FlyingChipmunk.com

Small Format Camera Incident

It is with a sad tone I make this post. Kylie “Buffy” Tanti died in a BASE jump in Malaysia off the Alor Setar tower Sept 28th, 2010. BSBD :(

Reports are saying that it was related to a bridle entanglement on her GoPro camera mounted on her helmet that she was unable to clear in time.

World News Australia, Source: AAP (no longer valid link)

An excerpt from a first hand report posted on BaseJumper.com

her exit was a little head low. she hold her pilot tight and totally closed in her hand. she pitched after half a second. The pitch was firm, but a little low.
Her bridle entangled (about 60 cm below the pilot) her gopro, what was attached on her helmet. she tried to fight it off, but was too late. her canopy was inflating on the moment of impact.
the combination of the low height (for incidents as this), the head low, the pitch, wind and the gopro became fatal.

Please take a moment everyone to reflect on your camera flying gear and usage. There have been a lot of discussions surrounding small format cameras and how they should be treated. I hope this incident at the very least is a wake up call to anyone who is in a state of delusion that these small format cameras pose any less of a snag hazard than their bigger rivals.

How many times have you heard “…the GoPro mount will snap if snagged…”, it didn’t for Kylie.

Let’s not even get into the whole “I’ve got less than 200 jumps but I can fly a GoPro because x, y, z…” On second thought, maybe I will get into it a little. I’m not saying this had anything to do with Kylie’s incident at all, I’m just referring to the mentality in general. I don’t want to single anyone or any place out specifically, and I certainly don’t want to sound like a broken record….. BUT I see far too many people strapping on these small format cameras either before they really should, or onto non-camera helmets.

What does “before they should” mean?

The Altitude Above You

Another installment of safety talk as the Pepperell Boogie approaches, woohoo!

What’s one of the three useless things in flying that directly relates to parachuting? The altitude above you. Do you know your minimum opening altitude for your class license? You should! Go check out the SIM section 2-1 item G.

G. Minimum opening altitudes [E]
Minimum container opening altitudes above the ground for skydivers are:
1. Tandem jumps—4,500 feet AGL
2. All students and A-license holders—3,000 feet AGL
3. B-license holders—2,500 feet AGL
4. C- and D-license holders—2,000 feet AGL

And what about your hard deck for deciding whether to cutaway or land your main?

If you have reached your hard deck decision altitude and you haven’t cleared whatever malfunction you are dealing with, even if it’s as benign as a simple line twist, what would you do? What have you done?

I would hope these are all questions that each of us have already made a decision about and stick to that decision when the time comes.

The first part of this post comes from a little personal wake up call as well as a few basement runs I’ve witnessed recently. For me as I discovered more and more ninja tricks in flying my wingsuit slower and longer especially at break off time I was finding my internal clock and sense of “it’s time to pull dummy” was getting skewed and I was pulling much lower than I should be. I was still within the limits for my license, but I was unstowing my brakes lower than I felt comfortable with if I had to deal with malfunctions.

With big ways filled with D license holders I’ve become accustomed to seeing, especially the center, burn it down low. But smaller 4-16 ways with people deploying lower than 2500 ft I’m not use to seeing. Being able to count line groups on solo lower licensed jumpers as they deploy isn’t normal either.

Why deploy low? Why not deploy higher so you have time to deal with any possible malfunctions?

Fly safe everyone!

Perfectly Good Canopy

Hearing about another canopy collision resulting in a fatality saddens me :( Far too many of our friends in the sky are snatched away while under a perfectly good canopy. We all must do a better job of preventing canopy collisions.

Knowledge and training are some of your best defenses. If your dropzone offers canopy courses, take advantage of them! If you have never taken one please do, regardless of how many jumps you have or how badass you think you are. You might learn more about that wing above your head, you might gain that confidence you were lacking under canopy, you might learn that some things you thought you knew were completely wrong. Only good can come out of it for you and everyone in the air with you.

If your dropzone doesn’t offer canopy courses there are courses available from outfits like Flight-1. Talk with your dropzone staff to see if there is interest in organizing a course.

When was the last time you rear riser stalled your canopy?

How much toggle input does it take to stall your canopy?

How would you make it back from a long spot up/down wind?

Could you put your canopy down in a small backyard if you had to?

How do you obtain and maintain horizontal and vertical canopy separation?

Obstacle avoidance… is a quick level flat turn second nature?

There is no shame in admitting you might not know the best answers, but if you have any doubts or are feeling unsure about your canopy skills please seek out information from your coaches, instructors, s&ta’s. They are great resources, make use of them.

I had the opportunity to take Ian Drennan’s Flight-1 course again at Skydive Pepperell recently, and it was well worth it. It was a great refresher from last time, and was fun finding out that my joy of canopy stalls from last year was spreading :)

Pepperell’s Boogie is coming up, so let’s start off the Safety Tips with canopy control, here’s some great reading from Take Back the Sky.

Be safe!