RAF instructor chose not to re-pack parachute before filming own death in fatal jump

A photo of Rachel Fisk
Sgt Rachel Fisk had completed more than 500 jumps when she died -Credit:RAF/MEN MEDIA

An inquest has heard how an RAF parachute instructor who filmed her own death on a GoPro chose not to re-pack her parachute before her final flight of the day and instead used a spare.

Sergeant Rachel Fisk - who was working as an instructor at RAF Weston-on-the-Green, near Bicester, northeast of Oxford - died on September 2, 2021.

As reported by the Mirror, the coroner heard the 32-year-old died when her reserve parachute became entangled. She had completed more than 500 jumps as a diver before the tragedy, which happened on her fourth jump of the day.

Her body was found in a field at Simms Farm, in nearby Chesterton, and she had been wearing a wing camera jacket, a wrist altimeter, an ear altimeter and an Automatic Activation Device. The device is programmed to activate and deploy the reserve parachute when a skydiver has reached a certain speed at a certain altitude.

The inquest heard Sgt Fisk activated a reserve parachute but the deployment became tangled. According to the Oxford Mail, a statement read at the inquest on behalf of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said: "Footage from the GoPro video footage can be seen where the sprung pilot chute tangled with the white reserve bridle. There is insufficient evidence to be certain as to what caused this entanglement."

-Credit:Google Maps
-Credit:Google Maps

Thames Valley Police, who opened an investigation into possible offences of corporate manslaughter and gross negligence, were contacted by the Mirror for comment.

Her family said in a statement shortly after her death: "It is with great sadness that we mourn the death of our dear daughter, Rachel. She lived her life with joy and thoughtfulness for others and loved the career she had chosen. Rachel will be missed by so many."

Following Sgt Fisk's death, the Royal Air Force (RAF) paid tribute to her and said their "thoughts and prayers" were with her family. According to the RAF, Sgt Fisk was born in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, in 1989. She initially served at RAF Wittering and RAF College Cranwell before she was selected for instructional duties at the No1 Parachute Training School in RAG Brize Norton.

The RAF added in its 2021 statement: "Rachel was a selfless individual, who was eager to volunteer and reassure those around her. She naturally loved her career and not only worked with professionalism and diligence, but also fun and enthusiasm spurred by her passion for what she did.

"Rachel was a valued member of the team she worked with and esteemed by those she trained. Not only was Rachel known for her infectious smile and bubbly personality, but she could also make a cracking cup of tea. She will be deeply missed by her RAF Colleagues, and following are some heartfelt tributes from those who had the pleasure of working with Rachel."

British Skydiving said : "The average injury rate is 0.3 injuries/1000 jumps and the fatality rate is just under 1/100,000. Some forms of parachuting undertaken by experienced parachutists do involve higher risks. For instance, public displays are associated with a fatality rate of 4/100,000 jumps and competitive “performance” landings carry significant risk even for very experienced parachutists."

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