If you value your faculties, wear a helmet!

Steve Purdie's picture

It's a BHPA rule that a helmet must be worn. Insurance is provided on the basis that BHPA rules are adhered to. So if you fly without a lid - you may find you have no insurance...

I witnessed and was first aider at a paragliding crash where the pilot's helmet came off (4Fight, came off while done up with no visible damage to the helmet.) The russian female pilot had visible severe head injuries and is understood to have died after repatriation.

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A cracking day

The value of wearing a helmet was brought home to me back in 2006. I'd just landed at Bryncaws (SWWSC site), and did my then usual trick of pulling down on the A's in strong conditions to deflate my wing. As I did do a gust came through, and I tripped so wasn't able to run round pulling on the brakes to ensure it didn't re-inflate. My old FreeX Flair whammed open, lifted me off my feet and swung me round in a low anti clockwise ark parallel with the ground. I saw the boulder coming just before hitting it with the section of helmet protecting my right temple.
I was out like a light, but thankfully the boys from the club jumped on me and my wing to stop me getting dragged. I came to a couple of seconds later to find the shell of my helmet had cracked right through (see photo) at the site of the impact. I'm pretty sure I'd have fractured my skull without it, with all the danger that entails.
I still have the helmet as a reminder, but went straight out and bought a full face job. Any lower and I'd have shattered my right cheek even wearing the Lazer open face. I also changed my deflation technique...

Helmets

So I expect it was too loose. Ive seen it happen at Caburn landing field where someone stalled in and his helmet flew a mile.

Steve Purdie's picture

Perhaps...

But I didn't try it on her because it would no longer have fitted her head.

One of the tests for a motorbike helmet is to fasten securely then try to pull the helmet off forwards. Many paragliding helmets would not pass this test even when they are done up properly. Of course one's own head shape will affect the helmet's security and one person's perfect fit may be another's hopelessly insecure.

TTFN
Steve Purdie

Hairy Dave's picture

history

Back when I first started there was a safety notice and accompanying hoo-haa about Charlie Insider helmets coming adrift. If I remember correctly, they advised the "pull off from the back" test and found that the Insider fitted a few people OK, but pulled off most heads. Considering that paragider accidents often involve being dragged across a field, a secure fit and no sticky out bits (camera mounts, etc.) ought to be a high priority.

steveu's picture

Charly Insider

I was Airworthiness Panel Co-ordinator at this time, and would like to add:

1. One of the Charly importers at the time with a considerable motorcycle background pointed out that helmets MUST FIT and disliked selling them over the Internet. So if a helmet does not fit, do not buy it. He said he refused to sell or advised something else if the trial showed the helmet did not fit.

2. Said chappie also remembered the hoo-ha started because the sale that started it involved someone who should know better trying and buying a helmet with a balaclava in Winter that did not fit in Summer without it. Quelle surprise.

But it depends on why you are wearing a helmet. Do you wear it to protect your head, or to comply with insurance and association rules? After the first serious impact, your view point may change, if you are alive to change it.

As always, YMMV.

SteveU.
HG/PG.