How to Survive Landing Under a Good Canopy.....
by Jan Meyer
A long time ago, once you had an open canopy your adrenaline levels returned to normal. Now, it is just the beginning of a traversal of a treacherous, three dimensional course to the ground.
The best way to augment your good canopy survival is to jump a *dog* canopy. *Dogs* have a slower descent rate. You will get to land last, no matter where your opening altitude is, compared to others. *Dogs* have a slower descent rate, do not lose as much altitude on turns and are much more forgiving if (or when) you must do a radical maneuver close to the ground to avoid one of those idiots. Oh yeah, *Dogs* will draw flack from others. You will be kidded about jumping a tandem canopy. Never mind that, you get to walk away from your jumps-all of them.
The first thing to do after getting a good canopy is to look for traffic in your immediate vicinity. Look above, below and laterally to all sides for someone, someone that does not see you. Always, always assume that neighbors do NOT see you, unless they give you a positive wave back or yell that they do see you. I wave at people all of the time. Rarely do they acknowledge that they see me. Later, I find out that they did see me. They are too afraid to wave back. I do not get it. It is best to assume that they do not see you and take corrective (evasive) measures.
The next thing you have to do is figure out the landing pattern. If the entire plane load is on your group, then usually a pattern establishes quickly. The low guy spiral downs and lands. If the plane load is several groups, then a landing pattern may never develop. In this case, look for some other place to land outside of where the idiots are landing. If the first guy lands downwind, find another place to land such that your landing pattern is well outside the landing pattern of the downwind idiots.
Always be aware of the faster canopies that can catch up to you. These are the ones that will blind-side you. They come from above and behind you. That is your blind spot so do a slight turn to look above your own canopy. Look for shadows on your canopy and on the ground, then look up in the air to find the actual canopy.
Let other canopies go in front of you in the pattern. This way you know where they are. You only have to avoid their burble, not their stupidity. Remember that their descent rate is faster than yours, especially if you jump a *dog*. They will beat you to the ground, leaving you more airspace.
Look for people walking across the landing area. They tend to walk right in front of you. Give a yell to get them out of your way. Land on the side of people away from the direction they are most likely to walk in.
A good canopy is no guarantee of a safe landing. Only your constant vigilance under canopy and implementation of see and avoid measures will augment your survival.
©Copyright 1998 by Jan Meyer.
Dedicated to enhancing sport parachuting safety by disseminating information about equipment, environments and human factors.