Water jumps are preplanned parachute jumps into an open body of water more than 1.5 m (5 ft) in depth. A water jump can be an enjoyable experience provided normal procedures and a few additional precautions are employed. Physical injuries and drownings are almost unknown on preplanned and intentional water landings. The potential however always exists for an unintentional water landing due to spotting error and/or radical wind changes.
Water may not be an obstacle at your home DZ, and if it is jumping at a new DZ can present water obstacles not previously encountered ( ie: a river instead of a lake). The technique for emergency water landings should be taught to all jumpers if open water exists close to the DZ. If not taught, the visiting jumper should ensure that adequate training in the form of the Water Jump Endorsement be obtained.
There are two major areas which deserve attention for water jumps. The first is depth perception and the second is removing the equipment after entry into the water. It is essential that persons jumping within 1 km of open water be trained.
This endorsement is required for Water Jumps.
To do an intentional water jump, the skydiver must have a "B" CoP or higher; or "A" CoP with water jump endorsement and supervised by a "B" CoP.
Specific regulations are set out by:
- Maximum Winds - 10 mph, or 9 kts, or 5 m/s
- Power boats for pick-up of jumpers capable of holding the operator, an assistant and the skydiver plus wet gear. One boat per skydiver in the water or air.
- Airspace clearance if required. Since a lake is not normally a DZ, it may be necessary to obtain MOT approval or at least file a NOTAM.
There are two major areas deserving attention. The first is the absence of depth perception over water. Unless there are objects, such as boats or familiar buoys on the surface of the water, or unless the skydiver is jumping near land, they will not be able to determine their altitude by sight alone. The peculiarity requires that the jumper maintain absolute discipline with regard to preparation for and water entry.
The second are of note is the preparation of the parachutist to effectively release and clear his equipment after water entry. It is absolutely essential that persons normally jumping within one kilometer of an open body of water be trained and follow procedures in accordance the BSR 2.3
Two strategies that have proven helpful are to use a hanging harness and/or pool training.
- Preparation techniques
- open chest strap
- inflate floatation device:
- use CO2 if present
- inflate orally otherwise
- loosen leg straps; DO NOT release snaps until landing occurs.
- Inflation techniques for floatation devices
- CO2 type - gas cylinder with activation cord
- Oral type - manual inflation valve, usually with a lock
- Procedures after landing
- clearing harness
- release snaps
- allow harness to slide off
- swim forward away from harness and canopy, or release main canopy and swim clear wearing harness
- recovery of equipment
- grasp one part of the harness
- remain clear of the canopy and lines
- wait for the boat to approach you, from the upwind side, (in front of you)
- clearing harness
This should be mandatory for weak or non-swimmers.
- Testing of flotation device (support of jumper and equipment)
- Removal of equipment in water
- Organization of boats and ground crew
- Emergency procedures
- during parachute jump
- in water (after landing)
- Reduction of freefall control (without jumpsuit)
- Equipment for jumpers (collect and test)
- a flotation device for each skydiver
- waterproof bags (plastic) for instruments (if required)
- proper clothing
- Site preparation
- Target buoy - floating target with anchor wet an adequate distance from obstacles in a safe landing area (water minimum 1.5m deep, no strong currents, no underwater hazards).
- Signal target - on shore near target buoy (air to ground radio or smoke generator is also acceptable).
- Boats for picking up skydivers
- one per jumper in air or water at any one time
- powered for speed equal to wind speed
- large enough for operator, assistant, skydiver and equipment
- crew: operator plus non-participating jumper to assist
- life jackets for crew plus spare
- paddle and/or boat hook
- ladder - if a large boat
- Lifeguard - an individual skilled in artificial respiration techniques is recommended
Day of Jump
- Organize and brief people
- skydivers and pilot
- boat operators
- boat crew
- Check conditions
- wind maximum - 10 mph
- water temperature acceptable for swimming
- Safety checks
- floatation device, attached to the jumper
- inflation system accessible (CO2 or valve)
- parachute equipment as per normal jump
- Jumping procedure
- drop WDI - watch closely as it will sink if it lands in the water
- spotting - extra care is required due to the lack of ground references
- freefall - initial instability due to lack of clothing
- opening altitude - 3,000' AGL - allow extra time for step 5.
- Direct canopy to target area while preparing to land
- face into the wind - the canopy will land in the water behind you, out of the way
- DO NOT release the harness (N.B. legstraps) until contact is made with the water
- swim clear of the equipment (at least main canopy)
- direct the boat to yourself for pickup
- Assemble all participants to debrief jump
- Clear up site as required. Make sure to thank boat operators and crews
- Hang up equipment to dry - in the shade as sunshine severely damages nylon
- Unintentional water landings
- loosen harness, inflate flotation device
- on landing - clear equipment, if harness done up, cutaway main canopy
- Landings in high winds or strong current
- unintentional - activate floatation device, and cutaway
- intentional - after following normal water landing procedures, cutaway
- Canopy malfunctions
- deploy reserve
- loosen harness as much as possible
- inflate flotation device
- clear equipment upon landing
The administration of this endorsement can be done by an SSE.