Pattern Work During Parachute Jump Activity

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by RingLaserGyroSandwich, Apr 11, 2021.

  1. RingLaserGyroSandwich

    RingLaserGyroSandwich Pre-takeoff checklist

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    A few months ago KRJD established the following permanent NOTAM to keep aircraft north of the field:

    08/499 - RWY 30 RIGHT TFC PATTERN. 26 AUG 20:45 2020 UNTIL PERM. CREATED: 26 AUG 20:47
    2020​

    In addition, KRJD has the following NOTAM indicating parachute jumps within 3nm of the field:

    07/407 - AIRSPACE PJE WI AN AREA DEFINED AS 3NM RADIUS OF RJD SFC-15000FT. 01 AUG 07:00
    2020 UNTIL PERM. CREATED: 25 JUL 07:17 2020​

    As I understand it, the right traffic pattern was established so that airplanes are always north of the field and parachute activity, if present, occurs south of the field. On a few previous occasions I've seen airplanes performing pattern work and remaining north of the field, even during parachute jump operations. Obviously, you should be careful to keep an eye on when jumps are occurring and look out for wayward parachuters, but is it legal and is it okay practice to continue pattern work while jumpers are coming down on the south side of the field? In the past the jump pilot made his announcements but didn't complain about airplanes so long as they stayed on the north side of the air field so I didn't think anything of it.

    Today, I was making right traffic for 30 per the NOTAM and the jump pilot (not sure if it's a new jump pilot or not) got agitated on the radio that I could be endangering the parachuters by staying in the pattern during the jump operation. As I broke off to the north to avoid any possible further conflicts I asked her, out of confusion, if closed traffic keeping north of the field is not authorized during jump operations, and she said something like "you can't be sure the jumpers will be able to remain away from the field" and I stopped discussing it further.

    Who is right here? What's the point of the NOTAM for right traffic on 30 if you shouldn't be in the pattern anyway during jump operations?
     
  2. kyleb

    kyleb Final Approach

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    Around skydivers, I assume the worst. I've seen meat-bombs coming through clouds and through holes in a cloud layer that certainly didn't allow for safe see and avoid. I generally depart the area when they are airborne.

    That doesn't exactly answer your question, but hitting a skydiver would be a bad thing, regardless of who is ultimately responsible.
     
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  3. Salty

    Salty Final Approach

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    How is pattern practice any less safe than any plane coming in and landing? I’d say they need to train the divers and / or drop them further south if they are unable to keep themselves out of the pattern north of the runway.
     
  4. Salty

    Salty Final Approach

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    That said, I tend to avoid pattern practice where lots of various operations are occurring. I started learning at an airport with skydiving, gliders, and gyros. What a zoo. I went on to get my glider rating there years later and really learned to hate it even more. All of my close calls collision wise have been at that airport.
     
  5. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    It’s not a TFR, it’s just a notam announcing PJA.

    Had something similar happen to me. I departed from my home field with the same type of notam in place. In this case, it was a Casa 212 with Army Rangers jumping out the back. I was no factor but the jump master took it upon himself to complain to the airport manager that I violated regulation by departing. The airport manager set him straight that the airport isn’t closed and I had just as much right to the airspace as they did.

    Even on the ATC side, it’s not their job to keep you clear (unless requested) of PJA. Outside of airspace that requires sep (A, B, C) it’s all advisory. Now, do I do my best to avoid them? Sure but they need to work with me as well.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2021
  6. ARFlyer

    ARFlyer En-Route

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    Me personally I’d just move on to a nearby airfield to do pattern work. I’d also wait until the jump plane is taking off and takeoff and land right behind him.

    Human Strike forms are kinda lengthly and time consuming.
     
  7. Wagondriver

    Wagondriver Pre-Flight

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    Its an airport, its purpose is for airplanes to land and take off, NOT to provide exclusive use for a jump operation!
     
