You are on jump run looking down over clouds. Should you go around or get out? What happens if you don’t go?
Special thanks to super-judge Jim Rees for helping me with these articles and provide great insights!
First, it is worth emphasizing that if there is ANY safety reason whatsoever, don’t jump. There are tons of rules to protect your competitive status in these cases, but even if there wasn’t, DON’T DO STUPID STUFF.
Christy’s super simple rule of thumb
We will cover many circumstances and dozens of convoluted rules regarding this in the skydiver’s competition manual (which you should read). But I have a hard time channeling my inner rules lawyer on jump run in a major competition. I have made a simplified rule that I can easily remember:
You jump, probably no rejump. You don’t jump, probably a rejump.
If part of the team exits the plane, the chances of getting a rejump drop significantly. If you don’t get out for a justifiable reason, you almost always get a rejump. So if you are in doubt, the safest course of action is to stay inside the plane.
Jim Reese’s super simple rule of thumb
You can ride the plane down for any pertinent reason. You think the airspeed or altitude is wrong and cannot convince the pilot to correct? Ride the plane down. Camera failure, face shield shattered, bootie blowout? Ride the plane down. Someone is feeling sick? Ride the plane down. The only person you need to convince that the reason was pertinent is the meet director, and then he’ll get you onto another load as soon as you’re ready. You may have to pay for the extra ride depending on the circumstance (Meet Director’s discretion). If you abuse this rule, the MD might say no after your 3rd or 4th ride-down of the meet.
Each team can request a second pass. After the second pass, the pilot may elect to try again or insist you ride down. If your camera goes wonky at the door, you aren’t sure about the clouds, or the spot is unsafe –ask for another pass.
Usually, this isn’t a problem, but I have experienced an angry pilot. But it is evident in the rules – you can get a go-around for any reason.
It is your responsibility not to hit clouds. If you hit clouds and the judges can’t see your points, you will bust. You jumped, so there will be no rejump. I advise having a decision plan for iffy weather; know which team member is looking and who makes the final call.
If you jump through clear air and your camera fogs up mid-jump, there is a chance you can appeal for a rejump. I’ve seen it successful, but I wouldn’t bet on it. A better course of action is to find and test an anti-fog system beforehand. If you aren’t from that area, ask someone local about the likelihood of fogging and how they deal with it.
Finally, just a reminder, it is not legal to jump into clouds in the US regardless of scoring. It is not considered safe by the USPA. So if you are in the door waffling, error on the side of caution.
The current version of the re-jumps rules and the Video Review Panel were authored by Bryan Burke to be flexible and accommodating to teams and shift some of the burdens for video quality onto meet management. To run a big meet efficiently, teams need to climb out and go, and not be checking for clouds or haze that might fog the lens.
If you are given a green light and there is zero chance of not violating BSRs, ride the plane down. No Meet Director / Pilot should EVER put you in this situation at a Nationals — but if you exit, you will still be scored, and worse you could be disqualified for a safety violation — BSRs are non-negotiable.
From super-judge Jim:
Very roughly, the Video Review Panel (Chief Judge, Jury President, & Video Controller) can award a re-jump when the conditions that caused the video to be un-judgeable were outside the control of the team. Equipment malfunction (camera) does not count.
If the spot gets too long, you can request a go-around. Remember, a terrible spot is a safety issue – you are responsible for jumping in a way that allows you to land safely on the dropzone property. If the spot is still not acceptable, ride the plane down. Of course, if you are unreasonable, be prepared to justify yourself to the meet director if you want to rejump.
If the plane is banking or you are sure the jump run speed is wrong – you can ask the pilot to correct it and go around. If it messes up your exit, don’t get out if you want to rejump.
Early and late in the day, the sun can be low enough in the sky to cause a glare in the camera. Sun glare busts are rare in my experience, but the judges will bust this at big meets. If you think it is an issue while you are at the door, ask the pilot for a jump run adjustment if possible.
Camera guy weird exception
There is a weird exception to my jump/no-jump rule. If your camera guy goes, but the rest of the team rides the plane down, you can get a rejump at US Nationals. So if your video guy falls off and you can successfully get back in, do so.
To sum up, first, be safe no matter what the rules say. If you ride the plane down, you can probably get a rejump. If anyone on the team gets out, you probably won’t be eligible. You can ask for another pass always. Don’t jump through clouds. Any safety reason is a reason to ride down. Almost any reason is an ok reason to ride the plane down. Hopefully, that gives clear guidance you can use while you are in the situation!