What to do when you're in a twisted autorotation?

I am trying to go through all the possible things that might happen and what the appropriate response is. I am unsure what to do in the following situation (which I realize is a pretty severe fuckup and you should prevent getting in this situation):
Twisted autorotation, you have thrown both reserves and they were both eaten by the wing. No base harness, just a normal acro harness.

I can think of:
Option A: yank on one of the reserves, hoping it will somehow exit the wing and fly again.
Option B: pull one of the reserve in completely, then "throw" it again.
Option C: yank on only one line of one of the reserves, hoping that this will increase the area of the uninflated reserve and help it to inflate.
Option D: if you're not twisted too badly, try with both hands to pull one of the brakes through the twist, stopping the rotation to help the reserves open. (I have seen one person saving his life that way)
Option E: Somehow try to reach above the twist...?
Option F: Use your quickouts to disconnect the glider and pray that your reserve pulls out of the paraglider flying off. I've never heard anyone propose this but I was wondering whether it would be considered a sane choice if you are in a really desperate situation. (I am guessing not ;-))

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KrisH's picture

The first line of defense is to not get into a twisted autorotation. My preferred strategy is to immediately stall the glider at the onset of linetwists and resolve to sort it out while in twisted backfly. The great majority of the time twists happens when you are already doing negative maneuvers so it is usually easy to stall. One exception is that if you allow the glider to shoot such as a bad heli exit, you can quickly end up in a twisted spiral. Being in a twisted backfly is vastly more preferable for several reasons:
1) Your sink rate is much lower than a spiral, giving you time to work the problem
2) The glider is overhead instead of rotating around you, making a successful reserve through much more likely
3) If you're quick and develop the right reflexes, you can induce a spin to solve the linetwists faster and with less altitude loss than fighting a spiral (i will describe this below)
4) If you are over water, you can impact while in backfly without injury

In the exception case of a twisted spiral, the best course of action is to keep pulling the inside as hard as you can and try to either sat->spin or dynamic spin, then enter a stall. CAUTION: if you get confused onto which side is the inside, you could accidentally initiate a loop and fall into the glider.

From a twisted stall, if you have some altitude you can fix it by releasing the correct side and keeping the other side negative so that the line twists spin out. I will provide an example:

You are in a left heli (glider turning clockwise from your perspective looking up) and are too aggressive stopping the canopy, so your body continues to the left. From your point of view the glider is now spinning counter clockwise (actually the glider isn't turning, you are, but it doesn't matter). The left side of the glider is flying "positive" while the right side is flying "negative" as you twist up. The correct course of action is to attempt to spin the left side again so that the glider can catch up with the linetwists your body made. In practice, the twists are usually to the side that was your inside/negative of your last trick - it is difficult for the glider to outspin your body, and is almost always induced because you stopped the glider and did not manage the momentum of yourself.

If somehow you manage to end up in a twisted autorotation anyway, you should throw the reserve very hard at the horizon, which will be more or less where your feet are pointing - this is inline with the G force which will help ensure your reserve reaches line stretch as fast as possible.

If you end up in the scenario you have described, the only really good realistic option is to keep yanking on reserve bridles and never stop fighting.

yamadav's picture

Option A all the way.
Option B, C won't work in my opinion.
Option D if you have less than1 or 2 twists is possible yes, but you will have to manage a likely twisted inversion (looping). Also, you will have to be very careful and calculated on which side or brake to pull...
If you get in the twisted autorotation and have the clarity to not let your brakes go (before to pull the rescues, you could pull one break very hard to make a "twisted sat coconut" and end up stalling the glider completely before to throw the rescues.
This would be my prefered option if it has to happen to me again.
Option E unlikely, again if you have more than 1-2 twist turns.
Option F is completely unrealistic.

See my two videos:

qiv's picture

We had such an incident last summer, fortunately over water and the pilot did not get seriously hurt. You can find the footage at https://youtu.be/CFRqaA3B9Ws.

The consensus was, that steering about the twist is dangerous for beginners, because you might end up in a looping-like motion and fall into the canopy. I doubt you could release the quickouts and I have no clue whether you would fall slower or faster with the wing flagging behind you than in the spiral, but at least in the spiral you have a chance to crash at a flat angle. I also doubt you can pull a reserve back in and throw again, I would assume that pulling on the reserve lines inflates it to a point where you can no longer hold it back. But I guess yanking at the reserve lines is your best bet.

In any case, you should focusing on avoiding getting your reserves eaten. Check Raul's take on how to throw a reserve to avoid it getting eaten: https://youtu.be/R0uJT7Rxy8g?t=413. In my memory (and I don't have data to back this up), the first reserve is eaten by the wing more often than not in a twisted auto-rotation. However, it usually inflates enough to stop the rotation at some point, making the second work properly in most cases. So, if you have time (and our friend did no longer) and don't black out, you might want to wait a little before throwing the second.

BlueSkies's picture

Excuse my typos!

BlueSkies's picture

I think you hav a thourough analysis of the different possibilities when in this infortunate situation, I have been in it once and decided for option A. Starter climbing on the reserve, and it came out, approx 10m above the water surface. Slowed me down enough to not get any broken bones at least! :D