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  8. dmspilot

    dmspilot En-Route

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    The 3 miles refers to the radius at jump altitude, not the landing. The jumpers will descend from jump height to landing in a cone shape. At traffic pattern altitude, the parachutes are highly unlikely to be 1/2 mile or more from the landing site. There is a diagram in AC 90-66B on the second to last page. A normal traffic pattern that is not overly tight should not normally interfere with jump activity. Finally the regulations do not acknowledge parachutes in right of way rules and a NOTAM doesn't magically give them right of way.
     
  9. JOhnH

    JOhnH Touchdown! Greaser!

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    If you couldn't do pattern work while jumpers are jumping, then you could never do pattern work at KDED (Deland Fl).
     
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  10. brcase

    brcase Pattern Altitude

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    At Pattern altitudes the will be under canopy 99% of the time. They can hear you easily and maneuver fairly well. They are also pretty easy to see when under canopy. If they are doing very many jumps they are probably training new jumpers, so it is while they will usually be very predictable it is worth remembering they may be student aviators as well.

    Brian
     
  11. Stephen Shore

    Stephen Shore Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Parachute activity is pretty common at my home base airport on any given weekend. The jump plane pilots always do a good job of announcing activity on the local CTAF and even go back and forth with Approach ATC since a Class D is also nearby.

    TO and landing and even pattern work is rarely a problem with these guys with the way they announce position and jumping activity. The only time I give way is when they announce jumpers are out of the plane. At 10,000 AGL jump altitude, it only takes them a few minutes to land at their target.

    And yes, I have seen them land ON runways and well off the airport grounds. They are tax payers too so I don't have any problems sharing the airspace with them.
     
  12. bflynn

    bflynn Final Approach

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    I recommend thinking about the winds - The jumpers are going to approach the field into the wind. If you'll be into the wind on base, they will be approaching across the runway.
     
  13. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    One would think so...
     
  14. donjohnston

    donjohnston Cleared for Takeoff

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    Before hurricane Michael, Panama City Skydive operated out of my home field. Very busy every weekend. Sebastian, where I did my Phase I flight testing had a big skydive operation with usually two jump planes running seven days a week. Sebastian is also a very popular destination for the flight schools to practice at with their English challenged students doing continuous touch-and-goes.

    Never had any problems at either place doing pattern work. If I felt uncomfortable, I would fly a wider than usual pattern.
     
  15. Huckster79

    Huckster79 Pattern Altitude

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    I think it’s a bit crazy airports are used as drop zones.... makes zero sense to me. Sure I get it’s close/convenient and cheaper - but it makes no sense when you are combining concentrated aircraft traffic and lawn darts in the same area on purpose.
     
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  16. farangutan

    farangutan Pre-Flight

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    Same at Zephyrhills. And they share the same ctaf frequency too.
     
  17. Domenick

    Domenick Line Up and Wait

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    My sea level home drome has an active jump operation. One landing pit is 290 feet off the runway. Jumpers need 200 jumps to land at the pit, otherwise they are dropped a few miles east. They jump from 13K and 3K. The jump pilots are great. Clear, consistent announcements and pattern calls. The jump planes, a Caravan and a small Cessna, often make it down before the jumpers dropped at 13K.

    Personally, I keep an eye out, but largely ignore them. I do yield to the jump planes, as those guys are making a living, and I'm just boring holes. Frankly, the geese scare me more than the jumpers.

    I've been at this field for 20 years and have not heard of a single plane/jumper incident. There have been three jumper deaths I know of in that time (2003, 2013, 2016). The first impacted power lines a couple miles east of the field. The other two were highly experienced jumpers practicing advanced maneuvers that went wrong. No equipment failures. No aircraft involvement.
     
  18. TimRF79

    TimRF79 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Well, skydivers do need a plane to get up to altitude.. and the hobby of a skydiver is just as important as the hobby of a pilot.

    There was an incident in 2020 when a jumper (on his first jump) fixiated on the King Air on the ground, he froze and 'landed' in on the King Air, he died.
    I know of other close calls.

