Canopy Pilot Matt Shull experienced first hand what it feels like to exceed AAD activation parameters on a swoop on a recent jump in Colorado. Matt does not use an AAD on his personal gear precisely due to the risk of it activating during a swoop.
When Matt borrowed gear from a friend for a jump, he performed a gear check on pins and cables etc, but did not remember to disarm the AAD. The jump took place in Colorado.
Matt put the video below together and graciously allowed us to share it, so that other pilots may review the incident and learn from it. It provides footage from his camera and an outside one as well, capturing the turn and landing. He also included gSwoop plots from the jump for those of you that want to dig into plots and numbers (the graph is a bit blurry, being a screen grab). (gSwoop is a GPS tool designed to help swoopers analyze and evaluate their performance)
Matt is a highly skilled and experienced canopy pilot and a member of the U.S. Canopy Piloting Team. On this particular jump he was jumping a Performance Designs Valkyrie 96, with standard slider (not using a removable deployment system). The AAD in the rig was a Vigil, but this has happened on units made by other manufacturers as well.
We have seen fatalities from this in the past, and AAD manufacturers responded by releasing “speed versions” of their particular units for canopy piloting use. However, as canopies keep getting smaller and faster, that may not be enough to prevent an AAD from firing. Bottom line: know your equipment, and operate within its limits. Make sure to review the parameters of your particular device and then do what you need to operate within those. If you need to brush up on the details, visit the links below for more information and/or manuals for the most common ones.