Jul 19, 2007

Parachutes vs. Thunderstorms!

Many years ago in a book all about fantastic weather events, I recall reading of a world war II pilot who bailed out of a stricken aircraft at high altitude and had the misfortune to be swallowed up by a thunderstorm. For the next 30 minutes and more he was violently tossed about, soaked by rain and battered by hail and at times tumbled into his collapsed chute. He was sure he would die as the storm alternately lifted and plunged him through thousands of feet of altitude. But finally he did land and lived to tell the tale.

That was the only such case I've ever heard of until now. I just read this incredible story about two para-glider pilots who were drawn up into a severe thunderstorm. One survived to tell the tale, but the other not fare so well:

Soaring Student: Beware of Thunderstorms

4 comments:

Tony Hunt said...

Something similar happened near Ottawa in 2002 - but the parachutist cut away his main chute and dropped out of the cloud before pulling his reserve chute. He had jumped over Gatineau, Quebec (CYND) and landed in Orleans, Ontario. He was in the cloud for about 5 minutes.

http://www.dropzone.com/cgi-bin/safety/detail_page.cgi?ID=170

Aluwings said...

That sure seems like the wise course of action. I wonder why these two flyers didn't do that? Do paraglider pilots carry reserve chutes? Anyone know?

Aviatrix said...

I have heard a similar tale from another paraglider in France. He wrapped himself in his main chute as protection against the cold and hail. The cell spat him out, bruised and shivering in a farmer's field. I don't remember if he had redeployed his main main chute or used the back up.

Aviatrix said...

Oh and yes, paragliders do have reserve chutes. I have a friend who runs a paragliding resort.