You may think that the majority of those who suffer accidents caused by low turns are the typical “piraos” making radical approaches with dwarf parachute bells.
Imagine this situation: you are finishing a “perfect” jump, you are approaching the headwind landing zone, at about 30 m. off the ground and you can see yourself gently perching where you had chosen. Suddenly, something catches your eye out of the corner of your eye, and to your left you see another bell at the same height, too close, and pointing at the same point as you on the ground. He hasn’t seen you and the next thing is a “pineapple.” Instinctively, you pull on the right control to avoid the collision. Indeed you get out of the way, but now your hood is in a dive towards the ground that you barely have time to realize how “crappy” you have it, before giving it to you. The next thing is someone yelling at you: “ Can you hear me? Do not move! and in the background: Someone call 061!
Dramatic? Well like this there are dozens of true stories of paratroopers. Of accidents, not under elliptical bells, but anyone trying to avoid an obstacle or simply facing the wind at the last minute.
It is easy to warn people of the danger of low turns, in skydiving, they can even be prohibited, but obviously this does not solve the problem. It is clear that the ideal is to stay away from obstacles and other parachute bells, and be clear about the approach traffic beforehand, but this does not mean that we learn to react correctly to an unforeseen event. It is not about saying NO to the low turns of skydiving, you have to take them into account for what they are, a maneuver that every skydiver should know how to do safely.
Let’s differentiate low turns from “radical” turns
Before continuing, we should be clear about this difference. It has been understood as a radical turn, which is done intentionally, either with a control or with a front band, to acquire extra speed just before taking.
The paratrooper is thrown from under the bell of the parachute, which plummets towards the ground, and is again under it when he regains horizontality.
If the height and descent rate are well calculated, this extra speed gives us more lift and allows us to “sweep” the landing zone a few seconds before hitting the ground.
When someone suddenly tries to avoid an obstacle or face the wind, without that extra speed, the bell of the parachute reacts in much the same way, but usually it will not have time to “pick up” before reaching the ground. On occasion, the leading edge has even touched the ground before the skydiver.
Phobia of flying slowly
Pupil-paratroopers often have a tendency to keep the controls at ear height or lower, rather than letting the parachute bell fly, especially on final approach. As a consequence, we instructors are continually insisting that they let her fly.
There are also those who have respect for turning sharply (up), with which they are also insisted that they pull the control all the way down without fear so that they become familiar. So teaching him to fly at half brakes and to turn under control seems counterproductive to his learning.
After just a few jumps, they discover that spinning with full control and curling up not only makes the instructor happy, but is also a lot of fun.
They also find that by raising the controls all the way, the shots improve. The downside is that we hardly ever get beyond there. We spend little to no time flying at half brakes, and in general, we ignore a large part of the room for maneuver of a parachute bell. What limits us enough when it comes to reacting to an unforeseen event.
If your parachute bell is, on the small side, you will surely want to leave a margin to raise the controls again before the “flare”.
Always avoid jerky or hesitant movements, and be prepared to make a “roulette” if necessary. You can land a parachute at half brake, (without releasing before flare) but unless you do a perfect flare, the landing may not be smooth enough to stand upright.
These basic techniques are, in any case, that: basic. And as important for the students as drinking well standing.
The best to learn is a large, compliant parachute bell, ideally a wing loading of 1 lb / ft2 or less. However, today, many beginner skydivers buy much more “loaded” parachute bells.