Tales From the Bonfire | The Fog

By Jerry Lehnherr

Tales from the Bonfire | August 2019
Thursday, August 1, 2019

I had worn an open-face helmet with goggles for many years, but after starting to wear glasses, I decided to get a full-face helmet that could accommodate them. I used this helmet on skydives and in the tunnel for more than a year before I had any problems.

On my sixth jump at the K2 big-way formation skydiving event at Skydive DeLand in Florida, I broke off at 4,000 feet as part of the second tracking group. As I tracked off, the full-face lens on my helmet fogged over. I lifted my wrist-mounted altimeter up in front of the lens to check if I could read it. To my horror, I couldn’t see the altimeter—or my hand—at all! I thought, “Now what? What is safest?” I decided I could either 1) wait for my audible to tell me to pull at the designated 3,000-foot altitude or 2) pull immediately, because altitude is my friend and I’d have more time to deal with any ensuing problems.

I decided to go neutral, wave vigorously and pull, hoping for a clean, straight opening. As quickly as I could, I popped open my lens, but to my surprise, my glasses were also fogged over! I quickly wiped my glasses with a gloved finger, only to find that they were fogged over on the inside. Finally, I wiped the inside of the lenses, and I could see again. Fortunately, my teammates had tracked as expected, and I had a good opening. I was shaken but relieved, and my landing was uneventful.

I made several consecutive lifesaving decisions, correct or not. Sometimes we do our best, and in the end, I just got lucky. We can’t practice for this scenario, but we can avoid it. I’m told by Rock Sky Market that there are anti-fog wipes that address this situation. I’m sure they will be in my gear bag from now on, so next time I’m tracking away from a big-way, I won’t go blind!

Jerry Lehnherr | D-7722
Stoughton, Wisconsin

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