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QUESTION: At what two parts of your skydive are you most at risk of a canopy collision?

ANSWER: Just after deployment and during the landing pattern

Landing alone massively increases your chances of survival
Image by Norman Kent

If you have a collision after opening you have altitude on your side and a chance to resolve the situation. If you collide with someone during your final approach, it could be very final. An alarming number of skydivers have been killed or seriously injured from canopy collisions over the landing area. Landing alone massively increases your chances of survival.

If you’re not actively working to avoid a canopy collision on every jump, you are the next potential victim. The simple premise of landing alone is a good maxim. After opening, increase your distance from all other traffic. Spread yourself out in the pattern. Make and adjust your flight plan accordingly. If you have a high wing loading, it makes sense to be one of the first to land. If you’re not then hang up there on brakes and let the pocket rockets land first.

If you’re not actively working to avoid a canopy collision on every jump, you are the next potential victim

In busy skies it’s even more important to plan a smooth approach to land alone
Photo: Willy Boeykens

In the canopy holding area, check out the other pilots and plan your final approach according to the premise of landing alone, keeping as much vertical separation between other canopies as possible.

Nobody who’s had a canopy collision ever expected it. The further ahead you can predict the other canopy pilots’ actions the safer you are. Avoid surprises by vigilantly checking and rechecking all canopies in your airspace.

If you see an erratic or confusing pattern, S-turns or someone setting up for a high-speed approach, give them a wide berth. If there is an alternate landing area you can safely reach, without compromising traffic, consider landing there out of their way.

I’m a big fan of the ‘Land alone’ club, especially at unfamiliar dropzones

Kate Cooper-Jensen
Land Alone
Photo: Willy Boeykens

Be aware of traffic above and behind you; this is a danger point for someone on a high-speed approach, who may overtake or not see you. Kick your legs if you don’t know if someone’s seen you; if they kick back, they are on it; if not, avoid them.

Look out for people with tunnel vision on the target or the swoop pond. Their body language and where they are looking can tell you this. If there are two landing areas, look out for people aiming for Landing area A when B would have been the logical choice from their opening point. Landing alone will avoid most of the problematic pilots; with tunnel vision; who change their landing direction; or who have not seen you.

It takes two pilots to have a canopy collision. It only takes one to avoid it.

Land alone!

ADDENDUM: Overheard at a big-way

Question – to Kate Cooper-Jensen

“Why did you land in that field on your own instead of in this one where everyone else landed?”


“I think you just answered your own question!”

Kate Cooper-Jensen

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Meet: Lesley Gale

Lesley has been in love with skydiving for 35 years. She is a multiple world and national record holder and a coach on 20 successful record events worldwide. She has over 100 competition medals spanning more than 25 years and has been on the British 8-way National team at World events. She started Skydive Mag to spread knowledge, information and passion about our amazing sport.
Lesley is delighted to be sponsored by Performance Designs, Sun Path, Cypres, Cookie, Symbiosis suits and Larsen & Brusgaard

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