Students drilled in skydiving safety: instructor
Students at the Skydive Ranch were drilled in saftey procedures, but first-time jumpers weren't over-loaded with too much information, the man in charge of training at the facility told a fatality inquiry.
Jim VanDewark, who has taught thousands of people how to skydive, says students are given instruction about the equipment, how to exit the plane and what to do about parachute malfunctions.
He also testified that malfunctions are part of the sport, with acceptable standards at about one problem for every 750 jumps.
In July 1998, 18-year-old Nadia Kanji died on her first-ever jump, when her parachute didn't open properly. A witness said part of her main chute didn't open and then cut away about 61 metres from the ground. The reserve chute partially opened, the witness said, before collapsing.
VanDewark says first-time students, who take a six-hour course, are told of two types of malfunctions fast and slow. In a fast malfunction, the chute doesn't come out and the reserve canopy must be pulled. In a slow malfunction, the jumper can spin out of control or a chute doesn't open all the way.
He testified that first-time jumpers don't get much information on how to correct these problems, because it's too much for the students to absorb. But he said if they go into a spin, as Kanji did, they were to pull the reserve chute, which she did. However, she was too close to the ground and it didn't open properly.
Moments before Kanji jumped, her friend Narisha Jindani had left the plane and also had trouble with her chute, suffering multiple fractures and spending two months in the intensive-care unit.
VanDewark says two people with a similar problem on the same plane is something he'd never seen before, and hasn't seen since.
Jindani earlier told the inquiry that they weren't given instructions on what to do should their parachutes not open properly.