter the crosswind gust. With practice, a jumper can make this type of minor correction at any time during the canopy flight, even at a low altitude and during the landing flare. However, jumpers must perform these corrections properly to avoid making the situation worse with a low turn. Using braked turns to change heading is a valuable skill for all jumpers to learn and can help in a variety of landing situations. An experienced canopy coach can teach the proper technique, which can then be practiced at altitude before performing the drill during an actual landing.

Jumpers should choose an alternate landing area that provides plenty of clear, open space, free from obstacles and far downwind of any trees or obstructions that can create additional turbulence. Skydiver's Information Manual Section 4 Category C includes information about wind and turbulence, and SIM Section 5-1 covers obstacles and off-field landing recommendations.

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*Three jumpers exited a Cessna at 10,000 feet for a planned no-contact canopy formation jump. The first jumper released a small kite connected by a 20-foot string to trail behind him as the other two canopies flew video from behind. At just over 3,000 feet AGL, the first jumper performed two practice flares on his canopy to decide if he should land with the kite attached or release it for landing. His flare slowed his canopy and caused him to gain altitude in relation to the other jumpers, and one of the other jumpers struck him from behind, entangling the two, with the first jumper passing through the second's canopy's lines. The first jumper's canopy deflated and collapsed. He then released his main canopy and deployed his reserve, which opened uneventfully.

The second jumper and his canopy's lines remained entangled with the first skydiver's cutaway canopy but still suspended under his own fully inflated main. After a few seconds, he cut away and immediately pulled his reserve ripcord. The other jumper's cutaway canopy was still caught somewhere on this jumper or his equipment, so the deploying reserve did not clear the two entangled mains. This jumper impacted the ground at a high rate of speed with just a few cells of one of the main canopies inflated and the reserve still in its freebag, trapped and entangled in the main canopies. He was found conscious and breathing, but soon had difficulty breathing and was airlifted to a hospital. The report stated he suffered multiple broken bones along with trauma to his spinal cord, which resulted in paralysis that is expected to be permanent.

Canopy formation flying requires specialized training and a plan for each canopy flight, even when there are no plans for contact or docking maneuvers. These plans should cover the exit, canopy flight, breakoff and landing procedures for each jumper on the jump. A trained canopy coach or canopy relative work coach should be consulted for any jumps that include close proximity flying of parachutes or canopy docking maneuvers. Before the flight, jumpers should carefully review emergency procedures, including responses to canopy entanglements.

This jumper was still attached to the other jumper's canopy at approximately 3,000 feet when he cut away his own canopy. A better response may have been to continue to work to clear the entanglement while he still had sufficient altitude and then release the two main canopies once he was certain he had cleared all the lines from himself and his rig. The report indicated that his own main canopy was inflated and flying, which would have provided him with some time to work on clearing the lines of the other canopy before cutting away. A hook knife can be useful in this type of situation, allowing a skydiver to cut the trapped lines instead of having to physically untangle them from the container or the jumper himself.

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*A skydiver with approximately 400 jumps deployed his main canopy at roughly 2,100 feet. His parachute opened harder than usual, resulting in several broken lines and damage to its center cell. The jumper then released his main canopy and deployed his reserve, which opened uneventfully approximately 1,500 feet above the ground. The report indicated that he was over a wooded area and did not have sufficient altitude to fly to an open field for landing. As the jumper descended into the trees, he passed through their branches before landing hard on the ground, suffering a broken tibia and fibula. He is expected to make a full recovery.

The report did not indicate if this jumper exited in the correct spot for the wind conditions or if there was another reason he opened in a location that would not allow him to land in a clear area, even from 1,500 feet under a reserve parachute. Jumpers should check the spot before leaving the airplane; if unable to do so due to a group exit, they should check the spot soon after leaving the airplane. It may be best to break off early if safely possible to deploy high enough to reach a clear area for landing.

A post-jump inspection of this jumper's main canopy found that it was in poor condition prior to this jump and had been in need of a new line set and slider replacement long before this jump. Regular canopy and line inspections can help identify items that need to be repaired before they become bad enough to warrant a cutaway and reserve ride. Skydiver's Information Manual Section 4 Category E includes training on canopy inspections that can serve as a beneficial guideline for all jumpers. A parachute rigger or canopy manufacturer can be a good resource for main canopy inspections and repairs as well.

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*A skydiver with 127 jumps landed downwind in 10-mph winds. He flared his canopy to a half-braked position just as he reached the ground and the side of an upward-sloping hill, which further reduced the effectiveness of his partial flare. As he landed, he fell forward on his side, shoulder and head. The hard landing resulted in several injuries, including a bruised shoulder, broken ribs and a pulmonary embolism, as well as a concussion that briefly rendered him unconscious. He is expected to make a full recovery from his injuries.

This jumper had recently returned to the sport after a long layoff. He had planned his landing pattern before the jump but landed facing opposite the direction in his flight plan, possibly due to misreading the wind sock, though it had not changed direction. Skydivers should monitor the wind direction and plan accordingly—before boarding the aircraft and throughout the canopy descent and landing. USPA's canopy flight planner is a valuable tool that can help students and licensed jumpers plan the jump run and spot for current conditions, as well as planning canopy descents and landing patterns. USPA customizes the planner for each drop zone using an aerial photograph to show the DZ's layout and compass headings. The planner is available through the USPA Shop in either an electronic file format or in printed pads.

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*A student on her 25th jump was on final approach to landing. She started her flare 12 to15 feet above the ground and pulled the toggles only to her shoulders, not fully flaring her parachute. She landed hard, with most of her weight initially on her right leg as she touched down, resulting in a broken lower leg. Jumpers must fully flare their canopies to slow down before reaching the ground and prepare for a parachute landing fall in case of a harder-than-usual landing. Skydivers can improve their landings through training and practice. Jumpers must also remain focused during each phase of the skydive—including the freefall, canopy descent and landing.

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*A skydiver with approximately two years in the sport and 400 jumps was using an elliptical canopy at a wing loading of 1.5:1. After an uneventful freefall and initial canopy descent from a Twin Otter with 22 other jumpers aboard, he planned to make a 90-degree turn at 400 feet above the ground for his final approach. However, he encountered additional canopy traffic that prevented him from making his planned turn to final, so he continued flying crosswind before attempting to turn into the wind on final at an altitude too low to recover from his turn. He struck the ground while still in a diving turn at a high rate of descent and fast forward speed. The hard landing resulted in a broken left femur, which required surgery to repair, but the jumper is expected to make a full recovery.

This skydiver may have been able to avoid the traffic conflict with better planning of his canopy descent before reaching pattern altitude. With canopy traffic heavy, choosing a different landing site and flying out of the traffic if possible may have been a better option. If the jumper had found himself higher than the majority of the other canopies after opening, he may have been able to fly his parachute in deep brakes to slow his descent and allow the other skydivers to land before him. If he had been below the majority of the traffic, he could have considered performing a spiraling turn while keeping track of his flight path and while still at a safe altitude to get below and land ahead of the other canopies. Lastly, once the jumper found himself too low on his base leg to recover from a standard turn to final, he could have considered a braked turn or continued straight if his airspace was clear and landed crosswind.

Flying a high-performance canopy at a high wing loading requires careful planning and execution of all phases of the canopy descent and landing. The additional speed and faster descent rate can be difficult to manage, particularly in heavy traffic conditions at pattern altitudes below 1,000 feet. At only 400 jumps, this jumper had to rapidly downsize to get to such a high wing loading in such a short time. Jumpers should only downsize to a smaller parachute after becoming completely proficient with their current canopy. The report did not indicate if this jumper had received any type of advanced canopy training from an experienced canopy coach. Skydiver's Information Manual Sections 6-10 and 6-11 contain recommendations and useful canopy exercises that can benefit jumpers of all experience levels. An experienced canopy coach should present the material for best results. All turns must be completed with enough altitude for the canopy to return to straight and level flight for the landing flare.

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*A skydiver with 1,100 jumps and 12 years in the sport was making a 2-way freefly jump from 15,000 feet. Following an uneventful freefall, the second jumper deployed her main canopy at 3,500 feet while this jumper remained in a head-down position and videoed her deployment. He continued flying head-down while looking up toward her opening canopy before rotating to a belly-to-earth orientation to deploy. Witnesses reported that he deployed his main canopy at approximately 800 feet, which opened with line twists. At almost the same time, his Cypres automatic activation device activated his reserve.

The jumper's two canopies formed a downplane at approximately 300 feet. Witnesses reported that the jumper then tried to gain control of his main canopy by pulling on the risers and then both steering lines while the canopy remained in line twists. The jumper continued in a fast, spiraling descent under both canopies until impact, where he was knocked unconscious from the hard landing, suffering severe head trauma, as well as a broken pelvis and arm. As of press time, he was reportedly still unconscious in a hospital's intensive care unit, but the report did not provide any additional information regarding the outlook for his recovery.

Every group skydive should include a plan for breakoff and deployment procedures, even for a group as small as two jumpers. The report did not indicate whether filming the jumper's opening was originally part of the plan for the skydive. Jumpers must plan a breakoff altitude that allows them to gain horizontal separation and still deploy at a safe altitude following a group freefall. For skydives where one jumper is filming another's deployment, the first skydiver's deployment altitude must be high enough to allow the camera flyer to film the deployment, track horizontally and deploy at a safe altitude at or above 2,000 feet (for C- or D-license holders).

It's easy to lose track of altitude while flying head-down due to the orientation's faster vertical speed and the different visual picture that the jumper has of the earth. This jumper was not wearing an audible altimeter; Skydiver's Information Manual Section 6-2 recommends that jumpers use two audible altimeters while freeflying. SIM Section 5-1 also recommends that jumpers faced with a downplane malfunction disconnect their reserve static line (if their rig is so equipped and if time allows), release the main canopy and land under their reserve. This jumper used valuable altitude attempting to control his main canopy, which was in line twists and could not be steered until the twists were cleared. Releasing his main canopy may have allowed him a safe landing under his reserve.

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*After an uneventful freefall and initial canopy descent, a first-jump student on final approach drifted beyond his intended grass landing area and above a concrete surface, which was flat and free of obstacles. While slightly crosswind on final, he partially flared his canopy at approximately 30 to 40 feet before fully flaring while still too high for a normal flare. He landed hard on the concrete without performing a parachute landing fall and suffered a broken lower right leg and abrasions on his right side. In cases of a hard landing, a parachute landing fall can help reduce the chance of injury.

The report did not indicate whether there was any assistance by an instructor or other personnel using a radio to help the student with his planned canopy flight. Use of a radio as a backup for solo students can help them fly their planned pattern and avoid obstacles or hard landing surfaces.

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*A skydiver with 200 jumps and a wing loading of 1.4:1 exited the airplane at 5,000 feet with the intention of making a high-performance landing. Before the jump, an instructor warned this jumper to be careful and mentioned to him that he should be wearing a helmet, which he was not. At approximately 100 to 200 feet above the ground, the jumper made one abrupt 180-degree turn and began a second 180-degree turn before striking the ground at the same time as his canopy with the parachute in a steep dive. After the initial impact, he traveled another 40 feet horizontally while wrapped in the lines and canopy material before coming to a stop. The impact was so hard that it also resulted in his reserve container opening.

The jumper received immediate medical attention and was airlifted to a hospital in critical condition. He suffered severe head trauma, as well as multiple broken bones in his ribs, pelvis and legs. The hospital placed him in a medically induced coma and performed surgery to repair his broken bones. As of press time, the jumper had been in a coma for a month since his injury, but the S&TA reports he is slowly responding.

USPA receives many similar reports of this type of canopy accident each year, with most resulting in a fatality or serious injury. Jumpers who choose to pursue high-performance canopy landings should get experienced canopy coaching and follow a structured program to learn the necessary skills to eliminate as much risk as possible. Even with training and experience, high-speed landings can be extremely dangerous, and jumpers must consider whether it is actually worth the risk of serious injury or death. All turns must be completed with enough altitude for the canopy to return to straight and level flight for the landing flare.

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*A skydiver with 1,000 jumps arrived at the drop zone and picked up her rig for a day of jumping after a recent reserve repack. When she thoroughly inspected her rig while getting ready for the first load of the day, she noticed that the reserve ripcord had apparently not been routed correctly since it was not attached to anything under the reserve flap. Her container, a United Parachute Technologies Micron equipped with a Sky Hook reserve static line (RSL), uses a reserve ripcord that is separate from the RSL lanyard and closing pin. With this system, it is possible to insert the reserve closing pin through its closing loop without attaching the reserve ripcord.

The rigger who packed the reserve was not at the drop zone, so the jumper had a second rigger confirm what she had found. In this instance, pulling the reserve ripcord would not have worked to open the reserve because the pin was not attached. In the event of a partial malfunction, the RSL would have pulled the reserve ripcord pin following a cutaway, provided the RSL shackle was attached to the main canopy riser and functioned properly. In the case of a total malfunction, only the jumper's AAD cutting the reserve loop or the jumper physically grabbing the RSL lanyard and pulling it would have opened the reserve container. The second rigger repacked the reserve and properly inserted the closing pin through the reserve ripcord before inserting the pin through the reserve closing loop.

This incident shows the importance of a thorough gear check and how important it is for each jumper to have thorough knowledge of their equipment. This applies even when a jumper's gear has been inspected or maintained by a very experienced rigger.


Age: 44
Sex: Male
Time in Sport: Four years
Total Number of Jumps: 1,100
Skydives Within the Last 12 Months: 350
Cause of Death: Hard landing following a low turn under canopy

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.

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.

System: Mirage Systems G3
Main: Performance Designs Velocity 90; Wing loading: 2.1:1
Reserve: Performance Designs PD 143R
AAD: Airtec Cypres 2
Helmet: Not reported
RSL: Not reported

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*After an uneventful freefall and initial canopy descent, a tandem instructor completed several practice landing drills with his student at approximately 3,500 feet. The six-foot, two-inch, 210-pound student was initially unable to lift his legs high enough to remain above the tandem instructor's feet. While practicing, the student was then able to pull his knees higher by pulling on the leg grippers of his jumpsuit with his hands. However, as the pair landed, the student let his legs drop, and his feet reached the ground before the instructor could touch down. The tandem instructor rolled over top of the student, who suffered a broken ankle; the instructor was uninjured. Tandem students must keep their legs and feet up during the landing in order to prevent this type of injury. The tandem instructor's height was not reported; however with taller students, it's helpful if the tandem instructor is also tall and the student's harness is adjusted properly to keep the student suspended as high as possible relative the tandem instructor during the canopy descent.

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*An experienced wingsuit jumper with 664 wingsuit skydives was exiting last from a King Air at 14,000 feet. As the jumper passed through the door, he felt the airplane begin to descend, but it was too late to stop his exit. He struck the airplane's horizontal stabilizer with the back of his left leg and suffered multiple injuries, including cuts, bruises and a broken femur. He tumbled for a short time after the impact but regained stability. He remained in freefall briefly before deploying his main canopy.

Knowing he had suffered a broken leg from the impact with the plane, the jumper flew to the drop zone and landed with a parachute landing fall, rolling onto his right side to help protect his broken left leg. He received immediate medical attention and was transported to the local hospital, where he underwent surgery. Damage to the airplane was limited to the leading edge of the horizontal stabilizer, and the plane landed uneventfully.

Even though this jumper was exiting last, he sat at the back of the airplane instead of sitting near the pilot. The other groups had exited, and the pilot was unaware that a wingsuit jumper was on board. As the last group left the plane, the pilot did not see the wingsuit jumper approaching the door and thought the aircraft was empty. Jumpers and pilots must communicate on each load so both know what to expect during jump run and exit. This holds especially true with aircraft capable of flying multiple groups. Skydiver's Information Manual Section 6-9 contains recommendations for wingsuit jumpers, stating they should exit either first or last and brief the pilot about their exit and flight plan intended for each wingsuit skydive. Jump plane pilots should check carefully before descending to ensure all jumpers are out of the airplane and it's safe to begin the descent.

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*A skydiver with 25 jumps was on final approach preparing to flare in shifting winds, which were gusting from eight to 14 mph. As she flared the canopy, she experienced a gust that turned her canopy slightly crosswind. She reached toward the ground with her downwind hand, her left, turning the parachute farther crosswind before striking the ground. The hard landing resulted in cuts, bruises and a twisted ankle.

Crosswind gusts can occur on days when the winds are gusty and shifting directions, but this doesn't change the fact that a jumper must continue to fly his canopy until he has touched down and come to a complete stop. Jumpers commonly react the way this skydiver did, reaching for the ground toward the low side of their body in an effort to break the fall. However, this reaction extends that steering line farther and actually causes the canopy to turn even harder into the ground. The correct response to a crosswind gust is to steer the canopy back into the wind; in this case, it would have been necessary to pull the right toggle down farther than the left in order to face into the wind. A jumper can do this even as he flares the canopy for landing, but it does require skill and practice at altitude to learn the proper technique. Also, in the event of a harder than usual landing, a parachute landing fall can help lessen the chance of an injury.


*Following an uneventful 9-way formation skydive and initial canopy descent beginning at 3,000 feet, an A-licensed jumper with 77 jumps found himself as one of the lowest jumpers on the load under canopy. As he descended through 2,000 feet, he initiated a fast, spiraling turn to provide additional vertical separation between himself and the canopies above. He stopped spiraling at approximately 1,000 feet and noticed that his main canopy seemed to be “acting funny.” His container was equipped with a student-model Airtec Cypres automatic activation device, which had sensed his rapid descent as he spiraled his canopy and subsequently activated his reserve parachute. His 176-square-foot reserve deployed and inflated behind his main, a 170-square-foot parachute. The reserve then settled next to the main to form a side-by-side formation, with his main on the left and the reserve on the right.

The jumper initially tried to fly the two canopies toward a clear area using the already unstowed toggles on his main canopy. The wind was blowing him toward a less-than-ideal landing area surrounded by trees, power lines, a fence and a busy road. Pulling on the main canopy's left toggle only resulted in the two canopies separating from each other and did not successfully alter his course. Shortly before landing and in a final attempt to steer himself away from a power line, he released the reserve's left brake with his right hand and pulled the left toggles on both canopies at the same time. Just before he hit the ground, he placed the reserve canopy's left toggle in a position that he estimated was equal to the pull from the reserve's right toggle (still in the stowed position) in an attempt to neutralize the effect on the canopy's flight from having one toggle stowed and one unstowed. He reported that he was unsure what happened next but that he landed in a clear area descending straight down and very hard. He later said that he immediately felt the wind get knocked out of him and pain in his lower back. It was not clear if his final attempt to steer the canopies caused his descent to accelerate toward the ground or if there was some other cause for the hard landing. He was taken by ambulance to a local hospital but did not require surgery for his injuries.

This jumper's exit weight was 220 pounds, and his wing loading for both canopies was 1.3:1, which falls into a range the manufacturer of both canopies recommends only for expert skydivers. Although the manufacturer does not state what qualifies someone as an expert skydiver, most people in the skydiving industry would consider a jumper with 77 skydives to be a novice rather than an expert.

Both student and expert Cypres units are designed to deploy a reserve canopy at an altitude of 750 feet above the ground when a descent rate is calculated to be faster than 78 mph. The student unit also includes an additional feature designed to deploy the reserve canopy if the descent rate is between 29 and 78 mph as a jumper passes through 1,000 feet. This additional parameter is built into the device to deploy the reserve canopy should a student experience a partial malfunction with a fast descent rate and not perform emergency procedures. The student-model's user manual cautions that it is possible to exceed a vertical speed of 29 mph under a fully inflated canopy and also recommends that the unit be turned off if descending in an airplane to avoid activation during descent.

With the performance of modern canopies, it is easy for jumpers to exceed the vertical speed that will cause a student model to activate. Jumpers using gear equipped with the student model should avoid aggressive canopy maneuvers near or below 1,000 feet. In addition, this jumper's high wing loading on his main canopy greatly increased the parachute's responsiveness and the aggressiveness of its turns, which contributed to the rapid increase in his vertical speed when he spiraled the canopy.

Based on a series of tests performed in the mid-'90s in a controlled environment using a variety of canopy sizes, Skydiver's Information Manual Section 5-1 recommends one of two different procedures for managing a side-by-side canopy situation. Procedure one calls for disconnecting the reserve static line and then pulling the cutaway handle to release the main canopy; jumpers should cut away from this configuration only when there's no chance of the two canopies becoming entangled after the main is released. The second procedure calls for landing under both canopies by releasing both brakes of the larger, more dominant canopy to steer toward a clear area.

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*A D-licensed jumper with more than 5,000 skydives was performing a classic style series in freefall when he noticed his right steering toggle whipping around in the air behind him. The toggle and brake line had become dislodged and escaped from the riser cover of his container, and the steering toggle was spinning around above his back. He then deployed higher than normal—at 4,000 feet—in case he experienced a deployment problem. His toggle entangled with his main pilot chute, and the main container subsequently did not open. He attempted to retrieve the entanglement but was unsuccessful. He tilted the right side of his body down slightly before deploying his reserve to try and provide as much clear airspace as possible for the reserve pilot chute launch and canopy deployment. The reserve deployed uneventfully, and he landed safely under the canopy. Careful riser placement and stowing of excess steering line while packing the main canopy can help prevent this type of malfunction from occurring. In recent years, many container manufacturers have made riser cover modifications to help keep risers and steering lines secure until the main canopy is deployed.

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*Following an uneventful freefall and initial canopy descent, a student with five jumps flew a normal landing pattern and was on final approach to land with the assistance of an instructor on radio. The student partially flared the canopy by pulling both toggles to his shoulders at approximately 10 to 15 feet above the ground but did not pull the toggles any farther. The instructor used the radio to remind the student to flare fully, but the student never finished the maneuver and suffered a broken and dislocated ankle. Landing injuries can be avoided by flaring the canopy fully at the correct altitude and by keeping both legs together to perform a parachute landing fall in case of a rough landing.

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*A jumper with approximately 175 skydives and flying a 170-square-foot semi-elliptical canopy with a wing loading of 1.3:1 was participating in a canopy control course, which consisted of a series of training jumps throughout the day. The plan for this particular jump consisted of front riser maneuvers in the landing pattern—pulling both front risers down evenly to experiment with increasing the canopy's speed, then stopping all maneuvers above 300 feet to prepare for a normal-speed landing. Video review of this jumper's landing showed him holding both front risers down all the way through landing and actually pulling them down farther just before striking the ground. The jumper may have become confused and tried to flare the canopy at the last second using his front risers; however, pulling them down farther only increased his speed and rate of descent. The hard landing resulted in multiple broken bones, including his pelvis and three lower vertebrae. The jumper was airlifted to a local hospital, where he underwent a series of surgeries. He is expected to recover from his injuries after a long period of rehabilitation.

This jumper had a history of aggressive canopy flight beyond his current skill level and failing to follow advice from more experienced jumpers. Canopy control courses have proven very effective for many jumpers, provided the course candidates actually follow the plan for each training jump. Jumpers who choose to ignore the training or skip steps run the risk of a serious injury such as in this case. Jumpers should receive detailed instructions for any new canopy landing maneuver, and the maneuver should be practiced repeatedly at a safe altitude before the jumper actually uses it for landing.


Age: 49
Sex: Male
Time in Sport: 12 years
Total Number of Jumps: 139
Skydives Within the Last 12 Months: 52
Cause of Death: Hard landing under a spinning main canopy

Description: After an uneventful solo freefall, this jumper deployed his main canopy at approximately 2,500 feet. It is unclear whether he had a functioning parachute during any part of his canopy ride; however, witness reports indicated his canopy had spinning line twists for at least the last seven to 10 revolutions before he struck the ground in a fast, spiraling descent. He received immediate medical attention, but died at the scene from internal injuries suffered in the hard landing.

Conclusions: Although all witnesses agreed this jumper experienced line twists at the beginning and end of his canopy flight, some said he removed the twists for part of the canopy descent, while others reported that the twists never cleared and that he remained in spinning line twists for the entire descent. Investigators found this jumper with both toggles in his hands and both of the canopy's brakes released. This likely indicates that the he cleared the line twists at some point during descent and then released his brakes to steer his canopy.

The report indicated this jumper had made aggressive toggle turns in the past. On most makes and models of canopies, it's possible to induce line twists by rapidly pulling down one toggle. In this situation, it would be difficult to regain control of the canopy with the steering lines caught in the line twists, as the canopy would almost certainly remain in a turn until the jumper could clear the twists. This type of self-induced malfunction has led to several fatal landings in the past after jumpers induced spinning line twists at a low altitude and didn't have the time or altitude to safely handle the problem.

If a jumper encounters a main canopy that cannot be landed safely, he must initiate emergency procedures at a safe altitude. Section 5-1 of the Skydiver's Information Manual recommends that students and A-licensed jumpers cut away and deploy their reserve at or above 2,500 feet above the ground and that B- through D-licensed holders take action at or above 1,800 feet.

At some point, it becomes too low for a jumper to cut away, and deploying the reserve without first cutting away may be the only remaining option to try and slow the descent. Although the Skydiver's Information Manual doesn't recommend a specific altitude for licensed jumpers to transition to a reserve deployment without first cutting away, Section 4 of the SIM recommends that students who are 1,000 feet or below with a partial malfunction deploy their reserve without first cutting away their main. Experienced jumpers should also take into consideration their equipment and each possible malfunction scenario before deciding a hard deck for whether or not to first initiate a cutaway. A jumper should decide this altitude well before he gets on the plane so he can initiate a quick response when an emergency arises.

Investigators did not report any problem with this jumper's equipment and concluded that the uncontrolled spin was most likely the result of spinning line twists induced by a rapid toggle turn at approximately 1,000 feet.

Category G of the Integrated Student Program includes ground training and canopy drills, which include maximum-performance canopy turns. These drills help jumpers become familiar with the limits of each canopy they jump. The exercises should be performed above 2,500 feet in case line twists are induced; however, the intent of the drills is for each jumper to learn how his canopy reacts and how his harness begins to rotate just before line twists begin so he can stop the turn before twists are induced.

System: Velocity Sports Infinity
Main: Icarus Safire2 189; Wing Loading: 1.3:1
Reserve: Performance Designs PD 176R
AAD: Airtec Cypres
Helmet: Not reported
RSL: Yes

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*A USPA PRO-rated jumper with 14,000 jumps was making a demonstration jump into a Level 2 landing site (an area that must allow 5,000 square feet per four jumpers) using a tandem parachute system in order to fly a large American flag into the event. Five other jumpers landed uneventfully and were in the landing area waiting to catch the 3,500-square-foot flag. While this skydiver was on final approach, a small child ran into the landing area and into his path and that of his large flag, which utilized a 75-pound weight at the bottom of the leading edge. The jumper was forced to turn hard in order to miss the child, which caused the weight of the flag to swing to one side and catch in a tree. The canopy then dropped the jumper hard from approximately 20 to 40 feet, where he was initially knocked unconscious. He received immediate medical attention at the scene and was airlifted to a local hospital. He suffered multiple broken bones, including vertebrae in his lower back, but is expected to fully recover from his injuries. Although the landing area had been secured by more than 40 adults and an experienced ground crew, the child had come from a cabin where he had been sleeping, and the ground crew apparently had not anticipated spectators to enter from that side of the field. Jumpers and ground crew should try and anticipate all possible scenarios regarding crowd control and prepare accordingly while erring on the side of caution.

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*After an uneventful freefall and initial canopy descent, an accelerated freefall first-jump student initially followed a correct landing pattern and was on his final approach and facing into the wind for landing. At approximately 50 feet, the student made an unexpected 90-degree turn to a crosswind direction. He then partially flared his canopy, pulling the toggles to his chest. His instructor directed him via radio to return his toggles to full flight, which the student did for only a second or two before fully flaring his canopy at approximately 30 feet. He held his toggles down to full arm extension for the remainder of the canopy ride. The instructor told the student to assume the parachute landing fall position for landing, but the student kept his legs apart, and the hard landing resulted in a broken ankle. He is expected to make a full recovery.

The student had followed his flight plan for landing up through his final approach, but he deviated from his training and disregarded directions given to him by his instructor both before the jump and via radio. A proper landing flare at the correct height above the ground—preferably facing into the wind—will improve a jumper's chance for a successful landing.

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*After an uneventful tandem freefall under a fully inflated drogue, a tandem instructor pulled the first drogue release handle at 5,500 feet. The drogue didn't release to initiate main canopy deployment, so the instructor pulled the secondary drogue release, which also had no effect. He then went back to ensure he had actually pulled the first drogue handle and then pulled the reserve ripcord. The reserve pilot chute and freebag cleared the inflated drogue, and the reserve inflated fully. The main canopy then also deployed and inflated behind the reserve canopy. The instructor pulled his cutaway handle to release the main canopy, but the reserve static line on the tandem system was connected to both risers, which caused the main canopy to slide up the reserve lines and choke off the reserve canopy to approximately one-third its normal size. The main canopy remained mostly inflated above the reserve but created an uncontrollable right-hand turn. The pair landed hard with the canopy still in a turn. The tandem instructor suffered a broken leg, and the student complained of back pain after the landing; however, the report did not indicate the extent of either jumper's injuries.

The tandem instructor was very experienced with a different tandem system, having made more than 2,000 tandem jumps. He had recently cross-trained to the Jump Shack Racer tandem system, which was the equipment used for this jump. The tandem drogue bridle was apparently packed in such a way as to prevent the drogue from releasing when either drogue release handle was pulled, which is a dangerous situation with any tandem system. Standard and emergency operating procedures differ between tandem systems; it is critical that a tandem instructor follow the correct emergency procedures for each system he uses.

The Racer tandem system (along with all other models of Racer harness and containers) uses a reserve static-line lanyard that is connected to both main canopy risers. If the reserve canopy deploys and the main canopy inflates afterward, the instructor must disconnect the reserve static line before he releases the main canopy. Otherwise, the main risers will slide up the reserve with the RSL in front of the reserve risers and lines, thus choking off the reserve canopy. Skydiver's Information Manual Section 5-1 recommends that jumpers with both the main and reserve canopies inflated at the same time should disconnect the reserve static line before releasing the main canopy. All tandem instructors must carefully review the emergency procedures for the equipment they use, especially those who are rated on more than one tandem system and when the procedures differ between the two. Additionally, tandem systems must be packed in accordance to the manufacturer's instructions in order to ensure the system works as designed.

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Age: 33
Sex: Male
Time in Sport: Five years
Total Number of Jumps: 500-plus
Skydives Within the Last 12 Months: 50-plus
Cause of Death: Hard impact following a low turn under canopy

Description: After an uneventful freefall and initial canopy descent, this jumper initiated a 180-degree turn at an unknown altitude and struck the ground while still in a diving turn. The hard landing resulted in multiple broken bones and internal injuries. He received immediate medical attention, but was pronounced dead on the scene.

Conclusions: This jumper was landing off the normal landing area into a field close to the drop zone; he had flown his canopy downwind of the intended landing area for unknown reasons. Investigators suspect that he then made a last-second turn in an attempt to avoid power lines near where he landed.

This jumper was jumping a elliptical canopy at a 1.4:1 wing-loading, which the manufacturer recommends for jumpers of intermediate experience level. The manufacturer does not list the number of jumps or experience required to be considered an intermediate jumper; however, jumpers at this wing loading should be very competent canopy pilots, which requires staying very current. At 500 jumps total and only 50 jumps in the past 12 months, this jumper's experience may have been a factor in the accidental low turn. Highly wing-loaded elliptical canopies will lose a large amount of altitude during a turn, and a jumper must always keep that in mind when flying this type of parachute. The landing pattern needs to be carefully considered, and all turns must be completed with enough altitude for the canopy to return to straight and level flight for the landing flare.

Skydiver's Information Manual Section 5-1 includes recommendations for off-field landings, which specifically warn against making low turns while avoiding obstacles. When faced with an off-field landing, a jumper should carefully scan the selected alternate landing area for any hazards while still high enough to fly to a different location if needed. Once the jumper has selected an alternate site, he should determine a descent strategy based upon the wind speed and direction, as well as the specific challenges of the area.

A braked approach and landing can provide for a slower, safer descent into an unfamiliar landing area. Jumpers should practice braked canopy flight and landings often to become familiar with flying a canopy at slower forward speeds and descent rates. All jumpers can benefit from canopy training beyond the basic instruction taught to student skydivers. Many professional canopy schools offer this type of training, and SIM Sections 6-10 and 6-11 include useful information and canopy drills designed to improve the skills and knowledge of each jumper who works through the training outline with an experienced canopy coach.

System: Sunrise Manufacturing Wings
Main: Precision Aerodynamics Nitron 170; Wing Loading: 1.4:1
Reserve: Precision Aerodynamics Raven 181-M
AAD: None
Helmet: Bonehead Havok (full face)
RSL: No

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Age: 45
Sex: Male
Time in Sport: 12 years
Total Number of Jumps: 500-plus
Skydives Within the Last 12 Months: 27
Cause of Death: Hard impact following a low turn under canopy

Description: After an uneventful solo freefall and initial canopy descent, this jumper initiated a low turn under canopy and struck the ground hard while still in a diving turn. First responders found him lying on his side, unconscious but still breathing. He received immediate first aid and was taken by ambulance to a local hospital. As a result of the hard landing, he suffered multiple broken bones, internal injuries and head trauma. Due to the extent of his injuries, he was airlifted to a second hospital, where he died several hours after he arrived.

Conclusions: A witness under canopy above this jumper observed him turn approximately 180 degrees before he struck the ground. Investigators believe he initiated the turn at an extremely low altitude, although there were no witnesses in a position to accurately gauge the altitude.

Since there was no wind when this jumper's load took off, all seven skydivers on the plane agreed to land facing west unless the wind picked up from a different direction. A few minutes after they were under canopy, the wind increased slightly to a few miles per hour from the southeast. This jumper initially faced into the new wind direction during his landing approach but turned toward the northwest right before he struck the ground. He may have planned his final approach to land facing into the wind but changed his mind at the last minute in an attempt to face the direction initially agreed upon. There were no obstacles in the immediate area that should have influenced his decision about the landing direction.

The report described this jumper as a conservative canopy pilot who was not known to have attended any structured canopy training course or to have ever worked with a more experienced canopy pilot on canopy skills. The evidence seems to indicate this was a case of a turn initiated too low in an attempt to land in the agreed-upon direction; however, it is difficult to come to determine the reason for the jumper's final turn at such a low altitude.

Light, shifting winds can lead to jumpers on the same load landing in different directions as each jumper chases the wind sock or streamer when it changes direction. Wind speeds of just a few miles per hour will not greatly affect the landing flare, and it is almost always safer for jumpers on the same load to fly the same canopy pattern than for them to use a variety of approaches while attempting to follow a shifting wind sock. Smaller flags and wind streamers easily change direction with the slightest breeze, which can lead to confusion for jumpers under canopy trying to determine a wind orientation for their final approach and landing. A large tetrahedron can help establish a landing direction for all wind conditions, as it is unaffected by light winds and will stay pointing in one direction unless the wind speed increases beyond three or four miles per hour from another bearing.

Many structured canopy courses include discussions on a large variety of landing conditions, including traffic management in variable winds; course training exercises typically include at least one crosswind landing in a controlled environment as well. Skydiver's Information Manual Sections 6-10 and 6-11 include information and practice exercises that can help jumpers learn more about canopy flight through any course led by an experienced canopy coach.

Regardless of wind direction or speed, it is safer to land a parachute that is flying straight with the wing level than it is to initiate a low turn to attempt to land into the wind. Ultimately, all turns must be completed with enough altitude for the canopy to return to straight and level flight for the landing flare.

System: Strong Enterprises Quasar II
Main: Performance Designs Spectre 190; Wing Loading 1.2:1
Reserve: Strong Enterprises Stellar 180
AAD: None
Helmet: None
RSL: No

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*A tandem pair attempted to return to the main landing area after opening at a normal tandem deployment altitude far upwind of the drop zone. The tandem instructor's final descent would have placed the pair close to the end of one of the airport's two runways. Because an aircraft was on final approach to that runway, the instructor was forced to choose a new—and less ideal—landing site, and the tandem pair landed crosswind into the only clear area available. As they reached the ground, the student caught his foot on rough ground and broke his ankle. The instructor was not injured.

Tandem instructors should check the spot during drogue-fall and deploy higher than planned if safely possible to make it back to the main landing area. Skydiver's Information Manual Section 5-1 contains information on off-field landings and recommends that jumpers not waste altitude trying to reach the main landing area if a viable alternative is available. Once a jumper has selected an alternate landing area, he must carefully scan for power lines and other obstacles while still high enough to adjust his landing pattern if necessary.

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*A tandem instructor experienced a longer-than-normal climbout with his student and subsequently opened far upwind of the drop zone. After selecting an alternate landing area, the instructor observed a large set of power lines in his flight path when the pair was approximately 50 to 100 feet above the ground. He turned 90 degrees to the right in an attempt to miss the lines and land in a clear area, but the pair struck a smaller set of power lines after completing the turn. The impact detached the power lines from the pole and swung the tandem pair behind the canopy, which then surged forward as the two struck pavement face down. The student suffered injuries to his face and back from the hard landing, but the tandem instructor was uninjured. The student is expected to make a full recovery.

