Collision Course - Another Way
The resurrection of Birdman suits has given jumpers a powerful feeling on flying and soaring - beyond what we experience in normal freefall. Birdsuits significantly lower the descent rate of a jumper and tremendously increase the achievable horizontal speeds. The overall effect is that the glide angle is flatter.
With the flatter glide angle comes an additional hazard. This is a hazard that is not obvious. It could be potentially dangerous to the jumper and to others. A Birdsuit jumper and aircraft can fly relative to each other. There have been deliberate attempts where a Birdsuit jumper flies relative to aircraft. These jumps are carefully planned and attempted by highly qualified jumpers and pilots.
There is also an unplanned event that can and has occurred (Perris, CA 5-5-02). The Birdsuit jumper and the aircraft he exits from can inadvertently collide. This hazard is most likely to occur when the Birdsuit jumper exits last and the aircraft descends. The scenario happens when the jumper follows a flight into the airspace the aircraft uses to descend, then the aircraft turns and descends into the general vicinity of where the jumper is. Inadvertent collisions can occur even when the pilot descends in a conservative fashion.
The way to avoid these accidental collisions is to have the Birdsuit jumpers avoid the airspace the aircraft use for descent and have the pilots do non- acrobatic descents away from jumprun airspace.
All pilots and Birdsuit jumpers should coordinate and agree upon the airspace each will use.
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