by Jan Meyer
Face it, you're human. You can make mistakes. Things happen that you can't explain. You do things, expecting one thing to happen, but something else happens. You can get confused. This confusion could possibly hurt you. You can't always avoid confusion. Confusing situations will greet you from time to time. It may be a reform after a funnel, brain-lock What's the next point????, why is the slider stuck?, why is my canopy not opening??, why is my descent rate increasing???, or why is my groundspeed increasing when I'm faced into the wind??? The list goes on and on.
Don't let a confusing situation control you. Take action that makes the best use of what you know. Recognize when you are confused. Set your audible altimeter at reserve pull altitude to wake you up with a blast of noise. Admit that you don't know everything. Don't try and figure out WHY??? in real time. Tell your canopy "I'll get back to you later.", cut it away and use your reserve. Learn to count, sing a verse of your favorite song or use your own unique way to keep track of time when your start your pull sequence.
If the winds are squirrelly, shifting or shearing, don't try to turn into the wind at a very low altitude. Slide out your landing as best as you can. If neccessary, cut away your main after landing.
The Plan when Confused??
Go with what you know. Right now!
Use techniques on every dive that prevent loss of awareness and bring you back to reality in case you do lose awareness.
Originally published in Sport Parachutist's Safety Journal V1, #3 Sept/Oct 1988.
Dedicated to enhancing sport parachuting safety by disseminating information about equipment, environments and human factors.