As soon as a jumper realizes he cannot reach the intended landing area, he must select an off-field landing site. He should then carefully scan the new area for hazards, such as power lines or rough terrain, and adjust his landing pattern accordingly to avoid them. The report did not mention problems with visibility; however, this jump occurred late in the afternoon, which may have made it difficult for the instructor to see any ground hazards due to the position of the sun. Skydiver's Information Manual Section 5-1 includes off-field landing recommendations and suggests looking for power line towers or poles—since they're easier to spot than power lines themselves—while still high enough to adjust the landing pattern.

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*A skydiver with approximately 1,800 jumps was under an elliptical canopy at a wing loading of 1.5:1. He initiated a 90-degree turn to the left at approximately 100 feet and realized almost immediately he had started the turn too low. He pulled on both rear risers in an attempt to plane the canopy out, but his descent rate was still very steep. He released the risers and attempted to flare the canopy using his toggles; however, his left toggle was either initially not in his hand or slipped from it, and he struck the ground hard without flaring the canopy. He suffered multiple broken bones, including his pelvis and left femur, but is expected to make a full recovery. Jumpers should keep their hands in their toggles from the time they release their brakes until after they've landed. This includes jumpers using front or rear risers to control the canopy before the landing flare; any riser input should be made with toggles firmly in hand.

USPA receives several reports each year of injuries that occur when a jumper either drops a toggle or does not have his toggles in hand when the canopy needs to be flared for landing. Although this jumper had initiated his final turn too low, a witness reported that “stabbing out” by flaring hard with both toggles would most likely have prevented the hard landing and injuries. Still, jumpers should initiate all high-performance turns with enough altitude to allow for the canopy to return to straight and level flight following the canopy's natural recovery arc. This jumper had attended an advanced canopy course a few months earlier. USPA and most canopy courses stress that a jumper should practice all landing maneuvers high above the landing area before attempting them on an actual landing. Jumpers should also be prepared to abort a turn at any time during the landing.

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Age: 49
Sex: Male
Time in Sport: 28 years
Total Number of Jumps: 1,347
Skydives Within the Last 12 Months: 175
Cause of Death: Low cutaway and reserve deployment following a canopy entanglement

Description: Following an uneventful 11-way group freefall that broke off at 5,000 feet, this jumper deployed his main canopy at approximately 2,000 feet. Once his canopy inflated, it began to turn in an unreported direction. Shortly after, this jumper collided with a second skydiver from his group who had experienced line twists upon deployment and was unable to steer his main canopy. The first jumper became wrapped in the second jumper's canopy and lines, partially collapsing both parachutes. The entangled jumpers and canopies began to spin, with the second jumper thrown toward the outside of the entanglement and orbiting around the first jumper, who was still caught in the canopies. After 10 to 15 revolutions, the second jumper cut away his main canopy, and his Skyhook RSL activated his reserve almost immediately at an altitude of approximately 500 feet.

After a few seconds, the two jumpers' main canopies disentangled from the first jumper, who then released his main canopy at an altitude estimated at 200 feet. His RSL activated his reserve immediately; however, the cutaway took place too low to allow for the reserve canopy to fully inflate before he struck the ground. He received immediate medical attention from medical professionals on the scene and was airlifted to a hospital, but he died of his injuries en route. The second jumper received injuries to his head, neck and chest from the canopy collision. He was treated at the local hospital and released a few hours later.

Conclusion: As with many fatalities, this was caused by a chain of events that combined for a fatal result. Breaking any of the links in the chain may have changed the outcome. If the two jumpers had been farther apart during deployment, it may have allowed for the canopies to remain clear of each other after opening even though both jumpers experienced canopy problems that prevented on-heading openings. It's possible that the two jumpers tracked away from the formation in similar directions or that other traffic issues prevented them from tracking the direction they needed to go (typically 180 degrees from the center of the formation) to maintain a safe distance between them. Using a flat tracking position can help jumpers achieve more distance from the formation and gain separation from other jumpers in the group.

Skydiver's Information Manual Section 6-1 recommends a breakoff altitude of at least 2,000 feet above the highest planned deployment. This group broke 3,000 feet above the Basic Safety Requirements' minimum opening altitude for C- and D-licensed skydivers of 2,000 feet, which should have provided the necessary separation for 11 experienced skydivers. Both jumpers were using elliptical canopies; the first had a wing loading of 1.5:1 and the second a 1.6:1. Canopies with higher wing loadings can close large distances in a short time, requiring even more space between jumpers during deployment. Jumpers should break off even higher when they are using slower opening and faster flying canopies.

Investigators found the first jumper's main canopy with one brake unstowed, which may account for its off-heading opening and turn toward the other jumper. The second jumper experienced line twists, which would not have allowed for any directional control until they were cleared. Careful packing of the main canopy can help reduce the chance of line twists or a spinning main canopy upon deployment.

Canopy wraps and entanglements are very disorienting and often cause jumpers to lose altitude rapidly due to the rotation of the canopies. Additionally, since each collision and entanglement results in a unique outcome, it's difficult to prepare or practice for the necessary response. Still, jumpers must respond quickly and correctly to provide enough altitude for a successful cutaway and reserve activation. Jumpers in a rapid spin who are surrounded by canopy lines and fabric can easily become disoriented, making it difficult to clear the entanglement and find clear space for a reserve deployment. Therefore, both jumpers in a wrap must communicate, remain altitude aware and react quickly.

System: Sun Path Javelin
Main: Airtime Designs Jedei 170; Wing Loading: 1.6:1
Reserve: PISA Tempo 210
AAD: Advanced Aerospace Designs Vigil
Helmet: Leather frap hat (brand unknown) RSL: Yes

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Age: 39
Sex: Male
Time in Sport: 13 years
Total Number of Jumps: 2,250
Skydives Within the Last 12 Months: 170
Cause of Death: Hard landing following a collapsed main canopy

Description: Following an uneventful multi-aircraft freefall skydive and initial canopy descent, this jumper flew his parachute directly above and behind another skydiver's canopy at approximately 40 feet above the ground. This jumper's canopy collapsed, and he struck the ground hard under his partially inflated main, suffering multiple broken bones and internal injuries. He received immediate medical attention and was airlifted to a local hospital, where he died of his injuries several hours later.

Conclusion: This jumper was taking part in a large formation skydive with approximately 60 other skydivers. Large formations often require each jumper to fly in heavy canopy traffic in an orderly pattern for landing. On his final approach, this jumper's canopy apparently hit the wake turbulence of the canopy in front of him and immediately collapsed.

Jumpers need to be aware of turbulence hazards to parachutes, which can come from many different sources. Each canopy creates a wake vortex capable of collapsing any parachute behind it; the turbulent air is found directly behind and above the canopy as it flies through the air. Additionally, wind passing over obstacles such as trees and buildings is disrupted, causing turbulence that can be found on and near the ground directly downwind of the obstructions. Skydiver's Information Manual Section 4 explains the effects of turbulence on canopies in Category C of the Integrated Student Program and cautions jumpers to anticipate turbulence 10 to 20 times the height of an obstacle on the downwind side. If possible, this jumper should have avoided the wake turbulence of the canopy in front of him by flying to the side of the canopy, rather than directly behind it.

System: Sun Path Javelin
Main: Performance Designs Velocity 111; Wing Loading: 1.8:1
Reserve: Performance Designs PD 126R
AAD: Airtec Cypres 2
Helmet: Full-face fiberglass shell (brand unknown)
RSL: Not reported

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*A skydiver with 544 jumps was competing in a swoop competition using an elliptical 120-square-foot canopy at a wing loading of 1.5:1. At approximately 600 feet, he initiated a 270-degree turn to start his high-performance approach. Witnesses reported that his turn was slow and that he apparently didn't realize how close he was to the ground as his canopy started its recovery arc to straight and level flight. He initially grabbed his rear risers to plane the canopy out above the ground. He then partially flared the canopy to one-quarter brakes just before he struck the ground hard while still in a steep descent. He suffered several broken bones, including a finger, clavicle and femur, along with several compressed vertebrae. He is expected to make a full recovery.

The jumper may have been focused on the entry gate into the swoop course or on trying to build additional speed for his landing with a slow, diving turn. Jumpers who choose to make high-performance landings must be prepared to abort their turn at any point to provide a wing-level landing. Training with an experienced canopy coach can help reduce the risks of an injury, but regardless of training received, each jumper is responsible for staying altitude aware throughout his approach. All turns must be completed with enough altitude for the canopy to return to straight and level flight for the landing flare.

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* A jumper with approximately 700 jumps, under a 99-square-foot elliptical canopy with a wing-loading of 1.4:1, initiated a 180-degree turn at an altitude reported to be “a little low” (The specific altitude was not reported.) Witnesses observed the jumper using her rear risers for landing and stated she did not flare the canopy with her toggles before she struck the ground, still in a rapid descent. The hard landing resulted in injuries to her upper body, neck and head. None of her injuries required surgery; however, she must wear a neck brace for several months.

This was the jumper's first jump on this canopy; the report estimated her previous parachute to be somewhere in the 120-square-foot range. Jumpers should exercise caution when downsizing and should plan a conservative approach and landing while learning the flight characteristics of any new canopy. Skydivers must practice their landing maneuvers at higher altitudes until they can do them smoothly and proficiently before bringing them down to pattern altitudes for landing. This jumper had been working on performance landings with the advice of experienced canopy pilots, but the report did not indicate if she had received any advice or training for the smaller parachute. Jumpers must complete their turns with enough altitude for their parachutes to level off for the landing flare.

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Age: 51
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 14
Time in Sport: Not reported
Cause of Death: Hard landing under a spinning, entangled main parachute following a canopy collision

Age: 27
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 125
Time in Sport: Not reported
Cause of Death: Hard landing under a spinning, entangled main parachute following a canopy collision

Description: These two jumpers were above their intended landing area, one flying a left-hand pattern and the other a right-hand pattern. The two collided at approximately 400 feet AGL as both prepared to turn onto their final approaches into the main landing area. Their canopies entangled and remained together, spinning violently until the two jumpers struck the ground. One jumper died immediately, and the other died from his injuries shortly after he was transported to the hospital.

Conclusions: The jumper flying the right-hand pattern was a student with 14 jumps. The jumper using a left-hand pattern was a military jumper under a military parachute system. The canopy damage from the collision indicated the student was probably slightly higher than the military jumper because the student's body and canopy lines struck the front left corner of the military jumper's canopy and suspension lines. The military jumper's canopy had line burns on the leading edges of the top and bottom skins of the parachute, as well as along the top of the canopy. The burns were likely caused by contact with the suspension lines of the student's canopy passing across the nose and top skin of the canopy. The student's reserve container also had line burns, probably created from friction with the military jumper's main canopy lines when the student passed through them during the collision.

The student was not wearing a radio for this jump. Both jumpers may have been focused on the landing area, unaware of their close proximity to each other. The gray color of the military jumper's canopy and the low angle of the sun may have contributed to visibility problems. The planned landing pattern for either jumper was not reported, nor whether the drop zone requested right- or left-hand patterns for approaches to the landing area.

Jumpers need to ensure clear airspace before making turns and remain extra vigilant when lighting conditions make it difficult to see other canopies. The airspace directly above and surrounding the landing area is the most likely place for a canopy collision, as jumpers often reach pattern altitude at the same time as others on the same load. Establishing canopy flight guidelines and a flight plan for each jumper on the load can help ensure an orderly flow of canopy traffic.

System: Flying High Sidewinder
Main: Performance Designs Navigator 260
Reserve: Performance Designs PD-235R
AAD: Airtec Cypres 2
RSL: Yes

System: Paratech GmbH TW9340
Main: Paratech GmbH 340
Reserve: Paratech GmbH 340
AAD: Airtec Military Cypres 2
RSL: Yes

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Age: 50
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 5,600-plus
Time in Sport: 30-plus years
Cause of Death: Hard landing under a collapsed main canopy following a canopy collision

Age: 44
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 8,200-plus
Time in Sport: 21-plus years
Cause of Death: Hard landing under a collapsed main canopy following a canopy collision

Description: After an uneventful freefall and initial canopy descent, these two jumpers prepared to land among approximately 30 other jumpers who took part in the same group freefall from two airplanes. The first jumper was at approximately 200 feet when the second jumper, flying at approximately 500 feet AGL, initiated a 270-degree turn. As the second jumper came out of his turn on final approach, he struck the first jumper from behind at a high rate of speed. Based on eyewitness accounts, the collision occurred at approximately 100-150 feet AGL. Both parachutes collapsed immediately, and the pair struck the ground hard approximately 50 feet apart. Both jumpers received immediate first aid; however, one was killed instantly by the hard impact, and the other died at the scene soon after the accident.

Conclusions: The first jumper had been on final approach for several hundred feet with at least one other canopy nearby. The second jumper may have initially thought he had enough clear area below him to execute a 270-degree turn before he encountered traffic in his path as his canopy started its recovery arc; other canopies in the area may have blocked his view of the canopy he hit from behind. Even though the two canopies involved in the collision were the same size and the two jumpers had similar wing loadings, the additional speed generated by the 270-degree turn caused the two to collide at a high rate of speed.

Jumpers who choose to make high-performance landings must ensure that there is clear airspace around them—ahead, behind, above, below and to the sides—and that there is no chance of striking another canopy during any phase of the canopy flight. Standard landing patterns typically consist of flying downwind, base and final legs of an approach, with 90-degree turns between each segment. Turns of more than 90 degrees do not fit well into a standard approach pattern and increase the chance of experiencing a collision. As a result of this incident and several others involving canopy collisions, USPA released several bulletins asking jumpers and drop zones to separate performance landings from other canopy traffic flying standard patterns. Drop zones can accomplish this physically, with a separate landing area for swoopers, or by time, with a low pass or high deployment to separate performance landings from others using the same landing area.

System: Mirage G4
Main: Performance Designs Velocity 96
Reserve: Performance Designs 126
AAD: Airtec Cypres 2
RSL: No

System: Sun Path Javelin
Main: Performance Designs Velocity 96
Reserve: Performance Designs 113
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: No

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Age: 27
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 300-400
Time in Sport: Two years
Cause of Death: Multiple blunt traumas resulting from a hard landing

Description: After an uneventful 3-way freefly jump and initial canopy descent, this jumper initiated a hard turn to the left approximately 50 feet above the ground. He struck the ground while still horizontal and with his canopy in a steep, diving turn. He suffered internal head injuries and multiple broken bones, including his pelvis and both legs. First responders found him unconscious but breathing on his own, and a jumper who works as a medical professional administered first aid until the rescue squad arrived. As the ambulance crew prepared to transport him to the hospital, the injured jumper regained consciousness and complained of pain and shortness of breath; however, he died of his injuries several hours later at the hospital.

Conclusions: This jumper was considered very current, jumping nearly every weekend. He had recently begun to experiment with high-performance landings, and several jumpers had warned him about the dangers of his aggressive canopy flight at low altitudes. On this particular jump, video footage captured by a bystander showed that this jumper initiated a rapid front-riser turn approximately 50 feet above the landing area and struck the ground halfway through an apparent attempt at a 180-degree turn. The report indicated this jumper had made approximately 200 jumps with this parachute. The information also indicated he had never received structured canopy training and that he seemed to casually disregard warnings from other jumpers about his erratic landings.

His wing loading, estimated at 1.4:1, placed him between the advanced and expert categories according to the canopy manufacturer's recommendations. Although the manufacturer does not specifically define what places a jumper in either category, many industry experts agree that 300-400 total jumps does not provide the experience necessary for classification as advanced or expert.

The toxicology report from the medical examiner indicated this jumper had used cocaine within hours before his death. He also tested positive for marijuana use, although it is unknown whether it was recent enough before the jump to have played a role in his actions.

In spite of repeated warnings from other jumpers who had observed his previous landings, this jumper continued to attempt high-performance landings without the necessary knowledge or training. The combination of rapid downsizing, lack of training and judgment, and the use of drugs that affected his decision-making skills and depth perception each played a role in this fatality. Separately, these issues have led to skydiving incidents and deaths in the past; combined, they significantly increased his chance of a fatal outcome. All turns must be completed with enough altitude for the canopy to return to straight and level flight for the landing flare.

System: Velocity Sports Infinity
Main: Precision Aerodynamics Fusion 135
Reserve: Precision r-Max 128
AAD: None
RSL: No

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* Following an uneventful 3-way freefly jump and initial canopy descent, a skydiver with 720 jumps and a wing loading of 1.7:1 initiated a 360-degree turn at approximately 500 feet AGL. He struck the ground hard before the canopy could recover to straight and level flight. The jumper suffered multiple broken bones, including his back and pelvis. He underwent surgery immediately following the accident and is expected to fully recover from his injuries. The jumper had not received any formal canopy training, and his exit weight exceeded the manufacturer's recommended maximum exit weight for the canopy he was jumping. All jumpers can benefit from canopy training, especially those who choose to make high-performance approaches. Jumpers who choose to make high-performance landings must be prepared to abort the approach at any point in the final turn to regain level flight for a safe landing.

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* A skydiver with 4,700 jumps was jumping a new military tandem container system with a large, front-mounted equipment bag. He pulled the drogue release handle at approximately 5,500 feet, which deployed the main canopy. The right steering line caught on part of the container, causing the main canopy to spin. After several attempts to clear the snagged line, the jumper initiated emergency procedures at approximately 3,000 feet. The main canopy and risers released from the 3-ring assembly but stayed attached to the container due to the snagged steering line. The reserve pilot chute and freebag deployed into the malfunctioned main canopy, preventing the reserve from extracting from the freebag and inflating. The jumper reached behind his head and grabbed the snagged steering line of the main parachute and frantically reeled in the canopy. After approximately 10 seconds, he had collected most of the main in his hands, and the reserve pilot chute cleared the entanglement and deployed the reserve. The reserve partially entangled with the uncollected portion of the 370-square-foot main, causing a slow spin to the left. By the time he reached 1,000 feet, he had most of the main canopy clear of the reserve, which was then flying normally. He released the brakes on the reserve canopy and landed uneventfully, engulfed in the cutaway main canopy but right on his intended target.

The jumper later stated he made two critical mistakes that led to the incident: First, he should have checked the container before he made the jump. He had been rushed for time and decided to proceed without carefully checking the equipment. Second, he said he should have used his hook knife to cut the snagged steering line before pulling his cutaway handle—he had easy access to a hook knife during the entire jump. Hook knives do have their limitations, and a jumper must constantly be aware of his decision altitude for cutting away when attempting to clear a malfunction. This was a test jump with a relatively new system, and the manufacturer subsequently modified the particular model of rig to help prevent any chance of this type of malfunction from occurring again. Test jumps don't always go as planned; however, thorough preparation and a plan of action before the jump can help reduce the risks of a malfunction and help ensure a correct response if something goes wrong. In this case, the malfunction could most likely have been prevented with a thorough gear check before the jump.

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Age: 40
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 4,200-plus
Time in Sport: Nine years
Cause of Death: Hard landing under a collapsed canopy following a canopy collision

Description: After an uneventful freefall and initial canopy descent, this jumper collided with another jumper when the pair was approximately 300 feet above the ground. The two canopies entangled briefly, and both parachutes malfunctioned as a result of the collision. This jumper's canopy remained in a streamer configuration all the way to the ground. He received immediate medical attention but died on impact due to the hard landing.

Conclusions: Both jumpers initiated a speed-inducing turn to some degree just prior to the collision. The second jumper, who was below the jumper who died, initiated a 270-degree left-hand turn and had begun to level off for his final approach when he was struck from behind. The initial approach of the jumper who died was not witnessed, however he generated enough speed to overtake the other jumper. The impact created a brief canopy wrap that quickly cleared. The second jumper wore two prosthetic legs, which were torn loose as a result of the collision. Even though his main canopy began to spin, it remained mostly inflated and provided a survivable descent rate. He suffered several broken bones from the hard landing but is expected to make a full recovery. Both jumpers deployed their reserve canopies just before striking the ground; however, there was not enough altitude for either reserve to inflate.

A high-performance landing will cover hundreds of feet of vertical and horizontal distance in just a few seconds. The intended flight path of a canopy pilot-including the air in front of, beside, below and behind the jumper-needs to provide a wide, unobstructed path to his final touchdown. If a jumper faces any risk of encountering other canopy traffic, he must abort the maneuver in the interest of safety. In this case, both canopy pilots performed high-performance approaches, apparently unaware of each other's location. Although the jump took place at a large skydiving boogie, the report indicated canopy traffic was light at the time of the collision.

Regardless of the number of parachutes in the air, each skydiver needs to fly a predictable canopy descent that provides separation from other traffic. Skydiver's Information Manual Sections 6-10 and 6-11 contain valuable information regarding high-performance canopy flight, including traffic management and the importance of awareness of other canopies during descent and while in the landing pattern.

System: Sun Path Javelin
Main: Performance Designs Velocity 96
Reserve: Performance Designs PD-113R
AAD: Not reported
RSL: Not reported

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Age: 31
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 2,300-plus
Time in Sport: Ten years
Cause of Death: Hard landing following a low turn under canopy

Description: In preparation for landing, this jumper initiated a 450-degree front-riser turn at an unknown altitude. Witnesses reported seeing him very close to another canopy approximately 250 feet above the landing area. He then initiated a 180-degree toggle turn in an apparent attempt to avoid the other canopy and struck the ground while still in a steep, diving turn. He received immediate medical attention but was pronounced dead at the scene.

Conclusions: The intended landing approach of this jumper is unclear. Review of the videotape from the camera he wore shows he had completed a 360-degree left turn before the other canopy came into view in the lower corner of his camera. He apparently did not see the other canopy and continued the turn for another 90 degrees before he noticed the other skydiver. This jumper then initiated the toggle turn to his right, apparently to avoid the imminent collision. At this point, he was below the second canopy but continued with his turn and struck the ground at a high rate of speed.

A better course of action in this case may have been for this jumper to stop turning once below the other canopy and land in a clear area. The report did not indicate whether there were other obstacles or canopies that may have been a factor. This jump took place during a busy skydiving boogie, although witnesses reported canopy traffic was not heavy at the time of the accident.

During the boogie, the drop zone had encouraged jumpers to fly left- and right-hand patterns that would keep them from crossing the center of the landing area to help control the flow of canopy traffic and reduce the risk of collisions. Any jumper flying a pattern other than the established flow of traffic faces a greater risk of a collision. High-performance approaches often use steep, diving turns that can quickly lead to conflicts with any other canopy pilots in the immediate area. Skydiver's Information Manual Sections 6-10 and 6-11 contain valuable information regarding high-performance canopy flight, including traffic management and the importance of awareness of other parachutes during canopy descent and while in the landing pattern. All turns must be completed with enough altitude for the canopy to return to straight and level flight for the landing flare.

System: Sun Path Javelin
Main: Icarus Extreme 80 (estimate, original data panel had been removed)
Reserve: Performance Designs PD-113R
AAD: None
RSL: No

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* After an uneventful freefall, a tandem pair was observed flying away from the drop zone after deployment. Witnesses reported seeing the main tandem parachute with line twists flying straight and level as the instructor worked to unwind the canopy. The tandem pair landed off the drop zone with the lines still twisted and without flaring the canopy. The pair apparently landed facing backward or in a manner where the instructor took the brunt of the impact. The student did not receive any injuries, but the instructor suffered head trauma and was air-lifted to a local hospital, where he underwent two separate brain surgeries. The report did not indicate the extent of his recovery. The instructor wore a leather frap hat during the jump, which offers minimal protection against a hard landing. Line twists prevent a jumper from controlling his parachute until he clears them and can prove more difficult to untwist while jumping in tandem. Although the instructor may have lost altitude awareness as he worked to clear the twists, USPA's Instructional Rating Manual recommends tandem instructors initiate emergency procedures no lower than 3,500 feet.

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* A student on her 14th jump exited a Cessna Caravan with two AFF instructors. During freefall, the instructors noticed the student had lost a shoe. It is not known if the shoe had come off during the exit or while in freefall. The remainder of the student's freefall, canopy descent and landing were uneventful, and no one on the ground was injured by the falling shoe. However, the shoe fell onto a house, damaging a skylight and part of the roof. Section 4 of the Integrated Student Program recommends instructors and students use the acronym "SHAGG" (Shoes, Helmet, Altimeter, Goggles, Gloves) as a checklist for student preparation. This can help remind jumpers to check each item, including the use of a good pair of athletic shoes that are tied securely.

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* An A-licensed skydiver with approximately 50 jumps made an uneventful solo freefall and deployed his main canopy at roughly 5,000 feet. The main canopy, a relatively new PD Sabre 2 210, was inflating normally with the slider still near the top of the canopy lines when the jumper released both brakes in an attempt to speed up the inflation. The parachute surged open suddenly, causing the lines to twist and canopy to spin, which continued until the jumper cut away. The jumper's RSL deployed his reserve, and he landed uneventfully. Many main canopies in use today open very slowly by design, some taking up to 1,000 feet to fully inflate. Packing methods can vary to change the opening characteristics, but the brakes of the canopy should remain stowed during the course of a normal inflation. Unusually long deployment sequences or persistent atypical openings can be an indication of a problem requiring the help of a parachute rigger or the canopy manufacturer.

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Age: 52
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 4,300
Time in Sport: 20 years
Cause of Death: Hard landing following a low turn

Description: This jumper exited a Cessna 207 for a demonstration jump at 4,500 feet and immediately deployed his main canopy. As he approached the designated asphalt landing area, he initiated a 180-degree front-riser turn approximately 250 feet above the ground. He struck the pavement hard while the canopy was still in a diving turn, suffering several broken bones and internal injuries. He received immediate medical attention at the scene and was airlifted to a local hospital, where he died two months later from his injuries.

Conclusions: This jumper was using a 104-square-foot elliptical parachute at a wing loading of 1.8:1. The designated landing area was a 350-by-420-foot parking lot at a field elevation of 4,400 feet above sea level. For unknown reasons, he initiated his turn to final approach too low for the canopy to recover to level flight before he struck the ground. He flared the canopy approximately 35 feet above the pavement landing area, but the flare had little effect on the canopy, which was still in a rapid dive. Reports estimate the jumper's impact speed at 55 mph.

The report did not indicate the number of skydives this jumper had made on this parachute. Jumpers who perform demonstration jumps should use a canopy that provides a safe approach and landing regardless of the size, shape or location of the landing area. The thin air due to the high elevation, high wing loading of the parachute and small size of the landing area combined to create a challenging landing scenario. A straight-in approach using a larger canopy would have been a safer alternative in this situation. All turns must be completed with enough altitude for the parachute to return to straight and level flight before the landing flare.

System: Not Reported
Main: Atair Aerodynamics Alpha 104
Reserve: Not Reported
AAD: Not Reported
RSL: Not Reported

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Age: 29
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 570-plus
Time in Sport: Four years
Cause of Death: Hard landing following a low turn

Description: After an uneventful freefall and initial canopy descent, this jumper initiated a 270-degree front-riser turn. At approximately 245 degrees through the turn, he let up on his front riser and attempted to flare the parachute. He was too low for the parachute to level off and struck the ground hard while still in a diving turn. He suffered multiple injuries including head trauma. He was transported to a hospital by ambulance, where he died the next day from head injuries.

Conclusions: This jumper was jumping an elliptical parachute at a wing loading of 1.55:1, which is classified as a high-performance wing loading by the canopy manufacturer. The report did not include his previous canopy experience or downsizing progression, but a 1.55:1 wing loading at 570 jumps would indicate an aggressive progression. The report also did not indicate if this jumper had received any formal canopy training. Canopy training with a professional canopy coach is encouraged for all jumpers, especially for those who choose to make high-performance landings. Skydiver's Information Manual Section 6-10 and 6-11 contain valuable information and recommendations regarding canopy training and downsizing. All turns must be completed with enough altitude for the canopy to return to straight and level flight for the landing flare.

System: Rigging Innovations Voodoo
Main Canopy: Icarus Crossfire 2 139
Reserve Canopy: Precision Aerodynamics Raven 150-M
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: No

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* A student with 13 jumps exited a Twin Otter at 5,000 feet for a clear-and-pull. Once under canopy, he had to be reminded by the radio operator to follow his flight plan. The student's responses to radio commands diminished until he eventually stopped responding to radio commands altogether and flew downwind until landing. The jumper struck the side of an above-ground pool and a fence, suffering a broken arm and jaw. The jumper reported the following day that he had lost consciousness under canopy at approximately 1,000 feet above the ground. The report did not indicate what may have caused him to lose consciousness or whether he had previously experienced the same type of problem.

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* A jumper with 1,250 jumps and 35 years in the sport made a pre-planned jump onto a soccer field adjacent to airport property and the main landing area. On final approach, he struck a power line with his leg before landing otherwise uneventfully. He suffered burns on his leg from the power line and was transported to a local hospital. He is expected to make a full recovery. Jumpers intentionally landing off the drop zone must exercise caution and scan for power lines and other obstacles unique to off-field landings before the jump, then continuously once they are under canopy. Power lines and fences may be difficult to see at higher altitudes, and jumpers must plan for an alternative if necessary. Skydiver's Information Manual Section 5-1 contains recommendations regarding off-field landings, advising jumpers to select a large, open area that is free of obstacles.

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* A skydiver with 296 jumps and jumping with a video camera for the first time exited a Twin Bonanza following a tandem pair. His freefall was uneventful, and he deployed his main canopy at 3,000 feet. As he stowed his slider, he flew farther away from the drop zone. He then turned the parachute toward the DZ, flying over a housing community along the way. When he realized he could not make it back to the airport, he attempted to turn his canopy into the wind. Before he could complete the turn, he struck the roof of a house, slid down the roof and dropped to the ground below. He suffered severe abrasions, a broken jaw and ribs and torn ligaments in his ankle. Skydiver's Information Manual Section 5-1 contains recommendations regarding off-field landings. As soon as it becomes obvious the main landing area cannot be reached and by no lower than 2,000 feet, a jumper should select a large, open alternate landing area and check for hazards that may be present. If obstacles are present in the selected landing spot, the jumper should adjust the landing pattern accordingly. Flying a braked approach and landing can also help provide more time to identify landing hazards. While the use of a video camera did not directly play a role in this incident, USPA recommends that jumpers learning to fly with cameras have a minimum experience of 300 total jumps and 50 jumps filming licensed jumpers before filming students. New tandem videographers should also consult the tandem manufacturer for any additional recommendations or experience requirements. SIM Section 6-8 provides information and guidance for videographers.

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Age: 37
Sex: Female
Number of Jumps: 3,500-plus
Time in Sport: Seven years
Cause of Death: Hard landing under a spinning reserve parachute

Description: This jumper exited a King Air aircraft at 6,400 feet above the ground and deployed her main canopy shortly thereafter. She presumably experienced some sort of malfunction on her main canopy, and she cut away and deployed her reserve parachute soon after. Witnesses on the ground observed her spinning violently under her reserve; although she worked to control the canopy, she struck the ground hard at a fast rate of descent with the canopy still in an uncontrolled spin. She received immediate medical attention but died in a hospital several hours later from internal injuries.

Conclusions: This jumper was participating in a canopy swoop competition at a drop zone with a field elevation of 5,052 feet above sea level. The report indicated that no one witnessed her main deployment, cutaway or reserve deployment. Data retrieved from her audible altimeter showed a deployment altitude of 4,800 feet AGL; however, investigators could not determine if the data indicated the opening altitude for her main or reserve parachute.

At the accident scene, this jumper stated she had experienced tension knots, and two separate witnesses at the site reported seeing tension knots in the reserve parachute's suspension lines below the cascades. Rescue personnel cut the reserve lines and harness off the jumper, repeatedly stepping on and moving the canopy as they worked to administer first aid. The resulting damage made it impossible for the investigators on the scene to determine the cause of the reported knots.

Many factors can lead to suspension line tension knots-from body position during deployment to the packing method used to stow the canopy's lines. Although jumpers experience this type of malfunction more often on main parachutes, tension knots in reserve lines do occur. Deployments at drop zones at high elevations can vary from those closer to sea level and may have affected this jumper's main and/or reserve opening(s). Air is thinner at higher altitudes, which increases freefall speeds and can lead to harder openings.

This jumper had landed in the swoop pond on previous jumps the day of the accident. Although investigators reported the reserve was damp, they did not find any indication that the wet condition of the canopy had any effect on its deployment. Manufacturers are not required to test wet reserve canopies as part of the certification process, and no recent data is available to indicate whether a wet canopy is more likely to malfunction or deploy differently than when dry.

As wing loading increases, canopy malfunctions become more violent-this jumper was loading her main at 2.1:1 and her reserve at 1.6:1. A skydiver will likely have a greater chance of surviving a landing with a reserve malfunction under a parachute with a conservative wing loading than under one that is loaded aggressively. Jumpers should consider their canopy sizes carefully and choose a canopy size-especially a reserve-that provides the best chance of a safe landing in any situation.

System: Aerodyne Icon
Main: Icarus VX-79
Reserve: Aerodyne Smart 110
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: No

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Age: 27
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 796
Time in Sport: Four years
Cause of Death: Head injury from a hard landing under canopy

Description: After an uneventful freefall and initial canopy descent, this jumper initiated a 450-degree front-riser turn at an unreported altitude. He struck the ground hard while still in a diving turn, suffering head injuries and a broken femur. He was transported to a local hospital, where he died several weeks later due to complications developed from his head injuries.

Conclusions: This jumper had recently downsized to a 96-square-foot cross-braced parachute following a relatively rapid canopy progression, with only four years in the sport and fewer than 800 jumps. This was his first skydive of the weekend following a two- or three-week layoff from jumping. His previous canopy was an elliptical 120-square-foot model, though the report did not indicate the number of jumps he had made with that canopy. Even though he had been working with a canopy coach, his advancement to a cross-braced canopy with a wing loading of 2.2:1 in only 796 jumps indicates a very aggressive progression.

The report indicated that he had a tendency to begin his final approach turns a bit low. Although he was working on the problem and had improved his setup, he should not have downsized to a smaller and faster cross-braced parachute if he was having control problems with a larger, slower one. Cross-braced canopies perform significantly different than elliptical parachutes and typically dive much faster and lose altitude at a much greater rate.

Canopy pilots should use additional caution when changing size or design of canopy while becoming familiar with the handling characteristics of a new parachute. A jumper should practice landing maneuvers on a new canopy above 1,000 feet before attempting them on an actual landing.

Skydiver's Information Manual Sections 6-10 and 6-11 contain valuable information regarding canopy training and downsizing recommendations. A jumper should only downsize to a smaller parachute after demonstrating excellent control and accuracy in a variety of wind and weather conditions with his current canopy. All turns must be completed with enough altitude for the canopy to return to straight and level flight for the landing flare.

System: Mirage Systems G4
Main: Performance Designs Velocity 96
Reserve: Performance Designs PD-126R
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: No

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Age: 40
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 5,000-plus
Time in Sport: 17 years
Cause of Death: Hard landing under a partially inflated reserve parachute

Age: 28
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: One
Time in Sport: One day
Cause of Death: Hard landing under a partially inflated reserve parachute

Description: After an uneventful tandem freefall, the instructor deployed the main canopy, which immediately began to spin. He released the main and deployed the reserve, but the reserve pilot chute snagged on something for several seconds before the canopy deployed. Once the reserve cleared its freebag, multiple twists in the suspension lines prevented the parachute from fully inflating. The tandem pair struck power lines before reaching the ground. Both were found dead at the scene.

Conclusions: According to a witness, the instructor released the main canopy above 3,000 feet and deployed the reserve soon after the cutaway. The tandem pair rotated head down as the reserve deployment began, and the reserve bridle and pilot chute remained entangled with the pair for approximately five to eight seconds. The instructor was found with one shoe missing, indicating that the reserve bridle may have wrapped around his foot. Investigators speculate that the horseshoe malfunction may have cleared when the shoe came off, but they were unable to determine the exact point of the entanglement and could not locate the missing shoe.

The entanglement apparently caused the reserve freebag to rotate many times before the horseshoe malfunction cleared. Investigators found 14 full twists in the suspension lines, forcing the slider to remain near the top of the suspension lines and preventing the reserve from fully inflating. According to witness reports, the instructor attempted to unwind the twists for the remainder of the descent but ran out of altitude. During the equipment inspection, investigators were able to freely move the slider down the suspension lines once the line twists were removed and found no other problems with the tandem system. Use of a reserve static line may have initiated the reserve deployment sooner than the manual activation and may have allowed the reserve to deploy without an entanglement.

System: Strong Dual Hawk Tandem
Main: Strong SET 400
Reserve: Strong Master
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: No

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Age: 31
Sex: Female
Number of Jumps: 70
Time in Sport: One year
Cause of Death: Collision with another jumper during canopy deployment

Description: After an uneventful 2-way sit-fly jump with a freefly coach, this jumper turned belly to earth at approximately 5,000 feet in preparation for deployment, as her coach tracked away for approximately six seconds. She struck the back of the coach's legs as the coach deployed his main canopy. The collision broke both of the coach's ankles and caused his reserve to deploy, forming a biplane configuration with his main. The first jumper continued in freefall after the collision until her AAD deployed her reserve. She received immediate medical attention soon after landing but died from internal injuries. The coach landed with his two canopies in the biplane configuration. The report did not indicate whether he suffered further injuries.

