Canopy collisions are one of the biggest causes of deaths in our sport – and most are completely preventable. Bryan Burke suggests if we STOP TURNING, we’d all be a lot safer…
There is one very important lesson about collision avoidance, one that I have been preaching for years without much success. The most dangerous thing you can do in skydiving is turn your canopy. Never assume you see all the traffic. Minimize your turns to the absolute fewest and smallest you can. Persuade everyone you jump with to do the same. If you want to really work your canopy, get out on a solo or pull high (when appropriate) to be sure you are all alone.
Head on a swivel does not work. We are not owls, our shoulders are locked in place by the rig and we have huge blind spots below and behind us. Any turn over 90 will put you into your blind spot, going fast. We also have huge blind spots above and behind us, where the danger may be coming from.
The only way to minimize collision risks is to minimize turns. The standard of excellence in skydiving should be how little control input you use from deployment to landing. In the big picture, our culture of making unnecessary turns is even more of a problem than aggressive downsizing.
Please give some thought to having a discussion about the issue of unnecessary turns under canopy at your DZ. It might be a good Safety Day topic. Turns that are not needed to steer to the landing area and avoid traffic are all risk and no benefit. If you want to do them for fun, you can enjoy them on a solo jump safely.
If there are others in the sky… stop turning!
Headline image by Eloy Cruz