- Obstacle Avoidance
- Obstacle Landings.
- The Stationary Point.
- Buildings, Trees, and Bodies of Water.
Avoidance is the key action when concerning anything other than a reasonably flat surface. To avoid obstacles it helps to:
Know your drop zone area
Become familiar with all hazards surrounding the landing zone as well as take note of all good alternate landing zones. Specific obstacles to pay attention to are power lines and fences as they are hard to see. For this reason we encourage to “always” land in the center of an open area as you are less likely to encounter either of these.
Know your canopy control
Steering is straightforward but you must also be clear on the relationship between the wind speed and direction and its effect on your canopy’s drift or ground track. Understand how running, holding, or crabbing with the wind will affect your ability to move to a desirable landing area.
As much as you should have fun and enjoy the canopy flight you must pay attention to where you are flying. Pay attention to your “ground track” or your actual pathway across the ground. Depending on the wind direction at various altitudes, where you point yourself is not necessarily the direction you are traveling. Always plan your landing approach to land in the center of an open area and stay well clear of obstacles.
The key to landing in a safe area is to know that you either are going to make it back or NOT at an ALTITUDE that allows you to get to an alternate landing area. You should suspect this if you have not yet reached your assigned holding area by 1,500 feet. Try to make Checkpoint #A by 1,000 feet.
If you do not, you will need to assess whether you must consider an alternate landing area. To make this decision follow these steps:
1. Face the drop zone and assess whether your “ground track” is directly towards the landing zone and are there any obstacles in your path.
2. Concentrate on the landing area and try to perceive if it is:
A) moving towards you (overshooting and good)
B) sitting still (stationary point)
C) moving away (you are falling short and will not make it back)
If it’s A
You are able to get to your holding area and fly upwind of target. You may continue with your original (prior to taking off) flight plan, heading to your check point B and over to the final approach to landing :-).
If it’s B
You may not make it to the upwind side of the landing zone and may have to turn into the wind early. If there is sufficient open space then proceed. If there are obstacles in your way then pick an alternate landing zone.
If it’s C
You have no choice but to pick an alternate landing zone.
“The Stationary Point”
Find the stationary point on the ground (a point that doesn’t rise or fall in your field of vision). Use your peripheral vision to see if the obstacle is rising, falling or remaining stationary. If the obstacle is in (or close to) your intended landing area, gently steer away from the obstacle using green zone toggle input.
Your Primary Priorities for all landings are:
- land in an open safe area,
- land with your parachute level,
- flare to at least half brakes,
- land facing into the wind.
Obstacle Landings and Other Situations
No Radio – You are trained your pattern as your primary plan, follow it. If there is no radio communication: look for the airport, windsock flags or blades and fly your landing pattern strategy as planned. Use other canopies as additional guidance and follow signals from your instructor.
Strong Winds – Remain calm and fly your parachute to the ground. Be prepared to perform a PLF. Flare at the same height and anticipate quickly collapsing your canopy. Land into the wind and once your feet are on the ground turn and quickly run toward the canopy, pulling in on one toggle only, until it collapses. If you fall and are being dragged: pull in one toggle to collapse the canopy. If unsuccessful: CUTAWAY. It is always better to cutaway the canopy than fight while dragging with the risk of injury or
If you cannot avoid the obstacle then follow these actions:
General Obstacles – This could include anything in which you may be injured upon landing such as a rodent hole, ditch, fence, vehicle, etc. Always protect yourself by positioning your feet and knees together (PLF) and flare. Flare your canopy, land on the obstacle softly. Lastly, face into the wind if you have a choice. If you are going to land on something, land on it as softly as possible.
Trees – The procedures for landing in a tree vary at different drop zones due to the type and height of the trees. To land in a large tree you should:
- Flare to half brakes at the tree tops with feet and knees together.
- Protect your face by lowering your head and slightly raising your arms to cover your face, with elbows tight to chest and hands over face. Remain that way until either landed or stopped.
- Once stopped secure yourself.
- If suspended remain in the harness until help arrives.
- If on the ground; slip out of the harness leaving equipment in the tree.
- Wait to for help to arrive and pick you up.
If landing among a cluster of high trees steer to the center of one of the trees. By doing this you will either stop in the larger limbs or the canopy will become hung up in the tree suspending you above the ground. Realize that flying between the trees may collapse your canopy prior to reaching the ground for landing.
Power Lines – Power lines are easy to avoid. Landing in them usually occurs due to not knowing they were there. When landing off always go for the center of the fields rather than along the roadside. Looking for the poles will help you to identify wires if you suspect they may be present. If unavoidable:
- protect yourself with your feet and knees together,
- flare to pass through as slowly as possible,
- keep arms in tight to the body (become as streamlined and narrow as possible) reducing possibility of snagging a wire under your arm.
- If you are suspended remain still until help arrives.
- If you land slip out of gear and leave it. It will be retrieved when it is safe to do so.
If you are going to land on a rooftop protect yourself, feet and knees together and flare the canopy. Once landed, immediately cutaway your main. Anticipate that a wind may keep the canopy inflated pulling you off of the roof. If landing with a reserve parachute, pull in on one toggle and collapse the canopy as quickly as possible.
If you are going to broadside the building do your best to take evasive action. Do this by performing a green zone or flat turn to try and turn parallel to the wall. If you are going to strike the wall, flare and turn canopy slightly presenting your side and protect yourself the best you can. Always plan to keep well away from serious obstacles.
Large bodies of water
You should know by 1,500 feet if there is a chance you may not make shore. If not, begin landing preparation by inflating the flotation gear, release the reserve static line (RSL), slightly loosen leg straps, and undo your chest strap. Only loosen leg straps a bit as over doing it may make it difficult to reach your toggles afterwards. Flare for landing with your feet and knees together. Once landed, get out of the gear and swim away. If a strong current is present cutaway the main. Enter the water with your lungs filled, as you may have to swim out from under your canopy.
Small bodies of water
We suggest doing your best to avoid the obstacle. If you cannot and do land in the water the above described preparation techniques cannot be applied in the time remaining. Flare and land in the water softly as you may not know the depth. Once landed try and stand up and walk to the edge of the pond. If you cannot stand up then swim away from the canopy and to the nearby shore.
Understand the unique aspects to landing at your drop zone or the drop zone where you are currently jumping.
Be aware of the Stationary Point and your Primary Landing Priorities.
Obstacles are best avoided when we practice thorough flight planning. Assessing your landing probability and choosing an alternate landing area by 2,000 feet will increase safety. If you cannot avoid then protect yourself with a PLF body position.
- Trees: flare, protect face, and stay in tree.
- Power wires: turn and avoid, become narrow and snag free, leave canopy behind.
- Roof: flare, cutaway following landing
- Wall: turn canopy to avoid, present side to deflect.
- Water: prepare flotation gear, loosen harness, and flare for landing, swim away from gear.
Routine review and practice will be of great benefit to you if any of these infrequent events were to occur.
Safety begins with our ATTITUDE!
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