For jump pilots out there

avbug

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We had a tail strike today at the DZ where I jump. It occured in a Caravan. It involved an experienced jumper doing an exit with several other jumpers. He was wearing a Birdman suit. For those not familiar, the Birdman utilizes a large area of webbing between the legs, and between the arms and torso. It allows the jumper to execute some unique maneuvers and greatly reduces fall rate. It also reacts very differently to the relative wind on exit.

In this particular case, because of the capabilities of the suit, the other jumpers on the stick has already left, and these jumpes asked to go father upwind for a cross-country track back to the DZ. The pilot accomodated them by adding power and continuing upline for the drop. The jumpers called for a cut and exited, but failed to wait for the cut and for the aircraft to reestablish it's jump attitude. Between the exit used, and the increased relative wind caused by the prop blast, the Birdman suit provided a great deal more lift than the jumper antitipated. He did not exit downward as planned, but climbed as he released his grip on the door, and then moved aft in the prop blast. He struck the horizontal stab with his right ankle.

Fortunately he survived, and endured no breaks (but a helluva bruise). Fortunately the damage was confined to some bent metal on the leading edge; fairly insignificant. However, it could have been different. A great deal of discussion took place at the DZ today, and the general consensus was that the jump pilot needs to brief the jumpers about the particulars of waiting for the cut before exiting, and about needing to fall clear before "getting big" with high drag devices such as the Birdman suit.

We determined it would have been much more advantageous to exit in a track position with the arms down, such as a diving position, before opening up once clear of the aircraft.

Additionally, a factor of exiting in a climb involves the horizontal stab being lower in relation to the door, than in a level or descending attitude. Much preferable when putting out such jumpers is to have a good engine cut, and to level or begin a descent; get the tail has high as possible.

This comes on the heels of the recent death of a jumper in the Eastern US, who also experienced a tail strike (and also on a Caravan, I believe).

Just a heads up from a jumper who would prefer not to see this again.
 

skydiverdriver

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Man, they should be using T tail aircraft when the cargo door is that close to the tail. The Caravan is a good aircraft, but nobody designed it for this type of work.
 

cessna_driver2

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If you used a T-tail, wouldn't the jumper clip the tail somewhere around mid-spine or his head instead of his ankle?

I only jumped once and blew out me knee so I'm not that fimilar.
 

avbug

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Actually, the Caravan was designed with that mission in mind (among many others). It's an ideal jump platform. My point in posting was to alert those flying jumpers, or considering it, to the need to brief jumpers (even experienced ones) on proceedures to be used in that aircraft.

This is especially the case for unique exits, tube jumps or jumps with props, jumps in Birdman suits, etc.

The Caravan, like many aircraft used for jumping, isn't a problem if the power is cut and a level attitude achieved. If the tail is still down while the airplane is flown in a climbing attitude (nose high), there is a much greater probability of a tail strike. Under normal circumstances, a tailstrike is very unlikely.
 

desert pilot

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jump pilots

Is a tail strike likely in a c 206 182,many times they are underpowered and in a climb attitude even during the jump,how bad is a nite jump with almost no insruments?
 

avbug

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The horizontal stabilizer is closer and sits lower on the 182 oe 206, but rarely is a tail strike an issue. While closer, the span of the horizontal stab on the 180 and 206 is shorter; less out there to hit.

How bad is a night jump for the pilot, or jumper? As a pilot, you know the answer. For the jumper, the only instruments are an altimeter, and sometimes an audible altimeter with various warning devices.

Night, day. It makes little difference, except that greater vigilence is required at night.
 

skydiverdriver

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No, a T tail would not hit the jumper higher! Have you ever seen a King Air 200? A person would have to be Superman to hit the tail. And, the Caravan was not designed for jumpers. No aircraft manufacturer would, in it's right mind, specifically design an aircraft for one of the most dangerous missions an aircraft could ever face.
 

tintube

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No airplane was ever constructed with skydiving as a primary function, but the Caravan is a excellent and very popular jump-plane, mabe the best in its class.
Why in heck do someone want to jump in a bird-suit anyway? That stuff was "popular" in the 50's early 60's before several skydivers bounced.......
Trend has always been ( since mid 80's ) to jump a tighter suit for better speed and maneuverability......
Have been jumping since -83 , form 30+ ac-types everything from helicopters, bi-planes to B 727. Have never worried about hitting the stabilizer. Most planes can easily be jumped safe from. Some friends of mine even jumped a C-337 ( ok,... with the rear one shut down at cruise..........)
As a jumpilot I was more conserned about canopy-deployment when people was climbing out on the strut in the ol' C-182......

SKYDIVE !
 

avbug

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Yes, indeedy. The Caravan was touted from day one as being ideal for jumpers, as I said before...and many other missions. It was designed to be a utility airplane, with a large payoad, big door, etc. It was designed to operate from rough airfields, carry a lot of cargo, people, etc. Paracargo and jump operations were certainly among the intents of the design. Among many.

Flying jumpers is not among the most dangerous missions an aircraft could ever face. Having flown some of "those" missions, I can honestly say that's one of the most ignorant and uninformed statements I've ever heard. Also, as a skydiver and former jump-pilot, I'll back up that assertion 100%. Give me a break.

It's not a "bird-suit." It's a birdman suit. It's a suit with large webbed areas and cutaway features designed to drastically slow fall rate, increase tracking ability, etc. To date, a successful docking in freefall by someone wearing a birdman suit has been made...with someone already under canopy. If it hasn't been done yet, soon it will be; a jump with no parachute to a successful landing using the suit. Presently the attempt is to use it to land on a sharp incline, such as transitioning to a downhill skiing situation, for experimental purposes.

These folks had never worried about hitting the horizontal stab either, but they did. That's why I mentioned it. Just because you haven't yet, doesn't mean you won't. It did happen, and it's happened to several aircraft in the past few weeks and months, with at least two fatalities as a result. For that reason alone, it's worth considering the implications and applying that consideration to one's actions at the DZ.
 

tintube

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So what you say is that there has been several accidents people hitting the stabelizer using this suit? If that is the case there should defenitly be some reseach to figure out which AC are better suitable or the correct airspeed to exit the ac from.
If I was to jump this suit ( sounds interresting though....) I would DEFENITLY make sure the speed is correct for exit no matter ac type.
 

ShawnC

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Well if I remember correctly over at Skydive Deland they have a twin with a rear door? It looks like a Shorts (you know a trailor home with wings), but I'm not sure exactly what they fly.

But anything with a rear ramp seems like a perfect jump aircraft to me, there are no chances of tail strike, you are already past it.

Though my intrest in this thread is pure my best guess.
 

avbug

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When I last jumped at DeLand, it was a Skyvan. It too, has it's limitations, as do all aircraft. The rear exit isn't very large, and it's possible if performing a diving exit aft and not down, to strike the raised ramp.

Rear facing doors and ramps do make for nice exits, though.

The suit isn't what has caused the other tail strikes. The others were done by people doing normal skydiving. Consider, however, that even camera suits use large area fabric and underarm webbing to control fall rate. Our recommendation was to exit with the arms back in a track configuration to preclude inflating the suit too early, and to exit only with a good cut.
 
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