Avoiding Tail Strikes

It seems like it should be a simple enough process to exit an airplane without striking the tail. After all, jumpers make approximately 3 million skydives each year in the U.S., and nearly all of those are uneventful. Yet several times a year, we hear about jumpers who are injured (or, on rare occasions, killed) after striking the tail of an airplane in flight. Almost without exception, tail strikes occur during solo exits. more »

Preventing Aircraft Stalls

Recently, a Beech 18 twin-engine airplane that was flying a load of jumpers crashed into the yard of a residence, killing the pilot. Luckily, nobody was killed on the ground, and the jumpers had all been able to exit the airplane before it crashed, landing safely. While the National Transportation Safety Board will not release its report for quite a while, the preliminary information points to the aircraft’s entering a stall as the jumpers were positioning in the door to exit. more »

Good Pilot/Bad Pilot

Flying an unairworthy aircraft is like jumping a tattered old rig with a parachute that has big holes in it. And having an untrained or unqualified pilot fly an unairworthy plane is like giving that tattered old rig to a student and not teaching him how to cut away and pull his reserve. Seems absurd, right? Sadly, history shows us a long list of aircraft accidents in the skydiving industry that started with a poorly maintained plane flown by someone who didn’t know how to appropriately handle the malfunctions that occurred. more »