Sadly, a skydiving plane  has crashed in Belgium, killing all 11 jumpers on board. We mourn the loss of our skydiving friends. We feel deeply for our skydiving brothers and sisters in Belgium. Plane crashes come out of no where and are absolutely devastating to the local  skydiving community

We all accept risks in our sport and have a plan in place to deal with most of them or prevent them in the first place. But aircraft problems – it’s always Plan B: get out as quickly as you can and pull your reserve if you’re above 300’  … otherwise pray that the person in the front seat is one of the top test pilots in the world. In our sport we have one advantage over the average aircraft commuter.

When aircraft are in serious trouble it’s usually not the PG-rated Hollywood version with smoking engine and slow, stable downward spiral. All hell breaks loose and panic is the order of the day. I remember our local DZ pilot when he lost pieces of the tailplane due to a snagged pilot chute – he literally dragged himself to the jump door whilst pinned to the aircraft ceiling from the incredible g-forces. He got out at around 500’ and made his first parachute jump! Nice one Dave!

When we lose one, two and then three skydivers in a year, we feel really uncomfortable. When we lose 11 in one accident it stuns us.

Many people expound on the high risks of BASE jumping in comparison to skydiving, yet ignore the issues we just experienced in Belgium. When you add up aircraft related deaths in skydiving, this reality sinks in. Aircraft are an essential to our sport - we trust the aircraft owners, pilots and regulatory bodies to look after us, but of course, sometimes we are at fault.

Skydivers themselves have caused many serious aircraft accidents and we need to be diligent with the usual 20 pilot-chute checks before exit, making sure our loops are not frayed to the point where they will go ‘just one more jump’ and look at everyone else's gear in the plane.

Am I sounding too much like a tired old DSZO… maybe I’ve seen too many preventable accidents overt the years.

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