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Don't rest for a second. Expect everything that can go wrong to go wrong on every jump you make. We respond correctly and immediately when we are anticipating a problem. Being surprised by a situation usually slows our response time.
When you track off from a jump expect people to be close to you. Expect a hard pull. Expect a malfunction. Expect canopies to be coming at you. Expect someone to cut you off in the pattern.
A hard pull is a good example of this. Several times I’ve seen jumpers open low. When I asked them what they were doing down there they said they had a hard time finding or pulling their pilot chute. But they got it out on the third try. If they got it out on the third try it wasn’t that hard! The only difference was by the third try they expected it was going to be difficult and got serious about doing a good pull. Expect it to be difficult each time and get serious about the first pull!
I don't know of anyone who was in a canopy collision who saw it coming. They didn't see it coming because they weren't looking. And they weren't looking because they thought it couldn't happen to them. As a general rule we don't get more separation after opening, we get less. People don't open and then fly away. More often we are all aiming for the same general landing areas. After opening we get closer and closer until landing. Canopies are converging. If you're not looking you are aiming for a canopy collision.
I'm not asking everyone to skydive scared. Just to wake up. Be aware, be ready, be in control, don't be a victim. If you do this you'll grow up to be an old skydiver. And I'm looking forward to partying with all my old skydiving friends for many years to come.
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