For many decades as DiverDrivers, we have known of “the Money Shot.” You know the one–the last jumper exits and the plane rolls and dives to stay in view of the camera as the tandem goes into drogue fall. Great WOW! factor and neat-o souvenir for the lucky-enough-to-be-last tandem passenger.
But is it worth it? I submit it is not worth it ever. We are not part of the show. If you will, we operate the ski lift to the top of the mountain and let the skiers out. That’s it. If you want to jump with your buddies, then go get a rig. The plane does not count.
You may have seen this video before. It’s a collision of a Cessna Caravan with the videographer of the tandem pair it dropped last over Boituva, Brazil, and reportedly the videographer then struck the tandem pair. The videographer died and both the instructor and student were injured but survived.
You may think “Hey, it’s so rare. That pilot just messed up.” or “I would never do what he did.” While you may be right in that you won’t have an actual collision with the jumpers, are you sure they won’t have a premature deployment right out of the door and be in a position you’re not expecting?
I want you to watch this video. Watch twice. Then, after watching the video I want you to follow the link to a LiveLeak.com article. In it, you will see what a collision with a plane diving and a jumper in free fall will do to someone’s face. The camera became disconnected in the collision and actually captured the jumper’s image as it tumbled away. I WARN YOU AGAIN it is graphic, but if you can’t take the reality of what you risk by doing a rollover dive, then stop doing rollover dives after the last jumper exits!
And here is the link to the physical results of this collision. I again put a WARNING GRAPHIC on this link. At the end of the photo series the poster comments that this is common in South America. Well, I know here in the USA, I’ve seen plenty of video of it too. Please stop doing this!
Now, for the second part of why not to do rollovers. Because it’s hard on the equipment. YES! Bob Hoover used to do an aerobatic routine with a Twin Commander. Neat. Your name is not Bob Hoover. And Bob Hoover made way more money than you and could keep his Twin Commander repaired. Can you afford a gear reduction box on a PT-6 that failed due to repeated oil starvation rollovers?
“Well Chris, it’s just a 1 G maneuver. No big deal.”
It may be one G where you are sitting on the centerline of the aircraft. But what is happening to those engines hanging out many feet away from you? Think they are experiencing one G? Rolling left will give how many negative Gs to the descending left engine?
So what should you do after last jumper out? No more than 30° bank. And on previous descents at normal speed, you should identify the pitch attitude on the attitude indicator. You will pitch down to that angle and no further. Let the speed build up to your normal descent speed.
Don’t be “that guy.” You have a long flying career ahead of you. Is it worth it? Can you really risk your job, the aircraft, and last but definitely not least the lives of your passengers just for the possibility of a single cool photo? If you can, you need to find another job before you kill someone.