Jump Pilot Blames Skydiver For Fatal Midair Collision


The pilot of a jump plane has testified he believes a wing-suited skydiver was to blame for a midair collision with the aircraft that resulted in the jumper’s decapitation. The pilot, identified as Alain C., is facing manslaughter charges in a French court in the death of Nicholas Galy in July of 2018. After 10 skydivers departed the aircraft at 14,400 feet, the pilot told the court he veered away from their expected path and began a steep descent. The wing and strut of the plane (type unknown) hit Galy about 20 seconds later. Another skydiver’s helmet cam caught the whole grisly sequence and it was key evidence in the resulting investigations.

Alain C. said his actions “made sense” and that Galy and another man in a wingsuit “did not follow the expected course and should never have been on that course.” After the collision, Galy’s body fell until his reserve parachute was deployed by an automatic activation device and it landed in a field. “This has been the tragedy of my life, but I am not at fault,” the pilot testified. The incident happened in the French Pyrenees.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. It’s stupid stuff like this that scares a lot of pilots away from this kind of flying. I’ve flown plenty of loads with wing suit jumpers. Other than being able to see them next to jump plane after exiting once my C208 accelerates to descent speed I descend faster than the wing suit jumpers and easily beat them to landing, just like tandem jumps. There has to be more to this incident that has not been reported yet.

  2. I believe the plane involved was a turbine-conversion of a Cessna 207. The drop-zone in the article has one in their fleet that carries ten skydivers. None of the other single-engine planes in their fleet have struts and/or that lift capacity.

  3. Bizarre. I jumped for 23 years and while I lost friends in plane crashes and impacting the ground at high speed this is the first time I’ve ever heard of this kind of death. Regardless, my hope is that better coordination between wingsuit jumpers and pilots occurs after exits as a result of this tragedy.

  4. Perhaps the wing suits have changed the possibilities more than procedures have accounted for? I suspect it’s very easy for a jumper not to be properly oriented for the first 20 seconds of a jump. Will be interesting to see if anyone here has ever used a wing suit.

  5. Is an interview supporting the movie series Band of Brothers. The interviewer who was part of the movie team said to Capitan Winter the CO of easy company 101 Airborne that they were so intrigued by the story and training they had that they seriously considered taking a jump. Winters responded “ do you have that little regard for your own life!?

    Jumping out of an airplane is inherently dangerous and risky thing .
    The pilot of the aircraft is of course trying to get back for the next package of jumpers, but he also has a number one responsibility of flying safely which can require course changes etc due to weather birds etc.

    This puts additional strain in the jumper to be safe.

    There is a lot to know about this accident that we do not know and it is early to judge.

    But I find it hard to feel much pity for a person who jumps out of a perfectly good airplane that is not like on fire with no chance of a safe landing

    • Skydiving is not some death defying stunt, regardless of what a WWII paratrooper thinks, it’s a whole different scenario to jump into occupied Europe. The risk in normal operations is very low. If you are doing wingsuits and flying down valleys the risk obviously goes up.

      • The Army trained me on barely improved parachutes and methods than those used in WW2. I’m not going to blame Winters for his perspective. There’s a youtube video of the aircrew retrieving a jumper hung outside the plane on his static line you can watch. Today, they use chutes that come down a good bit slower.
        I’m sure civilian jumps are much safer.

  6. “But I find it hard to feel much pity for a person who jumps out of a perfectly good airplane…”

    Ahh, that old chestnut, the ‘perfectly good airplane’.

    Ain’t no such thing.

    Besides, airplanes only crash when they hit the ground – skydivers remove that event from their future. And if piloting an airplane is called “flying” then rowing a boat should be called “swimming”. If you want to experience the element, get out of the vehicle.

    But in all seriousness – there are around 3 million jumps made every year in the U.S. About 10 result in fatalities. Hardly a certain-death sport. And, just like in GA, most of those fatalities are due to pilot error, not equipment malfunction.

    As for wingsuits – I never jumped on so I really can’t comment much. But even if I had wingsuit experience I really couldn’t comment much on this article because it lacks details. As others have said, there’s definitely more to the story here:

    – Was this a ‘flocking’ dive with all 10 wingsuiters flying in formation? Or a pair going off on their own?
    – Did the wingsuiter and/or airplane try flying in formation with each other?
    – – if so, was this planned or impromptu? And were both parties involved in the planning, or did one or the other decide on a spur of the moment (the infamous “hey, watch this!”)?
    – What procedures does the drop-zone have in place for wingsuits (which way they exit and fly relative to jump-run; which way does the plane go after the last jumper exits? What traffic patterns do they each follow?)
    – – Were these procedures followed?

    Lots of questions – unfortunately, they’re being hashed out in a courtroom of civilians rather than subject-matter experts.

  7. According to the pilot, Jumper Galy, an engineer and skydiver with 226 jumps under his belt, was parallel to the plane, and Pilot Alain C. thought he was “further south.”

    “I think my flight path made sense,” the pilot testified. “This has been the tragedy of my life but I am not at fault.”

    Pilot Alain C., who worked for a local skydiving school, admitted on the stand that he had not briefed the skydivers and wing suiters about the jump.

    He then lost track of the wingsuit jumpers and assumed he was clear of them — even though he acknowledged that “they don’t descend much and can be in conflict with the aircraft.”

    It also has emerged during the trial that the 64-year-old Jump Pilot was flying with an invalid license after he violated some restrictions stemming from an unspecified medical condition.

    Prosecutor Jeanne Regagngon argued that Jumper Galy “was the only one who obeyed the rules without negligence” on the day of the ill-fated jump.

  8. Jumping out of airplanes expecting to be safely entertained by an emergency-device termed a “para-chute” is analogous to walking into a house and setting it on fire to play with a fire extinguisher. If you play those risky games you subject yourself to the consequences.