Conclusions: Witnesses reported this jumper appeared unresponsive under her reserve-slumped in her harness and in a slow turn, possibly caused by her body leaning to one side in the harness. She was likely rendered unconscious from the collision; however, it is not known whether her fatal injuries stemmed from the collision, the landing or both. Additionally, the report did not indicate the exact cause of the coach's reserve activation.

The report stated that the coach was flying head down before breakoff and that he transitioned to a horizontal track as the first jumper changed to a belly-to-earth position. This jumper may have tracked in the same direction as the coach, and the coach may not have gained as much horizontal separation as he intended. This would place the first jumper above the coach at deployment altitude. The report did not indicate whether the two jumpers had planned breakoff procedures or if the first jumper had planned to deploy in place or track away from the coach.

Skydivers must have a plan for breakoff and canopy deployment on each jump to avoid accidents such as this one. Category H of the Integrated Student Program covers tracking with awareness while scanning for other jumpers and how to steer to a clear area while tracking. Jumpers must check the air above to identify any traffic hazards and verify their airspace is clear before deploying. Jumpers who have not practiced the maneuver of converting from a head-down orientation to a horizontal track often end up in a very steep track, greatly reducing horizontal separation. While freeflying, especially with those new to the discipline, jumpers can gain vertical as well as horizontal separation during breakoff, making it even more important to ensure clear airspace before deploying.

System: Mirage RTS
Main: Performance Designs Navigator 200
Reserve: Performance Designs PD 176R
AAD: Airtec Cypres 2
RSL: Yes

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* An instructor was standing near the edge of the landing area providing radio instructions to a student making his second jump. One of the student's AFF instructors, jumping a borrowed cross-braced canopy at a wing loading of 1.6:1, set up to land close to the instructor with the radio. The high-performance approach placed the jumper's flight path directly in line with the instructor on the ground, who stood still in an effort to keep from confusing the canopy pilot and to allow him to change heading as necessary to avoid a collision. When it became obvious that a collision was imminent, the ground instructor attempted to dive low to one side, but the canopy pilot's feet struck the legs of the other instructor before he could dive completely out of the way. The instructor with the radio suffered a broken lower leg, which is expected to heal without surgery. The collision sent the canopy pilot tumbling across the landing area, but he did not suffer any injuries. He had made a few jumps earlier in the day on the same canopy and had landed uneventfully. All jumpers, particularly those who are downsizing and still unfamiliar with their canopies, must plan canopy descents that allow for landings in areas free of obstacles. Skydiver's Information Manual Sections 6-10 and 6-11 contain useful information regarding canopy training and downsizing recommendations.

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Age: 31
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: Approximately 900
Time in Sport: Seven years
Cause of Death: Hard landing under a spinning main canopy

Description: After an uneventful wingsuit skydive, this jumper deployed his main canopy at 5,000 feet. Witnesses reported his canopy immediately began to spin violently to the right, making multiple revolutions before flying straight and level for a short time. At approximately 800 feet, the canopy entered a left-hand spiral, which continued until impact. The jumper received immediate medical attention but was pronounced dead at the scene.

Conclusions: The jumper was found with the risers of his main canopy twisted together tightly behind his neck. Two FAA master riggers inspected the equipment on site to carefully preserve the assembly of the main canopy and harness and container system. They found both brakes still stowed on the main risers. After untwisting the lines, they found each main riser also had an independent 360-degree twist-both in the same direction. They determined the independent riser-twist configuration was possible only if each riser had been attached to the harness with the twist in place. They ruled out a step-through malfunction, as this would have created riser twists in opposite directions on each side. A designated parachute rigger examiner later inspected the equipment and verified the findings of the two master riggers. Witnesses reported that the jumper had been jumping demonstration main canopies the day before the accident, though it is uncertain when his own main canopy was reconnected to his harness or the method-if any-that was used to check the main canopy line continuity.

Investigators found the jumper's cutaway handle dislodged approximately six inches from the harness, but both risers were still connected to the harness even though one of the cutaway cables had cleared the 3-ring assembly and was no longer through its retainer loop. It was unclear if this configuration indicated a very low cutaway attempt or if the handle had been dislodged on impact. The jumper's wingsuit arms were partially unzipped, and one of the suit's cutaway handles, each of which releases the arm wing from the jumper's side, had been pulled.

Wingsuits are designed to allow cutaways and reserve deployments without any additional steps, such as freeing the arms or disconnecting the wings. However, deployment while wearing a wingsuit is generally considered the most complicated portion of the skydive. Skydiver's Information Manual Section 6-9 recommends that beginning wingsuit jumpers initiate deployment no lower than 5,000 feet and experienced wingsuit flyers deploy by 3,000 feet.

This jumper was using an elliptical canopy at a wing loading estimated to be 1.5:1. SIM Section 6-9 recommends that wingsuit jumpers use a docile main canopy with consistent opening characteristics. This jumper's aggressive wing loading may have caused this malfunction to be more violent. If he was physically able, he should have released his main canopy and deployed his reserve. Once he got the canopy flying straight, he may have thought he could land it, but then it started spinning again. With the risers twisted individually as they were, an elliptical canopy would be difficult-if not impossible-to land in this configuration, even without the left- and right-sidelines twisted together. Rear-riser input with the brakes set may cause a very abrupt turn, especially at higher wing loadings.

A jumper must ensure his main canopy is controllable while still at a safe altitude to cut away and deploy his reserve if necessary. SIM Section 5-1 recommends that students and A-license jumpers initiate emergency procedures no lower than 2,500 feet and that B- through D-license holders initiate emergency procedures no lower than 1,800 feet.

System: Velocity Sports Infinity
Main: Performance Designs Stiletto 135
Reserve: PISA Tempo 150
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: No

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* An instructor climbed out on the step of a Cessna 182 to observe his student's diving exit. As he turned back to face the door of the airplane, he slipped from the step but pulled himself back up just as his main canopy deployed and pulled him off the airplane. The main pilot chute and bridle went over the horizontal stabilizer, damaging the stabilizer slightly before clearing the airplane. The instructor landed under his main canopy, and the aircraft landed safely without incident. The instructor's bottom-of-container-mounted pilot chute pouch was found to be in good condition. The report did not indicate what had caused his pilot chute to extract prematurely. Regardless of the type of aircraft used, each jumper must exercise care during climbout and exit and ensure equipment handles are safely guarded to avoid snagging them on the airplane or another jumper. USPA receives several reports each year involving premature deployments. While some of these deployments are uneventful, others have resulted in fatalities and complete destruction of aircraft.

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* During his final approach for landing, a skydiver with 700 jumps under a cross-braced canopy at a wing loading of approximately 2:1 passed just off to the side of another jumper flying a slower canopy. The two jumpers were on a converging path, and the jumper flying more slowly encountered the canopy wake of the first jumper, who had by then flown his canopy directly in front of the other jumper. The turbulence collapsed the canopy of the second jumper, who then dropped almost straight down from approximately 20 feet above the ground. He landed hard, suffering a severely bruised hip. The jumper under the cross-braced canopy landed uneventfully and stated he did not notice the other jumper while landing. The pilot of the cross-braced canopy had downsized rapidly without any training or guidance in spite of repeated warnings from the DZ's S&TA regarding his erratic and inconsistent landings on larger canopies. Jumping a cross-braced canopy at 2:1 with 700 jumps would be very aggressive downsizing even if he had coaching and had done well with larger canopies. High-performance canopies at high wing loadings will often overtake other canopies during a normal descent. Jumpers who choose to jump high-performance canopies at high wing loadings should seek training from an experienced canopy coach. All jumpers must take responsibility for landing in a clear area without causing a hazard to other canopies or people on the ground and must continually scan the air for additional canopy traffic to avoid a canopy collision.

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* A tandem instructor exited a Twin Otter at 14,000 feet, and a leg strap on his tandem harness immediately released. The student's harness was fully intact and he was securely fastened to the tandem system. Prior to exit, the instructor did not notice the B-12 hardware on the leg strap had remained open due to the aluminum gate of the hardware sticking, allowing the hook end to release from the metal V-ring on the other end of the leg strap. The hardware had not locked in place with the spring-loaded gate. He was able to stay in the harness and land the canopy uneventfully despite being unable to reattach the leg strap at any point during the skydive. This jumper had recently transitioned from one tandem system to another, and the new tandem gear incorporated B-12 leg strap hardware, while the equipment he used with his first tandem system did not. The examiner who transitioned the instructor to the new system said he did not spend sufficient time covering the B-12 hardware and had assumed the instructor was already familiar with this type of attachment. Each tandem instructor must be thoroughly trained and familiar with the equipment used on tandem jumps-including the tandem system, as well as the student harness attachments and adjustments-and must perform thorough equipment checks before boarding and exiting the aircraft.

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* Although a tandem instructor told his student just prior to landing to keep his feet up, the student's legs dropped as the canopy was flared. The student's feet reached the ground before his instructor's feet did, causing the instructor to roll forward over the student. The student suffered a broken leg. All tandem students must keep their feet up during the entire landing sequence to help prevent injuries. The report did not indicate whether the pair had performed any practice landings at a higher altitude. However, practice landings can help the instructor verify that the student has learned the proper procedure for landing.

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* A jumper with 190 jumps exited a Beech 99 aircraft for a hop-and-pop at 3,000 feet. He exited with his head high and jumped upward, striking the horizontal stabilizer with his container in his mid-back area. The impact knocked the jumper unconscious, and witnesses in the airplane observed him tumbling until his automatic activation device deployed his reserve parachute. He did not regain consciousness and landed in a field next to the airport. He was taken to a hospital, but the report did not indicate anything beyond he suffered back injuries and there was no paralysis involved. The tail of the airplane was damaged by the impact, but the pilot was able to land safely. This aircraft has a relatively low horizontal stabilizer, which is a danger only if the jumper launches very high or if the airplane is still climbing during the jumper's exit. Jump pilots flying this type of aircraft should configure the aircraft for level flight, and skydivers must use caution and dive low during the exit to reduce the risk of striking the tail of the plane. Skydivers should not exit until the pilot has leveled the airplane for jump run and indicated it is safe to exit.


Age: 75
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 2,296
Time in Sport: 30 years
Cause of Death: Hard landing under a spinning canopy following a canopy collision

Description: This jumper participated in a 3-way formation skydive. The jumpers broke off at 4,500 feet, and this jumper deployed his main canopy at 3,000 feet. Shortly after deployment, he collided with one of the other 3-way participants under canopy. Following the collision, witnesses observed him to be unresponsive in a slow spiral for the remainder of his descent. He landed in an open field and received immediate medical attention but died from internal injuries. It was not clear whether the canopy collision or the landing caused his injuries.

Conclusions: The other jumper involved in the collision experienced line twists during deployment, which prevented him from steering the canopy until he cleared the twists. Once free of the line twists, he did not have time to avoid the collision, and the two jumpers, flying at nearly the same level, struck head-on. It is unknown whether the first jumper had any trouble controlling his canopy before the collision. He was found with one brake line released, presumably causing the spiral, but investigators could not determine whether the brake had released before or after the collision.

The Skydiver's Information Manual recommends jumpers in groups of five or fewer break off at least 1,500 feet above the highest planned deployment altitude, which should provide enough separation between jumpers in most cases. The report did not indicate how much horizontal separation the jumpers had obtained after tracking. However, two canopies flying toward each other on opening can diminish a reasonably safe horizontal separation in just a short amount of time. It is not known whether this jumper had an off-heading opening or other problem, such as line twists, or simply did not see the second jumper flying toward him.

Skydivers should attempt to initiate a flat track while remaining aware of other jumpers' locations to help ensure enough horizontal separation before deployment. Only one jumper needs to see and react to avoid an impending collision. Following a successful deployment, a jumper's first priority should be to check his surrounding airspace for other canopy traffic and steer to avoid if necessary.

System: Relative Workshop Vector 2
Main: Performance Designs PD 230
Reserve: Performance Designs PD-176R
AAD: None
RSL: Not reported

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Age: 57
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 1,200
Time in Sport: Three years
Cause of Death: Impact with a parked vehicle and the ground following a low turn

Description: After an uneventful freefall and initial canopy descent, this jumper initiated a 180-degree right front-riser turn at an altitude witnesses estimated between 120 and 140 feet. His turn placed his canopy in a steep dive with his flight path directly toward a large tent. At approximately 35 feet above the ground, he made a turn to the left to avoid the tent, steepening the dive. He simultaneously struck a parked truck and the ground and was killed instantly by the impact.

Conclusions: Although there were several large, open landing areas nearby, this jumper chose to land in an area surrounded by obstacles-in an apparent attempt to swoop close to the large tent. Witnesses reported he made no attempt to flare his canopy or stop the turn at an altitude that would have provided for a safe landing. He may have been distracted by the obstacles or overwhelmed by the situation he faced seconds before he struck the ground.

He was jumping a cross-braced canopy at a wing loading estimated to be 1.6:1. The report did not indicate the number of jumps he had made on this canopy, but at 1,200 total jumps and three years of experience in the sport, he had downsized to this canopy rapidly. Highly loaded cross-braced canopies require training and special skills to fly and land safely. Skydiver's Information Manual Sections 6-10 and 6-11 contain canopy piloting information and training recommendations for jumpers of all experience levels. The report did not indicate whether this jumper had received any formal canopy coaching. Jumpers can reduce the risks of high-performance landings with training from a canopy coach. Jumpers who choose to make high-performance landings should do so over large, clear areas free of other canopy traffic and obstacles. A jumper should be prepared to stop the turn and flare the canopy regardless of the intended landing direction in case he initiated the turn too low. All turns must be completed with enough altitude for the canopy to return to straight and level flight for the landing flare.

System: Not reported
Main: Precision Aerodynamics Xaos 108
Reserve: Not reported
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: Yes

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Age: 33
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 900-plus
Time in Sport: Nine years
Cause of Death: Hard landing under a partially collapsed canopy following a canopy collision

Description: Three jumpers exited at 9,500 feet and immediately deployed their canopies. Their initial canopy flights were uneventful until two of the jumpers collided approximately 200 feet above the ground. Both canopies remained clear of each other, but both deflated partially and spun for the remainder of the descents. This jumper landed hard in an open field. The second jumper landed in trees, which may have helped break his fall. He suffered a broken femur but is expected to make a full recovery.

Conclusions: The jumper who died was jumping a cross-braced canopy at a wing loading estimated to be 1.8:1. He was above the other jumper when he initiated a turn for his final approach. The report did not indicate whether the other jumper was also in a turn or flying straight and level when the collision occurred. Apparently, neither jumper saw the other nor had time to steer away before the collision occurred.

All skydivers must ensure clear airspace before initiating any turn under canopy. This is especially critical for those who choose to make high-performance landings and during the final stages of canopy flight before landing. This collision occurred at landing-pattern altitude, the most likely area to experience a canopy collision. Jumpers who choose to make high-performance landings should seek out professional training from a canopy coach. During the initial stages of training, many canopy schools include topics such as identifying other parachutes on the load, ensuring clear airspace and determining canopy flight plans. Each jumper should be prepared to abort a high-performance landing if there is any chance of a collision with another canopy.

System: Sun Path Javelin
Main: Performance Designs Velocity 111
Reserve: Performance Designs PD-143R
AAD: None
RSL: No

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* A student with ten jumps in the past two years received thorough refresher training before jumping with an instructor for his recurrency jump. After an uneventful freefall and initial canopy descent, the student flared the main canopy at approximately 20 feet above the ground. He then let the toggles back up to full flight, causing the canopy to surge forward. He hit the ground hard before he could flare again, and he broke his lower leg as a result. The main canopy was new with a zero-porosity top-skin construction. The student's previous jumps had all been on older F-111 (more porous fabric) canopies. The new canopy may have had a much more responsive flare than the older canopies he had previously jumped, or perhaps he simply misjudged the correct flare altitude. In either case, he reacted incorrectly by letting up on the toggles. The canopy training outlined in the Integrated Student Program recommends jumpers who flare too early either hold the flare position or let their toggles up slightly before flaring again closer to the ground. In either case, the jumper should prepare for a parachute landing fall to reduce the chance of injury.

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* A jumper with 41 jumps began to climb out of a Cessna 182 for a solo exit at 5,000 feet. He had been sitting next to the pilot, facing the rear of the airplane in the traditional student position with the back of his rig against the dash panel of the airplane. As he climbed out to perform a hanging exit from the wing strut, his reserve pilot chute launched into the pilot's lap. The pilot handed the pilot chute to another jumper seated next to the door, who then threw it out the door and downward. The pilot applied rudder pressure to yaw the plane to the right in an attempt to prevent the parachute from striking the airplane. The jumper was pulled off the strut as his reserve parachute deployed, and one of the canopy's line groups snagged on the plane's horizontal stabilizer, severing all four lines. The jumper landed hard under a spinning reserve. He suffered multiple broken bones but is expected to make a full recovery. The airplane landed safely with damage to the horizontal stabilizer. A pin check before exit can help ensure that the container is secured properly before a jumper leaves the plane. USPA receives several reports each year involving premature deployments. Although most of these incidents are uneventful, some have resulted in fatalities and complete destruction of the aircraft.

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* Following a 5-way formation skydive, a jumper with approximately 700 jumps experienced a hard pull while attempting to extract her bottom-of-container-mounted pilot chute. She made a second attempt to deploy her main canopy before pulling the cutaway handle. She then experienced a hard pull of the reserve ripcord, which prevented her from opening her reserve until approximately 900 feet, according to the data from her audible altimeter. After the low reserve opening, she had an uneventful landing off the drop zone in a swampy area. The rig was equipped with an automatic activation device that activated after she had deployed her reserve. The causes of her hard pulls for both the main and reserve were not reported. Careful packing of the main pilot chute can help prevent a hard pull. The pull force a jumper needs to exert to deploy his reserve can be affected by the direction he pulls his reserve handle and how tightly the closing loop holds the reserve ripcord. Skydiver's Information Manual Section 5-1 recommends that, when the main pilot chute has not been deployed and the main container is still closed, the jumper should immediately pull the reserve without wasting precious time by cutting away. SIM Section 5-1 also recommends that jumpers practice emergency procedures at every repack cycle to become familiar with the pull forces necessary to activate their reserve parachutes.

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* A skydiver with 1,800 jumps flying an elliptical canopy at a wing loading of 1.6:1 initiated a 180-degree front-riser turn at an altitude reported only as "too low." He had selected a landing area near parked vehicles, which left him with no outs once he had committed to the landing. He struck the back of a parked pick-up truck and came to a stop inside the bed of the truck. His injuries were not reported; however, the report stated that the skydiver's high level of fitness and use of a hard helmet helped him survive the landing. All jumpers should select clear landing areas, and those who choose to make high-performance approaches should use areas that allow safe landings in any direction, as it may become necessary to abort the landing approach before reaching the planned landing direction. Jumpers should also seek professional canopy training from a canopy coach to help reduce the additional risks involved with high-performance landings.

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* A jumper with 116 jumps faced an off-field landing for unreported reasons. Other jumpers who exited after this jumper all landed in the main landing area of the drop zone. This jumper chose to land in a yard surrounded on three sides by trees and power lines. The property owner observed the jumper making a last-second turn just after clearing the trees on one side of the property. The skydiver struck the ground hard while still in a turn and was briefly knocked unconscious. He was transported to a hospital, where he refused further medical treatment. Skydiver's Information Manual Section 5-1 contains recommendations regarding off-field landing procedures. Jumpers should become familiar with braked turns and braked canopy flight. Braked turns allow the jumper to turn the canopy while conserving altitude. Braked flight slows the forward speed and the descent rate. Both are desirable when landing in an unfamiliar area. Jumpers should always choose a suitable alternate landing site while still at a safe altitude. Finally, a properly executed PLF can help prevent injuries in the event of a hard landing.

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* A jumper with more than 100 skydives participated in a 2-way sit-fly train exit out of a King Air. The second jumper had his feet gripped under this jumper's arms, which dislodged this jumper's cutaway handle in freefall. This first jumper deployed his reserve parachute, since the main canopy was no longer connected at the 3-rings. The reserve canopy suffered damage to the right side upon opening, including several broken lines, causing the jumper to spin for the entire descent. The jumper suffered a broken ankle and two broken vertebrae from the hard landing. The cause of the damage to the reserve was not reported, although the jumper's exit weight was estimated to be very close to the maximum recommended weight for the canopy. The report did not indicate whether his freefall speed was faster than normal or whether the reserve parachute had opened hard. Either could have caused damage to the canopy during deployment. Jumpers must use caution while docking near another jumper's handles. USPA has received reports of accidental main and reserve deployments, dislodged cutaway handles, and jumper injuries from collisions occurring as jumpers learn to freefly. Further USPA recommendations on freeflying appear in Section 6-2 of the Skydiver's Information Manual.

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* A Category C student hit the ground without flaring his canopy. He suffered a broken femur from the hard landing. Since he had not jumped in two months, he received thorough refresher training before this jump. He later stated he had forgotten to flare the parachute and had not heard the instructor prompting him to do so via radio commands. The report did not indicate whether the student practiced flaring at altitude. However, practice flares can help reinforce landing procedures. He did not land with his feet and knees together and did not perform a PLF. Flaring at the proper altitude and performing a PLF can reduce the chance and severity of injuries.

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* A skydiver with 40 jumps struck the ground without flaring her parachute, suffering a broken leg and pelvis. The jumper later stated she got distracted just before landing and did not have a chance to flare the canopy before hitting the ground. All jumpers need to stay focused on every aspect of their skydives, especially the canopy flight and landing. The cause of the distraction was not reported, but landing the parachute safely is always a top priority. Flaring at the proper altitude and performing a PLF can reduce the chance and severity of injuries on almost any surface.

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* A static-line student landed hard on his first jump, suffering a compound fracture of his lower right leg. He took a long time climbing out of and exiting the airplane and responded slowly to radio commands from the instructor on the ground. He flared approximately 20 feet above the ground-before his instructor prompted him to do so-causing him to drop straight down and land hard. He did not perform a PLF. The jumper later stated he felt extremely nervous and had some difficulty hearing the radio, although ground crew reported hearing it from more than 50 yards away. The report did not indicate whether the student performed any practice flares at altitude. Practice flares help reinforce landing procedures and increase the likelihood of the student's flaring at the correct altitude during the actual landing. Students often have difficulty judging the proper height for the landing flare and should be prepared to execute a parachute landing fall.

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Age: 45
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 3,000
Time in Sport: Not reported
Cause of Death: Impact after failure to deploy a main or reserve parachute

Description: This jumper participated in a 2-way wingsuit skydive from 13,000 feet over the ocean at a beach boogie. He didn't deploy either his main or reserve parachute. He hit the water and died on impact.

Conclusions: The jumper had approximately 100 wingsuit jumps. However, this was his second jump on a new wingsuit model, and he had complained that he did not like the fit. He said the wingsuit shifted his parachute container into a position he was not used to. The jumper was observed to have stability problems on exit and during freefall. Damage to the right side of the container suggests that he was flying right-side low. He may have lost altitude awareness while trying to locate his main parachute deployment handle, or his depth perception could have been distorted due to the water. The impact dislodged the reserve ripcord handle. The investigation found the equipment in good working order prior to impact. He wore a wrist-mounted visual altimeter but did not have an audible altimeter. He was not equipped with an automatic activation device. Section 6-9 of the Skydiver's Information Manual recommends that experienced wingsuit jumpers initiate main canopy deployment by 3,000 feet and first-time wingsuit jumpers do so by 5,000 feet. SIM Section 5-1 recommends that if a jumper has difficulty locating or pulling the main pilot chute, he make no more than two attempts to deploy the main canopy, altitude permitting, before deploying the reserve. Wingsuits add complications to the deployment sequence, and in this case, the fit of the suit may have caused the jumper difficulty in locating the main and reserve handles. Also, an AAD may have changed the outcome of this incident.

System: Fliteline Systems Reflex Main: Aerodyne Research Pilot 150
Reserve: Precision Aerodynamics 181-M
AAD: No
RSL: No

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Age: 52
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 1,500
Time in Sport: Not reported
Cause of Death: Impact after low cutaway and reserve deployment

Description: After an uneventful 4-way skydive, this jumper experienced a spinning main canopy. He released the main parachute and deployed the reserve at a low altitude, but the reserve did not clear its freebag before he struck the ground. He died on impact.

Conclusions: Witnesses observed the jumper spinning under his main canopy at a reported 1,900 feet. The spin continued until he disappeared from view behind a tree line. The cause of the spin was not reported. Witnesses did not observe his cutaway altitude. However, his main canopy was found just 800 to 1,000 feet from his body, and surface winds were reported to be 15 mph. This indicates that he released the main at approximately 200 to 300 feet above the ground. He was jumping an elliptical main canopy with a wing loading of 1.5:1. Highly loaded elliptical canopies contribute to fast spins and rapid altitude loss. A rapid spin can cause disorientation, which slows reaction times and affects coordination. A jumper can quickly find himself with minimal working time. Additionally, the jumper wore a full-face helmet, which may have made it difficult for him to see his cutaway and reserve ripcord handles. His container was not equipped with a reserve static line. An RSL ensures immediate reserve activation following a cutaway. Skydiver's Information Manual Section 5-3 recommends that all skydivers use RSLs, with exceptions for special situations. SIM Section 5-1 recommends that students and A-license holders decide on and begin emergency procedures by 2,500 feet AGL, with B-, C- and D-license holders responding by 1,800 feet AGL.

System: Mirage Systems Mirage
Main: Performance Designs Stiletto 170
Reserve: Performance Designs PD-176R
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: No

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Age: 49
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: Two
Time in Sport: Two weeks
Cause of Death: Impact after falling out of a tandem harness

Description: A tandem pair exited an aircraft at 13,500 feet, and the instructor deployed the main canopy at 10,000 feet. When the main canopy began to inflate, the student slipped out of the harness. He struck the ground in a heavily wooded area and died on impact. His body was found the next day.

Conclusions: The jump was made from the tailgate of a Shorts Brothers Skyvan aircraft. The student was a paraplegic and required assistance to move from the front of the aircraft to the tailgate. This may have caused the student's harness to loosen or shift. Soon after exiting, the instructor noticed the student was low in the harness and deployed the main canopy. The student slipped backward out of the harness through the gap between the leg straps and the horizontal back strap. Jumping with physically challenged students requires special considerations. The student harness must be fitted correctly before boarding the aircraft and remain in place during the ride to altitude, exit, freefall, opening and canopy descent. A paraplegic's legs must be controlled, since he is unable to hold them in position. Regardless of the student's physical limitations, all students must be secured in the harness according to the manufacturer's instructions.

System: Relative Workshop Sigma Tandem
Main: JoJo Wing HOP 330
Reserve: Performance Designs VR-360
AAD: Advanced Aerospace Designs Vigil
RSL: Yes

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Age: 44
Sex: Female
Number of Jumps: One
Time in Sport: One day
Cause of Death: Impact after falling out of a tandem harness

Description: After an uneventful tandem freefall, the instructor deployed the main canopy at approximately 5,000 feet. As the main canopy inflated, the student slipped out of the harness. She died on impact.

Conclusions: While the main canopy inflated, the student's legs swung forward and up, placing her in a pike body position. She fell backward out of the harness through the gap above the horizontal back strap and below the diagonal back straps.

Soon after the accident, the tandem equipment manufacturer issued a service bulletin reminding tandem instructors to properly adjust student harnesses. Each tandem equipment manufacturer provides specific procedures for student harness adjustments to ensure correct fit. As a result of this accident and the similar one above, USPA and the Parachute Industry Association released a joint statement reminding skydiving schools to ensure each harness is properly adjusted in accordance with established guidelines. In addition, each tandem manufacturer was requested to review passenger harness designs to ensure that each student, regardless of body shape, is securely held in the harness through the entire skydive.

System: Strong Dual Hawk
Main: Strong SET-400
Reserve: Strong Master 425
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: Yes

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Age: 59 Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 2,532
Time in Sport: 25 years
Cause of Death: Hard landing after a low turn under canopy

Description: After an uneventful exit and initial canopy flight, this jumper initiated a 180-degree turn at approximately 100 feet above the ground. He did not flare the canopy and struck the ground halfway through the turn. He received immediate medical attention but died at the scene from severe head injuries. Conclusions: This jumper had recently returned to skydiving following a ten-month layoff. He had made approximately six jumps after his hiatus, most with a new canopy that was similar in size and design to his previous canopy. However, the handling characteristics of canopies can vary widely from model to model. He may have experienced a much greater altitude loss in a turn than he experienced with the previous canopy. His wing loading was 1.5:1, which the manufacturer classifies as a high-performance wing loading that requires the jumper to have a high degree of competence and experience. In this situation, a jumper should follow a careful flight plan with a conservative landing pattern and final approach.

The jumper wore a fiberglass open-face helmet but suffered fatal head injuries and multiple broken bones. He had complained about problems with his new contact lenses, which may have caused vision complications on the jump. He exited the aircraft wearing goggles but was found at the scene without them. The medical examiner reported that he didn't find any contact lenses, but the jumper's body was released to the mortuary before further investigation.

A jumper experiencing vision trouble under canopy should be especially conservative near the ground and be prepared to handle last-second distractions with caution. All turns must be completed at an altitude high enough for the canopy to return to straight and level flight for the landing flare.

System: Velocity Sports Infinity
Main: Icarus Crossfire 2 139
Reserve: Not reported
AAD: Not reported
RSL: Not reported

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* A tandem pair landed hard in winds reported to be gusting between six and 16 mph. The tandem's descent rate rapidly increased at approximately 30 feet due to a downdraft. The landing flare had little effect on slowing the descent rate, and the pair struck the ground relatively hard. The tandem student's legs were bent at the knees during landing practice, but she stuck her legs straight out on the landing, hitting the ground rear-first. The student suffered a broken tailbone and several cracked vertebrae, while the instructor bruised his feet and suffered a strained back. Landing feet-first may have helped prevent the tailbone and vertebrae injuries but at the risk of a leg or ankle injury. Rear-first, slide-in landings are only effective when winds are calm and the rate of descent is reduced to nearly zero mph with an effective landing flare. Gusty winds can create challenging landings for all skydivers, both solo and tandem. It's usually a good idea to stay on the ground in questionable wind conditions.

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* A tandem student suffered a broken ankle from a hard landing in gusty, bumpy winds reported to be 12 to 18 mph. The instructor selected a clear area far from obstacles but experienced a downdraft that increased the canopy's descent rate. The pair dropped the last 20 feet, and the landing flare did not slow them sufficiently. Even if winds are within a school's or jumper's numerical limits, they can create problems under canopy if they are especially gusty or turbulent. Again, it's usually wiser to stay on the ground in questionable conditions.

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* A jumper with more than 1,800 skydives was jumping a 120-square-foot canopy in winds reported to be 14 mph. He was caught in a downdraft that accelerated his descent rate and caused him to strike the ground hard. The report did not state whether he performed a parachute landing fall, but his injuries were minor. A PLF can help reduce the risk of injury during a hard landing.

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* A jumper with 110 skydives was jumping a 190-square-foot main canopy at a wing loading of 1.2:1. Winds were reported to be ten to 12 mph and turbulent. At approximately 80 feet, he initiated a 180-degree turn in an attempt to face into the wind. He did not complete the turn before striking the ground, resulting in multiple breaks to one leg. He was not current and did not receive refresher training prior to this jump. A thorough review with an instructor on emergency procedures and canopy control may have helped this jumper execute a safe landing pattern and avoid injury. He may have been better off landing downwind and performing a PLF than making a low turn to try to face into the wind for landing. All turns must be completed with enough altitude for the canopy to return to straight and level flight for the landing flare.

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* A jumper with 520 jumps under a 120-square-foot main canopy experienced a spinning line-twist malfunction following her deployment at 3,000 feet. She was able to kick out of the twist, but the canopy continued to turn to the left because one brake line had released during the opening. She stopped the spin by pulling down on the right rear riser, unaware that the released brake caused the spin. She decided to land the canopy in this configuration but lost control at approximately 1,000 feet. She then decided to release the main canopy and deploy the reserve. It took several seconds for her to locate the cutaway handle, and she then had difficulty separating the cutaway handle from the harness. She finally used both hands on the cutaway handle to release the main canopy at approximately 500 feet. The reserve static line activated her reserve, which inflated just above the tree tops. She passed through the trees with a fully inflated reserve and landed on her back, suffering a compression fracture of one vertebra. She is expected to make a full recovery. USPA receives many reports of toggle or steering line related malfunctions. Most are due to packing errors or poor maintenance. Jumpers experiencing a malfunction often spend too much time trying to correct the problem, losing valuable altitude in the process. The reserve static line helped ensure the reserve deployed with as little altitude loss as possible, which in this case was crucial and probably saved her life. Skydiver's Information Manual Section 5-1 recommends jumpers decide on and execute emergency procedures by at least 1,800 feet for B- through D-license holders or 2,500 feet for students and A-license holders.

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* A jumper with approximately 100 jumps was on final approach at 40 feet in shifting winds with gusts between ten and 18 mph. A strong gust pushed the canopy into a crosswind direction, pitching the jumper slightly out from under the canopy as it surged sideways. He reached toward the ground with the hand lowest and closest to the ground, which also pulled the steering line on that side and caused the canopy to turn to a downwind direction. He struck the asphalt runway without flaring the canopy. He suffered multiple leg and ankle injuries, including a compound fracture of his tibia and fibula. He received immediate medical attention and was air-lifted to a hospital, where he underwent multiple surgeries over the next few weeks. He is expected to recover from his injuries. Landing in gusty and shifting winds can be challenging, even for the most experienced skydivers. The correct action would have been to use opposite toggle input to keep the canopy facing into the wind. However, many jumpers in this situation reach for the ground toward the low side in an effort to break the fall, as this jumper did. Canopy coaching and practice at altitude with braked turns that incorporate heading changes while flaring can help jumpers improve their canopy control skills. Staying on the ground in marginal wind conditions is also a good way to avoid accidents and injuries.

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* A jumper with 140 jumps faced strong upper winds that prevented him from making it to the main landing area. As a result, he was forced to land in an alternate landing area. In addition to the strong upper winds, the ground winds were gusting from six to 20 mph. He pointed the canopy in the direction he thought placed him into the wind for his final approach, but according to several witnesses, this was actually a crosswind direction. He partially flared the canopy to his shoulders just before he struck the ground. His legs were straight and stiff when he landed, and he made no attempt to perform a parachute landing fall, which may have helped prevent injuries. He suffered a broken ankle. This accident is similar to the previous example; however, in this case, the jumper ended up crosswind and at least partially flared the parachute. This lessened his injuries compared to the jumper above. In both cases, the jumpers did not react correctly to the wind's effect on their canopy flights. Practice and training with an experienced canopy coach can help jumpers learn more about canopy flight.

And jumpers can avoid injuries by staying on the ground when the winds become questionable.

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* For unexplained reasons, a student on his second jump deployed his main canopy at 10,000 feet. He then flew his parachute more than a mile downwind of the drop zone. He landed in a rough area, catching his canopy on a tree and striking the side of a hill as he landed. He suffered a broken hip from the hard landing. The report stated that the student had many clear areas to choose from as alternate landing zones but he was unresponsive to radio instructions and ended up in a hazardous area. The Integrated Student Program is designed for Category B to be as simple as possible for returning students, mostly reinforcing the training received on the first jump. Much of the training in Category B focuses on the canopy portion of the jump. It was not reported whether the student was trained according to the ISP Category B outline or why he did not choose a more open landing area. The ISP recommends that students landing off the drop zone select a clear area, transfer the planned landing pattern over the new area, avoid any obstacles and perform a parachute landing fall.

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* Two jumpers experienced a canopy collision at approximately 300 feet. The two parachutes remained entangled for the remainder of the descent. The jumpers landed hard in soft mud, which allowed one jumper to escape with minor scratches and bruises, while the other suffered multiple broken bones but is expected to make a full recovery. The two jumpers were on the same load but in different groups. Both were very experienced jumpers flying highly loaded cross-braced canopies. One jumper had initiated a 270-degree turn, while the other had initiated a 180-degree turn at a lower altitude. High-performance landings require large, traffic-free areas to avoid collisions such as this one. Jumpers who choose to make this type of approach must ensure that the airspace is clear before initiating the approach. Traffic problems and collisions have increased over the last few years as canopy speeds continue to increase and canopy patterns get busier. All skydivers need to stay vigilant while under canopy, particularly just after deployment and just before landing. Jumpers who choose to make high-performance landings should be prepared to abort the landing approach if traffic becomes an issue.

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Age: 40
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 4,000-plus
Time in Sport: 20-plus years
Cause of Death: Hard impact under partially inflated main and reserve canopies

Description: This jumper participated in an 8-way group skydive that was uneventful prior to breakoff at 4,500 feet. Witnesses in the air and on the ground observed this jumper under a partially inflated main canopy at an unreported low altitude. He was found with both the main and reserve parachutes out of their deployment bags, but neither had inflated enough to slow his descent to a survivable speed. He received immediate first-aid but did not respond, and he was declared dead at the scene.

Conclusions: One witness in the air was at 2,300 feet when he observed this jumper well below him with his main deployed but not fully inflated. His main deployment altitude was not reported, and nobody witnessed the reserve deployment. The brakes were stowed on both canopies. The automatic activation device had cut the reserve closing loop, deploying the reserve canopy. The data retrieved from the AAD showed his rate of descent was 85 mph while passing through the 750-foot activation altitude, more than ten mph faster than the speed required to activate the cutter. The AAD did not record any further deceleration until 250 feet, at which point the descent rate slowed to 45 mph. The reserve canopy may not have begun to inflate until 250 feet, or the main canopy may have further inflated, accounting for the reduced descent rate at 250 feet.

