Jesse 'Tex' Leos deploying, image by Gustavo Cabana

Two Safety Principles

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Speed has never killed anyone. Suddenly becoming stationary, that’s what gets you.” 

Jeremy Clarkson, UK Presenter

That’s Jeremy’s famous quote on speed and driving. Exactly the same concept applies to skydiving. Freefall or canopy flight itself is not going to kill you, but colliding with someone or something else at speed can be fatal. 

Two Safety Principles

Keeping yourself safe in skydiving boils down to two principles:

  1. Keep your gear in order 
  2. Don’t hit anything or anyone. 

Let’s look at those in more detail…

Look after your gear, including regular checks

1. Keep your gear in order

    Our rigs literally keep us alive. We start falling to our death the moment we leave the plane. The only way to live is to have a functioning parachute overhead before landing. 

    • Ensure your gear works properly (snug BOC, accurate altimeters, secured emergency handles, etc)
    • Perform regular gear maintenance (replacing closing loops, changing rubber bands, worn velcro/spandex, etc)
    • Conduct a gear check before each jump.

    For more detailed information see the Gear Wisdom series, by Rigger Rezzan Shiel

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is dont-hit-anyone-2018-02-14-at-14.33.25-1024x528.jpg
    Don’t hit anything or anyone

    2. Don’t hit anything or anyone

      Some examples include: 

      • Avoid canopy collisions by being spatially aware
      • Stay behind the propeller at all times
      • Keep pins and handles safe in the plane
      • Clear the tail (especially on a hop’n’pop or wingsuit jump)
      • Control freefall movement – approach formations slowly and stop before docking
      • Ensure enough separation for canopy deployments
      • Land safely by not pounding into the ground.
      Accidents are best avoided if possible

      Avoiding Accidents

      Accidents happen when we think too much of the jump and too little of safety. Equipment failure is rarely to blame. Rather, the majority of incidents are a result of complacency and human error. If you look at Friday Freakout videos, most accidents occur when experienced jumpers push their limits and/or make poor judgments. 

      Skydiving has come so far that we can sometimes forget how dangerous it can be. Could you be bordering on complacent? Ask yourself some questions:

      • How many times have you put on your gear without checking it?
      • Do you thoroughly think about safety before every jump? 
      • How often do you practice your emergency procedures?
      • How often do you review your key altitudes?
      • Do you respect your altitudes every single jump? 
      • Do you still have that tiny scary ‘butterflies’ feeling in the plane? 
      Cultivate a healthy safety mindset and that confidence will spill over into your learning
      Photo shows Bridget Weaver landing, by Michael McGowan

      The Safety Mindset

      Safety is all in the mind. Safety is more than gear checks, ‘level-slot-dock’, or flying a predictable pattern. It’s a habit, an approach to skydiving. Safety forms the foundation of this sport. Without it, skydiving literally cannot exist. Manufacturers have spent years doing R&D to make our sport safer but all that doesn’t matter if jumpers neglect their own safety. Safety innovations such as the Skyhook or slider snaps can only help so much – jumpers must keep themselves alive by their actions.

      If you learn to prioritize safety, you’ll likely spend more time in the sport. When you start with safety, you’ll progress more holistically, fly with more precision, and become more knowledgeable. Having confidence in your own safety helps you learn other skills. Eventually, this mindset overflows into other areas of your life – if you start with what is truly important and needs attention, you prioritize the correct things because the starting point is right. 

      Nobody skydives with the intention to get injured. But we must bear in mind we never know when the next jump might be our last. We should all strive for longevity. We want to become old skydivers!

      Look out for future articles by Jacob, next week is ‘Three ways to become a safer skydiver’
      Landing at Skydive Algarve, by Ewan Cowie
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      Meet: Jacob Choy

      Jacob is an AFF Instructor currently based in the US. 

      Having trained many years in classical music, Jacob immediately saw similarities when he picked up skydiving. He quickly fell in love with the physical and mental challenges skydiving provides, which led him to explore the process of learning canopy piloting and bodyflight. 
      Additionally, Jacob runs a weekly program to continue the learning of A & B license jumpers. By encouraging belly flying in a fun and educational way, he hopes to improve retention in the sport by building confidence through attainable goals. 

      Jacob is proud to jump a UPT Vector, PD's Sabre 2 135 main canopy and PDR 143 reserve, Tonfly 2X helmet and Vigil AAD.

      Jacob has also lived in Scotland, China, England, and Singapore. He loves traveling, trying new things, and connecting with people from different cultures. You never know when he accidentally books a flight somewhere!

      Contact Me

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