Parachute accident, Australia

There was a one-paragraph news story in our paper yesterday about a parachute accident in Melbourne, Australia. A man was killed when he was the first of a group of parachuters to jump from a small plane and his chute caught on the tail of the airplane. The plane went into a dive and the other ten people parachuted to safety. From the article, it sounded like the first guy out of the plane was the only one to die. What happened to the pilot? Surely he wasn’t wearing a parachute, too. I’m trying to picture this. Anybody from Australia here who knows more about this story?

Aussie here.

The pilot managed to use what little control of the plane was left to him to keep it flying enough to give time for the others to jump out. I thought it was odd too that he survived, and had visions of him struggling into a 'chute pack as the plane plunged out of control.

According to this, however, he was already wearing one!

According to reports, IIRC, he jumped at an altitude of only 170 metres.

Sorry to be morbid here, but was the first parachutist pulled down by the plane? And why the heck was the pilot wearing a parachute? I can’t picture this. I wonder if they just tossed him one quick when they realized the plane was going down.

Four or five years ago I did about 10 student jumps, and I believe the pilot (of the small Cessna) wore a parachute the whole time. It wasn’t like the skydivers’ parachutes. The container hung very low on him, I think, so he could sit on it like a cushion while piloting.

But, like I said, this was several years ago so I might not be remembering correctly.

Don’t most parachutists carry a knife to cut away the main chute in cases like this? Or was he injured and/or unconscious after hanging up on the tail?

The first parachutest got caught up in the tail of the plane, pretty sad really, didn’t have a chance.
When he realized what was going on the pilot told everyone to jump out, which they did obviously, while he battled with the stricken plane. After everyone else got out he went to the door to jump (yes he wore a parachute) put the door had closed. Somehow he managed to open it and with only a few seconds to spare he jumped to safety. Amazing that only one person lost their life. The pilot is really a hero in my book.

my mother’s boyfriend is a skydiver. As I believe I heard it in those small planes it’s FAA regulations that all persons flying on those flights wear one. Now naturally AU doesn’t have the FAA but they may have the sme regulation. I think it’s because they don’t have a door but rather a flap.

Maybe somebody who knows for sure can back me up.

According to a newspaper report published the next day, until recently the pilot didn’t bother with putting on a parachute. But then he got married and become a father, so his conscience prompted him to get into the habit of putting it on, just in case…

What a wonderful thing hindsight is.

It makes a good case for the fitting of those safety parachutes for the whole aircraft.

At the very least, on my flight if the pilot is wearing a parachute, I want one, too.

“Flap”? Most jump planes I’ve seen just take the door off and leave it like that - no flap required.

Anyhow, it’s not the lack of door that requires a parachute. I’ve flown lots of times in aircraft with no doors (or windshields, floors, or other extras) and no 'chute was required. There are times when chutes are required, but that has more to do with what the intended activities are, not the construction of the plane. For instance, I used to fly an aerobatic plane (until someone broke the tail while landing it) but since I flew it as a “normal” plane - without doing rolls, loops, and other fancy stuff - no parachute was required. (Although I did threaten passengers with death if they touched the big red D-ring used to remove the doors in an emergency.) You only needed a parachute if you intended to do stunt flying in it.

I don’t recall seeing any rules about jump pilots being required to wear parachutes, but it’s not unknown for them to do so because accidents of this sort do happen. Then again, it’s been awhile since I looked up the regs on flying jump planes.

Actually, I’ve heard of some very gruesome skydiving accidents, more so than someone getting snagged on the tail.

You mean the ones that attach to the plane rather than the person? They’re a great notion but there are some severe limitations to the technology. Last I heard, they had never been successfully fitted to an aircraft bigger than a two-seater. Above a certain speed and weight the problems of getting the 'chute to open quickly enough to slow the aircraft before impact, but not so quickly that the opening shock shreds it into confetti, have not been worked out. Also, while the resulting landing is usually survivable that doesn’t mean you always land unhurt. Some folks walk away unharmed, others break legs and arms. In any case, it’s quite a jolt and a very different landing than what a success skydive produces.

Correct me if you know better…

There are quick release straps on your primary parachute for use if it somehow fouls in any way.

All parachutists should have a reserve 'chute to use in the event of just such an occasion.

It seems to me that the person panicked, or did not have enough training, or God forbid, did not have a reserve 'chute.

In any event, this was a preventable accident.

Sorry to barge in with a non-thread question for JillGat but I was trying to find the thread “Why is there 360 degrees in a circle” where Jill was the moderator. It was running in Jan of 2000 til about Mar or april of 2000 then it was cut off by you, Jill. I need to reference some of the materials referenced by the replies. Can you please tell me where it is. I listed all the pages from 80 to 96 I believe, on the classics list but couldn[t find it. Thanks for your help Jill. P.S. the pilot was wearing a parachute.

The only time I was ever parachuting the pilot wore a chute. I asked why and it was explained that premature deployment of someones chute could result in it jamming in the tail.

I am not a skydiver, though I did jump a couple of times a long, long time ago - my parachute was actually round(!), which should give you an idea of just how long ago.

If the first jumpers parachute opened prematurely, there’s no knowing how entangled he could be. If, for instance, he’s enmeshed in the lines and the lines are caught on the plane, cutting away the main chute does nothing. It releases the main canopy from the harness, but if the lines have caught you, that is of little or no help.

Opening a reserve chute in this case would probably make the situation even worse, possibly destroying the aircraft.

Back when, we were trained to immediately put our hands on our helmets if we ended up being dragged after the plane, because if our hands got anywhere near the reserve deployment handle, the instructor would (if at all possible) save the pilot, the other jumpers and the plane by getting rid of the unlucky jumper ASAP.

Oh, and pilots (and “tourists”, i.e. non-jumping passengers) ALWAYS wore rescue chutes.

So, going from what we’ve read here, the unlucky jumper might have kept his head, done exactly right and actually saved his pals.

S. Norman

Apparetly the person who got caught up in the tail was pretty badly injured and unable to cut the primary chute and open the reserve. I don’t know if he/sne lost consciousness, but the news made it seem that way.
Just one in a million accidents. Sucks.

Most parachute-tangled-in-airplane-tail accidents I’ve heard about have resulted in a dead skydiver and a crashed plane. It could be the chute wraps around the person to the point they can’t move enough to free themselves. They could get knocked out or severely injured if they hit the side or tail of the plane.

Even if the skydiver cuts free and survives, having a chute tangled in the tail of the plane is still serious business. You don’t have much time to get out before the plane goes out of control and crashes.

Pretty serious stuff, anyway you look at it.

*Originally posted by Spiny Norman *

The way I remember it, the hands on head thing was basically a signal to the instructor that you were conscious, and could take care of yourself if they cut you loose.

Otherwise, if you were unconscious, depending upon the immediate danger to the rest of the passengers, the instructor might climb down the lines (or static line), and pull your releases for you and deploy your second chute for you and hope you landed OK. The instructor would land before you, of course.

You’ve got the rest of your life!