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Parachute Safety

March 12, 2016 is Safety Day: Helping Keep Skydiving Safe

The heart of the aviation world is in the National Aviation Heritage Area in the Dayton, Ohio area. Airplanes were invented by Daytonians Orville and Wilbur Wright, and, in addition, much research and development have been accomplished in Dayton in the airplane escape systems. The Parachute!

In observation of the United States Parachute Association Safety Day, March 12, 2016, the Aviation Trail, Inc. Parachute Museum brings focus to the success of research in the safety of parachutes. McCook Field was a military complex close to downtown Dayton. It later merged its work with what later was to be Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Fairborn.

One of the events that gave the parachute world a step toward skydiving, now enjoyed by many across the world, was the first use of a free fall parachute. In 1921 U.S. Army Air Corps Lt. Harold Harris found himself in a stricken aircraft. What to do? Jump out!

But this time, he had on a parachute that he could wait until he fell away from the falling airplane, then pull the ripcord. This assured his chute would not get tangled in the falling craft. He landed in a grape arbor garden in Dayton, and was alive to tell the story. He became the first airman to safely escape from an aircraft using a free fall chute. As a test pilot in Dayton he accomplished many other “firsts.”

So began the use of free fall parachutes which later became skydiving, and also safe ejection for military pilots today.

As skydiving came into its own, drop zone clubs emphasized every step of safety. This became Safety Day every year when clubs focused on reminders of how to jump safely.

Typical safety areas include:

-Gear check with riggers to see if closing loops, pilot chutes and such were in compliance.

-Review of emergency drills such as altitude awareness, disorientation, escaping an airplane in a safe way.

-Canopy flight and landing patterns particularly with aerial maps, watching for hazards and low turn accidents.

-Aircraft procedures include exit order, loading procedures, weight and balance, visibility clearances.

In the Dayton area there are a few drop zones to visit and find out how to skydive the right and safe way. To name a few there is Skydive Greene County, the oldest drop zone; Start Skydiving in Middletown; Skydive Warren County in Waynesville; Skydiving Columbus in Columbus; and, Ohio Skydiving Center in Carroll, Ohio. There are others in Ohio as well as in neighboring states. Just Google “Skydiving Drop Zones.”

Remember: Be safe when throwing yourself out of perfectly good airplanes!


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