A long-time employee (manifest) at Start Skydiving in Middletown, Ohio walked into a spinning propeller yesterday (Sunday, June 2nd, 2014). She suffered severe head injures and was airlifted to a hospital in Dayton, OH.
The dropzone usually flies a caravan (one prop up front) but this weekend was operating a Twin Otter (props on each wing).
We reached out to our resident columnist and experienced skydiving pilot, Dean Ricci (aka the Fuckin’ Pilot) for comments and suggestions regarding propeller safety:
NOTHING is that important.
There is no message that must be passed on in person right now. A drink for a hot and tired pilot can be given to them by the first to board the aircraft. Excitement, enthusiasm, anger, frustration… All these things can wait.
Yesterday the unthinkable happened. For a reason that simply doesn’t matter, a member of our skydiving family forgot where she was. She forgot just how dangerous the world we have chosen to live or work in can truly be. It may cost her life, or at the very least change it forever. Our environment doesn’t care if you’ve had a bad day. It doesn’t care if you were out late last night getting bombed with friends. In fact, it doesn’t care at all, so you have to. All of you.
The propeller of your jump ship won’t stop spinning because you’ve strayed too close, and the price is just too much to pay.
NEVER walk forward of an aircraft propeller, either running or not.
NEVER stand in front of an aircraft to signal the pilot for any reason unless you are trained professional ground crew with a real purpose. That is what radios are for.
Never lose sight of where you are and what you’re doing. THINK, every day about what’s going on, what the plan for the day is and what may happen. If you shouldn’t be there, DON’T GO THERE. THINK, THINK, THINK.
Send your thoughts to Start Skydiving in Ohio today. Each and every person there is on the front line of a lesson that every single one of us needs to know. Not learn, KNOW!
Every one of us owes a death, without exception, but it’s a bill best paid as late as possible. Fuck the interest, let the God Damn house wait to collect.
Blue Skies, Black Death
Dean Ricci The Fuckin’ Pilot
DiverDriver.com, an online resource for jump pilots, has compiled aircraft related incident lists by type, with links to NTSB reports. The prop strike category currently holds 8 listings, 5 of them fatalities.
We send our condolences to everyone at Start Skydiving.