Section 5-1 of the Skydiver's Information Manual recommends that students and A-licensed jumpers initiate emergency procedures no lower than 2,500 feet and that B- through D-license holders initiate emergency procedures no lower than 1,800 feet. This jumper may have been waiting for the slow-opening main parachute to fully inflate. However, it is not clear why he seemed to lose altitude awareness or did not initiate emergency procedures. All jumpers must maintain altitude awareness in freefall, during deployment and under canopy. If a jumper determines that he cannot land his main canopy, he must initiate emergency procedures immediately.

System: Sun Path Javelin
Main: Performance Designs Stiletto 135
Reserve: Precision Aerodynamics Raven Dash-M 150
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: Not reported

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Age: 44
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 150
Time in Sport: 3.5 years
Cause of Death: Hard impact under a spinning main canopy

Description: After an uneventful freefall and initial canopy flight, this jumper's main canopy began to spin at an altitude of approximately 200 feet. The spin continued all the way to impact. The jumper died instantly from the hard landing.

Conclusions: An inspection of the main canopy and risers revealed that the left steering toggle was unstowed, with the slider grommet below the toggle. The right steering line was stowed with the slider grommet stuck halfway over the toggle. The jumper had collapsed the slider with its drawstrings. He may have inadvertently pulled the slider down over the risers and toggles while pulling the drawstrings to collapse the slider. Or he may have inadvertently released the left toggle while attempting to pull the slider grommets to the bottom of the risers.

While a slider can sometimes accidentally dislodge a toggle during deployment, the evidence indicates that the problem occurred after the canopy had opened, since the jumper had already collapsed the slider.

It is not known at what altitude the toggle may have become dislodged. Perhaps it occurred soon after opening, and the jumper may have been able to keep the canopy flying straight by pulling on the left toggle or riser to equal the brake setting on the right side. He then may have lost his grip on the toggle or riser at a low altitude. Or the problem may have occurred lower if he chose to collapse the slider or bring it below the toggles at a low altitude. Nor is it known whether the jumper realized that one toggle remained stowed but could not release it or whether he couldn't identify the cause of the turn.

Several fatalities have been attributed to interference between the steering controls and slider grommets at a low altitude. In each case, the canopy began to spin at just a few hundred feet—much too low for a cutaway and reserve deployment—leaving just a few seconds for the jumper to figure out what happened before impact. Jumpers who choose to stow their sliders at the bottom of their risers should do so high enough to still be able to initiate emergency procedures in case the slider creates a problem such as this one. Those who choose to leave the slider at the top of the risers should take steps to help ensure that the slider cannot accidentally come down below the toggles. Two-inch type-8 risers will keep the slider at the top and out of the way. If a jumper uses the smaller one-inch type-17 mini-risers, he can have larger slider bumpers installed to prevent the slider from dropping below the top of the risers and fouling the steering toggles.

System: Rigging Innovations Talon
Main: Aerodyne Research Pilot 168
Reserve: Performance Designs PD 253R
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: Yes

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* A skydiver with 105 jumps experienced a premature main canopy deployment during a solo sit-fly jump. Because the main canopy deployed while the jumper was in a vertical position, the main canopy lines snagged on the reserve container and tore the cordura fabric loose from the back pad of the harness and container. The reserve pin stayed secured, and the reserve canopy remained enclosed within its flaps and did not deploy. The main canopy opened normally; however, the jumper's right arm broke when it momentarily entangled with the deploying parachute. The jumper steered the main canopy using his left rear riser and performed a parachute landing fall to avoid further injury on landing. He landed with the brakes of the canopy still stowed. The container he was wearing offers good pin protection for sit-flying positions, but the condition of the equipment was not reported. The premature opening may have been caused by a loose main closing loop or main pilot chute pouch or by an exposed main pilot chute bridle. Skydiver's Information Manual Sections 5-3 and 5-4 contain information on equipment and pre-jump safety checks that can benefit all skydivers. Tight closing loops and carefully stowed pilot chutes and bridles can help prevent premature deployments, especially for jumpers exposing the container to the relative wind at faster freefall speeds while freeflying.

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* A jumper with more than 500 jumps was forced to land off the airport due to a bad spot. Surface winds were reported to be 22 mph and gusty. The jumper landed in a clear area just downwind of a tall row of trees. He broke his right leg from the hard landing. The report stated that he dropped suddenly when the wind dropped off as the jumper came close to the tree line. In all likelihood, turbulence caused him to drop rapidly as he neared the trees. Category C of the Integrated Student Program discusses the causes and effects of turbulence so jumpers will understand where and when to expect turbulence so they can avoid the situation if at all possible. In strong and gusty winds, jumpers should consider staying on the ground rather than jumping in questionable conditions. The report did not state whether the jumper performed a parachute landing fall, which can help lessen the chance of an injury during a hard landing.

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* A jumper with 420 jumps suffered a broken femur due to a hard landing when he struck the ground without slowing his main canopy sufficiently. He had made 250 jumps on this canopy, but this was his first jump with it since a new line set had been installed. He flared the canopy the same way he had before it had been relined, but the canopy did not respond as he expected, and he struck the ground nearly in full flight. Canopy lines made of Spectra nylon will shrink with each deployment due to the heat generated by the slider grommets as they slide down the lines. Steering lines and the outside lines are most susceptible to this shrinkage. The shorter steering lines will make the canopy react more quickly with less input from the jumper but restrict the forward flight of the canopy. With the shortened lines, the tail is actually held in a partially braked position even with the toggles all the way up. Many jumpers never recognize this change since it happens very gradually, and the shorter flare then becomes normal. A jumper using a new canopy or a canopy with any changes to its components should open higher than normal and practice steering and flaring the canopy several times before the actual landing.

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Age: 73
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 6,500-plus
Time in Sport: 43 years
Cause of Death: Impact after failure to deploy a main or reserve parachute

Description: Toward the end of an uneventful 2-way freefall skydive, this jumper received an altitude signal from his freefall partner, who pointed at his own altimeter at 4,500 feet. This jumper then placed his hand on his main ripcord handle but did not deploy his main parachute. He died instantly on impact with neither the main nor reserve parachute deployed.

Conclusions: Investigators found the jumper's main cutaway handle approximately 1,000 feet from his body. The main and reserve ripcord handles were both in place. The main and reserve containers had opened as a result of the impact. The jumper may have experienced a hard pull on his main ripcord or simply have been confused at pull time, but for whatever reason, he never pulled either his main or reserve ripcord. He was not wearing an altimeter of any type.

He had recently returned to jumping after suffering a stroke many years ago. The report did not indicate whether the drop zone knew of his medical condition or whether he had completed the USPA medical statement included in most drop zone waivers. At least one other DZ had previously turned him away when he could not demonstrate satisfactory emergency procedures. Those who jump with known medical conditions endanger not only themselves, but others in the air with them, as well as those on the ground. All jumpers need to practice emergency procedures frequently, especially after a long layoff. If a jumper cannot deploy his main parachute for any reason, he must immediately go to the reserve. An automatic activation device may have changed the outcome of this incident.

System: Sun Path Javelin
Main: Para-Flite Stratostar 220
Reserve: Para-Flite Cyrus 200
AAD: No
RSL: No

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Age: 20
Sex: Female
Number of Jumps: One
Time in Sport: One day
Cause of Death: Head injury from hard landing under spinning main tandem canopy

Description: After an uneventful freefall and initial canopy descent, this tandem pair performed a standard landing pattern toward the usual drop zone landing area. At about 20 feet, the main canopy rolled under on the right side, then began to spin for the remainder of the descent. The tandem pair struck the grass with their lower extremities and the runway asphalt with their upper bodies. Both the instructor and student were initially knocked unconscious; however, the instructor woke up shortly after the impact. The instructor wore a fiberglass open-face helmet, and the student wore a leather frap hat. Both were airlifted to a local hospital. The instructor suffered a concussion and multiple broken bones, including his femur and pelvis, but is expected to make a full recovery. The student died from her head injuries almost five months after the accident.

Conclusions: Winds were reported to be approximately 11 knots with gusts as high as 22 knots around the time of this jump. Ground personnel had attempted to reach the pilot regarding sudden wind gusts experienced in the landing area, but the tandem pair had already exited the aircraft. The other tandem pair on the plane landed off the drop zone without incident. Nearby trees may have created additional turbulence with the already gusty winds, which may have caused the canopy to collapse. The main canopy was found to be in good condition, and the line lengths were found to be within the manufacturer's specifications. Windy conditions can quickly turn from moderate and acceptable to something beyond what a ram-air parachute can withstand and still remain inflated. All jumpers should exercise caution when the wind conditions become strong or gusty.

System: Strong Enterprises Dual Hawk
Main: Jojowing HOP 330
Reserve: Strong Master 425
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: Yes

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Age: 58
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 358
Time in Sport: Eight years
Cause of Death: Impact after failure to deploy a main or reserve parachute

Description: This jumper was videoing a 4-way group skydive and attempted to deploy his main canopy as the group broke off. The breakoff altitude was not reported. He pulled his rear-of-leg-mounted pilot chute through the gap in his camera wing, which resulted in an entanglement and a pilot-chute-in-tow malfunction. Witnesses observed him to roll over onto his back at this point and then return belly to earth. During this time, he grabbed his main pilot chute bridle and cut it with his hook knife. At some point, he pulled his cutaway handle. The main parachute never opened, and the jumper struck the ground without deploying his reserve.

Conclusions: As with most skydiving fatalities, a chain of events ultimately led to a fatal outcome. Break any of the links in the chain, and the results may have changed. This jumper was using a container with a leg-strap-mounted pilot chute pouch. Some camera suits, such as this one, include a gap near the hip that is large enough to reach through from the front and grab the pilot chute. In this case, pulling the pilot chute through this gap resulted in a horseshoe malfunction, with the pilot chute trapped by the wing of the jumpsuit, the main container open and the deployment bag still inside. Skydiver's Information Manual Section 6-8 recommends that skydivers using camera wingsuits have deployment systems that are compatible with the suit. The rear-of-leg deployment system may not be the best to use with this kind of suit. A bottom-of-container-mounted pilot chute is safer for this type of wingsuit, since the jumper is less likely to reach through the gap in the wingsuit while pulling the pilot chute.

Once this jumper realized the pilot chute was trapped, he used valuable altitude cutting the bridle with his hook knife. He cut the bridle just above the main canopy deployment bag, which freed the bridle from his jumpsuit but left the main bag with nothing to pull it off his back. At some point, he pulled the cutaway handle, but he apparently ran out of altitude before he could locate and pull his reserve ripcord. An automatic activation device may have changed the outcome of this incident.

Additional equipment such as cameras and camera wingsuits adds complications to skydiving. All jumpers need thorough preparation and a solid foundation of skills before attempting to use any extra equipment. Skydiver's Information Manual Section 6-8 provides information and guidance for videographers. Thorough preparation and practice of emergency procedures are necessary for all skydivers and even more so for those using extra equipment that may change or add to existing emergency procedures.

System: Relative Workshop Vector 2
Main: Performance Designs Sabre 190
Reserve: Not reported
AAD: No
RSL: No

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Age: 40
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 4,000-plus
Time in Sport: 20-plus years
Cause of Death: Hard impact under partially inflated main and reserve canopies

Description: This jumper participated in an 8-way group skydive that was uneventful prior to breakoff at 4,500 feet. Witnesses in the air and on the ground observed this jumper under a partially inflated main canopy at an unreported low altitude. He was found with both the main and reserve parachutes out of their deployment bags, but neither had inflated enough to slow his descent to a survivable speed. He received immediate first-aid but did not respond, and he was declared dead at the scene.

Conclusions: One witness in the air was at 2,300 feet when he observed this jumper well below him with his main deployed but not fully inflated. His main deployment altitude was not reported, and nobody witnessed the reserve deployment. The brakes were stowed on both canopies. The automatic activation device had cut the reserve closing loop, deploying the reserve canopy. The data retrieved from the AAD showed his rate of descent was 85 mph while passing through the 750-foot activation altitude, more than ten mph faster than the speed required to activate the cutter. The AAD did not record any further deceleration until 250 feet, at which point the descent rate slowed to 45 mph. The reserve canopy may not have begun to inflate until 250 feet, or the main canopy may have further inflated, accounting for the reduced descent rate at 250 feet.

Section 5-1 of the Skydiver's Information Manual recommends that students and A-licensed jumpers initiate emergency procedures no lower than 2,500 feet and that B- through D-license holders initiate emergency procedures no lower than 1,800 feet. This jumper may have been waiting for the slow-opening main parachute to fully inflate. However, it is not clear why he seemed to lose altitude awareness or did not initiate emergency procedures. All jumpers must maintain altitude awareness in freefall, during deployment and under canopy. If a jumper determines that he cannot land his main canopy, he must initiate emergency procedures immediately.

System: Sun Path Javelin
Main: Performance Designs Stiletto 135
Reserve: Precision Aerodynamics Raven Dash-M 150
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: Not reported

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Age: 44
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 150
Time in Sport: 3.5 years
Cause of Death: Hard impact under a spinning main canopy

Description: After an uneventful freefall and initial canopy flight, this jumper's main canopy began to spin at an altitude of approximately 200 feet. The spin continued all the way to impact. The jumper died instantly from the hard landing.

Conclusions: An inspection of the main canopy and risers revealed that the left steering toggle was unstowed, with the slider grommet below the toggle. The right steering line was stowed with the slider grommet stuck halfway over the toggle. The jumper had collapsed the slider with its drawstrings. He may have inadvertently pulled the slider down over the risers and toggles while pulling the drawstrings to collapse the slider. Or he may have inadvertently released the left toggle while attempting to pull the slider grommets to the bottom of the risers.

While a slider can sometimes accidentally dislodge a toggle during deployment, the evidence indicates that the problem occurred after the canopy had opened, since the jumper had already collapsed the slider.

It is not known at what altitude the toggle may have become dislodged. Perhaps it occurred soon after opening, and the jumper may have been able to keep the canopy flying straight by pulling on the left toggle or riser to equal the brake setting on the right side. He then may have lost his grip on the toggle or riser at a low altitude. Or the problem may have occurred lower if he chose to collapse the slider or bring it below the toggles at a low altitude. Nor is it known whether the jumper realized that one toggle remained stowed but could not release it or whether he couldn't identify the cause of the turn.

Several fatalities have been attributed to interference between the steering controls and slider grommets at a low altitude. In each case, the canopy began to spin at just a few hundred feet—much too low for a cutaway and reserve deployment—leaving just a few seconds for the jumper to figure out what happened before impact. Jumpers who choose to stow their sliders at the bottom of their risers should do so high enough to still be able to initiate emergency procedures in case the slider creates a problem such as this one. Those who choose to leave the slider at the top of the risers should take steps to help ensure that the slider cannot accidentally come down below the toggles. Two-inch type-8 risers will keep the slider at the top and out of the way. If a jumper uses the smaller one-inch type-17 mini-risers, he can have larger slider bumpers installed to prevent the slider from dropping below the top of the risers and fouling the steering toggles.

System: Rigging Innovations Talon
Main: Aerodyne Research Pilot 168
Reserve: Performance Designs PD 253R
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: Yes

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Age: 72
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: Three
Time in Sport: Not reported
Cause of Death: Multiple injuries from a hard landing

Description: After an uneventful Category B freefall, this AFF student deployed his main canopy at approximately 6,200 feet. The student was initially observed flying the parachute toward the landing area. However, soon afterward, he did not respond to radio commands, and the parachute was observed flying downwind away from the drop zone. He disappeared from view of the radio personnel on the ground and landed downwind approximately a mile from the drop zone. He suffered fatal head and neck injuries.

Conclusions: The main canopy was found with the brakes unstowed, which supports the witness accounts that the jumper initially steered the canopy after deployment. The reasons are unclear as to why he stopped controlling the canopy and did not respond to commands from the radio operator. Inspection of the skydiving and radio equipment showed no abnormalities, and all of the equipment was in working order.

He presumably made the downwind landing in full flight without a landing flare, since he was observed to be unresponsive. The coroner's report stated that the jumper died as a result of multiple traumatic injuries sustained in a parachuting accident but goes on to state, “The severity of his heart disease may have been a factor in his ability to participate in and control his descent.”

Skydiving places significant physical and mental stress on participants. Each jumper should make sure he is capable of handling that stress and seek the advice of a medical professional regarding any questionable health conditions. Skydiver's Information Manual Section 4-3 contains the USPA statement of medical fitness.

System: Rigging Innovations Telesis
Main: Icarus Canopies Omega 250
Reserve: Precision Aerodynamics Raven 3
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: Yes

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Age: 59
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 375
Time in Sport: Five-plus years
Cause of Death: Hard landing under a spinning main canopy

Description: After an uneventful 8-way group skydive, this jumper deployed his main canopy at 2,300 feet. A very hard opening caused four broken lines on the front left line group. The main canopy immediately began to spin, and the jumper stayed with the spinning canopy all the way to the ground. He received immediate first aid at the scene but died on impact due to blunt head, neck and chest trauma.

Conclusions: This was the jumper's second jump on this equipment and the first time he had packed this canopy himself. Witness reports indicate that he may have been moving slightly or possibly unconscious during the canopy descent, but either way, he did not execute emergency procedures. The descent rate under the spinning main canopy was too slow to activate his AAD.

Most skydivers experience very hard openings of the main canopy sometime during their skydiving careers. The severity of the openings varies widely, and injuries can range from slight bruising or muscle strains to internal injuries with fatal results. Jumpers should pack carefully according to the manufacturer's recommendations to reduce the chance of hard openings and to help ensure that the canopy opens correctly. Other factors that can affect a canopy opening are the jumper's air speed and the density altitude at which the canopy is deployed, although neither appears to have been a factor in this accident.

System: Jump Shack Racer
Main: Performance Designs Spectre 190
Reserve: Performance Designs PD 176R
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: Not reported

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* A skydiver with 2,400 jumps flying a parachute at a wing loading of 2.1:1 struck a set of power lines and fell 25 feet to the ground. He had jumped at this location for several years, but he was landing in a different landing area used for tandems and did not see the power lines during his final approach. The hard landing resulted in two badly broken ankles and a fractured pelvis, all of which required surgery to repair. Jumpers should continually scan their chosen landing sites for hazards both before leaving the ground and in the air and be prepared to fly an alternate landing pattern if necessary.

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* A jumper with 800 jumps over a seven-year period was flying a parachute at a wing loading of 2:1 and initiated a 270-degree turn at an altitude reported only as “too low” and in strong, gusty winds.

The canopy partially collapsed before disappearing from view of the witnesses behind a hangar at approximately 50 feet. The jumper struck the ground hard with the canopy still in a diving turn, resulting in multiple broken bones and internal injuries. The report stated that the jumper was not qualified to jump this parachute. Skydivers who choose to jump high-performance parachutes should seek professional canopy training from a canopy coach. Skydiver's Information Manual Sections 6-10 and 6-11 contain information and recommendations regarding canopy selection and downsizing. SIM Section 4 Category C and Section 5-5 contain information regarding weather and turbulence as they relate to parachutes. All turns must be completed with enough altitude for the parachute to level off for the landing flare.

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*A skydiver with 60 jumps approached the landing area flying downwind at a low altitude and attempted to turn 180 degrees to face into the wind for landing. She started a left-hand braked turn and then let up on the right toggle and pulled harder on the left, increasing the speed of the canopy toward the ground just before impact. She struck the ground hard while the canopy was still in a diving turn but was reportedly treated and released from the hospital without any serious injuries. Winds were reported as light and variable and would have provided for a relatively safe downwind landing rather than making a low, hard turn trying to face into the wind. Jumpers should practice braked approaches, braked turns and braked landings often to become familiar with these lifesaving maneuvers. SIM Section 6-10 contains canopy exercises that every skydiver can work through with a canopy coach to learn more about how to fly a parachute using a variety of control techniques. Flying a pre-planned canopy pattern that follows the drop zone landing policies improves traffic flow, makes the airspace safer for everyone and helps each jumper improve canopy skills and accuracy. All turns must be completed with enough altitude for the canopy to return to straight and level flight for the landing flare.

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*A skydiver with 700 jumps flying an elliptical canopy at a wing loading of 1.4:1 initiated a 180-degree front-riser turn at an unreported altitude and struck the ground while still in a steep dive. She impacted with her left knee first and then struck her head as she continued to tumble. She suffered a head injury and multiple broken bones, including her femur, pelvis and vertebrae. She is expected to recover from her injuries. The report did not indicate whether she had ever received professional canopy training for high-performance landings. A 1.4:1 wing loading at only 700 jumps suggests a rapid downsizing progression. The canopy manufacturer categorizes this wing loading for experts in canopy flight. Skydiver's Information Manual Sections 6-10 and 6-11 provide information and training exercises to help jumpers learn more about canopy selection and flight. Jumpers who choose to make high-performance approaches should seek the guidance of an experienced canopy coach and work through a structured training program. All turns must be completed with enough altitude for the canopy to return to straight and level flight for the landing flare.

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*A jumper with 49 jumps attempted to avoid a ditch on landing by making a 90-degree turn at approximately 25 feet. He landed in the ditch and suffered a compound fracture of his right ankle. The report did not indicate whether there were other obstacles in the area that may have been a factor. Jumpers should plan landing patterns that allow for safe approaches and landings in clear areas with enough open space to accommodate errors in judgment of the touchdown point.

A parachute landing fall can help jumpers lessen or avoid injury during a hard landing.

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*A first-jump student flared her parachute late, only a few feet above the ground. The hard landing resulted in two broken ankles, both of which required surgery to repair. The student ignored radio commands to flare, as well as other verbal commands shouted by nearby instructors as she prepared to land. Before her jump, she expressed concerns to family members at the DZ about flaring too soon after having a conversation with another student earlier in the day. The other student stated that she had made a few jumps and tended to flare too high, resulting in hard landings. For most students, judging the flare height and speed is one of the most challenging parts of the canopy flight and landing. Flaring the canopy at ten to 15 feet above the ground and performing a parachute landing fall can help students learn correct landing procedures and provide protection against hard landings.

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Age: 37
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 2,300-plus
Time in Sport: 19 Years
Cause of Death: Collision with videographer during canopy deployment

Description: This jumper was serving as a tandem instructor on a skydive that was uneventful until main canopy deployment. Before the tandem instructor deployed the main parachute, the videographer floated above the tandem pair to film the opening. The tandem main canopy inflated quickly and surged forward, driving the canopy and tandem pair underneath the videographer, who was still in freefall. The videographer first struck the tandem canopy and then hit the instructor in the back of the head and neck with his pelvis and lower back. The tandem instructor was killed instantly by the collision. The tandem pair landed in a field off the DZ with the brakes of the main canopy still stowed, unguided by either the student or instructor. The student suffered minor facial lacerations but was otherwise unharmed. The videographer suffered severe injuries to his pelvis and back, but he successfully deployed his main parachute and also landed off the drop zone. He is expected to make a full recovery.

Conclusions: The USPA Instructional Rating Manual states that videographers must remain clear of the areas above and below the tandem pair to avoid collisions such as this one. During deployment of a tandem canopy, the videographer must also make sure to leave enough horizontal separation to allow for any movement of the tandem pair during the deployment. Additionally, Skydiver's Information Manual Section 6-8 covers camera flying recommendations and specifically addresses the risks involved in close-up video of canopy deployments.

System: Strong Dual Hawk Tandem
Main: Strong SET 400
Reserve: Strong Master
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: Yes

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Age: 33
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 1,960
Time in Sport: Eight Years
Cause of Death: Canopy Collision

Age: 24
Sex: Female
Number of Jumps: 1,398
Time in Sport: Five Years
Cause of Death: Canopy Collision

Description: These two jumpers were preparing to land with high-performance approaches. One initiated a 360-degree final turn as the other jumper initiated a 180-degree turn at nearly the same time but from a lower altitude. The two collided at an estimated 300 feet, then began to pinwheel around the entangled parachutes, making several revolutions before striking the ground. Both jumpers received immediate medical attention but were pronounced dead at the scene.

Conclusions: Witnesses reported hearing a loud noise and then seeing the two jumpers entangled together and unresponsive from the time of the collision until striking the ground. They did not see the angle at which the two jumpers collided. The jumpers either did not see each other or were unable to avoid the collision once each had committed to the final turn for landing.

The risk of a canopy collision is greatest while in the landing pattern below 1,000 feet. Jumpers are often too focused on the landing area, rather than paying attention to canopy traffic. All jumpers need to remain clear of other canopy traffic and fly predictable landing patterns that allow for separation from other jumpers. This is especially critical for those who choose to fly parachutes at high wing loadings and make high-performance approaches. Before initiating a high-performance turn to landing, a jumper must make sure his airspace is clear in all directions throughout the turn.

It was not reported whether either jumper had received professional canopy coaching. One of the first subjects covered by most professional canopy schools is canopy patterns, traffic and avoidance of others under canopy and in the landing area. Jumpers should plan each parachute descent to include a landing pattern in normal circumstances and an alternate landing plan in case of unusual circumstances such as traffic or obstacles in the landing area.

System: Sun Path Javelin
Main: Performance Designs Velocity 96
Reserve: Not Reported
AAD: Not Reported
RSL: Not Reported

System: Sun Path Javelin
Main: Performance Designs Velocity 103
Reserve: Not Reported
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: No

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* A jumper with 4,600 jumps under a cross-braced canopy at a wing loading of 2.1:1 attempted a high-performance landing but struck the ground hard while the canopy was still in a steep diving turn. He suffered two broken femurs and internal injuries but is expected to make a full recovery. The report did not indicate the altitude at which the jumper initiated his final turn, but it was obviously too low for a safe landing. Skydiver's Information Manual Section 5-1 addresses low-turn recovery, and SIM Sections 6-10 and 6-11 include information on canopy selection and training exercises. Every skydiver can benefit from professional canopy coaching, especially those who choose to make high-performance landings. All turns must be completed with enough altitude for the parachute to return to straight and level flight for the landing flare. Jumpers who choose to make high-performance landings must be prepared to abort the approach at any point in the final turn if it becomes necessary to regain level flight for a safe landing.

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* A jumper with 580 jumps with a wing loading of 1.5:1 encountered another canopy coming directly at him while he was flying the downwind leg of his canopy pattern toward the main landing area. He initiated a braked turn at a reported 600 feet in an effort to ease into the pattern with the approaching traffic and face into the wind for his final approach. As he turned, the left side of his canopy deflated and collapsed. The canopy reinflated quickly just before the jumper struck the ground on his left side. The hard landing resulted in a sprained ankle, a compression of the lower spine and bruising. Apparently, as the jumper began the braked flight, he pulled his toggles too far down so that the canopy did not have enough airspeed to stay inflated during the braked turn. Every jumper should learn braked flight and practice flying his parachute in deep brakes. Making flat turns using brakes can be a lifesaving maneuver in the event of a low turn near the ground. Constant practice in a non-emergency situation will allow the jumper to become thoroughly familiar with flying in deep brakes and performing braked turns. This can help prevent over-controlling the canopy when using braked turns in an actual emergency. SIM Section 6-11 contains useful canopy exercises that each skydiver can practice with an experienced canopy pilot as a coach.

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* A jumper with 30 jumps flew a long final approach and passed over the main landing area, continuing toward a fence at the far edge of the landing area. She struck the fence mid-shin, flipped over the barbed wire on the top of the fence and landed standing up. She received several scratches and a cut on her Achilles tendon, which required stitches to repair. Jumpers should fly predictable canopy patterns that allow for landings into clear areas with room to over- or undershoot. If the situation had allowed, making a slow, braked turn and landing crosswind into a clear area may have been a better option than remaining facing into the wind and striking the fence.

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* Two jumpers exited a King Air aircraft at 8,000 feet intending to perform a “Mr. Bill” jump, where one jumper holds onto the other as the second jumper deploys his main canopy. The first jumper then lets go and deploys his own parachute. During the exit, the pair over-rotated as the main canopy deployed, flipping through the main risers one time. The first jumper lost his grip during the deployment and fell off immediately, inadvertently pulling the other jumper's reserve ripcord handle as he went. This left the second jumper with both his main and reserve canopies inflated, forming a side-by-side canopy formation. The jumper chose to keep both parachutes due to the flip through the main canopy risers. He landed uninjured in a swampy area, a mile downwind of the drop zone. Mr. Bill jumps can be fun and challenging, but they bring added danger. Any kind of novelty jump requires careful planning and extra caution, and jumpers who attempt Mr. Bill jumps must carefully exit the airplane and choose exit grips that avoid accidental handle pulls.

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Age: 33
Sex: Female
Number of Jumps: 130
Time in Sport: Two Years
Cause of Death: Impact after cutaway and low reserve deployment

Description: After an uneventful group skydive, this jumper deployed her main canopy at an altitude witnesses estimated between 2,500 and 3,000 feet. A lineover malfunction caused the canopy to spin as soon as it inflated. Witnesses on the ground observed the canopy to spin for four or five revolutions before the jumper released the main canopy at an altitude estimated between 1,500 and 2,000 feet. After tumbling for an estimated 500 feet, she regained stability, continuing in freefall without deploying the reserve parachute. She eventually deployed the reserve just before striking the ground, but the reserve parachute was still in its freebag with one line stow remaining. She died instantly.

Conclusions: Witnesses on the ground observed this jumper struggling to locate her reserve ripcord after releasing her main canopy. Spinning malfunctions often create violent and disorienting situations, making it difficult to locate the cutaway and reserve ripcord handles. It may sometimes be difficult to see both emergency handles, depending on harness fit or obstructions from the jumpsuit or other equipment. Skydiver's Information Manual Section 4 recommends that jumpers locate each handle before initiating emergency procedures.

The jumper's container was not equipped with a reserve static line or an automatic activation device. Use of an RSL can help ensure that the reserve canopy deploys immediately after a cutaway. SIM Section 5-3 recommends the use of an RSL for all experienced jumpers, with exceptions for special situations. Depending on the model of AAD and the altitude of the cutaway, a functioning AAD could have activated the reserve parachute with enough altitude to allow it to fully inflate.

Both AADs and RSLs should be considered only as back-up devices, and jumpers should use proper emergency procedures to ensure a reserve parachute is deployed after releasing a malfunctioned main parachute. All skydivers should regularly practice emergency procedures on the ground so they can take correct action during a real emergency.

System: Not reported
Main: Performance Designs Sabre 190
Reserve: Para-Flite Swift 175
AAD: No
RSL: No

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* A jumper with 310 jumps and a wing loading of 1.4:1 initiated a hard front-riser turn at approximately 70 feet. The canopy was still in a steep diving turn when he struck the ground. The impact resulted in multiple broken bones and internal injuries, including severe head trauma. It was the jumper's first jump at this drop zone, and he had mentioned to other jumpers that he planned to make a swoop landing. He was advised to make a straight-in approach but ignored the advice. This jumper was jumping at a wing loading for expert skydivers, according to the canopy manufacturer. At 310 jumps, this jumper would not be considered an expert. Jumpers who choose to jump high-performance parachutes should seek professional training from a canopy coach. Skydiver's Information Manual Sections 6-10 and 6-11 contain recommendations for jumpers of all experience levels regarding canopy flight and canopy choice. All turns must be completed with enough altitude for the parachute to return to straight and level flight for the landing flare.

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*A jumper with 4,500 jumps under a parachute loaded at 2.0:1 landed across a grass runway at the same time the Porter jump aircraft was landing. As the jumper's canopy planed out, the Porter's wing struck the parachute. The jumper managed to keep the parachute flying and landed with minor scrapes and bruises. The aircraft veered sharply off the runway and struck a large tree, sustaining severe damage. The pilot walked away from the crash, but the report did not mention whether he had any injuries. Many parachute landing areas are near active runways or may even be divided by a runway. Jumpers must plan landing patterns that avoid landing near runways or crossing over a runway at a low altitude. Jump pilots must continually scan for canopy traffic during their descents and be prepared to abort a landing if necessary.

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*A jumper with 128 jumps exited the aircraft early on jump run and opened downwind of the landing area. By the time he had reached 1,000 feet, he was over the landing area and made a 180-degree turn downwind. He continued downwind to a low altitude and then initiated a front-riser turn in an attempt to face into the wind for landing. The report did not indicate the altitude of the final turn, but it was too low for the parachute to level off before the jumper struck the ground. The impact resulted in a shattered heel and several fractured vertebrae, as well as bruises and lacerations. Skydiver's Information Manual Section 5-1 recommends that once a jumper realizes he has made his final turn too low, he stop the turn and use toggle control to get the canopy back overhead. This jumper was jumping a slightly elliptical parachute at a wing loading of 1.3:1. Many incidents have resulted from relatively inexperienced jumpers facing challenging situations while jumping at high wing loadings. Skydiver's Information Manual Sections 6-10 and 6-11 contain information and recommendations regarding downsizing, canopy selection and learning more about canopy piloting. Ultimately, all turns must be completed with enough altitude for the parachute to return to straight and level flight for the landing flare.

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* A first-jump tandem student raised her legs for landing as requested by the tandem instructor. Just before reaching the ground, she lowered her legs, allowing her feet to contact the ground before the tandem instructor's. The pair then rolled forward onto the student. The student suffered a dislocated ankle, but the tandem instructor was not injured. Tandem students should keep their legs up during the landing to allow the tandem instructor to touch the ground first. Instructors should have their students practice up high for landing.

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* A jumper with 860 jumps at a wing loading of 1.6:1 initiated a 270-degree front-riser turn too low for the parachute to resume level flight before landing. He then reached for the rear risers in an attempt to plane the canopy out but grabbed the front risers instead. He struck the ground hard in a front-riser dive, resulting in two fractured vertebrae. He is expected to make a full recovery. The report did not indicate this jumper's previous canopy experience except to state that he made only 23 jumps with this parachute. Skydiver's Information Manual Sections 6-10 and 6-11 contain information and recommendations regarding downsizing, canopy selection and learning more about canopy piloting. Jumpers should practice using all controls up high, as well as switching from one control to the other, before attempting these maneuvers for landing.

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Age: 51
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 1,500
Time in Sport: Five Years
Cause of Death: Hard landing after making an aggressive turn under canopy

Description: Two jumpers were landing simultaneously before the others on the load into a common landing area where a television camera operator was waiting to film a third jumper. In light and variable winds, one of the two chose a downwind final approach, while the other, jumping a canopy with a 2:1 wing loading, executed an aggressive front-riser turn that put him on a diving, upwind approach. They approached the photographer on opposite courses with approximately 50 feet of lateral separation. The photographer stood facing the jumper landing downwind, unaware of the jumper landing upwind. After making the aggressive turn to final, the jumper landing upwind failed to flare before landing, struck the ground with the canopy still in a dive, careened into the photographer from behind and then struck a foam noodle marking the entrance to a swoop course. The photographer received minor injuries, but the jumper died from his.

Conclusions: The jumper who was killed was described as an experienced high-performance canopy pilot who had received professional canopy coaching in the past. At this drop zone, the first jumper landing usually determines the landing direction for the entire plane load. With two jumpers landing at the same time in light and variable winds, this guideline often proves inadequate to get all jumpers landing in the same direction. When there is no wind or when wind conditions are light and variable, a reliable means of getting all jumpers to follow a common final approach must be established.

According to witnesses, the jumper landing upwind never attempted to level off after the aggressive dive to final approach. It's possible that he became distracted by the oncoming jumper and the camera operator. Every jumper, especially anyone who chooses to fly a high-performance canopy at a high wing loading, must be prepared to concentrate fully on the canopy flight from opening all the way through the landing. It's unclear whether he was trying to enter the swoop course; however, Skydiver's Information Manual Section 6-10 advises that all practice performance activities take place in a landing area where other jumpers are not on approach and that canopy pilots descending into the practice landing area be alert for errant jumpers.

All turns must be completed with enough altitude for the canopy to return to straight and level flight for the landing flare.

System: Mirage Systems G4
Main: Performance Designs Katana 107
Reserve: Performance Designs PD 106R
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: No

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Age: 55
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 3,700
Time in Sport: Ten years
Cause of Death: Hard landing following a main reserve entanglement

Description: After an uneventful 9-way formation skydive, this jumper deployed his main parachute at 2,000 feet. The canopy opened into a distorted shape and immediately began to spin. At approximately 1,200 feet, he pulled his cutaway handle and deployed the reserve, but the main canopy was apparently entangled with some part of the jumper's equipment and failed to fully release. The main and reserve canopies entangled and then began to spin violently for the remainder of his descent, and the jumper was killed on landing.

Conclusions: Investigators found friction burns on the container's left-side main flap, indicating that a line from the main canopy may have wrapped around it during deployment. This type of entanglement would explain the distorted main canopy and could have also resulted in the inability to fully release the malfunctioned canopy after pulling the cutaway handle. It did not remain entangled, however, and investigators at the scene found the main canopy and risers detached from the container and entangled with the reserve canopy. The offending line or lines may have eventually slipped off the main flap. The harness and container manufacturer and the FAA inspected the system but could not explain the cause for the entanglement with the container.

