Army officer survives 3,500ft fall

#1
Army officer survives 3,500ft fall after parachute fails to open
By Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent
(Filed: 14/11/2004)

An Army officer survived falling 3,500 feet from an aircraft after his parachute failed to open properly during a training exercise.

Lieut Charlie Williams, a platoon commander in the Irish Guards, escaped serious injury when he crashed through the corrugated iron roof of a house in a shanty town in eastern Kenya.

The maximum speed he would have achieved during his descent, if his parachute had failed to deploy at all, would have been 120mph, although the actual speed of his impact is unknown.

The 25-year-old officer, who was making only his third parachute jump, cracked three vertebrae in the lower part of his back and dislocated a finger, when his fall was broken by the roof.

In his first interview since the accident, Lieut Williams said: "I was completely helpless, there was nothing I could do. I said to myself 'this is it' and I prepared to die."

The incident began immediately after Lieut Williams jumped from a Cessna 102 aircraft as it circled above Malindi airport. Instead of making a clean exit, he clipped the side of the door and was sent spinning and tumbling through the air. His feet became entangled in the parachute's rigging lines and he began spiralling downward, head first. All attempts to free himself failed.

"The parachute canopy had partly deployed, but my feet were up above me and were preventing it from deploying fully," said Lieut Williams, who was speaking from his parents' home in Bradford, West Yorkshire.

"I was travelling very fast and spinning at the same time. I only realised how fast when I went speeding past the person who had jumped before me, and he was initially 100 feet below me.

"I was very frightened and I was panicking. My body position meant that it was impossible to deploy my reserve parachute. Everything I tried failed, so I resigned myself to the fact that I was about to die.

"Bizarrely, from that point on, everything seemed to slow down and I became strangely calm. I remember thinking of how lonely I felt at the time.

"I just tried to keep things as ordered as possible and waited to see what was going to happen when I hit the ground."

As Lieut Williams fell, his instructors looked on in the belief that he would be killed. They aborted the other jumps, banked the aircraft steeply and followed his path down to earth.

"The next thing I knew, was that I had smashed through the corrugated iron roof of somebody's home and I was lying on the ground with a crowd of puzzled Kenyans looking at me. My immediate thought was 'Oh my God, I'm alive'.

"At that point I wasn't in any particular pain, but I was experiencing an odd sensation. It wasn't exactly an out-of-body experience, but I certainly didn't feel connected to my body. I felt as though I was looking down at myself and my arms and legs were not in the position that they felt they should be.

"Slowly, I realised I could wiggle my toes and clench my leg muscles. I was breathing and I was looking for breaks and bleeding, but there wasn't any. I knew I wasn't paralysed - that was a huge relief but I didn't try to stand up."

After the accident, which happened two weeks ago, Lieut Williams was given first aid by British Army medics. He was later flown to a hospital in Nairobi before being evacuated to Britain.

Lieut Williams joined the Army in 2001 after reading mathematics at Edinburgh University. He was commissioned into the Irish Guards. "I don't know if I'm very lucky or very unlucky. I'm alive and frankly that's all that matters," he said. "I went parachuting because I have a fear of heights and I wanted to crack it. I'm still scared of heights, but I certainly haven't been put off parachuting."

Lt Col Mike Smith, the commandant of the Joint Services Parachuting Centre, in Netheravon, Wiltshire, was in charge of the dropping zone at the airfield. The colonel, who is a veteran of 7,000 parachute jumps, said: "When I arrived at the scene I assumed I would either find a dead body or someone very badly injured. He is a very lucky young man."

Lieut Williams is still receiving treatment but he is expected to rejoin the 1 Bn Irish Guards in January. A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "Adventure training is meant to have an element of risk built into it so the activity is challenging an exciting, but this was a bit excessive."




lucky bugger :lol:
 
#3
My first thought when hearing this story was, "Well what can you expect when you insist on jumping out of perfectly good airplanes"? Next I wondered if the young man in question would be going for jump #4? Lastly I tried to imagine what must have been going through the minds' of those Kenyans when he came crashing through the roof. 8O
Glad it had a happy ending. :)
 
#5
ViroBono said:
Belladonna said:
what must have been going through the minds' of those Kenyans when he came crashing through the roof.
His feet, presumably .... :lol:
The report stated that his feet were entangled "above him" which presumably shows that he fell head first. With him being a woodentop, that would explain his remarkable survival; his fall was obviously broken by his bearskin! :p
 
#7
With him being a woodentop, that would explain his remarkable survival; his fall was obviously broken by his bearskin!
The benefits of a correctly-fitted curbchain. Lieutenant Williams owes his orderly a drink.
 
#9
guards officer lands on head not badly hurt :lol:
guards officer with maths degree :roll: :eek:
 
#10
You can picture the scene.

Said officer bursts through the rough in a cloud of dust, rigging lines and wriggly tin. After the dust settles a somewhat surprised Kenyan utters the immortal words.... "ooh, you lucky b*stard" :lol:
 
#11
cdo_gunner said:
You can picture the scene.

Said officer bursts through the rough in a cloud of dust, rigging lines and wriggly tin. After the dust settles a somewhat surprised Kenyan utters the immortal words.... "ooh, you lucky b*stard" :lol:

Mmmm, perhaps to be more likely, "Your father rape my mother, you my brother, you give me money now, yes?" :evil:

Not that I am stereotyping in anyway...
 
