Canopy collisions are most likely to happen in two situations: on deployment, or during the landing pattern…
Recognising these two scenarios and taking preventive action is the best recipe to stay out of trouble. Avoid! Avoid! Avoid!
Situation 1 – 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
- 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.
Situation 2 – 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
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.
I founded the Safe Flight School of Canopy Piloting in 2004 and have been teaching canopy control professionally since then. I have taught widely across Europe in the civilian and military markets. At the start of 2009, I joined the Performance Designs Factory Team and have continued to coach professionally with the team.