This jumper deployed his main canopy at 2,000 feet, which provided minimum working time to assess any problems and initiate emergency procedures. Section 5 of the Skydiver's Information Manual recommends that skydivers decide on and execute emergency procedures no lower than 2,500 feet for students and A-license holders and 1,800 feet for B- through D-license holders. Main canopy deployment at 2,000 feet allows little time to recognize a situation and act by 1,800 feet. Additional altitude may have provided the jumper time to attempt to clear the entanglement before having to resort to the reserve with the main still attached—although numerous accident reports describe jumpers trying to clear such complicated problems and losing track of their remaining altitude. With so little altitude available, this jumper chose the only probable solution: Cut away and immediately deploy the reserve.

System: Sun Path Javelin
Main: Performance Designs Spectre 135
Reserve: Performance Designs PD 126R
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: No

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* A jumper with 117 jumps broke his femur while attempting to land a 150-square-foot canopy at a wing loading of 1.35:1. He tried to complete a 180-degree turn from approximately 70 feet above the ground but struck the ground about halfway around with the canopy still in a steep dive. The canopy manufacturer recommends this wing loading for only advanced jumpers, but 117 jumps would definitely not qualify a jumper as advanced. Skydiver's Information Manual Sections 6-10 and 6-11 contain recommendations on canopy selection and downsizing, as well as exercises that will help jumpers learn more about each canopy they jump. All jumpers, especially those who choose to jump high-performance canopies, will benefit from training with an experienced canopy coach. All turns must be completed with enough altitude for the canopy to return to straight and level flight for the landing flare.

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* A jumper with 643 jumps using a borrowed canopy at a wing loading of 1.5:1 found himself higher than planned above the landing area. He made two 360-degree turns to lose altitude, stopped the spiral facing downwind and attempted another 180-degree turn to face into the wind for landing. Realizing his mistake, he pulled the steering toggles to level off but ran out of altitude before striking the ground hard enough to break his femur. The report did not indicate how high he initiated the final turn, but it was obviously too low. The borrowed canopy was the same size as his own canopy, but it was a slightly elliptical nine-cell design, as opposed to his own rectangular seven-cell. Jumpers changing canopy planforms even at the same size should exercise caution. Skydiver's Information Manual Section 6-10 contains exercises that will help jumpers learn more about each canopy they jump. All jumpers, especially those who choose to jump high-performance canopies, will benefit from training with an experienced canopy coach. All turns must be completed with enough altitude for the canopy to return to straight and level flight for the landing flare.

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* After opening too far from the planned landing area, two jumpers—one with 897 jumps and the other with 4,400 jumps—chose an alternate field with two power lines intersecting in a “T.” Both jumpers made low turns just before landing. They missed the power lines but landed very hard, with one breaking his femur and the other fracturing his pelvis. Skydiver's Information Manual Section 5-1 contains recommendations for off-field landings, advising jumpers to select a large, open area. Also, flying a canopy in partial brakes can help slow the forward speed and descent rate, buying time to examine a landing area more closely. Braked flight allows for flat, altitude-conserving turns that can help when landing in unfamiliar or crowded landing areas. Aggressive landings into unfamiliar areas too often result in injuries or fatalities.

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* A jumper with 1,785 jumps flying a cross-braced canopy at a wing loading of 2.3:1 was attempting to land in gusty winds of at least 15 to 20 mph. He made an aggressive front-riser turn to a crosswind final approach and planed out approximately 35 feet above the ground. Witnesses said he then suddenly veered downwind toward a grassy hill and concrete runway apron, but what caused the turn was unclear. He may have dropped one steering toggle or encountered heading control problems due to a strong gust or turbulence on his crosswind approach. The jumper struck the ground at a high speed, bouncing onto the concrete. He might have continued into a parked fuel truck had his pilot chute not wrapped around a runway light, stopping him abruptly. He hit hard enough to break his carbon-fiber video helmet into several pieces and suffered serious head and neck injuries. He was initially in a coma and also required surgery to repair his broken neck and damaged knee. He was recovering at home at last report. The report did not include his previous canopy experience or downsizing progression, but a 2.3:1 wing loading at 1,785 jumps would indicate an aggressive progression to a very small parachute. Jumpers who choose to jump with specialized high-performance canopies must plan to land in clear, open areas and keep a firm grip on their steering toggles while maneuvering with the other controls. USPA receives many incident reports about skydivers making errors while jumping in strong and gusty winds, which take some of the control out of the jumper's hands and place it in Mother Nature's. While advisable, the value of a parachute landing fall might be limited with the speeds generated under such a highly loaded canopy after such an aggressive approach.

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Age: 51
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 4,300
Time in Sport: 30-plus years
Cause of Death: Hard landing after making a low turn under canopy

Description: After an uneventful freefall and initial canopy descent, this jumper initiated a hard turn at a low altitude. He struck the ground while still in a steep, diving turn. He was airlifted to a hospital, where he died two weeks later.

Conclusions: This jumper was using borrowed equipment with a cross-braced canopy at a wing loading of 2.3:1. His previous canopy experience was not reported, except that his own main canopy was also a cross-braced design from a different manufacturer and three square feet larger. There were no reported obstacles or other factors that may have distracted this jumper during his landing. Winds were reported at ten to 15 mph at the time of his landing.

Jumpers who choose to fly these specialized parachutes at such high wing loadings must do so with extreme caution. The forward speeds and descent rates generated at this wing loading require focused concentration from deployment through landing. Canopy training with a professional canopy coach is encouraged for all jumpers, especially for those who choose to make high-performance landings. Ultimately, all turns must be completed with enough altitude for the canopy to return to straight and level flight for the landing flare.

System: Mirage Systems G4
Main: Precision Aerodynamics Xaos-27 91
Reserve: Performance Designs PD 126R
AAD: No
RSL: No

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Age: 34
Sex: Female
Number of Jumps: 51
Time in Sport: 1.5 years
Cause of Death: Failure to deploy a main or reserve parachute

Description: This jumper was making a 2-way skydive, which was uneventful until breakoff. She was observed in freefall all the way to impact, when she struck the ground without deploying any parachute. She died instantly.

Conclusions: This jumper was observed to break off from her skydive at approximately 4,500 feet and begin tracking away from her partner. One witness on the ground observed her to be in freefall at a low altitude, with her legs extended and “potato chipping” (minor instability) until she disappeared from view just before impact, according to the report. A different witness, who was under canopy, reported that she appeared to be “struggling to do something” as she fell past him still in freefall. But it was not clear what she may have been struggling to do.

She was found in a field shortly after she struck the ground. Her main pilot chute was easily extracted from its pouch, and the reserve pilot chute and freebag were out of the container. She apparently pulled the reserve handle just before impact, as one witness reported seeing a flash of yellow just before she reached the ground. The reserve pilot chute was yellow, and the reserve ripcord was found out of its pocket with approximately six inches of ripcord cable still in the housing.

The AAD was found turned on, but the reserve closing loop had not been cut nor had the cutter been activated. The AAD was shipped to the manufacturer for testing and analysis. The data from the AAD revealed that the unit had been turned on at sea level, but the drop zone sits at 1,420 feet above sea level. This jumper lived near the ocean and apparently turned on the AAD before she left for the drop zone. In this configuration, the AAD had calculated that the ground was still more than 1,000 feet away when she impacted.

The owner's manual for this AAD states that the unit must be switched on as close to the landing site as possible so it can accurately calculate ground level. If the landing occurs at a location where the field elevation is more than 30 feet different from the location where it was turned on, the unit should be switched off and then back on again. Also, if the AAD is taken away from the drop zone on foot or in a car, it should be reset once it is back at the landing site. Every jumper should understand the operation and the limitations of his equipment.

Altitude awareness is critical for every skydive, and each jumper must deploy a main or reserve parachute with enough altitude to allow for full inflation and a safe canopy descent. An automatic activation device is a back-up that can fail to operate for a number of reasons.

System: Relative Workshop Vector 1
Main: Winchester Technologies Cobra 170
Reserve: Performance Designs PD 176R
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: Yes

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Age: 24
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 171
Time in Sport: Three years
Cause of Death: Impact after low cutaway and reserve deployment

Description: After an uneventful freefall, this jumper deployed his main parachute somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 feet. It opened with a line-over malfunction. The jumper then apparently stayed with the malfunction to an altitude of approximately 500 feet before pulling the cutaway handle to release the main canopy. He then deployed the reserve parachute at an altitude estimated at 200 to 300 feet. He struck the ground before the reserve had time to clear the freebag and inflate. He died instantly.

Conclusions: As with most skydiving accidents, a series of events led to the fatal outcome. Break any one of the links along the way, and the outcome may have been different. First, maintaining altitude awareness and deploying at the correct altitude would have afforded the jumper more time to handle a malfunction. USPA's Basic Safety Requirements require B-license jumpers to deploy the main parachute no lower than 2,500 feet. Second, a properly packed main parachute might have allowed the jumper to get away with the low deployment, although obviously deploying at the correct altitude would be the wiser choice. Third, had the jumper cut away sooner, he would have had more altitude to deploy the reserve canopy. Section 5-1 of the Skydiver's Information Manual recommends that B- through D-license holders decide upon and take appropriate action for a malfunction by no lower than 1,800 feet.

And finally, this jumper's equipment had a reserve static line, but according to the report, it was not hooked up. Had the RSL been in use, it may have initiated the reserve deployment soon enough to allow for inflation before he reached the ground. Reserve static lines are required for all solo students, and SIM Section 5-3 recommends the use of an RSL for all experienced jumpers, with some considerations for special circumstances.

System: Rigging Innovations Talon
Main: PISA Hornet 170
Reserve: PISA Tempo 150
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: No

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* A jumper with 190 jumps made a jump in winds reported to be 15 to 20 mph on the ground. During his canopy descent, he got pushed backward beyond the drop zone and over a crowded residential area. On landing, he struck the side of a house and some steps, breaking his leg. Jumping in high winds often takes the control out of the jumper's hands and places it in Mother Nature's. A bad spot or lack of suitable landing options outside the drop zone landing area only adds to the risk of jumping in higher winds. USPA receives many reports of injuries and property damage from jumps made during gusty and high-wind conditions. Jumpers should understand the limits of their equipment and abilities and be willing to stay on the ground during marginal weather conditions.

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* After an uneventful freefall and canopy deployment, a jumper with ten jumps performed several hard spirals under canopy. He soon began to lose feeling in his legs, and he also became lightheaded as he stopped the spiraling turn. He thought about loosening his leg straps but decided not to make any changes to them while under canopy. He then made several more hard turns under canopy just before entering his landing pattern at 1,000 feet above the ground. He last remembered reading 850 feet on his altimeter before he lost consciousness. Although he was not controlling the parachute, he touched down facing into the wind, still limp in the harness. The unconscious landing resulted in several injuries, including a broken jaw and teeth, as well as several bruises and scrapes. The hospital found no medical reason for his loss of consciousness. It's possible the hard spirals created enough G-forces to make him lose consciousness.

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* A jumper with 2,200 jumps, flying a cross-braced canopy at a wing loading of 2.0:1, had to land off the drop zone due to a long spot. He selected a small field divided by a row of power lines and made his final turn to land parallel to one side of the power lines. Just as he completed the turn, he saw a rusty guy wire directly in his path. With no time to react, he struck the guy wire and dropped 30 feet to the ground. The hard landing resulted in several cuts and scratches, as well as multiple fractured vertebrae. Skydiver's Information Manual Section 5-1.F contains recommendations regarding off-field landings. As soon as it becomes obvious the main landing area cannot be reached and by no lower than 2,000 feet, a jumper should select a large, open landing area and check for hazards that may be present, such as power lines. If obstacles are present in the selected landing spot, the jumper should adjust the landing pattern accordingly. Flying a braked approach and landing can also help provide more time to identify landing hazards.

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* A 66-year-old jumper with approximately 220 jumps completed refresher training with an instructor and continued jumping over the course of the next week, making an additional 30 jumps. He then experienced a pilot-chute-in-tow malfunction but did not take any immediate action. After waiting for a while, he began to reach for his cutaway and reserve ripcord handles as the AAD deployed his reserve parachute. When the S&TA questioned him about his handling of the malfunction, the jumper did not have a clear explanation for his inaction during the malfunction. The S&TA then suggested additional ground training for emergency procedures. However, the jumper chose to leave the drop zone rather than participate in any additional training. All skydivers should practice emergency procedures frequently, especially when returning to the sport after a layoff.

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Age: 38
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 4,000-plus
Time in Sport: Eight years
Cause of Death: Torn aorta and head injuries from a hard landing following a low turn

Description: After an uneventful 2-way skydive and initial canopy descent, this jumper made a low turn while attempting to land outside of the drop zone's main landing area. He struck the ground hard while still in a turn.

Conclusions: This jumper opened his parachute with enough altitude to reach the main landing area but apparently chose to land closer to his freefall partner, who had not. The area where this jumper chose to land was described as a hazardous, triangular area surrounded by buildings, power lines and fencing. After a series of rapid S-turns, he made a final 90-degree turn in an attempt to land in the only remaining clear area available. There was not enough altitude remaining for the canopy to resume straight and level flight.

He was jumping a cross-braced canopy at a wing loading estimated to be 1.9:1, which would produce a considerable forward speed and descent rate, especially after maneuvering. Canopies of this design and wing loading will often cover hundreds of feet during the final approach and landing, requiring a large, open area to land safely. Even though this jumper had been jumping at this wing loading for the past three years, he apparently misjudged his approach into this landing area, perhaps distracted by the multitude of hazards.

Jumpers should plan descents that allow them to land in large, clear areas, whether it is the regular drop zone landing area or an open area away from the drop zone. Skydiver's Information Manual Section 5-1.F includes recommendations for off-field landings. A braked approach and landing may have been a better option for a landing area surrounded by obstacles.

The coroner's report showed evidence of marijuana in this jumper's system, but it was not possible to determine how much time had passed since the use of the drug or whether it affected his judgment at the time of this jump. Ultimately, jumpers must complete all turns with enough altitude for the canopy to return to straight and level flight for the landing flare.

System: Sun Path Javelin
Main: Performance Designs Velocity 96
Reserve: Performance Designs PD 113R
AAD: No
RSL: No

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Age: 52
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 190
Time in Sport: 1.5 years
Cause of Death: Head and neck injuries from a hard landing following a low turn

Description: After an uneventful freefall and initial canopy descent, this jumper initiated a hard turn at a low altitude and struck the ground at a high speed while still in the turn. He died at the scene from head and neck injuries sustained in the hard landing.

Conclusions: This jumper had flown downwind of the intended landing area and was then observed facing into the wind with a road and power lines between him and the intended landing area. Toward the bottom of his descent, the winds apparently increased, shortening his planned approach and placing him very close to the power lines. He then made a hard right toggle turn in an effort to avoid the power lines instead of trying to pass over them. He landed short of the intended landing area and struck the ground at a high speed while still in the turn.

He had recently downsized to a 168-square-foot canopy, which the manufacturer recommends for advanced skydivers only. His wing loading is estimated at 1.4:1. He had completed 33 jumps with the new canopy, but he had not undergone any structured canopy training. His previous canopy was 220 square feet. With so few jumps at such a high wing loading after downsizing so much so quickly, he may not have been prepared for the amount of altitude the canopy would lose during a hard toggle turn.

Skydiver's Information Manual Sections 6-10 and 6-11 contain recommendations for downsizing and choosing a canopy, as well as a structured training program that skydivers can work through with a canopy coach to become more familiar with their parachutes. SIM Section 5-1 contains information regarding off-field landings and choosing an alternate landing area while still at a safe altitude. Ultimately, jumpers must complete all turns with enough altitude for the canopy to return to straight and level flight for the landing flare.

System: Velocity Sports Infinity
Main: Aerodyne Research Vision 168
Reserve: Performance Designs PD 218R
AAD: Airtec Cypres 2
RSL: Yes

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* A jumper with 305 jumps was competing in an accuracy competition and crossed over the target too high. He released his main canopy directly over the target at an altitude of 25 feet in an attempt to land on the target. He impacted leaning toward his right side, hitting heels first, then butt, back and head. Even though he landed in the pea pit, which provided some cushioning, the jumper suffered severe injuries to his pelvis, neck and back, including permanent paralysis from the chest down. Jumpers should never release a main canopy so close to the surface, whether over ground or water. The distance remaining above the ground can be difficult to judge, especially over water. A parachute landing fall may have lessened the injuries sustained from such a hard landing.

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* In an attempt to build speed for landing, a jumper with 120 jumps made a 180-degree turn, then pulled down both front risers. He became fixated on a wind blade and struck the ground without flaring the canopy, resulting in several cracked vertebrae. He was jumping a slightly tapered canopy at a wing loading of 1.1:1. The jumper had not received any structured training for canopy control or high-performance landings, yet he attempted a very advanced maneuver with few jumps. Professional canopy training can help any jumper improve his landings and learn more about flying a parachute. It is especially important that anyone learning high-performance canopy flight work with an experienced canopy coach and practice any maneuvers at a safe altitude before trying them on landing. Skydiver's Information Manual Sections 6-10 and 6-11 include information on canopy downsizing, as well as a structured program to learn more about each canopy.

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* A jumper with 36 jumps experienced a reserve deployment during a group exit from a Twin Otter. This jumper was exiting from the rear-floater position when another jumper in the formation accidentally pulled her reserve handle during the launch from the aircraft. The jumper landed uneventfully under her reserve canopy. Jumpers must use care during group exits to avoid snagging main or reserve deployment handles. Practicing the exit on the ground can help ensure proper grips are taken during the actual exit.

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Age: 31
Sex: Female
Number of Jumps: 2,300
Time in Sport: Six years
Cause of Death: Impact following main-reserve entanglement

Description: After an uneventful freefall and breakoff at approximately 4,500 feet, this jumper deployed her main pilot chute and experienced a pilot-chute-in-tow malfunction. She apparently pulled her reserve in response. Her main and reserve canopies entangled and never cleared their deployment bags. She died instantly on impact.

Conclusions: The main pilot chute was found entangled in its bridle, apparently preventing it from inflating enough to deploy the main parachute. During a pilot chute malfunction such as this one, once the reserve is activated and begins to deploy, it releases tension on the main closing loop, often allowing the main canopy to deploy. When this happens, both parachutes will usually fully open in a biplane or side-by-side configuration. Unfortunately, this jumper experienced the rarer occurrence of the two parachutes entangling.

Section 5 of the Skydiver's Information Manual lists two ways to address this type of malfunction. One is to deploy the reserve without a cutaway, as this jumper did. The cutaway handle was found in place and was easily extracted on the ground. Another option for this malfunction is to pull the cutaway handle first, then deploy the reserve. Both methods have been debated over the years, and both methods have good and bad points. Arguing against a cutaway are reports of the cutaway main risers or cutaway main parachute fouling the reserve deployment with fatal or near-fatal results, whereas not cutting away might prevent the entanglement or make it more manageable. Arguing for a cutaway is that the main might deploy first and release in time for an uneventful reserve deployment. Also, to simplify their emergency procedures, some jumpers choose to cut away after any malfunction that occurs after throwing the pilot chute.

Proper packing (particularly attention to collapsible pilot chutes), maintenance and deployment procedures can prevent a pilot-chute- in-tow malfunction in the first place. Avoiding deployment problems reduces the likelihood of a main-reserve entanglement such as this one.

System: Sun Path Javelin
Main: Performance Designs Velocity 84
Reserve: Performance Designs PD-113R
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: No

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Age: 28
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 300-plus
Time in Sport: Not reported
Cause of Death: Hard landing after making a low turn under canopy

Description: After an uneventful freefall and initial canopy descent, this jumper performed a hard turn at approximately 300 feet above the ground. He struck the ground hard with the canopy still in a diving turn. He received immediate medical attention at the scene and was airlifted to a hospital, but he died of head injuries the following day.

Conclusions: This jumper was making his fifth jump on this canopy at a wing loading of 1.98:1. His suspended weight was 21 pounds more than the maximum specified by the manufacturer and 45 pounds more than the maximum weight recommended for an expert canopy pilot for this model. The jumper had a reported 300-plus jumps, by any measure far below the experience level necessary to fly a canopy at this wing loading. His previous canopy experience was not reported.

Jumpers need to learn proper canopy skills with larger canopies before moving to smaller, faster canopies or executing high-speed approaches to landing. USPA Safety & Training Advisors and drop zone staff need to devise and enforce canopy piloting policies to guide licensed jumpers toward responsible decisions. SIM Sections 6-10 and 6-11 provide guidance for developing such a program.

Jumpers who wish to engage in high-performance canopy piloting at this level should seek the training of an experienced canopy coach in a structured training program. Ultimately, all turns must be completed with enough altitude to allow the canopy to return to straight and level flight before the landing flare.

System: Mirage Systems Mirage
Main: Performance Designs Vengeance 120
Reserve: Not reported
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: No

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Age: 48
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 99
Time in Sport: 19 months
Cause of Death: Hard landing under a spinning canopy

Description: After an uneventful freefall, this jumper was observed to enter a spin under canopy at about 300 feet that continued until impact in a remote area. After a short search, rescuers found the jumper and administered first aid until a doctor pronounced him dead at the scene.

Conclusions: Witnesses reported seeing this jumper deploy at approximately 3,000 feet and open with line twists that continued until the jumper finally cleared them at approximately 1,500 feet. At that point, he was observed to be flying the parachute toward the drop zone. To the witnesses, the canopy appeared to be flying normally prior to the fatal spin.

However, inspection of the gear revealed that the left brake system was still locked and stowed, with the right one released. The left-rear slider grommet was below the connector link and around the stowed brake system, constricting and possibly jamming it. The right-rear slider grommet was below the connector link on its riser but above the steering toggle and control-line guide ring. Both of the slider. drawstrings were locked in the collapsed position.

Several possible scenarios could explain this accident, but it is difficult to conclude without knowing the jumper's habits after opening or in what order he might have been reacting to routine equipment problems endemic to his slider, riser and brake system combination. The right-side brake could have released at any time: during deployment, while he was trying to free the line twist or while he was trying to collapse or stow the slider. Alternatively, the jumper could have released the right-side brake himself during the course of events that followed.

The left-rear slider grommet could have jammed over the brake system during opening, while the jumper was collapsing the slider or while he was trying to pull the slider below the brake system to stow it. Or he may have attempted to release the brakes, discovered the jam, then wrestled with the problem below a safe altitude to cut away.

Most jumpers adjust the slider soon after opening, but they must keep track of altitude when problems arise with the system to leave enough time to cut away from trouble. Care is required to prevent a premature brake release and to prevent the slider from later interfering with the brake system. Stowing the slider below the brake system requires even greater care and can result in more problems.

In any case, a control problem below a safe cutaway altitude leaves a jumper with few choices. The only viable option may be to counter the turn by pulling the opposite control and prepare for a hard landing and PLF. Flaring may or may not be an option, but a jumper should determine this on a practice jump at a higher altitude.

The medical cause of death was a torn aorta, which could result from a hard opening or a hard landing. In this case, there was no evidence of a hard opening.

Jumpers should pick an altitude by which they will cut away the main parachute if it's not already in a condition to land. The SIM recommends 2,500 feet for students and A-license holders and 1,800 feet for B license and up. This jumper's better choice would have been to work with the canopy until that altitude, then cut away and deploy the reserve.


System: Sun Path Javelin
Main: Performance Designs Spectre 210
Reserve: Para-Flite Swift 225
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: Yes

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* A skydiver with 600 jumps and jumping a 107-square-foot elliptical canopy (his exit weight wasn't reported) was seriously injured on landing. He had made approximately 25 jumps on the 107 after downsizing from a 150-square-foot seven-cell canopy. Witnesses watched him start a turn at approximately 30 to 50 feet in an attempt to land in a small area off the drop zone's main landing area. He suffered a broken femur, pelvis and shoulder and was airlifted to a local hospital. Skydiver's Information Manual Sections 6-10 and 6-11 provide valuable information regarding canopy training and downsizing. Included in those recommendations is advice on how many square feet to downsize at a time and what exercises to perform before going smaller. This jumper was acting well outside those recommendations, and this accident is a typical result of downsizing too soon and too much without following a training plan.

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* A student making his second jump flared for landing too high, resulting in a higher speed than desirable for landing. In addition, he landed with his feet apart and did not execute a proper parachute landing fall. He broke his ankle. Jumpers, especially students, should perform a proper PLF in the event of a harder-than-normal or other non-routine landing. The size and wing loading were not reported, but student canopies should be large enough to allow for minor errors. On the other hand, students must understand the training well enough to flare the canopy at a reasonable height for safe landings. Beginning solo jumpers who are struggling with canopy flight during ground school or on their early jumps can benefit from additional training on tandem jumps with a USPA Instructor.

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* A jumper with 327 jumps experienced a pilot-chute-in-tow malfunction at an unreported altitude. The pilot chute bridle had half-hitched around the pilot chute, preventing it from inflating properly. The jumper reportedly spent the next ten to 12 seconds trying to grab the main bridle and beating on the side of the container in an attempt to get the main canopy to deploy. At some point, the main deployment bag and lines came out of the container, but the main canopy remained in the deployment bag. His automatic activation device activated the reserve parachute, but the reserve pilot chute entangled with the main parachute, preventing the reserve from full deployment or inflation. At approximately 200 to 300 feet, the main canopy finally came out of its deployment bag and inflated. During his canopy ride of five to eight seconds, the jumper narrowly missed a set of power lines and landed uninjured in a yard. Section 5 of the SIM provides two different options for handling a pilot-chute-in-tow malfunction, either of which a jumper should execute after no more than two attempts to solve the problem. Each jumper should decide on the favored response, practice it on the ground and execute the procedure upon recognizing the malfunction. To avoid equipment malfunctions, jumpers should maintain their parachute systems, pack carefully and according to the manufacturer's instructions and follow the correct deployment procedures on every jump.

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* A skydiver with 4,600 jumps jumping a 104-square-foot cross-braced canopy with a wing loading of 2.1:1 struck the ground while still in a turn. He suffered multiple broken bones, including both femurs and his pelvis, along with bruised lungs. He is expected to make a full recovery. High-performance canopies require advanced canopy training and practice and extreme care in flight. All turns must be completed with enough altitude for the canopy to return to straight and level flight for the landing flare.

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* A tandem student who was instructed to pick up his feet in preparation for landing instead kept them extended downward. He broke one leg but is expected to make a full recovery. Tandem students should be trained to lift their legs for landing to prevent their feet from contacting the ground before the instructor's. The landing procedure should be practiced on the ground and several times at higher altitudes prior to landing.

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*A student making his tenth skydive overshot his target and landed at the edge of a paved aircraft operations area. He flared late and landed hard without executing a parachute landing fall, breaking his leg and ankle. Novice jumpers should plan landing patterns that provide plenty of room to undershoot or overshoot the target. Flaring at the proper altitude and performing a PLF can reduce the chance and severity of an injury on almost any surface.

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* A C-licensed jumper was jumping unfamiliar equipment he had rented from the drop zone. On one previous jump, he had chosen to land several miles away in a larger area used by students and novices but then decided to land in the smaller area on the DZ for this jump. He overshot his target and attempted to run out his landing in rough terrain beyond the mowed landing area, but he tripped and broke his leg after catching his foot in tall vegetation. Jumpers should plan landing patterns that provide plenty of room to undershoot or overshoot the target. With unfamiliar equipment and landing areas, jumpers should exercise additional caution and plan conservatively.

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Age: 27
Sex: Female
Number of Jumps: 1,100-plus
Time in Sport: Three years
Cause of Death: Hard landing after a low turn under canopy

Description: After an uneventful freefall and initial canopy descent, this jumper initiated a sharp 270-degree turn at an estimated 300 feet above the ground.The canopy was still in a steep dive as a result of the turn when she struck the ground. She was rendered unconscious and suffered a broken femur and head and neck injuries from the hard landing. Although she received immediate medical attention, she succumbed to her injuries several days later.

Conclusions: This moderately experienced skydiver was jumping a semi-elliptical canopy at a wing loading of 1.5:1, very close to the maximum 1.6:1 recommended by the manufacturer. The report did not state how many jumps she had made at this wing loading or her canopy progression, but with three years in the sport and 1,100 jumps, this would be a very aggressive equipment choice. One witness report stated that she was "just beginning to learn 270 hook turns." The report did not state whether she had received any formal canopy training.

Skydiver's Information Manual Sections 6-10 and 6-11 provide guidance and recommendations for advanced canopy training, as well as canopy choice and downsizing recommendations. Canopies at this size and wing loading exceed the scope of the SIM and require specialized information and expertise to fly safely, available only through qualified canopy coaches. Jumpers who wish to make high-performance landings should engage an experienced canopy pilot as a coach and follow a structured training program to reduce the risks of this very demanding discipline. The SIM also recommends that jumpers who have downsized to this level without performing such advanced maneuvers learn them on a larger canopy first.

This jumper was wearing a camera helmet; however, the force of her landing resulted in severe head and neck injuries beyond the helmet's ability to protect her.

System: Not reported
Main: Aerodyne Research Pilot 104
Reserve: Not reported
AAD: Not reported
RSL: Not reported

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Age: 46
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 5,518
Time in Sport: 19 years
Cause of Death: Complications with experimental canopy, resulting in unconsciousness and hard landing while in a spin

Description: The intent of this jump was to deploy a miniature ram-air canopy for flight alongside jumpers wearing wingsuits, then to release the wing at 4,000 feet, in time for main canopy deployment. This jumper exited a tailgate aircraft as another jumper assisted with direct-bag deployment of the 21-square-foot canopy, according to the report. It inflated and entered a violent spin, and the jumper apparently lost consciousness soon afterward. The jumper struck the ground while still attached to the spinning canopy.

Conclusions: The jumper was connected to the experimental canopy via a separate harness worn under his usual skydiving harness and container system. The special harness included a release handle on the jumper's chest. Apparently, during the deployment and inflation of the experimental canopy, one deployment brake released while the other remained set, causing the canopy to spin. The jumper may have had difficulty operating the release handle. Witnesses flying wingsuits nearby reported that the jumper stopped responding to the situation within several seconds.

This stunt had been tried successfully only a few times by several other jumpers prior to the fatal jump. Although the deceased jumper was highly experienced, his wing loading under the experimental canopy is estimated at 8.6:1, well beyond the experience of skydiving.

Research with G-force (the unit of force equal to Earth's gravity) induced loss-of-consciousness experiments shows that a human exposed to the rapid onset of nine Gs-and sometimes less-will typically lose consciousness after approximately six seconds. The force generated from the rapid spin may have made it too difficult for the jumper to raise his arms enough to reach the release handle before he lost consciousness. It's also possible that wearing two harnesses may have obstructed access to the release handle. The force generated by the spin may also have made it too difficult for the jumper to pull the release handle.

Experimenting with new techniques and equipment requires careful design and testing of the system under a variety of circumstances to reduce risk. An unmanned drop test with the experimental canopy may have revealed that opening in this configuration could exceed human limits to respond. It is not known whether the harness and release system were tested sufficiently under such a heavy load or for being worn with a standard approved parachute system.

System: Sun Path Javelin
Main: Precision Aerodynamics Xaos 21-88
Reserve: Precision Aerodynamics R-Max 118
AAD: No
RSL: No
Other: Precision Aerodynamics Xaos 21-21Harness, manufacturer not reported

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* A jumper with more than 3,000 jumps initiated a front-riser turn to final approach while jumping an elliptical canopy with a wing loading higher than 1.75:1. When he started to flare, he dropped a toggle and struck the ground hard, mostly in a straight-ahead direction, breaking his pelvis, sacrum and four toes. High-performance landings leave very little room for error, if any. Jumpers must have a firm grip on both toggles while initiating riser input for performance landings.

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* A jumper with 330 jumps over an eight-year period was jumping a Performance Designs Stiletto elliptical canopy at a wing loading higher than 1.4:1. On final approach into a clear and unobstructed landing area, he became distracted by another jumper flying nearby and flew into a third jumper who had already landed, striking him in the back and left side. Both jumpers were seriously injured in the collision and were airlifted to a local hospital. Both are expected to recover. At this wing loading, the manufacturer recommends this canopy for expert canopy flyers, a difficult status to achieve with so few jumps over such a long time. Jumpers making such an aggressive equipment choice need to be very experienced and jump frequently to reduce the risks associated with flying at higher speeds. Sections 6-10 and 6-11 of the Skydiver's Information Manual contain recommendations for canopy choice and downsizing, as well as information to improve canopy control using an experienced canopy pilot as a coach.

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* A jumper with 35 jumps experienced line twist, resulting in a high rate of spin. At some point, the jumper deployed his reserve canopy without releasing the main canopy first. The two canopies formed a downplane and remained that way until the jumper struck the ground. He was reportedly found lying face down and complaining of pain in both legs and his lower back. The extent of his injuries was not reported. The jumper later explained that he could not cut away the main canopy, but the report sent to USPA did not indicate whether the jumper could not find or could not pull the cutaway handle-or whether it might have been a hard pull due to improper technique. (Pulling rather than peeling the velcroed handle from the harness can increase the force required.) The rig was equipped with hard-housing inserts in each main riser, which should allow for lighter cutaway forces. Jumpers need to practice emergency procedures frequently with their equipment or an identical mock-up. Compatible components, maintenance, careful packing and correct deployment techniques can reduce the higher risks associated with line twist on faster, more highly loaded canopies, which require added attention from the operator.

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* A student performing a five-second freefall bent at the waist while trying to locate his main canopy ripcord. He pulled the ripcord while in a head-down position, which resulted in one foot entangling in the suspension lines of the main canopy. The canopy fully inflated but began to turn. After several revolutions, the jumper pulled the cutaway handle to release the main canopy, but his foot remained entangled. The reserve deployed and inflated correctly, activated by the reserve static line. The jumper was then able to free his foot from the lines of the main and land uneventfully. A stable, arched body position is ideal during deployment; however, student jumpers can't always attain that goal and must deploy at the planned altitude, regardless of body position. Students should jump docile canopies to improve the chances for routine resolutions to the myriad of self-induced problems inherent in learning to skydive.

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* A jumper with more than 500 jumps and an exit weight of 255 pounds had his reserve ripcord handle become dislodged from its pocket during the head-down portion of a freefly jump. Another jumper signaled for him to pull at approximately 9,000 feet, but the high-speed wind on the floating handle caused the reserve to activate and begin deployment. The reserve canopy was damaged during opening, breaking two lines and ripping in several places. The reserve was not controllable and began to spin, so the jumper deployed his main canopy, which fully inflated but with line twists. The two canopies continued to spin as the jumper worked to control them by pulling on the main risers. The jumper landed hard in a wheat field, breaking his femur. He was airlifted to a hospital and required surgery. The forces of opening during a high-speed freefall descent can exceed parachute testing and certification limits, damaging the equipment, as well as injuring or killing the jumper. Jumpers must ensure that their equipment
is suitable for freeflying and take care that operation handles don't become dislodged during the exit or while in freefall.

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Age: 51
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 28
Time in Sport: 13 months
Cause of Death: Failure to deploy either main or reserve parachute

Description: This jumper exited the airplane at 13,500 feet for a solo skydive, his third jump since transitioning from a ripcord-activated main parachute to a bottom-of-container-mounted throw-out pilot chute. He planned to deploy at 6,000 feet and use the time under canopy to work on riser-turn exercises toward his USPA A-license requirements. None of the other jumpers on the load saw this jumper under canopy. After a short search, he was found lying face down with neither parachute deployed.

Conclusions: The jumper had received a thorough gear check both before boarding and then before exiting the airplane, and it was confirmed that the AAD was on at the time he exited the airplane.
Investigators on the accident scene also determined that the automatic activation device was still armed and activated properly in preparation for jumping. The AAD was sent to the manufacturer for testing. The manufacturer reported that the AAD functioned properly during testing.

The deceased jumper was found with his main pilot chute out of the BOC pouch, but it was apparently dislodged on impact. The cutaway handle and reserve ripcord were both in place.

No definitive reason has been discovered for this fatality. Ultimately, all jumpers must deploy a parachute with enough altitude to allow for a safe landing.

System: Altico Dolphin
Main: Precision Aerodynamics Fusion 230
Reserve: PISA Tempo 250
AAD: FXC Astra
RSL: Yes

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Age: 36
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 3,200
Time in Sport: Ten-plus years
Cause of Death: Hard impact from a downplane canopy landing

Age: 52
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 5,840
Time in Sport: 20-plus years
Cause of Death: Hard impact from a downplane canopy landing

Description: Two highly experienced jumpers, both having participated in the current canopy formation world record, exited the airplane at 7,000 feet for a canopy relative work jump. At approximately 50 to 100 feet, the jumpers were flying their canopies in a side-by-side formation, which quickly turned into a downplane, with both canopies pointed toward the ground at a high speed. The jumpers struck the ground while still together in the downplane, separating on impact. One jumper died at the scene, and the other jumper died several hours later during surgery.

Conclusions: During their descent, the two jumpers maneuvered their canopies around each other in a specialized form of canopy relative work. The maneuvers create a great deal of tension between the two jumpers, so they had used a two-inch-wide strap secured with a foot hold to connect their harnesses. The strap had a quick-release mechanism.