#13
cdo_gunner said:
You can picture the scene.

Said officer bursts through the rough in a cloud of dust, rigging lines and wriggly tin. After the dust settles a somewhat surprised Kenyan utters the immortal words.... "ooh, you lucky b*stard" :lol:
Surely as a Guards Officer, he would have apologised for dropping in without an invitation?

msr
 
#14
blessed baby cakes said:
Purple_Flash said:
Mmmm, perhaps to be more likely, "Your father rape my mother, you my brother, you give me money now, yes?" :evil:

Not that I am stereotyping in anyway...
8O PF!

Spanked!
Well, it is ever so slightly topical given the action being brought against the MoD at the moment...
 
#16
I was packing a parachute in Cyprus once when a Guards officer fell through the roof (wiggly asbestos). He had not quite grasped the steering technique, and missed the aiming point. As he dangled there, the CSgt in charge ( a para) said, ' sir, you aren't allowed in the packing shed unless you are packing', at which point the wind re-inflated his 'chute (still outside) and dragged him out!

How we all laughed, except the Rupert, who needed about a million stitches.
 
#17
Rocko said:
Army officer survives 3,500ft fall after parachute fails to open
The 25-year-old officer, who was making only his third parachute jump, cracked three vertebrae in the lower part of his back and dislocated a finger, when his fall was broken by his head..
wow!!
 

Cutaway

LE
Kit Reviewer
#18
Rocko said:
......

The incident began immediately after Lieut Williams jumped from a Cessna 102 aircraft as it circled above Malindi airport. Instead of making a clean exit, he clipped the side of the door and was sent spinning and tumbling through the air. His feet became entangled in the parachute's rigging lines and he began spiralling downward, head first. All attempts to free himself failed.

......
Very glad to hear that Lt Williams is in good nick and also that he's not been put off continuing with the sport. Great attitude !

Don't know the Cessna 102, (come to that Cessna don't know about it either,) but I seem to remember a 182 at Malindi so I imagine it's a typo or 'journalistic licence.'

While I've not seen the report, he's most likely to have been on a standard RAPSL (Ram-Air Parachute Static Line) Progression Course.
His exit would therefore a poised release, by hanging from the strut under the wing & letting go on command.
How he managed to 'clip the side of the door' i've no idea !
Something's not kosher about this, if he got overenthusiastic and decided to make his own exit where was the despatcher/jumpmaster ?
Of course he could well have fallen out while going for his poised exit, which would just mean he's uncoordinated and/or clumsy......but then he is a woodentop ! :wink:

It will be interesting to see the details when the reports have gone through the system.

Once again, very pleased he got away with such light injuries.
See you up there sometime !
 
#19
Cutaway said:
Rocko said:
......

The incident began immediately after Lieut Williams jumped from a Cessna 102 aircraft as it circled above Malindi airport. Instead of making a clean exit, he clipped the side of the door and was sent spinning and tumbling through the air. His feet became entangled in the parachute's rigging lines and he began spiralling downward, head first. All attempts to free himself failed.

......
Very glad to hear that Lt Williams is in good nick and also that he's not been put off continuing with the sport. Great attitude !

Don't know the Cessna 102, (come to that Cessna don't know about it either,) but I seem to remember a 182 at Malindi so I imagine it's a typo or 'journalistic licence.'

While I've not seen the report, he's most likely to have been on a standard RAPSL (Ram-Air Parachute Static Line) Progression Course.
His exit would therefore a poised release, by hanging from the strut under the wing & letting go on command.
How he managed to 'clip the side of the door' i've no idea !
Something's not kosher about this, if he got overenthusiastic and decided to make his own exit where was the despatcher/jumpmaster ?
Of course he could well have fallen out while going for his poised exit, which would just mean he's uncoordinated and/or clumsy......but then he is a woodentop ! :wink:

It will be interesting to see the details when the reports have gone through the system.

Once again, very pleased he got away with such light injuries.
See you up there sometime !
Whats the betting, we will find that he was faffing about with his digital camera/camera phone? :roll:
 
#20
Cutaway said:
Rocko said:
......

The incident began immediately after Lieut Williams jumped from a Cessna 102 aircraft as it circled above Malindi airport. Instead of making a clean exit, he clipped the side of the door and was sent spinning and tumbling through the air. His feet became entangled in the parachute's rigging lines and he began spiralling downward, head first. All attempts to free himself failed.

......
Very glad to hear that Lt Williams is in good nick and also that he's not been put off continuing with the sport. Great attitude !

Don't know the Cessna 102, (come to that Cessna don't know about it either,) but I seem to remember a 182 at Malindi so I imagine it's a typo or 'journalistic licence.'

While I've not seen the report, he's most likely to have been on a standard RAPSL (Ram-Air Parachute Static Line) Progression Course.
His exit would therefore a poised release, by hanging from the strut under the wing & letting go on command.
How he managed to 'clip the side of the door' i've no idea !
Something's not kosher about this, if he got overenthusiastic and decided to make his own exit where was the despatcher/jumpmaster ?
Of course he could well have fallen out while going for his poised exit, which would just mean he's uncoordinated and/or clumsy......but then he is a woodentop ! :wink:

It will be interesting to see the details when the reports have gone through the system.

Once again, very pleased he got away with such light injuries.
See you up there sometime !

Probably geeking the camera CA! Not that that leads to an unstable exit.... :oops:
 

Latest Threads

Top