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International, independent, e-magazine on skydiving, BASE & tunnel

Avoiding Canopy Collisions

by Lesley Gale
by Lesley Gale

Canopy collisions are most likely to happen in two situations: on deployment, or during the landing pattern. Recognising these scenarios and taking preventive action is the best recipe to stay out of trouble. Avoid! Avoid! Avoid!

1 – Colliding on Deployment

Possible Causes Include

  • Poor exit separation
  • Poor tracking – leads to poor separation within a group
  • Poor knowledge or loss of awareness of line of flight
  • Loss of canopy control due to nuisance factors or malfunctions

Avoid by Good Planning

  • Exit Separation – know the upper winds to assess the correct exit separation
  • Jumper information – be proactive! Know the number of jumpers on the aircraft, the group sizes, and what the groups are planning to do.
  • Clear airspace – create good separation with effective tracking
  • Correct packing – to avoid malfunctions

Avoiding Actions

  • Rear risers – steer away from danger during and immediately after deployment using your rear risers
  • Head to head – if a head-on collision is likely, turn right
  • Side by side – if another canopy is approaching from the side, turn away
  • Communicate – shout and open/close your legs to get the other jumper’s attention
  • Avoid body contact – it is better to have contact with material than lines. Body-to-body contact is the worst outcome.
by Flight-1
by Flight-1

2 – Colliding During the Landing Pattern

Possible causes include:

  • Poor or no flight plan
  • Erratic canopy control (fast flight, spirals, S-turns)
  • Confusing patterns – no defined approach sides
  • High speed approaches in the pattern – leads to rapid altitude loss, overtaking and blind spots during a large turn
  • Target fixation – leads to tunnel vision and a lack of awareness

Avoid by Good Planning

  • Effective flight planning – predictable pattern and landing direction
  • Hold landing direction – do not chase the windsock
  • Separate landing areas – does your approach suit the chosen landing area?
  • Alternate landing area – don't be afraid to land alone
by Lesley Gale
by Lesley Gale

Avoiding Actions

Top Jumper If there is a canopy below you, exit above using brake input. Distort the canopy below by stepping on the top-skin, causing it to lose altitude. Extend your legs! You must stop the canopy approaching.

Bottom Jumper Exit below with outside front riser or double front riser input. NEVER APPLY BRAKES

Still not sure?

  • Speak to your Flight-1 Instructor if you have any questions.
  • Watch the video below, Avoiding Canopy Collisions, by author and Flight-1 instructor Brian Vacher

Comments (2)

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profile picture for Chris Lynch

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Chris Lynch

A great article with some suggestions that could be taught as standard practice for what to do if the worst happens. I would have to say that the discussion on 'S' turns needs more comment. They definitely have their place in canopy control, particularly for beginners & low experience jumpers, to avoid overshooting the landing area, especially if overshooting involves a hazard such as an active runway!! 'S' turns, like any manoeuvre, need enough observation, height & space to be performed safely. The problem is that they can create chaos & confusion or even a collision in the landing pattern. So by the time jumpers are experienced enough to be pulling at similar altitudes as the rest of the load or joining in with groups & especially going to boogies they should have the ability to plan & fly a pattern that doesn't need 'S' turns.

profile picture for Dan Brodsky-Chenfeld

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Dan Brodsky-Chenfeld

Thanks for making safety simple Brian!

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