The plan was to release the foot hold at approximately 100 feet, separating them in time for landing. Witnesses reported that while the canopies were in the last side-by-side formation, it appeared that one of the jumpers was struggling to free his foot from the harness strap when the canopies turned outward into the fatal downplane.

Using any piece of equipment on a skydive requires careful forethought, rigging and practice on the ground to discover any failure mode. The report did not indicate what problems the jumpers may have encountered when they tried to disengage from the device, however.

Landing canopy formations or even taking them down to a low altitude before separating is a risky business that leaves little room for error. The results can be fatal, as in this case. Skydiver's Information Manual Section 6-6.E.7.d recommends, "Breakoff for landing should take place no lower than 2,500 feet because of the danger of entanglement at breakoff time."

System: Stunts Adventure Equipment Eclipse
Main: Performance Designs Lightning 160
Reserve: Glide Path Firelite 174
AAD: No
RSL: No

System: Sun Path Javelin
Main: Performance Designs Lightning 143
Reserve: Performance Designs PD 143R
AAD: No
RSL: No

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Age: 38
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 38
Time in Sport: Five years
Cause of Death: Premature container opening resulting in the jumper striking the airplane

Description: This jumper was part of a planned 3-way formation skydive from a Cessna 206 with a right front door and a step attached over the landing gear. He had been seated next to the pilot and facing rearward. When he climbed out, apparently with his container open, his main bag dropped on the step. The other jumpers began yelling at him to pull his cutaway handle, but the bag quickly dropped between the step and the strut and under the landing gear. The lines came unstowed, and the canopy inflated into the tail of the plane. The jumper was pulled along the same path as the main bag-between the step and strut—as the canopy wrapped around the tail.

The airplane flipped over and spun out of control. The pilot and remaining jumpers were able to exit the airplane and deploy their parachutes at a safe altitude, but the pilot suffered neck injuries while working to get out of the airplane. The entangled jumper was found dead at the crash site in a bean field below, still attached to the tail by his main canopy. He had been killed from a blunt blow to the head, which possibly occurred as he was pulled around the landing gear.

Conclusions: One witness commented that the jumper, seated in the Cessna in the so-called student position, appeared to be "laying back on his container quite a bit." As he lay back, he may have dislodged the closing pin of the main container from the closing loop.
The container apparently opened without being detected before the jumper began to climb out.
USPA receives many reports each year of jumpers who experience premature container openings. Most of them occur while climbing out of the airplane because the closing pin has become dislodged before climbout.

A common cause of a premature opening is a loose main closing loop combined with rubbing or bumping the back of the container against some part of the plane before the jumper gets to the door. Both main and reserve closing loops must be tight enough to secure the container against incidental contact with the airplane or in freefall.

Jumpers should make sure their equipment is ready for the skydive well before they get to the door of the airplane and guard against problems while inside, including dislodged straps, handles and closing pins. Sections 4 and 5 of the Skydiver's Information Manual include a great deal of useful information on equipment checks and maintenance that should be familiar to every licensed skydiver.
A final pin check before exit helps ensure that the main and reserve containers are properly closed and ready for use.

System: Sun Path Javelin
Main: Glide Path Maverick 196
Reserve: APS Rascal 202
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: No

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* A jumper with 70 jumps over three years was flying in half brakes on final approach with a 170-square-foot F-111 (older, more porous fabric) canopy. He flared the canopy from the braked position and landed hard, breaking his lower leg and dislocating an ankle. Landing from a braked position requires practice and good timing. Typically, the flare must be quicker than a flare performed from full flight. F-111 canopies typically don't flare as well as canopies made from zero-porosity fabric. They also become more porous over time, which changes their flare characteristics. A jumper would need to practice unusual landing configurations more often. Jumpers should practice braked approaches and flaring from a braked position at altitude to become familiar with these important canopy skills. Sections 4 and 6 of the Skydiver's Information Manual contain information and exercises for canopy flight. An experienced canopy pilot should be used as a trainer when working with these canopy exercises. Ultimately, a good parachute landing fall may help reduce landing injuries.

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* A jumper with 356 jumps and wearing a camera helmet was attempting canopy relative work using his Performance Designs Stiletto 135. His and his partner's canopies entangled at some point, but the report did not state the altitude. The jumper cut away his main canopy, but it snagged on his camera equipment. He released his camera helmet to get rid of the main canopy and deployed his reserve parachute, which opened routinely. Canopy formation jumps require specialized equipment and training, as recommended in Section 6-6 of the Skydiver's Information Manual. Jumping with a camera is additionally covered in Section 6-8.

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Age: 34
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 1,334
Time in Sport: Three years
Cause of Death: Hard impact after a low turn under canopy

Description: After an uneventful exit and initial canopy descent from 4,000 feet during a night jump, this jumper initiated a 180-degree turn at a low altitude and struck the ground hard while the canopy was still in a dive. He received immediate medical attention, but he died from the hard impact and the resulting head injuries.

Conclusions: The jump was made using a high-performance cross-braced canopy at a wing loading estimated to be 2.1:1. At 1,334 total jumps, this jumper had made a very aggressive choice for canopy design and wing loading, particularly for a night jump. His experience under this canopy was not reported.

The jump took place late in the evening during a drop zone celebration of a major holiday. Toxicology reports indicated he was drunk and under the influence of cocaine. His blood-alcohol level was .30 percent, which is nearly four times the .08 legal limit to operate a motor vehicle in most states. As a result of this incident, USPA expelled the USPA-member pilot of the plane and another senior jumper who participated in the jump and disciplined less harshly the other jumpers on board
the aircraft. All were determined to have knowledge of the intoxicated condition of the jumper who was killed.

Obviously, drugs and alcohol adversely affect overall awareness, judgment and motor skills and have no place in skydiving, much less the highly technical skill of making a high-performance landing at night under a heavily loaded competition-model canopy. Alcohol can also interact with other drugs with unpredictable results. Judging distances at night while in freefall and under canopy can be difficult and requires a clear mind and the ability to concentrate on the task. Federal Aviation Regulation 105.7—and, therefore, SIM Section 2-1.B.1 (BSRs)—prohibits jumping under the influence of alcohol or drugs. FAR 91.17 prohibits a pilot from carrying a person who appears to be intoxicated.

The jumper was not wearing a helmet, which might have reduced the severity of his head injury; however, he was reported to have struck the ground so hard that it may not have mattered.

Ultimately, all turns must be completed with enough altitude for the canopy to return to straight and level flight for the landing flare.

System: Sun Path Javelin
Main: Performance Designs Velocity 79
Reserve: Performance Designs PD 106R
AAD: Not reported
RSL: Not reported

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Age: Not reported
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 35
Time in Sport: Three months
Cause of Death: Torn aorta

Description: Two jumpers were engaged in a formation skydive from 13,500 feet. As one jumper deployed his parachute, the other collided with him and was reportedly observed to tumble away. He was then observed under an open reserve parachute, hanging limp in the harness and making no apparent effort to control the canopy. He landed with the reserve flying straight on a downwind heading and was pronounced dead at the scene. The jumper under main canopy reported that he had opened, felt the collision, looked down and lost consciousness. He did not regain consciousness until after he landed, according to the report.

Conclusions: According to the report, the jumper who was killed had made 35 jumps, and the one who survived had made 25. It appears that the jumper who fell away after the collision manually activated his reserve, because his reserve ripcord had been pulled and the automatic activation device had not activated.

His body was found with the reserve bridle and pilot chute wrapped around his legs, indicating that he was tumbling during deployment. He was found also with the lines of the reserve wrapped around his neck, but the autopsy revealed no neck injuries or broken bones of any type. The coroner concluded that the jumper died of a torn aorta. It is unknown when the damage to his heart occurred: during the collision, on opening or upon landing.

The collision may have rendered him unable to gain control in freefall. How high he deployed his reserve is unknown, but it appears to be above 750 feet, the AAD activation altitude.

Neither jumper held a USPA A license, as required by the USPA Basic Safety Requirements for group jumps without being accompanied by at least a USPA Coach under the supervision of a USPA Instructor (Skydiver's Information Manual Section 2-1.E.6.b). Neither was a USPA member, and the jump took place at a non-Group Member drop zone.

According to the incident report, the logbook of the deceased jumper showed that he had performed three static-line jumps and
two tandem jumps during his initial training, but the report did not provide information about the subsequent training of either jumper or the plan for the jump.

When training in the USPA Integrated Student Program, students learn from a USPA Coach or Instructor how to plan and prepare for group jumps, including choosing an effective breakoff altitude and tracking training and evaluation. To qualify for the A license, each applicant must demonstrate adequate group jumping skills during a check dive with a USPA Instructor.

Following group freefall activities, jumpers must gain enough separation in freefall for safe deployments. SIM Section 6-1.C.3 recommends that jumpers precede deployment with a distinct wave-off while looking around to ensure that the area is clear.

System: Sunrise Rigging Wings
Main: Aerodyne Research Triathlon 175
Reserve: Precision Aerodynamics Super Raven 150-M
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: Yes

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Age: 29
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: Not reported
Time in Sport: Not reported
Cause of Death: Impact after deploying the reserve too low for inflation

Description: This jumper was making a 2-way sit-fly jump and deployed his reserve parachute at a very low altitude. He struck the ground before the canopy had time to inflate and was killed instantly by the impact.

Conclusions: Both jumpers on this jump apparently lost altitude awareness. The first jumper deployed his main parachute just as his AAD, set for 750 feet, activated his reserve parachute. As the first jumper deployed, the second jumper was observed to track away on his back, roll over face to earth at a very low altitude and deploy his reserve just before striking the ground.

Investigators found both the cutaway and reserve ripcord handles extracted and close to the body. The reserve canopy had apparently cleared its freebag but had not begun to inflate.

Toxicology reports showed that the deceased jumper had a blood-alcohol level of .16 percent, twice the .08 legal limit to operate a motor vehicle in most states. The coroner also found cannabinoids (marijuana) but did not specify when the jumper may have last ingested them.

Use of any intoxicant affects awareness, judgment and motor skills. When combined, their effects become unpredictable. Federal Aviation Regulation 105.7—and, therefore, SIM Section 2-1.B.1 (BSRs)—prohibits jumping under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The jumper who was killed wore a visual altimeter but was not equipped with an AAD or an audible altimeter. Section 6-2 of the Skydiver's Information Manual recommends the use of a visual altimeter, an AAD and at least one audible altimeter, preferably two, when freeflying. The use of an automatic activation device may have favorably changed the outcome of this incident.

Regardless of the personal equipment a jumper carries, it remains the responsibility of every jumper to know his altitude and to deploy a parachute. Every skydiver must deploy in time for a safe landing in a clear area, and the Basic Safety Requirements require that even the most experienced jumpers deploy by 2,000 feet AGL.

System: Sun Path Javelin
Main: Performance Designs Vengeance 107
Reserve: PISA Tempo 120
AAD: No
RSL: No

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* After an uneventful freefall and initial canopy descent, a jumper with more than 1,500 jumps attempted to land on the roof of a 1,500-square-foot building as a last-minute stunt. His approach came up short, and he struck the edge of the roof with both shins. The parachute then deflated, and he fell the remaining 15 feet to the ground, narrowly missing some concrete steps. The impact with the roof edge shattered one leg below the knee and caused deep cuts to both shins. The injuries required surgery, but the jumper is expected to make a full recovery. He later remarked that it was a dumb thing to do and he would be landing in clear areas once he returns to jumping.

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* A jumper with 635 jumps could not clear a line twist on his elliptical main canopy loaded at 1.6:1. He cut away and opened his 150-square-foot reserve loaded at 1.4:1. His only landing choice by that time was a residential neighborhood, and he aimed for a wide street with no obstacles. However, a strong gust from the side on final approach placed him over a line of trees and a block wall. The jumper pulled both toggles to try to sink the canopy between the trees and the block wall. He ran out of altitude to recover enough airspeed to flare and held both toggles fully down for the remainder of the descent. The jumper landed hard on his feet and knees, breaking his femur, and somersaulted onto his back. Jumpers should consider their canopy sizes carefully and choose a canopy size, especially a reserve canopy, to ensure a safe landing in a tight area. Those jumping smaller or highly loaded reserves would be wise to practice with manufacturer demonstration canopies in their size and model. Jumpers should open high enough and complete any reserve procedures to allow a landing in a clear area. Section 5-1 of the Skydiver's Information Manual contains recommendations for landing emergencies and off-field landings.

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* A jumper with more than 1,000 skydives was performing a 2-way freefly jump and deployed his high-performance cross-braced main canopy at a very low altitude. The main canopy did not completely inflate before his Cypres AAD activated the reserve parachute. Both canopies began to spin and entangle. Neither canopy completely inflated before the jumper struck the ground. He suffered two broken ankles and a broken back. Witnesses estimated his deployment altitude to be approximately 1,000 feet. He was not wearing an audible altimeter, and a loose wrist strap made it difficult for him to see his visual altimeter. The other jumper was wearing an audible altimeter with a dead battery. Section 6-2 of the Skydiver's Information Manual recommends that jumpers wear two audible altimeters and one visual altimeter while freeflying. Jumpers who choose to jump high-performance canopies, which typically open slowly and often with surprises, should deploy well above the 2,000 feet AGL that USPA requires for C- and D-license holders (SIM Section 2-1.G).

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* After breakoff and opening from a formation of nearly 100 jumpers, two very experienced participants collided under canopy at about 1,000 feet AGL. The canopies entangled and separated almost immediately, but one jumper found himself in a spin resulting from several broken lines on his Stiletto 107 loaded at 2:1. Despite his efforts to control the canopy, it began to spin more rapidly. At around 200 feet, he activated his reserve; however, he lacked the airspeed and altitude for full deployment before striking the ground. He suffered multiple broken bones and internal injuries from the hard landing. This jumper ordinarily jumped this highly loaded canopy with a small, familiar group. However, maintaining separation under canopy is a vital part of a safe descent in large groups, and it requires the full attention of the pilot of such an aggressively loaded canopy. Small, fast, highly tapered canopies cover large distances in a short time, limiting the reaction time available for a canopy pilot to see and avoid other canopy traffic. The larger the formation, the more canopies there are to keep track of during the descent. Canopy traffic will also become more congested below 1,000 feet as jumpers begin to converge over the landing area for final approach. In this instance, there was unlimited open landing area in almost every direction. Nonetheless, most of the jumpers were crowding into one grass landing area 300 feet long by 100 feet wide. Choosing a safe spot farther away from the main landing area (and the majority of the other canopies) would have been a better alternative.

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Age: 34
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: Three
Time in Sport: Two years
Cause of Death: Broken neck after harness failure

Description: After an uneventful freefall on his third skydive, this jumper deployed his parachute at 5,000 feet. He was next observed to be limp in the harness as the parachute descended in a slow spiral into a group of trees. The reserve pilot chute had deployed and trailed behind the jumper, but there was no entanglement of the main canopy and reserve bridle.

Conclusions: The report stated that the parachute opened hard and that the harness' left main lift web had failed where it passed through the friction adapter used to adjust the length of the harness. Skydiving schools commonly use harness systems with adjustable main lift webs to provide a better fit for a wider range of students. The failure, presumably during opening, apparently caused the student to suddenly drop in the arness, catch his chin on the chest strap and break his neck, according to the report. The report also said that the reserve ripcord was pulled at some point during the incident. The reserve pilot chute deployed, but the reserve canopy evidently stayed in the container due to the slow descent.

A fatal main lift web failure occurred on the same make and model of student harness and container system 12 months prior to this accident, although at a different point on the assembly. The FAA is leading an investigation to determine a course of action. The manufacturer has issued a service bulletin calling for a thorough inspection by a master rigger before the next jump on the gear. Owners of any system using adjustable main lift webs should be alert to wear or damage.

System: Sun Path Javelin
Main: Performance Designs Sabre 2 230
Reserve: Performance Designs PD 218R
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: Yes

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Age: 27
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 6,700-plus
Time in Sport: Nine years
Cause of Death: Hard landing while entangled in two cutaway canopies

Description: After an uneventful freefall and canopy deployment, this jumper intentionally caught the cutaway main canopy from another jumper at approximately 1,700 feet. Some of the lines from the cutaway canopy wrapped around the jumper's left foot, causing the cutaway canopy to partially inflate and entangle with his own main canopy. An uncontrollable spin resulted. The jumper then pulled his cutaway handle to release his own main parachute at a very low altitude. He struck the ground while still entangled with the two parachutes around his ankle. Investigators found the reserve ripcord still in its pocket and the cutaway handle 20 feet away. The jumper died the next day.

Conclusions: The USPA Skydiver's Information Manual section on equipment emergencies (Section 5-1.E) states, "At some point during descent under a partial malfunction, it becomes too low for a safe cutaway, and you must deploy the reserve without cutting away." The jumper was not wearing a visual altimeter. After the entanglement, he may not have known he was at a very low altitude when he pulled his cutaway handle. A visual altimeter could have provided the jumper valuable information regarding his altitude before deciding on a course of action.

Although USPA recommends RSLs, this jumper did not use one.

An RSL could have favorably influenced the outcome of this incident.
Experience has shown that trying to retrieve another jumper's cutaway canopy, freebag or other items is not a sound idea, regardless of skill level. Attempting it with a high-performance canopy, such as this highly experienced swoop competitor was using, makes the results even less predictable and potentially hazardous.

System: Mirage Systems Mirage G-4
Main: Performance Designs Velocity 96
Reserve: Performance Designs PD 106R
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: None

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Age: 36
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 201
Time in Sport: 13 months
Cause of Death: Head injuries caused by a hard landing

Description: After an uneventful freefall and initial canopy descent, this jumper made a straight-in approach from approximately 600 feet. At 300 feet, he pulled both front risers down evenly, apparently to increase his forward speed for landing. He let up on the risers at approximately ten to 15 feet but failed to flare the canopy. He struck the ground feet first and then struck his head hard on the ground.

He received immediate medical attention and was airlifted to a local hospital. He died several hours later from his head injuries.

Conclusions: This jumper was jumping an elliptical parachute at a wing loading of 1.4:1. The manufacturer of the canopy recommends that a jumper be an expert at this wing loading, yet this jumper had only 200 jumps. His previous canopy experience was not reported, but with so few jumps, this canopy choice was very aggressive. The jumper never received any type of structured canopy training and may have been unaware of how the canopy would react while using front risers. He was found with a toggle in only one hand, but it is believed he had both toggles in his hands during the landing approach.

Jumpers should repeatedly practice canopy maneuvers at a higher altitude before attempting to use a speed-building maneuver for landing. Any jumper can benefit from structured canopy training with a knowledgeable canopy pilot as a coach, and those who are looking to make performance landings should especially seek out this type of training.

Jumpers should downsize to smaller canopies only after becoming thoroughly familiar with larger canopies flown at lighter wing loadings. All jumpers must flare the parachute at an altitude sufficient to allow the canopy to generate lift for the landing.

System: Sun Path Javelin
Main: Performance Designs Stiletto 135
Reserve: Para-Flite Swift 175
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: Yes

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* A jumper with 350 jumps experienced a bag-lock malfunction during his main deployment at approximately 2,800 feet. He released the main canopy and deployed his reserve, which opened with tension knots on the right side of the canopy. The jumper tried to clear the malfunction as the canopy continued to spin all the way to impact. He suffered several broken bones and internal injuries but is expected to make a full recovery. A master rigger inspected the equipment. He found the container to be in poor condition. The reserve canopy was found with tension knots at the right-side steering line and right-side C and D suspension lines. The packing data card had reportedly been forged over a two-year period. The amount of use or the method of storage for this container over the two-year period was not reported. Skydiving is a gear-intensive sport that requires equipment in good condition. Also, equipment must be inspected according to FAA rules, and owners should follow manufacturer and USPA recommendations.

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* A spectator inside a large stadium received facial lacerations after she was struck by a skydiver who landed in the stands of the stadium during a demonstration jump. Winds throughout the area were reported to be strong and gusty on the day of the jump, ranging between 15 and 30 mph. However, the ground crew for the demo jump was recording light winds at the rim of the stadium and the stadium floor when the decision was made to exit the airplane. It was not reported how the winds were measured at the stadium rim, but the wall of a stadium may deflect the wind high above the edge, providing a false reading of light wind near the edge. More research needs to be done regarding wind measurements around stadiums to better understand wind behavior around buildings. Winds reportedly picked up 45 seconds after the exit. Only one of the six jumpers landed on the playing field of the stadium. The others landed either in the stadium stands or on other obstacles inside or outside the stadium. Demonstration jumps have a potential for disastrous results if they are not executed with attention to detail. Marginal weather conditions place the control out of the jumpers' hands and into Mother Nature's. Jumpers must be prepared to cancel a jump if the weather conditions will compromise their own safety or the safety of others.

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* A videographer filming a tandem pair began climbing out of a Cessna 182 from a seated position beside the pilot. Her main pilot chute had come out of the pouch and was still on the floor of the airplane as she positioned herself on the step outside of the airplane. The tandem instructor then saw the pilot chute and grabbed it as the bag and lines of her main canopy began to come out of her container. The pilot yelled for her to let go and cut away. As she let go of the strut, the tandem instructor threw her pilot chute out of the door. The lines of the canopy passed over the tail but eventually slid off, causing some damage to the tail of the airplane. The pilot landed the airplane uneventfully. The jumper released her main canopy and deployed her reserve without further incident. She suffered a knee injury and line burns from the main canopy. Jumpers should always check their handles and harness straps just before exit to ensure that everything is in place and secure. A pilot chute pouch must be in good condition to tightly hold the packed pilot chute in place. A tight closing loop may also help prevent the container from opening just from the drag created by an exposed bridle.

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Age: 41
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 850
Time in Sport: Six years
Cause of Death: Hard landing under a spinning main canopy

Description: After an uneventful freefall and initial canopy descent, this jumper was observed flying a straight-in approach while pulling both front risers down, presumably to build speed for landing. At approximately 80 to 100 feet, the left side of the canopy collapsed, resulting in a 540-degree turn before the jumper and the canopy struck the ground at the same time. He was killed instantly by the hard impact.

Conclusions: The report lists the canopy as "near new" but did not state the number of jumps made on the canopy or whether there were any other reported problems with earlier jumps. There was also no indication of the jumper's previous canopy training or experience flying high-performance canopies, and this clearly was a high-performance canopy. Winds were reported as calm, and there were no apparent sources of turbulence in the landing area.

The report did not indicate whether the canopy had been checked for any anomalies by the factory or a parachute rigger or whether the jumper may have caused the collapse with some sort of unusual control input. A fatality of this nature makes it difficult to come to an accurate conclusion without additional information.

System: Mirage Systems Mirage
Main: Precision Aerodynamics Xaos-27 78
Reserve: Performance Designs PD 113R
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: No

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Age: 46
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 1,116
Time in Sport: 14 years
Cause of Death: Hard landing under a spinning main canopy

Description: After an uneventful freefall and initial canopy descent, this jumper was observed initiating a turn to final approach by rapidly pulling his left toggle. He performed the maneuver over a paved parking area near the edge of the landing area. The canopy spun into line twists as it partially collapsed, resulting in an uncontrollable spin for the final few seconds before impact with the ground. He received immediate medical attention but died from his injuries.

Conclusions: This jumper had recently been trying several different cross-braced canopies of different sizes from different manufacturers. The report did not indicate how much training or experience he had flying high-performance parachutes. Although he had more than 1,100 jumps, he had made them over 14 years, with only 64 jumps made in the past 12 months.

The hard toggle turn may have created the spinning line twist on its own, or turbulence may have affected the canopy as the jumper initiated the turn. Jumpers had reported experiencing thermal activity and turbulence in the same area throughout the day. Several jumpers reported hearing the canopy make a "ruffling" noise, which caused them to look up and see the canopy already in a spinning line twist.

USPA receives several reports each year involving jumpers who induce line twists from radical toggle input. Most of the incidents occur with enough altitude to allow the jumpers to kick out of the twists before reaching the ground; however, several have occurred at low altitudes, resulting in fatalities.
All jumpers should learn the limits of the equipment they choose to jump. Even larger parachutes at light wing loadings have been known to spin into line twists with an aggressive toggle turn. Category G of the Integrated Student Program contains training and exercises regarding rapid toggle turns designed to help jumpers learn the limits of each new canopy they jump. Jumpers should perform all of the exercises above 2,500 feet to allow enough altitude in case of an induced line twist and to provide the jumper with enough time and altitude to initiate emergency procedures.

Before beginning training on high-performance canopies, jumpers should consult the recommendations in Section 6-10 of the Skydiver's Information Manual and complete advanced canopy training according to SIM Section 6-11. Jumpers who desire to jump high-performance canopies should seek training from an experienced high-performance canopy pilot.

System: Rigging Innovations Voodoo
Main: Performance Designs Velocity 90
Reserve: Performance Designs PD 113R
AAD: No
RSL: No

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Age: 68
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 15,000
Time in Sport: 40-plus years
Cause of Death: Multiple internal injuries from a hard deployment and hard landing

Description: After an uneventful freefall, this jumper was observed shortly after his deployment to be limp and unresponsive under his fully inflated main canopy. The canopy had several line twists and was in a left-hand turn, which continued to the ground. First-aid was administered immediately, but the jumper had no pulse, nor did he respond to any first-aid.

Conclusions: The autopsy report listed the cause of death as multiple blunt-force injuries. However, he had suffered a torn aorta, which is a known possible result of a very hard parachute opening.
The main canopy was also found to have damage associated with hard openings. Several ribs had tears in the fabric, and the slider had line burns near both grommets for the rear line groups.
Some of the components of this parachute system were found to be homemade and of different materials or specifications than the original equipment, even though they were reported to be in good condition and judged to be well made. The exact cause of the hard opening is unknown, but proper packing procedures and use of factory components can help ensure that main canopies open within reasonable limits.

The field elevation was 5,200 feet MSL, the temperature was 84 degrees, and the jumper exceeded the maximum recommended exit weight for the canopy by 62 pounds. Any or all of these variables can cause a parachute to open hard and must be taken into consideration when choosing a parachute.

System: Para-Flite Swift
Main: Performance Designs Sabre 170
Reserve: Para-Flite Cirrus
AAD: No
RSL: No

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Age: 36
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 624
Time in Sport: Not reported
Cause of Death: Hard landing after making a low turn

Description: After an uneventful freefall and initial canopy descent, this jumper initiated a front-riser turn at a low altitude and struck the ground after 180 degrees of rotation while still in a diving turn. He impacted knees first, and then his head struck the ground hard, resulting in multiple injuries. He received immediate medical attention and was airlifted to a hospital, where he died the following day.

Conclusions: Each jumper on this load made right turns on approach into the landing area, according to a pattern set by the first jumper landing. This jumper began his downwind leg flying diagonally and low across the landing area. He then initiated a right-hand turn with his front riser, which would have required 270 degrees of rotation to merge onto final approach with the other jumpers. He was too low to complete the turn.

He was jumping an elliptical canopy at a wing loading of 1.6:1. The report did not state how many jumps he had made on this canopy, but his total number of jumps make this an aggressive canopy choice. He may have been descending more quickly than he expected either in level flight, during the front-riser turn or both.

The report also did not mention whether the jumper was attempting a high-performance landing or simply attempting to land in the same direction as the other jumpers on the load. For whatever reason, the jumper initiated the final turn without sufficient altitude and struck the ground hard while still in a turn. The landing area was surrounded by open desert on three sides, which would have provided a flat, unobstructed landing area. The jumper could have abandoned plans to land in the main landing area at any point during the descent before initiating the fatal turn. The report also pointed out that the jumper could have made a 90-degree left turn instead and probably landed safely in a clear area.

Jumpers working toward a high-performance wing loading such as this should downsize in small increments and only after becoming thoroughly familiar with their current canopies. In general, jumpers should plan and follow landing patterns that provide safe approaches and landings, whether on the intended drop zone or into an alternate area. All turns must be completed with enough altitude for the canopy to return to straight and level flight for the landing flare.

System: Sunrise Rigging Wings
Main: Icarus Canopies Crossfire 119
Reserve: Performance Designs PD 113R
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: Not reported

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Age: 43
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 492
Time in Sport: Two-plus years
Cause of Death: Line twist and cutaway too low for reserve inflation

Description: After an uneventful freefall and initial canopy descent, this jumper initiated a hard toggle turn at approximately 400 feet AGL. The canopy then spun into line twists and began to spiral toward the ground. At approximately 100 feet AGL, the jumper released the main canopy and deployed his reserve. He struck the ground before the reserve canopy fully inflated and died at the scene.

Conclusions: This skydiver was jumping an elliptical canopy at a 1.3:1 wing loading. It was not reported how many jumps he had made using this canopy or whether he had recently switched to a tapered wing. Either way, he apparently did not understand the limits and control range of his canopy.

USPA receives several reports each year involving jumpers who self-induce line twists from radical toggle input. Most of the incidents occur with enough altitude to allow the jumpers to kick out of the twists before reaching the ground; however, several have occurred at low altitudes, resulting in fatalities.

In this very serious predicament, the only viable option may have been to deploy the reserve canopy without releasing the main. The reserve then may have had sufficient time to inflate, stop the spin, slow the descent and possibly make the landing more survivable. The importance of not maneuvering into a line twist this low is obvious.

All jumpers should learn the limits of the equipment they choose to jump. Even larger parachutes at light wing loadings have been known to spin into line twist with an aggressive toggle turn. Category G of the Integrated Student Program contains training and exercises regarding rapid toggle turns designed to help jumpers learn the limits of each canopy they jump. Jumpers should perform all the exercises above 2,500 feet to allow enough altitude in case of an induced line twist and to provide the jumper with enough time and altitude to initiate emergency procedures.

System: Mirage Systems Mirage G4
Main: Performance Designs Stiletto 190
Reserve: Performance Designs PD 193R
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: None

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Age: 43
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 300
Time in Sport: Four years
Cause of Death: Hard landing under a spinning main parachute

Description: After an uneventful freefall, this jumper was observed several times during the descent using his toggles to fully stall his canopy. At approximately 1,200 feet AGL, he apparently intentionally stalled the canopy again, then suddenly let up only one toggle. The canopy spun three times before the jumper could follow, creating a triple line twist. The canopy then began a tight downward spiral. The jumper was observed trying to kick out of the line twists, unwinding one of the three twists in the short time he had left before reaching the ground. He struck the ground at a high speed, still in the spin, and was killed instantly.

Conclusions: Jumpers should use extreme caution and seek the advice of experienced canopy pilots before experimenting with canopy control outside of what is considered normal control input. This jumper apparently did not realize the consequences of releasing the brake lines unevenly after a full-stall maneuver, but it is well known that a line twist is likely.

A jumper should also consider the wing loading and canopy design when attempting stall maneuvers. In this case, the 1.3:1 wing loading and slightly tapered canopy design combined to create a fast spin when he let up the toggle. Such a severe twist at this wing loading might necessitate a cutaway, for which he didn't have sufficient altitude.

As low as he was when he instigated this problem, his only viable option may have been to deploy the reserve canopy without a cutaway. The reserve then may have had sufficient time to inflate, stop the spin, slow the descent and possibly even give the jumper time to cut away the main after the reserve opened.

Inducing a line twist from over-controlling the canopy should be avoided at any altitude. Through training and guidance from experienced canopy pilots, a jumper can more safely study the limits of his parachute and learn to handle it safely across its entire control range.

System: Mirage Systems Mirage
Main: Performance Designs Sabre 2 170
Reserve: Performance Designs PD 160R
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: Not reported

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* A tandem instructor asked his student to lift his legs in preparation for landing, but the student did not follow instructions, and his legs remained in a straight position. Upon reaching the ground, the student's feet touched down before the instructor's, resulting in the student's breaking his right ankle. The report did not indicate whether any practice landings were performed at higher altitudes with this student. Tandem instructors should make multiple practice landings with each student during descent. Tandem students must lift their legs for landing to allow the instructor's feet to reach the ground first.

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* A Category B AFF student placed his feet and knees together in preparation for landing. As he flared the canopy, he reached for the ground with his right leg and broke his ankle. To reduce the risk of a landing injury, inexperienced jumpers should keep their legs together and be prepared to initiate a parachute landing fall on every landing.

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* A jumper with 1,500 jumps landed softly in winds reported to be 12 to 15 mph. He pulled one steering toggle to collapse the canopy as he turned to face it and run it down. He caught his foot in a hole as he turned and broke several bones, requiring surgery to repair. He is expected to make a full recovery. Jumpers should exercise caution to avoid this frequently reported post-landing injury.

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* After filming a tandem pair, a jumper with 2,000 skydives experienced a spinning malfunction on her elliptical main canopy loaded at 1.2:1. After several attempts to control the situation, she pulled the cutaway handle at 2,000 feet and fell away spinning
on her back. The RSL deployed her reserve, which opened with one line twist. After she kicked it out, her landing was uneventful.

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* A jumper with 400 jumps and an estimated wing loading of 1.25:1 was making a carving landing when he caught his foot on the ground and broke his ankle. Jumpers who choose to make performance-type landings should select smooth landing areas free of obstacles or hazards that can catch a foot on landing.

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* Upon exit from the camera step of a Cessna 208 Caravan, a video-grapher filming a large formation struck the horizontal stabilizer with his helmet-mounted video camera. Although the pilot was flying faster than normal to adjust for possible problems from the weight at the rear during the exit, the aircraft began buffeting as jumpers prepared to exit, possibly indicating that a stall was imminent. The tail was apparently lower than usual as the videographer let go of the airplane, slightly after the three outside floaters. The jumper suffered a sore neck and shoulders and some facial injuries from the helmet being pushed forward on his head during the impact. Jumpers need to understand the balance limits of the aircraft and, generally, not crowd toward the rear at any time during the flight.

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* A canopy formation jump resulted in the entire group landing off the DZ. One jumper faced a choice of trees, a cornfield or the road between them. He said he did not see a power line hidden in the shadows of the trees approximately 20 feet above a road until the last second. He struck the power line and suffered a broken elbow and compressed vertebrae from the hard landing. When flying canopy formations, jumpers must spot carefully using winds-aloft forecasts and observe actual conditions during jump run and after opening. Roads, commonly bordered and crossed by power lines, should be used only as a last resort. Instead, a jumper should decide earlier on a clear and available landing area and then fly a canopy pattern that allows for a safe landing into that area.

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* A jumper with 350 jumps slipped and broke his wrist while landing perpendicular to a five- to ten-mph wind in wet and muddy conditions. The winds had reportedly shifted 90 degrees after the airplane took off for the jump. The jumper did not notice the change during descent, nor had a large wind sock in the landing area reacted to the shift. Light wind indicators can provide jumpers with more information in the landing area; however, to prevent collisions, jumpers should follow the group landing plan regarding a wind shift. Jumpers should be able to manage a crosswind or downwind landing, with practice encouraged. A parachute landing fall may have prevented this injury.

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* On a moonless night jump described as "pitch black," a jumper with 300 jumps landed off the drop zone and suffered minor injuries when he landed without flaring the canopy. He said he thought the ground was still 30 to 50 feet below him. The jumpers had chosen the spot based on a winds-aloft forecast that underestimated the strength of the 40-knot winds at 6,000 feet and were 30 degrees off the actual direction. Section 6-4 of the Skydiver's Information Manual recommends that night jumps be conducted in light winds with good visibility.

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* An instructor who was planning to radio-coach his first-jump AFF student under canopy had a malfunction and landed off the drop zone. On his own, the student arrived into the wind too high over his planned final approach point and turned 180 degrees, heading downwind. He landed on a parked Cessna 150, the only obstacle reported to be in the area, and hit it hard enough to spin the aircraft 90 degrees. The report did not indicate whether the student was injured or the extent of the damage to the airplane. Students jumping solo (AFF, IAD or static line) should be prepared to fly a specific landing pattern to a clear, open area without need for assistance. Ground instruction provides a good back-up but shouldn't be relied upon. The main objective of every jumper on any jump is to land an open parachute safely in a clear landing area.

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* A jumper with 600 jumps was forced to land off the drop zone after opening his parachute downwind of the landing area. Winds were reportedly strong throughout the day, and surface winds were reported to be 12 to 14 mph at the time of the jump. The report said he turned his canopy downwind at approximately 100 feet AGL, but it didn't say why. The report also did not indicate what the jumper and canopy were doing just before landing, but the jumper suffered a broken femur. The canopy size and jumper's weight weren't reported, but this accident follows an apparent trend indicating that many jumpers lack the training or skills for safe off-field landings on the canopies they have chosen to jump. Regardless of canopy size, jumpers should choose large, open areas free of obstacles and plan landing patterns that allow them to land facing into the wind if at all possible. All turns must be completed with enough altitude for the canopy to return to straight and level flight for the landing flare.

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* A tandem instructor made a steep braked approach, reportedly to shorten his final descent into the landing area. At approximately 20 feet-insufficient altitude to recover to level flight-he let the toggles up about halfway. The canopy surged, and the tandem pair landed in a steep descent with the student seated and the instructor hitting knees first. They rolled forward onto the head and neck of the instructor, injuring him. He complained of numbness in his legs and arms and difficulty breathing, so rescuers airlifted him from the scene. He began to show hopeful signs of recovery within 36 hours, according to the report. The student was examined and released from a local hospital after complaining of soreness in his back. Any planned landing should leave room to the near and far sides of the target to allow for errors in judgment. There are several methods to land from a braked approach, depending on the altitude and the jumper's proficiency under the canopy. At some point, it becomes too low to return to full speed for a normal flare, and a jumper must land in brakes to prevent an even more dangerous surge. Most tandem canopies are sluggish to respond to braked maneuvers and are unforgiving of less-than-expert braked-approach techniques.

