BFL279 | 24.1.2016

Ulrich "Ulli" Wambach

from Germany56 years

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  • Date & Time: 24.1.2016
  • Location: Paganella, Trento, Italy
  • Category: BASE Fatality
  • Object Type: Earth
  • Cause Of Death: Unable to pull
  • Clothing - Suit: Aura 1Expert Wingsuit by Squirrel
  • Canopy: Unknown
  • Container: LD32 Pin by Adrenalin BASE
  • Packing & Setup: Slider Up BOC Vertical
  • Weather: Medium winds
  • Possible Factors: Unable to locate pilot chute

What do we believe happened?

Our friend Ulli had an accident on Sunday afternoon.We were a group of four wingsuiters, who exited from Paganella. The exit was dry without snow or ice. Exit: 2-way wingsuit, wingsuit solo and Ulli also solo.
The flight in the 2-way was a bit wobbly with wind from the north (headwind).
The 2-way landed in the designated landing area without any problems.The solos followed 5 minutes afterwards.
The first solo had his canopy already open when Ulli appeared. Ulli flew in his wingsuit close to the landing area and initiated the opening. It looked as if he had collapsed all his wings. He stayed for several seconds in that position and then went into an unstable headdown position, which didn’t change til impact. PC or canopy were never visible. On the ground the PC was still in the BoC, the container was closed.At the moment we try to find the cause for this no pull.

Ulli Wambach was a master rigger with 9700 skydives and 468 Base jumps, he was my mentor in Base and Wingsuit flying.

"After three weeks of thoughts and discussions of all involved friends we think we should say this about the accident:

As we don’t have a video from Ulli at the exit point and of his flight we must reconfigure this just by personal views and puzzling.
I personally had been present, had already landed and watched Ullis last flight from the ground.

Just for the record:
It was the forth jump of the day.
Ulli jumped always without gloves and as usual he collapsed his leg wing to a certain degree before he pulled.

According to what I saw we tried to simulate and rehearse the situation on the ground with the same container and suit.

Our conclusion:

With especially the leg wing collapsed by tighter and slightly bent knees there is excess fabric that can move in front of the BOC. When all the forward speed is gone, there is also a trapdoor effect. By this the body is going more downwards and the resulting airstream presses the fabric against the container with additional force, making it even harder to find a PC handle if it is behind it.
With a normal pull, with inflated and stretched leg wing there is no difficulty to reach the BOC/PC.
With the outcome in mind we therefore would like to advise everybody (even if it is common sense to most of us now) not to collapse the wings, neither arm nor leg, on any wingsuit anymore before initiating the pull (like someone may have learnt it at the beginning). Plus that the pull hand should always be intentionally above the arm wing at the pull move by acting clearly over the wing towards the BOC/PC handle. That way no one has to sort through fabric even if the wingtips are released before the pull move is initiated.

The lesson learned from this accident is, that a wingsuit pull is a complex move and should be done out of an “open” flight configuration with a straight and wide leg position, just folding the arm wing with the pull move as needed.
Of course the flight could be slowed down by flaring the suit a bit just before the pull move itself. But at no time the flight should be slowed down before the pull by collapsing the wings or even stalling the suit.
Then, after the PC is thrown with power and dynamic sideways to avoid the big low pressured burbled space behind the wing, everybody is free again to collapse the wings, bend the knees or decrease arms.
Should there occur an increased opening shock of the canopy, the solution should be searched in better wing collapsing instantly after the pull but at no time before reaching or throwing the PC handle.
Finally there is to state that at no time in this accident there was any evidence pointing towards suit or gear failure.


He will be missed and his spirit will fly on with us…


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