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Published: March 1, 2013
Jump Run has always been a little pet peeve of mine. Not the "term" or "function of it" per se', just the lack of explanation of it.
We're all on the plane ride up, talking, laughing, discussing our dives - but how many of us actually look out the window and pay attention to the way the plane is flying? How many actually pay attention to the upper winds?
I've seen time and time again how newer jumpers "spot"...when asked "what are you looking for when you spot?" they usually say "to make sure there are no planes beneath us". Yes, that is true - but did you look and take note of the direction the plan was flying in?
There are lots of things to take into consideration and to be honest, I am shamefully guilty of having not checked the upper winds at times myself and it is not something to be ignored. These are important factors to take note of. Why is this important? Well, for starters - that will be a clear indication of how much separation is needed between jumpers. When uppers are strong = longer delays in the door (the plane is moving slower over the ground). When the uppers are low = less delay in the door (the plane is moving faster over the ground). This will depend on if we are running into the wind or crosswind or downwind, but you get the idea.
Now based on the below picture (pardon my kindergarten artwork and dyslexia with east and west on the pic- but you get my drift hopefully) -
Take note of each flyer (the plane is flying in the South direction here)...if I were jumper 1, 2 or 3 for that matter - which direction do I NOT want to track in when I am done with my dive???? Obviously I do not want to track in the direction of South - because of all of the jumpers exiting after me will be there. That is obvious right? Well, it's only obvious if you are paying attention and actually took notice of the direction of jump run and which way the plane is flying when you "spotted" or during the final stages of the ride to altitude.
Now let's talk about canopy - we have exit order on the plane based on belly flyers, free flyers, students, etc. Belly flyers will glide in the air (see pic below) whereas freeflyers fall more in a sort of straight-down fashion. This is why the belly flyers go first. If freeflyers went first (falling more straight-down) and belly flyers went out after (and glide over to the direction of the belly flyers) - you can see the potential for danger at pull time right? Or even a mid-air collision in freefall.
Now what about someone pulling higher? Well, normally if you are pulling higher (usually above 4k feet) you may be shuffled in the exit order so that you are not open under canopy while others are falling behind you (potentially through you) - this is also why students go out after the experienced jumpers, because they are normally pulling higher.
Now, let's tie this all in together. "IF" you say you are planning to pull at 4k - it is important that you pull at 4k. "IF" you say you are planning to pull at 3k - it's important that you pull at 3k. Why? Because often the exit order is done in a way that allows ample separation for the altitude you said you'd pull at. If you pull higher than you originally said, could you see the problem here?
Also, again, bearing in mind about those upper winds. If you don't know them - ask an instructor or even the pilot - they will know and best direct you. This will ensure proper separation so that again, at pull time, there are not canopies all on top of one another.
Now, while under canopy - remember back to AFF days - we normally go to our holding area. We most definitely do not want to fly our canopy up jump run because again, people are still falling and opening their canopies in this space.
If you don't hold in the same holding area as everyone else - and try to get into the landing pattern - depending where you held - there is the potential of cutting people off in their pattern, not to mention, if you are not heading to the holding area (which is usually upwind) - then you are potentially putting yourself in an area of other people falling from the sky
The sport is relatively a safe sport as long as everyone follows the rules and is on the same page. Hopefully these tidbits will help keep you (and me) safe and out of harms way. Canopy collisions are one of the #1 causes of skydiving fatalities. It's important to know and understand the plane direction, what jump run is, what the winds are doing both up top and on the ground, what type of flying everyone is doing and what they plan to pull at.
Remember folks; this is not a carousel ride - be smart, play smart, and live to skydive another day.
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