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* A jumper with 28 jumps experienced line twists after opening his main canopy. He tried to untwist the lines but finally released the main canopy and deployed his reserve successfully. For unexplained reasons, the jumper landed his reserve while heading downwind, didn't flare and struck a culvert, breaking both his legs. The jumper was airlifted from the accident site and required surgery, but he is expected to make a full recovery. Whether under a main or reserve, every jumper should plan an upwind final approach into a clear, open area. Most canopies land very poorly without a landing flare.

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* A jumper with 68 jumps was flying his 1:1 wing-loaded canopy downwind and initiated a hard turn at approximately 75 feet above the ground. He struck the ground at nearly the same time as the canopy, breaking his femur and both ankles. According to the report, his logbook indicated a history of bad landings. The report didn't say whether he was attempting a high-performance landing or simply maneuvered too low for an upwind landing. All turns must be completed with enough altitude for the canopy to return to straight and level flight for the landing flare. Jumpers who are experiencing canopy control problems would do well to seek training from an experienced canopy coach.

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* Upon opening at 2,100 feet AGL, a jumper with 2,000 jumps experienced severe line twist on his elliptical canopy loaded at 1.6:1 pounds per square foot. He kicked out of the line twist but was unable to release the brakes. The report stated that they were "very tight" but did not indicate that the control lines were fouled with the risers or suspension lines. The jumper decided to steer and flare using the rear risers with the canopy stuck in brakes. The report stated that the jumper "landed very hard and suffered a crushed vertebrae and tail bone." Investigators found that the steering lines had become extremely twisted, which they suggest may have made the brakes harder to release. Before being faced with a brake malfunction, every jumper must decide based on experience and practice whether to land with a malfunctioned brake system. What might work with a more forgiving wing loading may not be safe with a highly loaded canopy. Rear-riser landings require practice even with a fully functioning brake system. In general, high-performance canopies present bigger challenges with otherwise routine problems, such as twisted lines or a malfunctioned brake system. Their pilots should anticipate trouble and open well above the USPA required minimums.

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Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 275
Time in Sport: Not reported
Cause of Death: Hard landing after a low turn

Description: This jumper was part of a group flying wingsuits. The group opened their parachutes too far away from the drop zone to land on the airport. This jumper and two others from his group chose a field near a tall section of trees. Winds were reported to be ten to 15 mph at treetop level but near zero below the trees. This jumper made a hard left turn at a low altitude and struck the ground while still in the turn. He died from injuries sustained during the resulting hard landing. The other two jumpers landed without incident.

Conclusions: This jumper had a wing loading estimated to be 1.3:1, which the manufacturer recommends for expert jumpers. The manufacturer further explains that "expert" refers to "some of the best pilots in the world."

In the past three years, there have been 13 fatalities from low turns near the ground made not to enhance the landing speed, but rather made in error from poor judgment and understanding of the result of the turn. Eleven of the 13 involved newer jumpers with wing loadings between 1:1 and 1.4:1 and off-field landings. In each case, the turn was initiated either to avoid an obstacle or to attempt to face into the wind for landing.

The Integrated Student Program in Section 4 of the Skydiver's Information Manual contains information on wing loading and canopy dive flows that can help educate both students and licensed jumpers about the canopies they are jumping. Section 6-10 of the SIM provides information on downsizing and advanced canopy flight, which can further educate skydivers of all experience levels. Jumpers who find it easy to repeatedly land a faster parachute on the drop zone may find that same canopy much more difficult to negotiate into a smaller landing area surrounded by obstacles. Ultimately, all turns must be completed with enough altitude for the canopy to return to straight and level flight for the landing flare.

System: Not reported
Main: Performance Designs Sabre 2 150
Reserve: Not reported
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: Not reported

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Age: 26
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 965
Time in Sport: Not reported
Cause of Death: Hard landing under a spinning main-reserve entanglement

Description: After an uneventful freefall filming a tandem jump, this jumper threw his pilot chute to initiate deployment but experienced a pilot-chute-in-tow malfunction. He responded by deploying his reserve, which opened normally. However, as the reserve deployed, the main parachute also deployed, with the lines entangling around the jumper's legs before it inflated. The jumper released the main parachute and then freed his legs, but the cutaway main canopy entangled with the reserve
risers and the reserve ripcord. The two canopies began to spin around each other in a downplane configuration, with both canopies diving the rest of the way to the ground. He died at the scene from the hard landing.

Conclusions: As in many fatal accidents, a chain of events culminated in the outcome, and changing any of them may have prevented it. The jumper picked one of two acceptable options to respond to the malfunction and pulled the reserve. In this case, the reserve deployed and inflated normally, and then it appears—as often happens—that the release of tension on the container from the reserve activation allowed the collapsed pilot chute to deploy the main parachute. Unfortunately, the bag tumbled below him as the lines unstowed, and the lines entangled with the jumper's leg or legs. A cutaway might have been useless up to this point, because the main parachute had not fully deployed. Also, it was discovered that the riser release system had stiffened from lack of maintenance and may have required more force than usual to disengage.

By the time the jumper had freed his legs from the lines, the main had inflated. The left riser released, and the main canopy rotated around behind the jumper. During this rotation, the right-side main riser released and entangled with the right-side reserve riser and the reserve ripcord cable still in his hand, locking the two risers together.

At that point, the jumper apparently released the brakes on the reserve, and the two canopies began a diving right turn. The jumper spent the remaining time trying to free the main canopy. While dealing with this malfunction, this jumper found himself several times in relatively uncharted waters. He might have released the main too early in the sequence of events, but there are no clear-cut procedures for dealing with an entanglement once the reserve parachute is deployed. There are also pros and cons to jettisoning the reserve ripcord while executing malfunction procedures. After the downplane began, it may have been a better choice to recover control of the reserve. Certainly, he was doing the best he could and continued working with the situation until he struck the ground.

However, some choices made prior to the jump could have been handled better. The first and foremost preventable factor was the initial pilot-chute-in-tow malfunction. Most often-and apparently the cause in this instance-the problem results from not fully seating or cocking the inner bridle on a kill-line collapsible pilot chute. A jumper can prevent this problem with careful packing followed by a routine equipment check before putting on the gear. Most collapsible main pilot chute bridles have a window to show that the kill line is in the right position inside the bridle. Second, performing the recommended periodic maintenance may have allowed the risers to release more freely and resulted in a cleaner cutaway. Finally, larger parachutes would have provided a slower descent rate, which may have allowed for more time in a spinning situation to regain control and possibly led to a survivable landing.

System: Sun Path Javelin
Main: Performance Designs Stiletto 107
Reserve: PISA Tempo 120
AAD: None
RSL: None

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* A jumper with 277 jumps and a wing loading of 1.3:1 made a low turn at approximately 80 feet and struck the ground while still in the turn. He broke both legs and suffered facial injuries. Section 6-10 of the Skydiver's Information Manual contains recommendations for downsizing and advanced canopy flying. Jumpers should downsize gradually and only after they thoroughly understand the flight characteristics of their current canopies. All turns must be completed with enough altitude for the canopy to return to straight and level flight for the landing flare.

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* A jumper with 57 jumps and a wing loading of 1.3:1 made a low turn at approximately 30 feet and struck the runway while still in a turn. He broke both legs and his pelvis during the hard landing. Section 6-10 of the Skydiver's Information Manual contains recommendations for downsizing and advanced canopy flying. Jumpers should downsize gradually and only after they thoroughly understand the flight characteristics of their current canopies. All turns must be completed with enough altitude for the canopy to return to straight and level flight
for the landing flare.

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* A student on his third jump had a fully inflated main canopy that began turning to the right. The spin continued all the way to landing, and the jumper suffered injuries to his ribs and pelvis. During the descent, the radio operator repeatedly asked the student to make sure he had released the brakes and reminded the student to initiate emergency procedures if the main could not be controlled. After landing, the student seemed confused and stated that his lines were tangled or that his arm was tangled in the lines. Neither condition was observed. The main canopy was found to have one brake still set and stowed as packed and one released, which accounts for the turn. The first priority after deploying the main parachute is ensuring the main canopy can be controlled for a safe landing or initiating emergency procedures if the main canopy cannot be controlled.

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* A jumper with 556 jumps was experiencing turbulence at 15 to 20 feet above the ground. As his canopy lurched to the left, he flared and reached instinctively to the left to brace his fall with his toggle still in hand, increasing the rate of the turn. He struck the ground hard with his left leg and injured his left knee, requiring surgery. Jumpers need to control the canopy's heading throughout the landing flare until finished with the landing. If anticipating being off balance or having a hard landing, the correct response is to keep feet and knees together, hands together in front and roll to avoid injuries to extremities.

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* A student on his second jump was observed to exhibit radical toggle input
during his practice flares. He was coached by the radio operator until he performed his flare technique smoothly. On his actual landing, he reverted back to the radical flare technique and stalled the canopy a few feet above the ground. The jumper suffered a broken ankle upon landing. Jumpers should flare smoothly and evenly for landing to prevent an abrupt stall of the parachute.

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* Two experienced jumpers landed on either side of a grass-strip runway as the
twin-engine aircraft they jumped from was landing. The airplane missed the first jumper, but the wing tip caught the canopy of the other jumper just as he landed, jerking the jumper head-first into the leading edge of the wing and then tossing him approximately 20 feet into the air. He suffered head and neck injuries, and the extent to which he will recover wasn't known at the time of the report. Many skydiver landing areas are near runways and sometimes divided by one. Jumpers must avoid landing on or near any active runway, and aircraft jump pilots should continually scan for parachute traffic, especially on final approach. Jump pilots, who often land at the same time as parachutists, need to be extra vigilant during each landing and prepared to abort if an errant skydiver threatens to create a landing hazard.

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Age: 47
Sex: Female
Number of Jumps: 1,700
Time in Sport: 20 years
Cause of Death: Hard landing under a spinning main parachute

Description: After a successful freefall with a large group, this jumper was observed under a spinning main canopy, which continued to spin to the ground. She was found a short distance from the main landing area, but she had already died of multiple landing injuries.

Conclusions: Inspection of the equipment revealed that the steering line on the right side of the canopy had become entangled with the locking tab of one of the fabric-style connector links used to attach the canopy suspension lines to the riser. Connector links are provided by the canopy manufacturer as part of the main canopy assembly. Cloth links are often supplied as an alternative to more traditional metal loop links, secured by a barrel nut. This model, called a Slink, is one of several types of fabric link, typically made from Spectra suspension line and looped over a head made from fabric, in this case, or other material.

The slider was stowed, and the jumper had pulled the toggles to release the brakes. However, the canopy began to spin due to the trapped steering line. It is not known why this jumper did not release the main parachute and deploy her reserve while still high enough. She may have lost altitude awareness while dealing with the problem. Also, this 120-square-foot canopy, even with a relatively light wing loading, can turn and lose altitude very quickly, which can add to a jumper's disorientation during a malfunction.

In cases such as this, where a steering line has been disabled and creates a turn in the canopy, it may be possible to neutralize the turn by pulling the opposite toggle to an equal distance. The jumper would then have to determine whether it's safe to land in that configuration, not necessarily a good idea with a smaller or highly loaded canopy.

Skydiver's Information Manual Section 5-1 recommends that whenever the main canopy cannot be controlled safely, jumpers should initiate emergency procedures no lower than 2,500 feet AGL for students and A-license holders or 1,800 feet AGL for B- through D-license holders.
Jumpers should take care to stow excess steering line in a way that will allow for the brakes to release without any interference.

System: Sun Path Javelin
Main: Performance Designs Sabre 120
Reserve: Performance Designs PD-126R
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: Yes

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Age: 30
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 650
Time in Sport: Not reported
Cause of Death: Hard landing under a collapsed canopy following a canopy collision

Description: A group of 20 jumpers were descending after a routine freefall jump. Two of the first ones to land collided at a reported 50 to 100 feet above the ground. The canopies briefly entangled but separated shortly after the collision, and both jumpers landed hard under partially inflated parachutes. One jumper died soon afterward from head injuries. The other jumper was also seriously injured but survived.

Conclusions: Prior to the collision, witnesses observed the jumper who was to survive the accident flying a straight-in landing approach. Witnesses reported seeing the other jumper turn his canopy between 90 and 180 degrees and then collide with the canopy on the straight-in approach. There were no other reported canopy traffic issues, and most of the other jumpers were still above them.
Jumpers must always maintain clear air space around them and check carefully before turning to prevent collisions. The base leg and final approach zone over a landing area are the most likely places for a canopy collision. There especially, skydivers should continually scan for traffic and plan ahead for safe descents.

Jumpers using low turns to induce speed for high-performance landings must be absolutely certain the area is clear of approaching canopies. This added responsibility has on a number of occasions proven too much for even highly experienced jumpers, seriously injured or killed after making an error and sometimes hurting or killing the other jumper. For this reason, high-performance landings into a common landing area should be of serious concern to all jumpers.

System: Sunrise Rigging Wings
Main: Icarus Canopies Crossfire 139
Reserve: Not reported
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: Not reported

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* A jumper with 3,000 jumps and a wing loading of 1.5:1 performed a low turn at approximately 100 feet and struck the ground while still in the turn. He broke his right ankle and left foot as a result of the hard landing. Jumpers must complete all turns with enough altitude for the canopy to return to straight and level flight before the landing flare.

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* A tandem student did not keep his legs up during the landing flare, allowing both of his feet to touch down before the instructor's. The student broke both lower legs during the landing. Winds were reported to be eight to ten mph and slightly turbulent at 25 to 30 feet above the ground, which may have affected the canopy during the landing. Tandem instructors should practice the landing flare with students up high so the student can practice raising his feet and legs to allow the instructor to touch down first.

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* A solo student moved his leg straps toward his knees for comfort during the canopy descent. During the final approach, the radio operator asked him to place his feet and knees together for the landing to prepare for a parachute landing fall, but the student could not get his feet and knees together due to the position of the leg straps. The student landed with minimal forward speed and descent rate but suffered a broken lower leg after landing with his legs wide apart.
Properly performed parachute landing falls (PLFs) reduce the chance of a landing injury. Jumpers should adjust the parachute harness while under canopy only if they are sure it will not interfere with canopy control or landing procedures.

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* A student on his third jump flared late but attempted to stand up his landing, breaking both lower legs in the process. A landing flare at the correct altitude and a properly performed PLF will help reduce the chance of landing injuries.

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* A jumper with approximately 300 jumps struck her head on the horizontal stabilizer of a Twin Beech aircraft during an emergency exit at 2,500 feet AGL. The jumper was knocked unconscious and awoke after landing in a tree under her reserve canopy. The automatic activation device had activated her reserve, and landing in a tree might have prevented injuries resulting from landing on hard ground without a flare. She suffered minor head injuries and was treated and released from a local hospital. The airplane was flying with only the left engine, which was at full power to maintain level flight while the jumpers bailed out. Since the door was also on the left side of the airplane, the prop blast down the fuselage was greater than normal. Jumpers should be prepared to dive down and out of a side-door aircraft during an emergency exit to avoid the horizontal stabilizer. The use of an AAD saved the life of this jumper.

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* A jumper with approximately 800 jumps and a wing loading of 1.9:1 experienced line twist and a spinning malfunction after deploying at 2,500 feet AGL. He tried to clear the line twist until hearing his audible altimeter flatline at 1,500 feet AGL. He then initiated emergency procedures. His reserve opened with only enough time for him to turn the canopy 180 degrees to land facing into the wind. The jumper did not know his altitude until his audible altimeter alarmed him that he was exceeding a descent rate of 72 feet per second at that altitude. Use of an RSL may have initiated the reserve deployment at a higher altitude after the cutaway. Section 5-1 of the Skydiver's Information Manual recommends that B- through D-license holders initiate emergency procedures no lower than 1,800 feet AGL.

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* A jumper with 58 jumps deployed his main pilot chute at 3,500 feet AGL. He did not feel anything deploy, and when he looked above him, he thought he had a pilot chute in tow. In response, he deployed his reserve parachute. The reserve deployed with line twist, and the main canopy bridle and lines had wrapped around his reserve canopy. He kicked out of the line twist at approximately 150 feet but elected not to cut away the main parachute. The main canopy deployed and initially formed a downplane with the reserve but then formed a side-by-side shortly before the landing. He landed in a muddy field without any injury. Witnesses reported that the jumper had a bag-lock malfunction and the reserve was deployed into the bag lock. After a brief entanglement, the reserve bridle and freebag cleared the reserve canopy and allowed the reserve to deploy. By that time, the Cypres automatic activation device had cut the loop of the already deployed reserve. Jumpers should practice emergency procedures frequently to help identify problems quickly and react with correct procedures.

In the case of a bag lock, a cutaway before the reserve deployment would have been the appropriate response. Section 5-1 of the SIM contains recommendations for emergency procedures of value to all skydivers.

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Age: 36
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 1,000-plus
Time in Sport: Six years
Cause of Death: Hard landing

Description: After an uneventful solo freefall and initial canopy descent, this jumper initiated a 180-degree turn at approximately 250 feet above the ground. He completed the turn before reaching the ground but reportedly made little or no attempt to flare the canopy before he struck the ground at a high rate of speed. He died at the scene from his injuries.

Conclusions: This was the jumper's third jump on a 96-square-foot cross-braced canopy. His wing loading, estimated at 1.72:1, is considered advanced by the manufacturer. Surface winds were reported between two and four mph but 30 mph at 3,000 feet. The jumper landed on the downwind side of a row of trees, which may have affected the flight of the canopy.

This jumper's regular canopy was reported to be 108 square feet and of a conventional rib design typically associated with more docile performance characteristics and quicker recovery from a turn. Cross-braced canopies are known to require hundreds of feet to recover from performance turns for safe landings. Expert cross-braced canopy pilots routinely start such maneuvers above 500 feet.

Section 6-10 of the 2004 Skydiver's Information Manual recommends that a jumper advancing to a higher-performance wing does so at the same square footage as a familiar canopy. A jumper should land any new design or smaller canopy conservatively until learning that canopy's flight characteristics in the entire range of control inputs and weather conditions.

On any canopy, jumpers must complete all turns with enough altitude for the canopy to return to straight and level flight for the landing flare.

System: Sun Path Javelin
Main: Performance Designs Velocity 96
Reserve: Performance Designs PD-126R
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: None

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Age: 30
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 600-plus
Time in Sport: Five years
Cause of Death: Impact with a bridge

Description: This jumper was one of three who reportedly exited a Cessna Caravan at an altitude of 5,000 feet AGL for a wingsuit jump during a weekend-long BASE jumping event at a suspension bridge. The public had been invited, and many spectators were on the bridge. This jumper reportedly intended to cross 100 to 200 feet over the crowd, while one of the others passed just below the span. Both jumpers planned to deploy below the bridge, which is approximately 1,000 feet above the gorge it spans.

The jumper who planned to fly over the bridge reportedly approached lower than planned, struck the railing near the spectators and was probably killed instantly. According to the report, his parachute opened upon impact with the bridge, flew him into the wall of the gorge and remained there until rescuers arrived.

Conclusions: Witnesses and investigators reported that the jumper was approaching the bridge with enough altitude to clear the span but apparently intentionally collapsed the wings of his wingsuit, putting him on a trajectory closer to the bridge and the crowd. He passed below the support cables for the span but did not have enough altitude to clear the railing on the deck of the bridge.

To fly into and below the bridge, both jumpers had to freefall with their wingsuits well below the 2,000-foot AGL minimum deployment altitude required by USPA. Several Federal Aviation Regulations apparently were also disregarded. The USPA investigation revealed that the jumper apparently left the aircraft without the single-harness, dual-parachute system the FAA requires for jumping from aircraft, instead using a single parachute designed for fixed-object jumping.

The FAA also prohibits jumps over an open-air assembly of people without a certificate of authorization. In general, the FAA prohibits any jump that creates a hazard to persons or property on the surface.

In planning exhibition jumps, skydivers must consider the safety of the jumpers and the spectators first. In this case, the apparently intentional violations of USPA's BSRs and the FARs, all meant to protect the jumpers and the spectators, resulted in a tragic outcome for all present.

System: Morpheus Technologies BASE
Main: Atair Aerodynamics Troll 245
Reserve: None
AAD: None
RSL: None

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Age: 21
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 44
Time in Sport: Three months
Cause of Death: Hard landing while making a low turn

Description: After an uneventful freefall and initial canopy descent, this jumper initiated a 270-degree turn at 50 feet above a highway. He struck the ground while still in a diving turn and suffered multiple
broken bones and internal injuries, as well as a head injury. He was airlifted from the accident scene and died in a hospital four days later.

Conclusions: This very inexperienced jumper was making his tenth jump on an elliptical canopy marketed to jumpers seeking higher-performance flight characteristics. The manufacturer recommends this jumper's wing loading, 1.1:1, for jumpers at the upper end of the intermediate experience level.

The report did not indicate that the jumper turned to miss any obstacles in the landing area. However, he may have been attempting a high-performance landing maneuver. Another jumper reported that before the jump, this jumper had indicated a desire to practice a "swoop turn." Regardless of the reason for the low turn, this jumper apparently did not understand the consequences of initiating an aggressive turn at such a low altitude.

The USPA Integrated Student Program includes canopy exercises to help familiarize jumpers at any experience level with their current canopies. It recommends performing the exercises high and in clear airspace.

The ISP also has information on wing loading and canopy design to educate new jumpers regarding canopy performance and how wing loading and canopy design affect canopy flight.

Jumpers should not downsize or change to different canopy designs until they fully understand how to fly their current canopies using all of the available control inputs. Section 6-10 of the 2004 Skydiver's Information Manual provides guidelines for advanced canopy flight and downsizing progression.

Instructors, S&TAs, gear dealers and drop zone owners should advise new jumpers to purchase equipment suitable for their experience level and facilitate the training needed to fly today's parachutes.

Ultimately, jumpers must complete all turns with enough altitude for the canopy to return to straight and level flight before the landing flare.

System: Sun Path Javelin
Main: Performance Designs Stiletto 190
Reserve: Performance Designs PD-176R
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: Yes

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* A jumper with 750 jumps and a wing loading of 1.7:1 deployed his main canopy at 3,100 feet AGL and discovered one brake was unstowed and tangled in the riser. After several attempts to clear the brake line while steering the canopy straight using riser input, the jumper cut away the main and deployed his reserve at approximately 2,100 feet. The landing was uneventful.

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* A jumper with 197 jumps, attempting to swoop a pond, misjudged his approach and passed over the pond toward a parked car. He dropped a steering toggle and turned his canopy into the parked car, suffering bruises and a cut that required stitches. The impact also dented the car body and broke the windshield and a side mirror. Dropping a toggle during a high-performance landing has resulted in numerous more serious injuries and deaths. Jumpers should keep firm grips on their steering toggles until the landing is completed and plan landings into clear areas free of obstacles.

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* Two jumpers were performing a downplane canopy formation after breaking off from a 3-way canopy formation. The two jumpers held the downplane until approximately 200 feet above the landing area. One of the pair ended up facing downwind and flying toward the third jumper, who was not part of the downplane. The jumper leaving the downplane turned, apparently either trying to face into the wind or avoid the other jumper. He struck the ground hard while still turning and suffered multiple broken bones and life-threatening internal injuries. A downplane is a maneuver that is all too often taken to a low altitude before the jumpers separate. It is critical that downplanes break off with enough altitude for both jumpers to separate safely and set up for landing in a clear area. A slight turn may have provided enough distance from the other canopy and allowed for a safer crosswind or downwind landing. All turns must be completed with enough altitude for the canopy to return to straight and level flight for the landing flare.

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* A jumper with 60 jumps and another with 1,050 jumps were performing a sit-fly jump but reportedly became separated a considerable distance. The jumper with 60 jumps flipped onto his belly, began forward movement and then flipped back into a sit once he was closer. The momentum carried him into the other jumper, and he broke his ankle when his foot struck her hip. Both jumpers deployed and landed safely. Section 6-2 of the Skydiver's Information Manual contains recommendations for freeflying. Regardless of the type of skydive taking place, jumpers should guard against contact at a high rate of vertical or horizontal speed. High-speed collisions may result in serious injuries or death.

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* A jumper with 400 jumps and a wing loading of 1:1 initiated a 180-degree turn at a low altitude and struck the ground while still in a turn. He broke his femur and sustained other minor injuries. Jumpers who choose to pursue high-performance landings should consult Section 6-10 of the Skydiver's Information Manual for ideas on how to proceed more safely. Additionally, they should seek the advice and training of an experienced high-performance canopy pilot. In any event, turns must be completed with enough altitude for the canopy to return to straight and level flight for the landing flare.

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* For travel purposes, a jumper with 80 jumps had stuffed his main deployment handle deep inside the bottom-of-container pouch on his container. On his next jump, he meant to deploy at approximately 3,000 feet but had trouble getting to the handle. He eventually retrieved it and estimated deploying at 1,500 feet. However, the main parachute sniveled (hesitated before inflating), and his Airtec Cypres activated his reserve parachute. Data from his recording audible altimeter indicated a 300-foot opening. The two canopies reportedly opened into a side-by-side configuration, separated into a downplane and began to spin. The jumper landed in a tree approximately 90 feet above the ground. A fire truck with a long ladder reportedly rescued him unharmed. A proper pre-jump equipment inspection should have revealed the inaccessible handle, which could have also been caught during the other two equipment checks recommended in the SIM-before boarding the aircraft and again before jumping. The simple and easy-to-perform "check of threes" is explained in Category D of the USPA Integrated Student Program: three handles, three harness attachments and the three-ring release system (and RSL). Jumpers having trouble finding a handle at pull time should make only two additional attempts to locate it if altitude permits and then go to the reserve parachute.

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Age: 26
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 800
Time in Sport: Eight years

Cause of Death: Hard landing after a low turn under canopy

Description: After an uneventful freefall and initial canopy descent, this jumper initiated a hard toggle turn at approximately 25 feet and struck the ground at the same time as the canopy while still in the turn. He suffered several broken bones and a severe head injury from the hard landing. He received immediate first aid and was airlifted to a hospital soon after the accident. He was removed from life support ten days after the accident.

Conclusions: This jumper had a history of erratic landings and close calls while jumping a 150-square-foot canopy. He had been warned by several other jumpers and drop zone staff about his dangerous landings.

In spite of this, he had recently purchased a 120-square-foot canopy and continued to have close calls and poor landings at an even higher wing loading of 2:1. The drop zone had recently placed a swoop course in the landing area, and this jumper stated during the ride to altitude for this jump that he was going to swoop through the course. He was told by several jumpers not to attempt the swoop course but disregarded their advice.

Jumpers who are experiencing canopy control problems should move up to larger parachutes and seek training from experienced canopy specialists. Jumpers should not downsize or attempt high-performance canopy flight without appropriate guidance and training. Jumpers must complete all turns with enough altitude for the canopy to return to straight and level flight for the landing flare.

System: Fliteline Systems Reflex
Main: Air Time Designs Jedei 120
Reserve: Performance Designs PD-143R
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: No

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Age: 45
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 185
Time in Sport: Three years

Cause of Death: Hard landing under a spiraling main canopy

Description: After an uneventful solo skydive and initial canopy descent, this jumper began a canopy spiral at approximately 2,000 feet AGL, which continued until he struck the ground.

Conclusions: Witnesses observed that the main parachute appeared to be fully open with no visible problems. A designated parachute rigger examiner inspected the gear and also found nothing wrong. The jumper had a history of spiraling his main canopy, often through busy traffic to low altitudes before stopping the spin. Drop zone staff had spoken to him on several occasions regarding his canopy control. He may have become disoriented from the spin or lost altitude awareness. For whatever reason, he continued the spiral all the way to the ground and was killed by the hard impact.

A jumper should spiral his canopy only after establishing that there is clear airspace and that the spiral will not interfere with any other canopy traffic. All turns must be completed with enough altitude to allow the canopy to return to straight and level flight for the landing flare.

System: Sun Path Javelin
Main: Performance Designs Spectre 150
Reserve: Performance Designs PD-160R
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: Not reported

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* A jumper with 47 jumps was landing in winds gusting to 20 knots (24 mph). At approximately 60 feet, he reportedly experienced a strong push of wind from the side, which headed him crosswind as he flared the canopy for landing. As he began to fall to the downwind side, he reached toward the ground in the same direction, toggle still in hand. This caused the canopy to turn even harder toward the downwind direction, and the jumper struck the runway at the same time as his parachute. He suffered several cuts and bruises and was knocked unconscious. Strong and gusty winds can be challenging for skydivers of any experience level. Jumpers should apply opposite toggle input against a crosswind to help the canopy land straight and level. Reaching for the ground with the toggle still in hand will initiate a turn downwind, which only adds ground speed and increases the descent rate of the landing. Also, flaring and landing with both hands in and together will help prevent wrist injuries and provide a better visual reference for an on-heading flare.

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* A jumper with 4,000 jumps deployed an uncocked collapsible pilot chute. The weak drag of the collapsed pilot chute allowed the main deployment bag to flip through the lines while it still contained the packed canopy. The jumper released the malfunctioned main and deployed his 26-foot round reserve. He suffered back injuries from the hard landing under the round reserve. Jumpers should perform complete equipment checks before gearing up, prior to boarding and before exit on every jump to help ensure that the gear is ready to be jumped. Most collapsible pilot chutes have a window in the pilot chute bridle near the main pin, which allows for a check to see whether the pilot chute was cocked before being packed. A round reserve requires different landing procedures than a ram-air, which may have allowed this jumper to land without injury.

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* A jumper with 545 jumps and a wing loading estimated at 1.2:1 made a low turn while attempting a high-performance landing through a competition-style swoop course. He broke his left tibia when he struck the ground while still in the turn. He had been grounded the previous week for unsafe canopy approaches and was warned to make straight-in final approaches once the grounding period was over. Turns must be completed high enough for the parachute to return to straight and level flight before the landing flare.

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* A jumper with 380 jumps was making a sit-fly jump from 14,000 feet with several other jumpers. At one point, he was hit from the side and briefly knocked unstable. When he returned to the sitting position, he noticed two problems: His chest strap had become unthreaded and was flapping in the wind stream, and his cutaway handle had been dislodged and pulled several inches. The jumper flipped over belly-to-earth and deployed his reserve parachute, landing uneventfully. The chest strap had been threaded through the friction adapter correctly before the exit. Testing on the ground showed that the strap, a single layer of type-8 webbing, could slip through the friction adapter when tension on the chest strap was released, even though the end of the strap had been folded over and sewn down in the prescribed manner. The jumper had rolled the sewn-down end into the excess chest strap, which may have prevented it from catching at the friction adapter as it passed through.

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* A jumper with 47 jumps experienced a bag-lock malfunction due to an uncocked main pilot chute. He cut away the main canopy and deployed the reserve. While landing the reserve wing loaded at 1.3:1, he did not flare the parachute and broke his femur and hip from the hard landing. A landing flare should be performed with any ram-air parachute. The report did not mention whether the jumper performed a parachute landing fall. A properly performed PLF can prevent injuries from a hard landing. Jumpers should carefully consider the sizes of their reserve parachutes and the consequences of jumping equipment at high wing loadings. Manufacturers for most reserve and main parachutes publish wing-loading recommendations that jumpers would be unwise to exceed.

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Age: 59
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 546
Time in Sport: Not reported

Cause of Death: Impact after low cutaway

Description: Witnesses saw this jumper spinning under his main canopy to a low altitude, at which point the main was released. The reserve parachute began deployment but did not clear its freebag before the jumper reached the ground. He died at the scene from injuries sustained on impact.
Conclusions: The cause of the spinning main canopy was not discovered in the investigation of the equipment. Data from his audible altimeter indicated a main canopy deployment at 2,200 feet AGL.
Data from his automatic activation device indicated a main canopy release at 652 feet AGL and a reserve deployment (initiated by the AAD) beginning at 116 to 122 feet. The reserve ripcord was found still in its pocket, and the cutaway handle was found 50 feet from the jumper. Witnesses reported seeing the jumper "attempting to get stable" after the main canopy release.

The Skydiver's Information Manual recommends that B-, C- and D-licensed jumpers decide upon and execute emergency procedures by 1,800 feet and students and A-license holders by 2,500 feet. Initiating emergency procedures at a higher altitude, pulling the reserve ripcord immediately after the cutaway or the use of a reserve static line may have provided this jumper enough time for the reserve parachute to fully inflate.

When asked about the expectations of this model of AAD if cutting away below its preset firing altitude of 750 feet, the U.S. representative for the manufacturer recommended that a jumper forget he has one on, adding that an RSL provides a better back-up for low cutaways.

At some point during descent under a partial malfunction, it becomes too low for a safe cutaway, and jumpers should deploy the reserve without a cutaway. The ISP recommends that students choose an altitude of 1,000 feet to make that decision and that licensed jumpers decide upon a minimum cutaway altitude before jumping.

Frequent practice of emergency procedures helps enable jumpers to take correct action when faced with a malfunction.

System: Mirage Systems Mirage G3
Main: Big Air Sportz Samurai 150
Reserve: Performance Designs PD-176R
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: No

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Age: 46
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 11
Time in Sport: Not reported

Cause of Death: Broken neck, apparently from harness failure during canopy deployment

Description: An AFF student had performed routinely during a Category D training jump. However, he dropped his left arm and shoulder as he deployed his BOC pilot chute, causing him to dive head first and roll to the left. The main canopy opened without malfunctioning but proceeded to descend in a tight, spiraling turn. The jumper landed hard while still in the turn.

Conclusions: The student was jumping a parachute harness with an adjustable main lift web, commonly used by skydiving schools to accommodate different-sized people. Inspection of the gear revealed that the harness had failed where the left main lift web passes through the friction adapter adjustment hardware.

Apparently, the failure of the left side of the harness caused the student to suddenly drop in the harness and catch his chin on the chest strap, breaking his neck. It is believed he was killed instantly. Hanging unevenly in the harness evidently caused his canopy to turn for the rest of his descent.

The unstable deployment may have transferred an unusual amount of force to one point of the harness, but the exact reason for the harness failure had not been determined as of this report. The manufacturer has issued a service bulletin for any of the company's equipment with an adjustable harness. The bulletin advises that the assembly be inspected by an FAA rigger in the U.S. or a technician qualified in another country.

The equipment hasn't been released by local authorities, nor has it been inspected in detail by the manufacturer or other knowledgeable source.

System: Sun Path Student Javelin
Main: Performance Designs Navigator 280
Reserve: Performance Designs PD-253R
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: Yes

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* A jumper with 58 jumps approaching the main landing area at the drop zone made a slow 360-degree turn to lose altitude. He struck the side of a ditch while still in the turn. He broke his leg, was knocked unconscious and was treated at a local hospital. His wing loading was 1.2:1, recommended for experts by the manufacturer. Jumpers should plan landing patterns that allow for landings in clear areas. Turns must be completed high enough to allow the canopy to return to straight and level flight for the landing flare. Jumpers who choose such advanced equipment, especially with such low experience, require training and practice to prevent mishandling it.

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* A jumper with 71 jumps initiated a 90- to 120-degree turn at approximately 100 feet and struck the ground without flaring the parachute. He suffered a broken pelvis. Witnesses reported that flaring the parachute may have resulted in a tumbled landing and prevented such a serious injury. His wing loading was 1:1, which the manufacturer considers to be in the intermediate category. Turns must be completed high enough to allow the canopy to return to straight and level flight for the landing flare.

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* A jumper with 20 jumps landed long onto an asphalt taxiway and reportedly did not "flare the canopy properly." The report did not describe what was wrong with the landing flare. He also did not perform a PLF once he reached the ground. He fractured his tibia. Jumpers should plan landing patterns that allow for landing the parachute in clear areas. A PLF can help prevent injuries.

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* A jumper with 275 jumps left a tailgate aircraft without checking the spot. The pilot had already switched the spotting lights from green to red, indicating that jumpers should not exit due to the long spot. The jumper attempted unsuccessfully to get back to the airport after opening too far upwind. He struck the side of a ditch without flaring the canopy completely and suffered two broken legs. His wing loading was 1.2:1, which the manufacturer recommends for experts. Jumpers should check the spot before exiting an aircraft. If faced with an off-field landing, a jumper should land in a clear, open area free of obstacles.

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* A jumper with 1,580 jumps landed hard and broke her lower leg. Winds were reported to be five to 15 mph with occasional gusts above 20. At approximately 40 to 50 feet above the ground, her canopy partially collapsed and turned 90 degrees. She flared the parachute and attempted a PLF but still hit the ground hard enough to break both bones in her lower left leg. She was not completely underneath the canopy when she reached the ground, making the flare less effective. Jumpers should avoid jumping in gusty wind conditions. Her PLF may have prevented more serious injury.

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* A student on her tenth jump flared the parachute at approximately 50 feet and dropped straight down, resulting in a broken ankle. In the case of a very high flare, a jumper should ease the steering toggles up slightly to allow the parachute to regain forward speed gradually and flare the parachute again at ten to 15 feet above the ground. Students who make such grave flaring errors at this point in the training should be advised to undergo remedial and specific canopy training.

