Monday, August 19, 2019
Attitude plays a vital role in skydiving, for both students and more experienced jumpers. And although we are not airplane pilots, as skydivers we share many issues in common with pilots. The Federal Aviation Administration long ago identified five hazardous attitudes of aircraft pilots that can often lead to accidents. Skydivers can also be affected by those same five dangerous attitudes and their consequences.
- Antiauthority: Don’t tell me.
- Impulsivity: Do something quickly.
- Invulnerability: It won’t happen to me.
- Macho: I can do it.
- Resignation: What’s the use?
Many instructors and Safety and Training Advisors have to deal with jumpers who display one of these five types of attitudes. Hopefully, they can resolve any issues before they result in an accident. As skydivers, we need to be aware of these attitudes and how they can affect us while we are jumping.
If we take a look back through the years and examine various skydiving accidents, the jumper involved often showed signs of one or more of these five attitudes. For the most part, the reports included skydivers who were warned by others, sometimes on multiple occasions before the actual accident occurred. The jumper involved was often resentful of anyone trying to point out the careless behavior or did not even believe there was a safety issue. The drop zone officials attempted to change the jumper’s behavior without success, and the jumper ultimately ended up injured or killed. It makes you wonder why someone would disregard repeated warnings and place additional risk on themselves and other jumpers around them. If you have had several people express concern about your skydiving practices, chances are the warnings are warranted. If the predictions come from the drop zone S&TA or other staff, it’s a good idea to take pause. Look at the five hazardous attitudes and see if you might be in one of those categories.
The first four on the list can appear as jumpers exhibiting aggressive behavior, such as rapid downsizing, attempting high-performance maneuvers without the necessary training or experience, or attempting larger or more complex freefall formations without learning the basics first. Resignation might occur when a jumper is not prepared to handle a situation and takes no action to improve the outcome. For example, a parachute opens into a spinning malfunction, and the jumper seems to freeze with fear and take no action rather than pulling the cutaway handle and reserve ripcord.
The FAA also lists remedies for each of the five hazardous attitudes:
- Antiauthority: Don’t tell me. Follow the rules. They are usually right.
- Impulsivity: Do something quickly. Not so fast. Think first.
- Invulnerability: It won’t happen to me. It can happen to me.
- Macho: I can do it. Taking chances is foolish.
- Resignation: What’s the use? I am not helpless. I can make a difference.
The good news is it’s usually easy to fix. Safety-related issues can be addressed as long as the jumpers involved are open-minded and realize there is a problem that needs to be corrected. Formerly reckless skydivers often find themselves as big promoters of safe skydiving, sometimes only after surviving a close call. But you know, there’s no need to wait for a close call yourself: All it takes is the right attitude. Fly to survive.