    In short i would do pattern work at a different airport, just so there is one less thing to worry about.
    Jumpers exit point will depend on winds, and with shifting winds, pilot/ jumper error you can have jumpers in unexpected places.
    Most jumpers will pull around 4k AGL, putting them under canopy around 3.5k to 3k AGL.
    However if there is a high-speed main malfunction, they will barely be under the reserve at 1.5k AGL.
    At that point, they can be anywhere and will be distracted with the situation at hand.

    In short at 1k AGL, jumpers should be under canopy, easy to see and in their landing pattern.
    But there is a residual chance for when something went wrong.

    And if the next airport for pattern work is a 10min flight away for me, why not fly and let jump....
     
  19. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    I don't mix it up with meat bombs. Too damn many ways for things to go south. Then again, I don't do pattern work either.
     
  20. Clip4

    Clip4 Final Approach

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    Got agitated on the radio that you could be endangering the parachuters by staying in the pattern, but OK with letting parachuters jump out of the plane with you or any other plane in the pattern. Makes sense to me.:eek::eek::eek:
     
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  21. Tools

    Tools Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Straight in works the best... so pattern work wide and long is practically zero concern.

    The best scenario is simply to establish a relationship with the jump pilot, and speak English (vice pilotese) into the mic.

    Good simple situational awareness is critical. But when is it not?

    Learn what the jump place does. We do 5k hop and pops, occasional 10k, most are 14k, and regular 18k. Some loads have a mix of these. Also, because of proximity to Chatt, I’m on approach through 3k going up, come back to ctaf about 9k coming down. The prudent pattern guy would listen to both frequencies if capable. I give 2 min notice on ctaf, one minute on approach, for each run.

    I tend to fly non standard direction when throwing jumpers, since everything else is so non standard. Gives me the best vantage to find other traffic. Flying a normal ground track with 5k fpm rate of descent doesn’t make a lot of sense.

    Tools
     
  22. Juliet Hotel

    Juliet Hotel Pattern Altitude

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    They do train them for that. A lot. But just like we find with pilots, jumper come in all levels of experience and aptitude. More than once military hardware has been dispatched to go identify a 1200 squawk out in the ocean near the ADIZ line only to find a solo cross country student who thought he was crossing a bay. Likewise you will sometimes find a solo student jumper who misjudges their setup and approach and ends up being blown to the wrong side of the airport without any meaningful outs left. Its rare but it can happen.

    Having flown jumpers, I would be inclined to avoid doing any kind of pattern work at a field with an active DZ going on. No need to mix it up with jumpers and jump pilots when there's lots of other fields around for pattern work IMO.
     
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  23. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down PoA Supporter

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    Man if that bugs ya, you should see how many other dissimilar types of aircraft and pilot skill levels they let use airports these days...

    LOL.
     
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  24. Juliet Hotel

    Juliet Hotel Pattern Altitude

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    Well to be fair, the canopies are very steerable and controllable. Do you also think gliders should not be allowed to operate at the same airports as powered planes?
     
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  25. Huckster79

    Huckster79 Pattern Altitude

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    Valid point to all!

    now does that take away from pilot status to admit others have a good point and not argue just to argue when ya realize you’ve been corrected? Asking for a friend :)
     
  26. Todd82

    Todd82 Line Up and Wait

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    50 points each, right? :D
     
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  27. Shawn

    Shawn En-Route

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    250 if you get 'em before the chute opens...
     
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  28. mcdewey

    mcdewey Pre-takeoff checklist

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    That's a good tip. The jump pilot I heard at KRJD was announcing on CTAF and with Dover Approach. Dover was advising aviators; not sure if they were directing people away from the field.

    I just stay away while they're jumping over there. I just go over to Easton or Cambridge or Bay Bridge or Georgetown or Massey or ...
     
  29. Silvaire

    Silvaire En-Route

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    There is a lot of skydiving activity at my airport and it's been that way for at least the past 20 years. There are also a lot of students doing pattern practice from local flight schools in the area. Over the years there have been a number of mishaps, accidents and fatalities involving skydivers but none of them have ever involved another aircraft in the pattern.