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* A jumper with about 300 jumps performed a front-riser turn at approximately 50 feet above the ground and struck the ground hard while still in a turn. He suffered a broken femur and ankle. His wing loading is estimated at 1.6:1, which is considered to be in the expert range according to the manufacturer. Jumpers should not downsize canopies until they have a thorough understanding of their current canopies. Turns must be completed high enough for the parachute to return to straight and level flight for the landing flare.

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* A 225-pound jumper (without gear) with an estimated 150 jumps was on downwind approach into a familiar DZ. He had been jumping this 150-square-foot parachute for more than a year. There was a large and rocky construction dirt pile to his left. He reported that he had planned to execute a 180-degree turn to landing, an advanced maneuver he had not tried previously. He started a left turn at an estimated 90 feet, suddenly presenting himself two impossible options: finish the turn too low or hit the dirt pile. He brought the canopy on heading to clear the dirt pile just as he struck the ground. He broke his femur and shattered a vertebra in his upper back, resulting in grave and probably permanent paralysis from the chest down. Jumpers attempting low turns to final must allow room in any direction to stop the turn and land straight ahead, avoiding obstacles and traffic. This jumper's aggressive canopy choice combined with his decision to start advanced maneuvers into a tight area without training led to serious consequences.

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Age: 32
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 800
Time in Sport: Four years

Cause of Death: Head injuries from a freefall collision

Description: This jumper was part of a 3-way head-down skydive in which he planned to orbit around the other two skydivers. Witnesses reported that this jumper and one of the other jumpers appeared to come very close together at breakoff altitude, and apparently, they collided. The two jumpers began to separate from each other in freefall and continued falling until their reserve parachutes opened at a low altitude. This jumper was observed to be limp in the harness during the canopy descent and struck a tree and then a car trunk before reaching the ground. First aid was administered immediately, and he was airlifted to a hospital, but he died the next day.

Conclusions: The collision apparently occurred just as the two center jumpers initiated breakoff from each other to track away before deployment. Witnesses reported that the formation was difficult to observe from the ground due to its horizontal distance from the DZ. The training or freefly experience of the three jumpers was not reported.

Both jumpers' automatic activation devices had fired. The other jumper also suffered head injuries and was found wandering in a confused state near the DZ. He was unable to recall the jump. Both jumpers wore hard helmets, although the collision apparently knocked the helmet off the jumper who was killed. His helmet was recovered later during a search of the area, but its condition was not reported. The surviving jumper's helmet was described as cracked, leaving sharp edges that cut his head.

Any group skydive should include a breakoff plan to ensure that each jumper safely separates to clear airspace for deployment. As freeflying becomes more common, USPA hears of more and more freefall collisions. Most have been uneventful, but some have resulted in injuries or fatalities.
Jumpers should gain control and awareness in freeflying orientations with an experienced freefly coach before jumping with others. Further USPA recommendations on freeflying appear in Section 6-2 of the Skydiver's Information Manual.

System: Sun Path Javelin
Main: Performance Designs Spectre 120
Reserve: PISA Tempo 170
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: Yes

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Age: 47
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 9,000-plus
Time in Sport: 30 years

Cause of Death: Hard landing after a canopy collision

Description: Two jumpers collided at approximately 30 to 50 feet while on final approach toward the entry gate of a swoop course. The lower jumper's canopy collapsed, and he struck the ground hard in a prone position. He was transported to a local hospital. While being airlifted to a different hospital for treatment, he died of head injuries sustained from the hard landing.

Conclusions: The two jumpers involved in the collision were on the same load of a Twin Otter aircraft but were not jumping with each other. A swoop course had recently been placed in the landing area in preparation for an upcoming competition. The jumper who survived the collision reported that he scanned the airspace before initiating a left turn to approach the swoop course but saw no other canopy in the area. As his canopy began to level out and he was looking at the entry gate of the swoop course, his feet hit the canopy of the lower jumper, causing that canopy to collapse at an altitude reported at 30 to 50 feet. The top jumper lost sight of the ground for a few seconds due to the other canopy's obstructing his view. He then saw the ground was very close and flared his canopy just as his feet and knees hit the ground, resulting in ankle, leg and knee injuries.

Reports conflict regarding the approach direction used by the jumper who was killed. His own canopy may have blocked his view of the higher jumper from either a right or left approach. He also may have been concentrating on his own entry into the swoop course.

The speeds obtainable under highly wing-loaded canopies allow jumpers to cover large distances in just a few seconds. It is crucial that every jumper maintain and confirm clear airspace, especially with high-performance approaches, to prevent this type of accident.

At drop zones with courses for canopy swooping, jumpers need to establish and adhere to clear policies to ensure that only qualified canopy pilots attempt to use the course and that only one jumper approaches it at a time.

All jumpers must continually scan the airspace around them during canopy descent and be prepared to abort their original landing plans in case of traffic problems or other hazards.

System: Sun Path Javelin
Main: Performance Designs Velocity 84
Reserve: Performance Designs PD 113R
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: Not reported

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Age: 26
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 94
Time in Sport: Three years

Cause of Death: Hard landing after a low turn under canopy

Description: After an uneventful freefall and initial canopy descent, this jumper was observed making a 180-degree turn at a low altitude and struck the ground at a high rate of speed before the turn was completed. He died at the scene from injuries sustained during the landing.

Conclusions: This jumper had recently returned to the sport after a long winter layoff. His previous canopy control was described as conservative. After he approached the landing area downwind, he apparently attempted to face into the wind for his landing, initiating a 180-degree turn at an extremely low altitude.
It was not reported whether there were any obstacles that may have prevented him from landing crosswind or downwind. Winds were reported to be six to eight mph. His wing loading was estimated at 1.1:1, a wing loading that the manufacturer considers advanced.

The USPA Integrated Student Program teaches students about wing loading and its effects to help them make informed choices about the equipment they will use as experienced jumpers. ISP students also learn braked turns and braked approaches through ground training and canopy exercises in flight. These exercises are designed to teach canopy control in braked flight and the benefit of altitude-conserving braked turns.

Jumpers should plan landing patterns that allow for landings into clear areas free of obstacles. Turns must be completed with enough altitude for the canopy to return to straight and level flight for the landing flare.

System: Mirage Systems Mirage G3
Main: Performance Designs Sabre 210
Reserve: Performance Designs PD 193R
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: Yes

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* A student on her second jump landed downwind on an asphalt surface, resulting in several scrapes and bruises. She was flying the canopy with the steering toggles pulled to her shoulders, and she would not respond to radio commands. When asked why she would not respond to the radio, she stated that she "could not get the slider to go back up." The USPA Integrated Student Program recommends that Category B students receive a thorough review of canopy control and emergency procedures to help reinforce the training received in the first-jump course.

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* A tandem student stuck both legs straight out during the landing and caught his right leg on the grass, resulting in a fractured right ankle. Tandem students should keep their knees bent and feet up through the entire landing sequence. Tandem instructors should practice the landing procedure with their students during the canopy descent to ensure before the actual landing that the student is using correct techniques.

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* A jumper with more than 1,900 jumps experienced turbulence at approximately 50 feet above the ground and responded by flaring the canopy to half brakes. A gust then stalled the canopy, and the jumper came straight down from 15 feet with no forward speed but failed to perform a parachute landing fall. The jumper suffered two broken bones in his right ankle. Afterward, a USPA Safety & Training Advisor discussed various canopy flight characteristics with the jumper. Maintaining forward speed and performing a PLF may have prevented this injury.

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* A jumper with 600 jumps flew his canopy too far downwind and encountered other canopy traffic, forcing him to land in a parking lot with a fence. He landed into the fence but performed a PLF and was uninjured. The jumper said he believes that his full-face helmet saved him from facial injuries. Jumpers should plan landing patterns that allow them to land in open areas clear of other canopies and free of obstacles. A PLF is an important defense against inevitable hard landings.

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* While sliding on his feet during a swoop landing, a jumper with 1,500 jumps broke his lower leg as his foot caught on a rough spot in the landing area. His wing loading was estimated to be 2.2:1. Very high wing loadings leave little room for error and generate speeds that can cause an injury from a situation that might not become an issue at slower speeds.

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* A jumper with 345 jumps and jumping a 99-square-foot canopy with a 1.3:1 wing loading experienced a spinning line-twist malfunction. She tried to cut away but encountered a very hard pull on the cutaway handle and could get only one riser to release. When she realized she was at a low altitude, she deployed her 113-square-foot reserve. The reserve fully inflated but began to spin due to the trailing main. The jumper suffered injuries to her lower back and pelvis from the hard landing. She was found after the landing with the main detached from the container. However, it is not known when the other riser released during her descent. The cutaway handle was not completely pulled from the cable housings. The cause of the hard pull on the cutaway handle was not reported. However, routine line twists may develop into unrecoverable spins under smaller, highly loaded canopies, and riser-release systems often do not operate easily in a fast spin. In a difficult situation such as this one, a very small reserve may be inadequate to prevent injuries.

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* A jumper with more than 1,000 jumps made a low 180-degree turn attempting a high-performance landing and struck the ground at the same time as the parachute. He suffered a broken femur and pelvis. His wing loading was estimated to be 2.25:1. In any case, turns must be completed with enough altitude for the canopy to return to straight and level flight for the landing flare. Jumpers who make such aggressive equipment choices, obviously to practice high-performance landings, should receive training from a high-performance canopy specialist. Canopy flight at this wing loading requires careful study and practice.


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Age: 52
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 601
Time in Sport: Not reported
Cause of Death: Hard landing under spinning main canopy with line twist

Description: After an uneventful freefall and initial canopy descent, witnesses observed this jumper with line twists and spinning under the canopy from approximately 250 feet until he struck the ground.

Conclusions: Several people observed this jumper at the beginning of his canopy descent flying his parachute without any problems. One witness reported seeing this jumper initiate a hard toggle turn that may have created the line twists. However, nobody saw the canopy and jumper at the very instant that the line twists actually occurred.

Because the line twists appeared at 250 feet above the ground, it is suspected that the jumper initiated a hard, fast toggle turn, resulting in the line twists. Winds were reported to be ten to 17 mph, and the jumper was in an area where turbulence may have been a factor. The jumper had insufficient altitude to safely initiate a cutaway and was apparently unable to recover from the line twists.

USPA receives reports of this type of jumper-induced malfunction several times a year. Fortunately, most of the jumpers have enough altitude for safe cutaways and reserve deployments. Category G of the Integrated Student Program provides ground training and practical exercises to help students understand the possible dangers of hard toggle turns and the possibility of induced line twists. All jumpers should have a thorough understanding of their parachutes and the limits to the range of control input available for any situation.

Faced with an unrecoverable situation at an altitude too low for a safe cutaway, a jumper has everything to gain and nothing to lose by deploying the reserve parachute.

System: Mirage G3
Main: Performance Designs Sabre 2 150
Reserve: Precision Aerodynamics Micro Raven 150
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: No

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Age: 40
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 228
Time in Sport: Two years
Cause of Death: Hard landing after a low turn

Description: After a long climbout with a group of jumpers exiting a Twin Otter, this jumper and one other jumper decided to land off the drop zone in the same field. The other jumper landed without incident. Witnesses observed this jumper make a radical 270-degree turn at a low altitude, causing him to strike the ground hard while still in a turn. He suffered multiple leg fractures, a shattered pelvis and internal injuries from the hard landing. Although the jumper received immediate medical attention at the scene, he died later that day in a nearby hospital.

Conclusions: The jumper was apparently trying to avoid a small wire that ran approximately 25 feet above the ground through the middle of the field where he chose to land. With his estimated exit weight at 245 pounds, his wing loading was 1.3:1, higher than the manufacturer recommends for an expert under this canopy.

Jumpers need to consider the consequences of jumping parachutes at high wing loadings. Canopy control issues may not arise until the jumper is presented with a landing challenge, such as landing off the drop zone or dealing with heavy canopy traffic.

Jumpers should plan landing patterns into clear, open areas free of obstacles. USPA's Integrated Student Program teaches braked turns and approaches to prepare jumpers for landing in a variety of conditions. A properly performed braked turn results in far less altitude loss than a single-toggle turn, making it a safer option for unplanned heading changes at low altitudes. Jumpers must complete all turns with enough altitude for the canopy to return to straight and level flight for the landing flare.

System: Mirage Systems Mirage
Main: Performance Designs Sabre 190
Reserve: Precision Aerodynamics Raven 218
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: No

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Age: 23
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 350-400
Time in Sport: Three years
Cause of Death: Freefall collision followed by a hard landing

Description: This jumper exited the airplane last in a 7-way belly-flying group jumping from 12,500 feet. At about 10,000 feet and while still diving, he struck another jumper in the formation. Both jumpers immediately deployed their main parachutes. At approximately 100 feet before landing, this jumper was observed to go limp in his harness. He landed hard while apparently incapacitated and without a landing flare.

Conclusions: This jumper evidently did not keep an eye on his progress as he dove toward the formation, or he was unable to slow down before reaching it. In any event, the difference between his freefall speed and that of the formation resulted in a hard collision between him and the other jumper. The jumper who died was not wearing a helmet. He suffered head injuries from the collision itself, according to the medical personnel who responded to the accident.

However, investigators reported that the landing injuries sustained from the hard, no-flare landing caused this jumper's death. His wing loading was estimated to be 1.4:1, which would provide substantial forward speed in an unflared landing. Either jumping within his limits, wearing a helmet or jumping a larger canopy may have changed the outcome of this accident.

System: Rigging Innovations Voodoo
Main: Atair Aerodynamics Cobalt 105
Reserve: Not reported
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: No

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* A jumper with 39 jumps was visiting a new DZ with a smaller landing area than the drop zone where she learned. She had previous issues with landing accuracy under a 230-square-foot student canopy but was encouraged to purchase a 150-square-foot canopy in spite of her previous canopy history. She made a slow turn across the traffic pattern of the other jumpers and hit a dirt hill in a construction area next to the main landing area. She was trying to avoid landing on an inactive taxiway. The jumper suffered a fractured L-3 vertebrae but is expected to make a full recovery. Jumpers should become proficient with larger parachutes before downsizing. Downsizing should be done gradually, no more than one canopy size per season in most cases.

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* A first-jump student under canopy at 100 feet was instructed to make a slight left turn to avoid an obstacle. He pulled hard on the left toggle and held it down until landing, despite radio instructions to raise the toggle and stop the turn. He broke his left leg and sprained his right ankle from the hard landing. The student said he did not know why he made the turn or failed to listen to further radio instructions. All turns must be completed in time for the parachute to return to straight and level flight for the landing flare.

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* A very experienced tandem instructor and his 250-pound student deployed their main parachute at 5,000 feet. The canopy was fully inflated by 3,400 feet but kept collapsing on the right side. Closer investigation revealed that the main canopy had suffered damage to the top skin and warranted use of emergency procedures. The instructor had already disconnected the lower connectors in an effort to make the passenger more comfortable in the harness. The instructor got the lower connectors hooked back to the student's harness and initiated a cutaway at 2,200 feet. The reserve did not immediately begin to deploy, since the reserve static line had become disconnected at some point after the initial gear check (the instructor said he verified the RSL was connected before putting on the rig). The pair began accelerating back into freefall as the instructor looked for the reserve ripcord. He pulled the reserve ripcord as the Cypres AAD activated the reserve. The tandem pair were under a fully inflated reserve at 1,200 feet AGL and landed uneventfully.

Each tandem deployment should be immediately followed by a post-deployment check of all of the related components: main canopy, lines, slider, connector links, risers, 3-rings, RSL and emergency handles. After the instructor verifies that those components are airworthy, he can then work to make the student more comfortable and plan a safe landing approach. Jumping with heavier students can place additional stress on the tandem components and add complications to tandem procedures.

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* A jumper with 156 jumps was flying downwind and attempted a turn at approximately 60 to 80 feet AGL in an effort to face back into the wind. He struck the ground while still in a turn and suffered a compound fracture of his left ankle. Jumpers should plan landing patterns that allow for safe approaches. Turns must be completed with enough altitude for the canopy to return to straight and level flight for the landing flare.

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* A jumper with 61 jumps flared her canopy at 30 to 35 feet above the ground and held the canopy in a flared position for the rest of the descent. She landed hard on her tailbone and fractured her L-1 vertebrae. She was looking directly below and misjudged her flare altitude. Jumpers should look more toward the horizon to help judge the height for the landing flare. When a jumper performs a flare at such a high altitude, there may be time to ease up slightly on the steering toggles to keep the canopy flying forward and reduce the descent rate. However, the canopy will surge dangerously if the controls are let up too quickly or too far, so this procedure must be performed very carefully and only following very high misjudgments. A jumper still making these kinds of mistakes with this much experience would do well to seek canopy training.

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Age: 52
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 253
Time in Sport: 2.5 years
Cause of Death: Hard landing under a partially inflated reserve

Description: This jumper was videoing a 2-way skydive that was uneventful until deployment. Apparently trying to open his main parachute at approximately 3,000 feet, he flipped onto his back and began to spin. He continued to spin on his back until his automatic activation device initiated deployment of his reserve parachute. However, the reserve did not fully inflate before he reached the ground.

Conclusions: This jumper was making his fourth jump using a new full-wing camera suit. His total number of jumps using video equipment was not reported. The wings of the jumpsuit may have made it difficult to find the deployment handle, located at the bottom of his main container. He apparently lost control while attempting deployment and may have lost altitude awareness while spinning on his back. For whatever reason, he did not deploy a parachute in time.

Full-wing camera suits can present stability problems such as this jumper experienced during deployment. Faced with this kind of situation, the jumper should maintain stability if possible, make no more than two attempts to locate the main deployment handle and then resort to the reserve parachute. If the main deployment handle can't be located after two additional attempts or, for those with B, C or D licenses, by 1,800 feet, deploying the reserve--even if unstable--would be a better option.

Jumpers using this type of suit should become thoroughly familiar with the suit and deployment procedures before jumping with a camera. The AAD initiated reserve deployment, and the reserve began to inflate without an entanglement, but the actual AAD activation altitude is unknown. One witness reported that the reserve appeared to hesitate between activation and deployment, possibly as a result of the jumper's back-to-earth orientation. The AAD is set to fire only a few seconds from the ground, and this reported hesitation could have made the difference in this case.

System: Relative Workshop Vector
Main: Precision Aerodynamics Synergy
Reserve: Precision Aerodynamics Raven 2
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: Yes

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Age: 27
Sex: Female
Number of Jumps: 250
Time in Sport: Five years
Cause of Death: Hard landing under spinning main canopy

Description: After an uneventful freefall and initial canopy descent, this jumper initiated a turn at approximately 200 to 300 feet AGL. The turn continued for several revolutions before she struck the ground while still in a steep, diving spiral. The jumper died from the injuries sustained in the hard landing.

Conclusions: Witnesses reported that there was no apparent reason for a turning maneuver, such as avoiding another skydiver, trying to face into the wind or avoiding an obstacle on the ground. An inspection of the gear found all of the components to be in good condition.

The FAA designated parachute rigger examiner who inspected the equipment found that the steering lines on this equipment could feasibly be trapped when under a load and held in a turning position. He was able to replicate having the steering-line brake loop jam between the slider grommet and deployment brake system on the rear riser. In this scenario, the jumper could make a turn and then find the steering line locked in a turning position.

It is possible that if the steering line had stuck in the turning position at a low altitude, it would not have provided enough time for the jumper to assess what had happened and react before reaching the ground. In this case, at such a low altitude, the only response that may have allowed for a survivable landing would have been to pull the other steering line to an equal position, which would neutralize the turn and allow for a braked landing. The investigator cautions jumpers to consider the position of the slider on the risers after opening.

Some slider and riser designs allow the jumper to pull the slider past the brake system and store it at the base of the risers and out of the way of the brake system. This system typically uses type-17 mini-risers and large slider grommets. Others are designed so the slider stops above the brake system and cannot be pulled down. On this type of system, the slider grommets can't get past the wider type-8 risers, larger steel connector links with bumpers or optional soft-link slider stops.

Jumpers should use either system as designed. If the jumper chooses to leave the slider at the top of type-17, one-inch-wide mini-risers, it is possible for the slider to slip down over the brake system at any time during the canopy descent and interfere with the movement of a steering line through the toggle keeper ring. Either slider stops should be installed to keep the slider at the top of the risers, or upon full canopy inflation, the slider should be pulled down below the steering toggles to the bottom of the risers.

System: Mirage G3
Main: Performance Designs Sabre 170
Reserve: Performance Designs PD 160R
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: No

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Age: 62
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 1,673
Time in Sport: 11 years
Cause of Death: Hard landing from a low turn under canopy

Description: After an uneventful 10-way group freefall skydive and routine deployment, this jumper was faced with an off-field landing. At an altitude estimated between 60 and 80 feet, he made a hard 180-degree right turn and struck the ground at the same time as the canopy. The jumper broke his neck upon landing.

Conclusions: Three other jumpers in the same group landed safely in a nearby field. Witnesses observed this jumper turning left and right at approximately 200 feet as if trying to decide where to land. It is not clear whether the jumper was trying to steer into the wind or avoid obstacles, but for whatever reason, he made an aggressive turn too low for the canopy to recover before landing. Neither the jumper's canopy size nor wing loading was reported.

Faced with a bad spot, jumpers should plan high enough to fly a safe landing approach into a clear area. Turns must be completed in time for the canopy to recover to straight and level flight for the landing flare.

System: Sun Path Javelin
Main: Performance Designs Sabre 2
Reserve: Not reported
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: Not reported

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Age: 70
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 1,222
Time in Sport: 33 years
Cause of Death: Hard landing under spinning main and reserve parachutes

Description: After a solo exit at 4,500 feet AGL and deployment soon after, this jumper's main canopy appeared to open harder than normal, according to witnesses, and immediately began spinning to the right. At approximately 1,200 feet AGL, the reserve deployed without the jumper's first releasing the main parachute. The reserve opened, but the two parachutes formed a downplane and remained that way for the rest of the descent. On the way to the hospital, the jumper died of injuries sustained from the hard landing.

Conclusions: While administering first aid to the jumper, an FAA rigger pulled the cutaway handle to disconnect the main canopy. The rigger reported that the handle released easily with no resistance (while not under a load). The jumper had evidently pulled the reserve ripcord. Upon inspection of the main canopy, investigators found that the left brake released but the right brake was still stowed.

The first priority after deployment is to ensure that the main canopy is controllable and, if not, to initiate proper emergency procedures. It happens sometimes that one brake will release on opening, starting a turn. The spin can be more severe on a smaller or more highly loaded canopy.

The jumper in this case weighed an estimated 215 pounds with equipment and was jumping a 149-square-foot canopy. With a wing loading of 1.4:1, a jumper should consider the more severe consequences that might result from a premature brake release or another routine and otherwise minor control problem. Typically, releasing both brakes will clear the unreleased brake, stop the spin and allow a normal descent. However, if the main canopy cannot be controlled, the Skydiver's Information Manual recommends initiating emergency procedures no lower than 2,500 feet for students and A-license holders and 1,800 feet for B- through D-license holders. Routine procedures for a partial malfunction are to release the main canopy before deploying the reserve, altitude permitting. Frequent practice of emergency procedures in a training harness can help ensure that correct actions are taken during a high-stress situation.

System: Mirage G3
Main: Icarus Crossfire 2 149
Reserve: Performance Designs PD-160R
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: Not reported

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* An experienced tandem instructor prepared to land with a student in calm winds. The student did not understand English, so he did not raise his legs for the landing. The student's feet contacted the ground before the tandem instructor's, and the student broke his ankle as the tandem pair rolled forward on landing. All students must understand the basics of their responsibilities during a skydive, including a tandem jump. Instructors should ensure that there is clear communication with their students.

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* A jumper with two years in the sport and 71 jumps was landing off the drop zone onto a golf course. His wing loading was estimated at 1.2:1. He made a low turn attempting to face into the wind and hit the ground while still in the turn. He was airlifted to the hospital complaining of lower back pain and loss of feeling in both legs. He suffered bruises to his back but is expected to make a full recovery. Jumpers should have a thorough understanding of their current canopies before downsizing to smaller canopies. Turns should be completed with enough altitude for the canopy to return to straight and level flight before the landing flare.

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* A demonstration team exited a helicopter at approximately 3,000 feet for a demonstration jump into a NASCAR event. The jumpers were pushed backward from high winds, with at least one having to land outside the race track. Three of the jumpers suffered injuries from landing hard on various obstacles while trying to maneuver into a very congested area. The wind speed, which the ground crew checked just before the exit, measured at 15 to 19.5 knots at the top of the stadium seats. This location may have prevented an accurate reading, depending on the obstacles in the area and the direction of the wind across the stands. During the time of the jump, winds around the area were reported at 30 to 40 mph. The jumpers all reported winds gusting strongly and changing direction as they descended. Exhibition jumpers should be prepared to call off any jump that cannot be carried out safely due to poor weather conditions or any other hazardous elements.

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* A jumper with about 500 jumps, 250 of which he made in the past two and a half years after a long layoff, had his helmet come off while tracking after breakoff from a formation skydive. His prescription goggles then started to come off, too, so he grabbed them. He then noticed that the ground was close. He panicked, pulling his cutaway handle first and then deploying the main canopy. Immediately after the main canopy released from the harness, his AAD deployed the reserve parachute. (There was no reserve static line.) The jumper said he was concerned at the time about the monetary value of the helmet and prescription goggles. Not until after he landed did he understand that he had lost altitude awareness and that the AAD had activated the reserve. He had not practiced emergency procedures since his refresher training two and a half years ago.
Altitude awareness and safe canopy deployment should take precedence on any skydive. Jumpers should practice emergency procedures frequently.

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* A jumper with 223 jumps was forced to land off the DZ due to a long spot. He made a low turn into a landing area that had a steep incline. The landing resulted in a shattered vertebra and left ankle. The jumper had recently downsized from a 170-square-foot canopy to a 150-square-foot canopy. Jumpers landing off field should choose their alternate sights carefully and fly conservative canopy approaches into clear, open areas.

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* A jumper with a reported 300 to 400 jumps made a low turn while attempting to face into the five-mph wind for landing. He struck the ground at the same time as the canopy. He suffered a broken femur and pelvis. Turns must be completed with enough altitude for the canopy to return to straight and level flight for the landing flare.

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* On a Category D AFF jump, a 74-year-old student rolled over on his back and began to tumble at the assigned deployment altitude. He tumbled until the AAD opened his round reserve parachute. The AFF instructor also had his AAD fire his own reserve after chasing the student to a low altitude. The student broke a leg during the landing. The AFF instructor landed his reserve without further incident. The AFF syllabus in the Instructional Rating Manual lists clear guidelines for student deployment problems and appropriate responses for the instructor. Under no circumstances should an instructor chase a student below 2,000 feet.

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Age: 55
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 2,700
Time in Sport: Not reported
Cause of Death: Hard landing after a canopy collision

Age: 27
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 600
Time in Sport: Not reported
Cause of Death: Hard landing after a canopy collision

Description: After an uneventful freefall and initial canopy descent, these two jumpers collided at approximately 100 feet above the ground. Both parachutes entangled, collapsed and did not reinflate before the jumpers reached the ground. One of the jumpers died at the scene, and the other died on the way to the hospital.

Conclusions: One of the jumpers initiated a turn from a higher altitude than the other jumper, presumably to make a high-performance landing. The increased rate of descent and forward speed caused the higher jumper to overtake and collide with the other jumper. It is not known whether either jumper saw the other before the collision. There was reportedly little canopy traffic in the air at the time of the collision. Jumpers who choose to attempt high-performance landings should receive training from an experienced canopy pilot. Traffic management and collision avoidance are a first priority for any jumper contemplating high-performance landings. They must be among the main topics covered in any performance canopy flight training. If there is any chance at all of a canopy collision, the jumper must abort the high-performance landing to avoid a situation like this one.

System: Sun Path Javelin
Main: Performance Designs Stiletto 150
Reserve: Performance Designs PD 143R
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: Yes

System: Sun Path Javelin
Main: Air Time Designs Jedei 105
Reserve: PISA Tempo
AAD: Airtec Cypres
RSL: None

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* A jumper with 780 jumps landed downwind in 17-mph winds under a canopy with a wing loading of 1.5:1. He flared the canopy at approximately 15 feet above the ground. The parachute stalled to the point where it collapsed, and the jumper landed hard both vertically and with a high forward speed. He suffered a compound fracture of his lower leg. On days with stronger winds, jumpers should land facing into the wind if possible. A parachute landing fall can help prevent landing injuries.

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* At approximately 100 feet above the main landing area, one jumper initiated a turn and collided with another jumper below and to the side. Both parachutes partially collapsed and remained entangled all the way to the ground. Both jumpers suffered severe injuries but are expected to recover. Jumpers should always look in the direction of their turns before turning to make sure they are not creating a collision or traffic hazard. Traffic management is a primary consideration when contemplating a performance turn prior to landing.

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* A jumper with approximately 70 jumps and a wing loading of 1:1 attempted a 180-degree turn at a low altitude and struck the ground while still in the turn. He landed hard on the airport tarmac and suffered multiple broken bones, including both legs and heels, sacrum, pelvis, lower back and frontal sinus. He was not wearing a helmet. Jumpers should make sure they have thorough knowledge of their canopies and receive canopy training from an experienced canopy specialist before attempting high-performance landings. Turns must be completed with enough altitude for the parachute to return to straight and level flight before the landing flare.

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* A static-line student making his first freefall on his sixth jump exited at 4,500 feet from a Cessna 182 after hanging in a feet-free position from the strut. After two seconds, he reached for the ripcord, but he lost his arch and dropped one knee. The instructor in the aircraft lost sight of the student at that point, but witnesses on the ground observed the main parachute fully inflated but spinning. The student's right leg was entangled with the main suspension lines on the right side of the canopy. At approximately 1,500 feet, the student pulled the SOS cutaway and reserve activation ripcord handle, but only the left riser released. His foot remained entangled with the right riser group. The reserve parachute deployed but partially entangled with the main parachute. Eventually, the reserve canopy cleared the freebag and partially inflated. The main and reserve canopies continued to spin until the student landed on the concrete runway.

The student suffered multiple fractures to the pelvis, ribs and back, as well as several broken teeth, but is expected to recover fully. Maintaining a stable body position through the pull sequence and canopy deployment can help prevent canopy entanglements during deployment. IAD and static-line students need to practice the pull sequence with good body position until they are able to perform comfortably. However, all skydivers should pull at the assigned altitude regardless of stability. A stable pull improves the chances of the parachute opening without a malfunction, but pulling late has proven to be a more likely cause of serious trouble.

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* One jumper was on a straight final approach as another turned onto final at approximately 100 feet AGL. The two collided, and their parachutes entangled and partially collapsed. Both were injured badly from the landing under spinning parachutes and were airlifted to a hospital. Jumpers must constantly check for traffic, especially before initiating turns. The most likely place to find another canopy approaching is over the landing area.

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* Two jumpers exited an aircraft at 10,500 feet AGL for a 2-way freefly jump. One jumper was not wearing an audible altimeter, and the other jumper did not hear his audible altimeter during the freefall. The skydivers broke off at 1,600 feet and deployed almost immediately, but one of the jumpers also had his AAD activate. His parachutes opened in a downplane configuration, with both canopies flying toward the ground. He released the main and landed the reserve without incident. When freeflying, jumpers lose altitude more quickly and may not see the ground as readily as in a face-to-earth orientation. Jumpers should develop a sense of time and altitude that will serve them when instruments fail. Jumpers should also wear visual altimeters and check them during freefall.

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* A student on his fourth jump flared his parachute unevenly as he prepared to land, causing the parachute to turn to the left. He extended his left arm and leg in the direction of the fall and broke his left ankle. People naturally reach in the direction they anticipate falling, which makes the parachute turn even harder in that direction. The jumper needs to fly through the landing, flaring to keep the canopy on heading and level until the landing is complete and the canopy is on the ground. Being ready to execute a parachute landing fall not only helps protect the jumper from injury in the event of a hard landing, it also keeps the jumper's legs together to make the harness even.

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Age: 46
Sex: Male
Number of Jumps: 4,000-plus
Time in Sport: 30 years
Cause of Death: Hard landing after low reserve deployment

Description: After an uneventful 4-way group freefall skydive, this jumper experienced a pilot-chute-in-tow malfunction at 3,000 feet AGL. He pulled his cutaway handle first but did not immediately pull the reserve ripcord. Eventually, the pilot chute opened the container and deployed the main parachute, which immediately separated from the harness. At some point, the jumper evidently manually pulled the reserve ripcord to initiate deployment but ran out of altitude and struck the ground before the reserve could inflate.
Conclusions: The jumper apparently knew that he had an equipment problem but chose to jump with his parachute system in disrepair. He reportedly said on the way to the drop zone that his pilot chute was beginning to hesitate and that he planned to have it replaced.

Section 5-1 of the Skydiver's Information Manual recognizes two procedures for dealing with a pilot chute in tow, both of which have pros and cons. One is to pull the reserve immediately; the other is to cut away and then deploy the reserve parachute. Due to the high descent rate of a pilot-chute-in-tow malfunction, a jumper must choose a procedure in advance, practice and review it frequently and respond quickly and correctly if the situation presents itself. Had this jumper deployed the reserve without a cutaway or immediately deployed the reserve after he cut away, it may have changed the outcome. An AAD or reserve static line may also have prevented this fatality.

System: Stewart Systems Sweethog
Main: Para-Flite Pursuit 230
Reserve: Precision Aerodynamics Raven 2
AAD: None
RSL: None

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* A jumper with 75 jumps experienced a spinning malfunction and initiated emergency procedures. Although he had plenty of altitude to get back to the drop zone, he concentrated on following the main parachute and reserve freebag, forcing him to land in an unfamiliar landing area. Landing on rough terrain, he broke his leg and ankle. The priority of the jump after the parachute opens should be to plan a safe landing pattern and land in a safe area free of obstacles.

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* A Category D AFF student tumbled during his exit and dislodged his cutaway handle while rotating his arms during the tumble. The handle detached completely during subsequent rotations. After the
student stabilized himself, the AFF instructor saw that the handle had been pulled from the harness. He signaled to the student by patting his own cutaway handle. He then patted his own reserve ripcord and gave the student a pull signal. The student deployed the reserve just below 6,000 feet and landed the reserve parachute without further incident. The container was one year old, and the velcro on the cutaway handle and main lift web was found to be in perfect condition. If altitude allows, arching, checking leg position and relaxing provide the quickest control from instability.

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* A student with 14 jumps landed on the center of the runway two seconds after the King Air that he had jumped from landed. He did not notice the airplane until the last second and turned slightly to avoid a collision. The pilot saw the canopy, intentionally kept his speed up and stayed to the opposite side of the runway. The pilot reported that he was ready to abort the landing if necessary. The jumper landed without injury and received additional training from the S&TA on runway incursions. The pilot was asked to abort future landings where a parachute is approaching the runway. Although the pilot was able to miss the skydiver, the wake turbulence of the aircraft still presented a hazard. Plus, the drop zone owner advised a wider margin of safety for his own peace of mind.

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* A jumper with 278 jumps was trying out a manufacturer's demo canopy at a large boogie in 20- to 25-mph winds. The jumper struck the side of a parked vehicle after landing crosswind to avoid the active runway and an airplane loading jumpers nearby. The jumper suffered minor bruises, but the vehicle sustained damage estimated at $1,000. To reduce the risk of jumping unfamiliar canopies, skydivers should jump in moderate conditions and plan approaches into large, traffic-free landing areas.

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* A student with eight jumps experienced a malfunctioned main parachute caused by the packer's not clearing the lines during the routine continuity check expected on every pack job (step through). The student stayed with the parachute through his planned decision altitude of 2,500 feet, failing to perform a controllability check. For landing, he flared the canopy at 15 feet, the canopy turned sharply to the left, and he struck the ground hard, injuring his hip and left knee. The student had been instructed to have the parachute repacked before making the jump but ignored the request. After opening and once clear of other canopies, each jumper should check the canopy's controls. If the controllability check fails and the problem can't be rectified by the decision altitude (2,500 feet for students and A-license holders; 1,800 feet for others), the jumper should cut away and deploy the reserve.

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* A very experienced tandem instructor exited a King Air aircraft with only the lower harness connectors hooked to her student. She held her student with her left arm while she deployed the drogue. During the freefall, she was able to attach one of the two upper connections before releasing the drogue to deploy the main. The canopy descent and landing were uneventful. The instructor reported that there were many distractions during the climb to altitude that resulted in the incomplete hook-up of the student. Tandem instructors should always follow established procedures to avoid this type of situation. Tandem students should be instructed to check that all four points of harness attachment are secure before moving to the door.

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* A student on a Category A AFF jump opened his parachute downwind of the drop zone and was unable to progress against the eight- to 12-mph wind present to make the planned landing area.
The radio advisor suggested the student find a clear open area for his landing. The student suffered a compound fracture while landing in a farm field and told his instructors he was not sure what he had done wrong upon landing. There were no other witnesses to the actual landing. First-jump students may have an especially difficult time judging the proper flare height for their landings. Some schools limit beginning students to lighter winds to help reduce the risks of bad spots or poorly flown canopy descents causing off-target landings. All beginning students should be instructed to perform PLFs, which greatly reduce landing injuries.

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