Standard CF Emergency Situations And Solutions
This guideline is based on an article by Mike Lewis (CRW Emergency Procedures). The intent of this guideline is to give us tools to handle critical situations in CF jumps. However, it does not cover every possible situation.
If ever possible, you shout know the name of the person you want to address before you call the command!
If a jumper with a well flying canopy is surrounded by another lower jumpers canopy, we call that a wrap. A wrap is a rather harmless situation in most cases. Because the upper canopy is open and flies hopefully straight, you have time to deal with the situation. The wrapped person should try to get out of the canopy that is around him/her. If that can be executed, the problem is already solved. If not, the lower person has to cut away (and pull his/her reserve) to get the tension off the wrapped canopy to allow the upper person to get rid of the fabric around by wiping it down towards the feet. The upper person should not cut away because if you are wrapped your reserve might not be able to get into clean air and could fail to open.
If one jumper has passed through the lines of another jumpers parachute, we call that an entanglement. In this case the top person should cut away (the quicker, the better). After that, the lower canopy will be clear most of the time and the person who has cut away can deploy the reserve in clean air. To avoid going through another canopies lines, you can spread your arms as wide as you can if you notice a canopy coming towards you with high speed.
If two or more canopies are entangled above the jumpers bodies involved, they will all have to cut away and use their reserves. As these entanglements may start to spin, the separation should be executed quickly because in a fast spin it can be hard or even impossible to get the handle pulled out. Then it is important to do some free fall before deploying the reserves in sequence in order to avoid the next problem.
4.) Funnel of a Formation
Sometimes a formation starts to collapse during the building process. That can happen in different ways.
4.1) First, everyone who is on final approach to the formation should get away from it as quickly as possible, watching out carefully to avoid a collision with others in the proximity of the funnel. Acting inside the formation is far more complex.
4.2) Avoiding funnels is the best way to stay safe, of course. To achieve that, everyone in the formation needs to watch everything closely. Pay attention to your own canopy’s performance to prevent it from pushing forward, especially in a wing position. Always adjust the flight of your canopy in relation with the formation. Get lighter or heavier if necessary, maintain the proper body position and watch out for commands from around. Fly and control your canopy all the time. There is no time to relax until after separation.
4.2.1) Docking in general should be on level and from the side, not from below or behind. A dock from the side will not hurt the formation, even if it is hard. The docking canopy will only squeeze and recover. A dock from behind is hard to anticipate because the line to catch is hard to see. Also, the speed of a canopy coming from behind can convert into lift. That can be harmful, especially if the grip on that canopy is taken on the fabric or firmly on a line. Lines should be taken around the line, allowing the canopy to move up and down until it is settled out. If a firm grip is taken before the canopy is settled it can not be controlled by the docking jumper as needed and might come around or will at lest bring energy into the formation which can also destroy it.
4.2.2 Wing docks will be safe if they come from the side and on the level of the person you are aiming to dock on rather than from low and behind. When you are docked, fly your canopy with some trim needed (outside leg stretched out, inside leg lifted, outside riser pulled only if necessary and as little as possible). The same applies to the inside brake. Never touch the canopy, locking you up before it is taken at the edge, facing towards the center of the formation. Concentrate on flying your own canopy rather than only watching out for the canopy about to dock on you. Your grip will be in reach as soon as the dock on the inside of the formation is taken. Check with your buddy across before you hook your foot in and hand the docking canopy over if needed, stretching your arm forward and over towards your buddy. If you notice that your canopy is starting to move up and forward and the trim you are applying does not stop that, you can pull down your outside brake strongly to stall your canopy back. It might collapse partially, but will not come around. After that, you can release the outside brake carefully and your canopy will usually fly ok. If not, shout to your catcher to drop you and turn away from the formation carefully.
4.2.3) Center docks are seemingly easier. In principle, they are also wing docks. Do not try to dock on both your catchers at the same time. If you perform a wing dock towards the center of the formation, the outside catcher will be able to grab your canopy once the center grip is taken. As soon as both catchers have hocked their feet in behind your outside A-lines, you pay attention to your proper body position, fly your canopy (neither floating up nor pulling down hard) and be aware of the next canopy to dock on you.
4.2.4) Inside the formation, everybody maintains the proper body position (arch and look up) and is ready to get light or heavy if needed. Watchful flying has to be maintained until break off. It can easily get serious during the count-down of a star burst if people don’t control their canopies all the time.
4.2.5) On the way to the formation, especially in the echelon, we have to always know who is close to us and where they are to avoid collisions. If we can maintain a good position in the line-up without using much space, that helps a lot and makes it easier and safer for everybody else.
As funnel situations can be different from the few typical ones, we need to communicate in order to do the right things in the right order. Uncoordinated acting will make things worse in most cases.
5.1) First, you should always try to address people by their name to make sure the right person takes action.
5.2 Always use positive commands (for instance, “Hold me!” instead of “Don’t drop me!”). The “Don’t” can easily be missed.
5.3 If possible, use standard commands to avoid miss understandings. Basic standard emergency commands are: Hold me! Drop me! And Cut away!
If a formation is getting in trouble, everyone who is not docked should give room for emergency procedures and fly to the side. Everybody in the formation who is not involved in the problem and below should be released one by one to clear the mess. Jumpers above should try to keep a stable diamond formation and hold the funneled canopies to gain time to sort out the problem. No group should be dropped if not the top canopy of that group is in control of their canopy.
Know these guidelines well at all times to be prepared!