After visiting the airport on work related business, i find myself manifested for the last jump of the day (good job i brought my gear along, just in case 😉 ) so see this as a good chance to once again practise side sliding, even if i am solo, i can use the ground as a reference to ensure im not turning.
As the jump order is being worked out, a 4 way group is leaving before me, then me, then a few more solo jumpers. I hear the guy who is lined up to jump after me, ask the 4 way if he can jump with them, but, they decline, he then asks the jumpmaster (who is part of the 4 way group) if he can leave after them, and ‘catch them up’ and hes told an outright NO!
We all board the plane, and at 7000 feet, a couple of ‘groundrush’ tandem jumpers exit the plane, giving everyone else a bit more room. During the rest of the climb to jump altitude, i tell the guy exiting behind me, to leave at least 6-7 seconds before exiting, and gesture to the person who will be acting jumpmaster for 6 seconds between us. I repeat this to the other jumper numerous times.
The lights are on, the doors open, and the group leaves, after an 8 second delay, by myself. a good single flip exit, i turn slightly so i can look over my shoulder, so see the next guy exiting the plane, ALREADY?!?!
I look down to the 4 way group, they are miles away, so i turn and do a small track, away from this other jumper, and the 4 way group, and practise my side slide left and right. at 6000 feet, i do a slow 360 turn, trying to see if i can spot the other jumper, hes definitely not above me, i cant see him, the 4 way are starting to deploy below me over to my left, at 3500 i wave off, and deploy my pilot chute.
Im still looking around, and my canopy opens with one side a little more collapsed than normal, i grab my toggles, and as im looking up at the right hand side of my canopy, still in freefall, and about 300 feet from me, the other guy goes screaming past me, HOLY FOOKIN SHIT!!!!!!!!
I look at my alti, im at 3000 feet, he deploys as im looking at my altimeter, and is nearly 1000 feet lower than me, i shout something along the lines of ‘WHAT THE FOOK ARE YOU DOING!!!’ but im assuming it went unheard.
My canopy has started to turn and dive, this guy has made me completley neglect the fact im under a 2/3 inflated canopy, so i pump the toggles, then head to the holding area, before landing, and making my way back to the packing area, where i arrive first.
The other guy turns up, and i ask him if he did any tracking on his jump (thinking he may have been trying to ‘catch’ me like he wanted to with the 4 way), and he says no. I give a few choice words about how close he was to me, but more importantly, about how high i was (or how low i was) when he passed me, still in freefall speed, which another jumper also noticed (who has now arrived as well), as if he had a high speed malfunction, then the 10 seconds that would have been the rest of his life, would have been spent dealing with it. At this point, a 3rd jumper, who was the acting JM appeared, who had a go at the jumper for pushing past him and exiting the plane, and, upon landing, when discussing the jump, he actually told the acting JM that he did in fact do tracking on that jump, which would explain why he was so close to me at deployment time
I try everything possible to be as safe as i can be, but when things like this can happen because of other people, it makes you realise how easily things can go horribly wrong